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Media mull the future of anonymous Web site commenting

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  1. Libel and Privacy
Major media outlets are questioning to what extent their online components should allow anonymous commenting in the future, The New…

Major media outlets are questioning to what extent their online components should allow anonymous commenting in the future, The New York Times reported.

The Washington Post may revise its commenting policy in the next few months to discourage anonymous comments by providing greater prominence to commenters posting under real names. The New York Times and many other papers require users to submit some type of identifying information in the form of registration prior to posting comments. Readers of The Wall Street Journal can already opt to view only comments made by regular contributors. The Huffington Post will begin to rank posters based in part on how well other readers regard their comments, the Times reported.

The slow move away from widespread anonymity, which has been common on the Internet since its inception, has been nudged by lawsuits over anonymous comments. A judge in Ohio recently sued Cleveland’s The Plain Dealer after the newspaper identified her as the source of disparaging online comments.

(The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press does not require commenters to identify themselves but will remove comments if they are off-topic or highly offensive.)