Monday, 30 July 2007

Comments policy

As of now I am introducing a new policy on posting comments to this blog and to Chelmsford Anglican Mainstream. Comments will only be posted if accompanied by a real name and location, though in the interests of safety I will allow a broadness of location.

The following are acceptable:

J Smith (Anytown OR Anycounty)
Jane Smith (Anytown OR Anycounty)

The following are not acceptable:

Jane (Anycounty)
Jane Smith
Smithy (Anytown)


  1. What a good idea, that way people have to own their comments.

  2. Has anyone suggested to the Fulcrum team that it would be a good idea for them to police their boards a bit more? I know down in Sydney town we had to introduce quite a strict policy, because people assume that if someone comments on the board then that is representative of the organisation...
    Michael P Jensen
    Oxford & Sydney

  3. The following has been received from John Foxe - whose comments have been much appreciated in the past:

    "So are you asking Foxy John to blow his cover even though you know who he is? (He's in England by the way, but you knew that.) John Foxe."

    And ...

    "Mind you, I foxingly notice that I comply with your policy in any case. John Foxe is 'a real name'. England is certainly a place, even if I'm not sure New Hampshire actually exists. John Foxe. (Anglia)"

    In response, sadly, yes, I am asking for 'covers' to be 'blown' - and this means your own name, not just a 'real' one of someone else! (Common sense applies here.)

    I know this runs the risk of deterring some from commenting, and that's a shame, but I think the principle of anonymous, or pseudonymous, blogging and commenting needs challenging and, amongst Christians at least, perhaps ought to have had its day.

    The truth is, I don't know who 'John Foxe' is - though that may be his real name - nor did I know he is in England, but that may just be me being thick! However, this illustrates the problem. So, sorry, John, but you'll have to comply like everyone else.

  4. John, it's your blog and your rules but I'm unclear what purpose is served. As long as posters observe basic rules - no abuse, no libel, then what does it matter what they call themselves? I can think of several good reasons why someone would not wish to use their real name - in a discussion on homosexuality, for example, a gay man or woman may not want to 'out' themselves.

    As for Michael Jensen's post - well, if you want comments to echo some official line, then, really, why permit them at all? Surely, their purpose is to get some kind of discussion going. After all, and I'm sorry to say this, Fulcrum's board is a good deal livelier than this one.......

  5. Well, this was never really meant to be a discussion forum. Indeed, I did wonder whether there was any useful purpose in inviting comments at all.

    As to why insist on real names, though, I'm increasingly uneasy with the whole pseudonymous/anonymous posting principle. As I've said elsewhere, I sometimes think bloggers/commentors need to ask whether they would say the things they post to someone's face. I think it is not unhealthy that they should therefore be identified with, and identifiable from, their posts.

    Sure, there are times when someone might want to post anonymously because of a point made about themselves - I admit that is a special case, which I would be happy to consider. But it is very different from the more common anonymous post making a point about someone else!

  6. A wise policy.

    And if there is a case where anonymity is required, someone can e-mail the site owner, who would be able to post comments on their behalf without identities being made more public.

    Timothy Edwards
    East London

  7. May I just comment that this is all slightly naive.

    You have no way of knowing if the name I use and the location I state are in fact true.

    And no way of checking either.

    And to not allow comments is to live in a fantasy world where one believes that one is always right because nobody disagrees.

    Just a thought.

    Roger Agessi

  8. Roger wrote, "You have no way of knowing if the name I use and the location I state are in fact true. And no way of checking either."

    Quite right. It is a matter of trust.

    Roger also wrote, "And to not allow comments is to live in a fantasy world where one believes that one is always right because nobody disagrees."


    (a) it does not follow logically that not allowing comments means one believes one is always right. There could be a whole number of reasons for this.

    (b) this blog does allow comments, it just seeks to discourage anony- or pseudony-mous postings.

    Most posters comply with what I think is a basic standard of openness and honesty. Some don't, and some of those don't get posted.

    It does amaze me sometimes that we accept as normal that a letter to the press should be accompanied by a name and an address, but that somehow on the internet we should be allowed to conceal who we are, no matter how personal our comments may be.

    That, too, is just a thought!