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Summary:

Arianna Huffington said the time has come to put names to commenters — at least on the Huffington Post.

Arriana Huffington cropped
photo: Getty Images

The Huffington Post, which has logged more than 260 million comments in its history, will end anonymity in those comments, founder Arianna Huffington said Wednesday morning.

Arianna Huffington“Trolls are just getting more and more aggressive and uglier and I just came from London where there are rape and death threats,” Huffington said in comments to reporters after a speech at Hubspot’s Inbound 2013 conference in Boston. The changeover will come in mid-September, she said.

“I feel that freedom of expression is given to people who stand up for what they say and [are] not hiding behind anonymity,” she said. “We need to evolve a platform to meet the needs of the grown-up Internet.”

The current Huff Po system  uses advanced algorithms to moderate comments plus 40 moderators, but that is not enough now, she said.

Whether or not commenters on blogs and news sites should post with their identity — and how that identify is verified — is part of  a long-running debate in the internet age. Many sites have guidelines that allow anonymity but prohibit the use of profanity, threats and other abuses.

  1. I’m not sure that will deter the trolls. It doesn’t on Google+

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    1. It’s a lot easier to create any/many fake profiles, with fake names, on Google+.
      On Facebook it’s not as easy to do so.

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  2. Good luck with that. I predict a fairly steep drop in HuffPo’s readership once the new rules take effect.

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    1. Christina Coad Monday, August 26, 2013

      Good. It’s insane on there anymore, the other day I had to go through 3 pages of comments on a story in the crime section that didn’t mention the persons race. And many of those were a variation of the same 3 or 4 things
      - “if Obama had a son…..”
      - “where Sharpton now?”
      -”why isn’t this on the front page, because he’s black”
      Then you got into the really bad ones about “killing all those animals” and on and on.
      Alot of users have already left because its too full of trolls

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  3. The Huffington Post is a terrible “news” source.

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  4. Valentine North Wednesday, August 21, 2013

    Heh :)
    I don’t know about trolling, but I have three email addresses each for a different identity, one entirely for games, one for real life contacts and another for stuff like this :D

    The truth is, it wouldn’t really matter, because they can still log the IP of the users, rendering any other form of identity irrelevant. Anyone bothering to use a VPN or a proxy to disguise even that bit of data, will surely have taken steps to create a false identity.

    I work as a web developer, making actual websites, and from what I saw recently, even the most basic authentication modules store IP addresses of users by default. It can be easily removed, but a web site owner will usually want as much data as possible for various reasons, and anonymizing it won’t be anyone’s priority.

    Oh, and if I seem like a jackass sometimes, it’s not on purpose.

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    1. They could require a credit card for identity verification, that would make the IP sniffing redundant

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  5. Better late than never. No it won’t stop those determined to hide behind fake identities but it is a step in the right direction if you want your brand to be taken seriously. It’s just incredible that across the internet it’s taken this long for brand owners to wrest control of their products from the idiots who advocated that anonymity was a good thing, that content should be “set free”, and that Google was a force for good.

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    1. Apparently using your real name wasn’t enough to stop you from posting a useless conflation of various disparate subjects and name calling.

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    2. Pseudo Hipster Saturday, August 24, 2013

      “No it won’t stop those determined to hide behind fake identities but it is a step in the right direction if you want your brand to be taken seriously.”

      If your brand is tied to comments and not the actual quality of the articles your doing something horribly wrong……

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      1. Christina Coad Monday, August 26, 2013

        Actually if this DOESN’T happen HuffPo will lose people.
        Many people have left because of the trolls. It used to be that most of the comments were real comments and a few were trolls, now depending on the story you’ll have trolls making most of the comments, for example unless you want to just read VERY racist comments or endless variations of “if Obama had a son…” Or “where Sharpton now” you can’t even read the comments on any story with a black person in it

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  6. How will that work then?

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  7. Say goodbye to 90% of your traffic Arianna, most of the clowns at Huffpost wouldn’t dare expose who they really are. Especially the ‘Villagers’ who act as they own the site.

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  8. Huffpo is trash anyway

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  9. Although I run a much much smaller website, I made the painful decision to end anonymous commenting on my own sites a couple years ago. It was the best thing I ever did. While visitors have decreased, the quality of the conversation and the quality of people participating has gone up.

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  10. Great!

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