Real name policy on HowardOwens.com

When I look at the names of the people who have already registered for the new HowardOwens.com, I see nothing but a list of friends.

And that’s part of what I want for the resurrected HowardOwens.com.  I want this to be a site where people feel safe to discuss whatever issue I happen to introduce in a blog post.

I’m done with trolls.

I’m done with anonymous posters.

On a web site where the expectation is we attract an audience of mature, professional adults, the notion that all participants contribute under the byline of his or her real name shouldn’t seem obscene or unexpected.

As a matter of ethics, I believe anybody in the information business should never, under any circumstances, hide behind a pseudonym.

The real name policy was mocked in comments on Dan Kennedy’s blog. I figure such derisive remarks come from people who somehow just managed to graduate from their AOL account 18 months ago.  I’ve been running online communities for well more than a decade.  I’ve learned a few things. As arrogant as it sounds, I’m not taking lessons from neophytes.

Of course, the question naturally arises: How will I enforce a real name policy? And my only answer is, as best I can.

Basically, if you’re a troll, you won’t last long on my new site.  If you engage in personal attacks against me or other people leaving comments on the site, you will be blocked.

Fake names are generally pretty easy to detect, and since it’s my site, I don’t need proof. I only need suspicion.

Does that mean I’ll delete comments just because a person disagrees with me? Of course not. I happen to love a good discussion over differing views.  But I know it’s also possible to disagree, as they say, without being disagreeable.

Basically, my expectation and what I intend to do enforce as best I an, is that discussions on howardowens.com stick to issues and aim at being instructive.

If my draconian rules mean fewer people will comment, I’m willing to live with that.

And if you think you should be able to spout off whatever bullshit you please without attaching your real name to your opinions, then howardowens.com isn’t the place for you, and I don’t care if you don’t like it. There’s always blogger.com where any person can rant to his chickenshit anonymous heart’s content.

Ethical people, honest people, always use their real names.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.
  • danmarvelous

     I’ve been thinking recently about how to elevate discussion on local community websites, and this post got me down a path of wondering if forcing users to upload a profile image that is displayed next to all of their comments would be helpful, or if it’s going to far.

    This wouldn’t work on a site like howardowens.com, but might feel more natural on a site that is more regionally focused. Maybe to address some concerns about privacy, the comments and the profile photos would only be viewable by registered users.

    Is that going too far? Is forcing real names enough?

  • Howard Owens

    Users on The Batavian have the option of uploading a picture. Some upload an icon, others a mug shot, most nothing.

    It’s not  asking too much.

  • joeybaker

    After posting a comment on your preceding blog entry, let me just say: the barrier to entry for you site is huge. Whereas most blogs just require a name, email, and website to post, your signup process is just as long as signing up for a twitter account.

    I wholly sympathize with your desire to limit trolls and even anonymous comments, but sir, stifling the conversation by driving even the mo honest st of commenters away is likely not to your benefit!

  • Howard Owens

    I’m not all that interested in fly-by commenters.  I think people interested in good conversations will register.  Those that think it not worth their time will be at least 80 percent of the time not worth worrying about losing.

    Besides, once you’re registered … you’re in.