by Josh Gross
Any regular readers of BW's website are probably just as familiar with our cast of commenters as they are with our reporters, thanks to their frequent, let's say "colorful," analysis of the day's news.
In August, BW reported on how several European newspapers were eliminating anonymous online commenting after the terrorist attack by Christian extremist Anders Breivik that killed 77 people in Norway. The papers felt that anonymous commenting had allowed a forum for the proliferation of hate speech that Breivik had consumed and taken part in.
Today, The New York Times announced a slightly different strategy to deal with comment trolling, a "trusted commenter" program.
From an article on Poynter.org:
The Times will invite any reader whose comments are consistently approved over a certain time period to become a “trusted commenter,” whose future comments go public immediately. Everyone else’s comments will be held for review by a Times moderator, as they are now.
Those who join will have to submit and verify real names, a profile photo and hometown by connecting a Facebook account. (Some people object to using Facebook, so other identity verification methods may be supported later, Koren [Sasha Koren, deputy editor of interactive news] said.)
In exchange they get instant commenting, as well as a higher profile on the site. With a special “trusted” logo attached to their color photo and full name, they stand out visually from the other commenters who usually have an anonymous username and no profile photo.
There are other changes in the overhaul, but the trusted commenter system is the most significant. More about the commenting overhaul can be read here.