The End of the Anonymous Comment

Over the years, I have gone on record stating the importance in allowing users the ability to leave comments at this site anonymously. I have always recognized that there is a segment of the online community that likes to submit quality comments online, but they don't want to be required to leave an online trail that can be traced back to personal online accounts. Despite all the trouble I've had with the spammers and bots, the benefits of anonymous comments was always worth it to me in hopes of reading that one life changing comment provided by someone who preferred to stay in the shadows.

After six years of running CMS Report, I've decided too much has changed in the online world to continue allowing anonymous comments to continue here. During the past couple years, I've noticed the quality of conversation taking place at this site and other sites drop significantly. In part, I think the drop in quality comments is due to social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ now providing additional avenues for readers and writers to have their opinions be made known. I also think social media has allowed people to become so comfortable with themselves having an online presence that they no longer are comfortable being in conversations with anonymous people. If my last few months with Google+ has taught me anything, it is that people want to have conversation only when everyone in the room has been identified.

I've learned something else though the social web. For the blogger, the quality of the conversation and size of the audience is much more important than the control of the content. On Twitter alone, I've found that I can say some pretty profound or humorous things all under 140 characters. If a tweet can provide the same message I provide here at CMS Report, why even have a blog? Because I found that conversation on social networks doesn't steal attention away from my site but instead complements my site. Successful blogs no longer need to be content repositories but instead should be portals to inspired conversation. As a blogger, I no longer want to "own" the comments here onsite, but instead want my content to inspire others to spread my matter where the conversation takes place.

So starting today, anonymous commenting has been turned off. I'm also using this milestone to introduce embedding a commenting service made available through Disqus.  Disqus will allows a variety of tools and social media integration that should encourage better conversation here at as well as elsewhere. I'm new to Disqus not only as a site owner but also as a user, so please be patient as I tweak and learn how best to utilize Disqus for this site. Disqus appears to work well for some well known sites like CNN, Engadget, Time, and Fox News so I'm hoping it can work just as well for us.