Earlier this month, the Attleboro Sun-Chronicle began to charge people 99 cents for the privilege of posting comments to the Massachusetts paper's website. And, no, this one-time fee isn't the latest revenue-raising scheme to save the dying newspaper business.

In April, the Sun-Chronicle suspended Internet comments altogether because of what it called "blatant disregard for our appropriateness guidelines, blind accusations and unsubstantiated allegations."

By instituting the nominal 99-cent charge, payable only by credit card, the Sun-Chronicle will now have the real name of everyone who uses the comment section of its website. And that real name will be attached to any of that person's comments.

While it's doubtful this practice will become widespread anytime soon, it makes for an interesting thought experiment: Would the Internet be a better place if folks weren't able to anonymously comment on blog posts and articles?

Let us know what you think, and read on for arguments for and against pulling the mask off of those who stalk the wild, wild Web.

Should we ban anonymous comments on the web?
Yes -- the Internet would be more civil540 (47.1%)
No -- the Internet would be more boring607 (52.9%)


Keep It Anonymous

If we ban anonymous Internet comments, what will all those nameless trolls who were working off their aggression by firing off Web invectives do? Would they be forced to don masks and verbally assault random passersby from behind trash cans and parked cars? Can we take that risk?

There is something to be said about anonymity. Particularly in terms of the Internet, where everything is so permanent and can be traceable. The Web would become a much more boring place if people were afraid to express unpopular opinions.

If anonymous Internet comments are banned, what will become of all the clever screen names that we all thought up?

Remove the Cloak of Anonymity


Allowing anonymous comments gives those who hold virulently racist, sexist and other non-mainstream views a rare public forum to express them without repercussions. Thus, comment sections tend to give Internet surfers a depressing -- but exaggerated -- impression of how hateful society is. (At least we like to hope it's exaggerated.)

Maybe if folks are made to attach their name to their comments, there will be less careless grammar, syntax and spelling mistakes. The only thing more annoying than someone misusing the words "their," "there" or "they're" is when the next 10 commenters feel the need to point out this obvious error.

Internet sockpuppets have given the lovable handheld sock puppets of our youth a bad (but untraceable) name.