UPDATED: Full Names in Comments Section?

As the Lexington Patch community, should we leave full names when commenting?

Afternoon Update: 3:45 p.m.

Thank you for all the great responses to this morning's post. Keep them coming.

Ice Watch

On another note, be careful driving today. The side streets near Hartwell Avenue were a sheet of ice a few hours ago. I know the  is sanding, but use caution anyway.

It's going back down to 22 degrees tonight, so we can expect it to turn back to ice before tomorrow's sunshine.


Morning Post: 5:45 a.m. 

Last week I wrote a few pieces that ruffled feathers, and we received comments.  We love when you write your thoughts at the bottom of a column or article – it means you’re reading and you have an opinion that needs sharing.

Town Meeting Member Alan Seferian didn’t agree last week on points I made in a column on the Community Preservation Act surcharge, and commented to tell me as much. He then offered information that clarified a percentage mistake I made in the voting results.

Selectman Chair Hank Manz commented on the column, sharing his opinion too. And, I can always count on Gini Shevrin to share her thoughts – and make me laugh.

You'll notice that when some people comment – like Hank, Alan, Gini and others – their user names are their full name, right there on top of their comment. But other people have elected not to have their first and last names displayed as their user name.

Patch gives you that right, but what I'm proposing is that we as a Lexington Patch community decide we're going to write our full names at the end of every comment, so we know who we're engaging in discussion with. 

Harry Forsdick requires as much on the Lexington Listserv. And I'd like to see it here too – whether your user name is your full name, or you write your full name at the end of each comment. 

What do you think? Is that a fair request?

There are people who don’t want to go on the record, and they contact me privately by hitting the “e-mail the author” button at the top of this column. Those comments are never shared here, unless the reader asks me to do so.

But in the comments section, it's nice to match a name with words  – and it gives it more authenticity to everything you have to say. 

Enough already. It's sounds as if I'm lecturing.

Harry Forsdick February 28, 2011 at 11:25 AM
Obviously, I agree. You put your full name on the things you write. People in public meetings identify themselves before they speak. Anonymous letters are generally viewed as provocative and threatening. Why shouldn't our understanding of how people communicate in civil discourse carry over to the electronic world? -- Harry Forsdick
Alex Dohan February 28, 2011 at 12:59 PM
Comments with a name attached carry more weight. If you are ashamed to put your name on it, you probably shouldn't be saying it. -Alex Dohan
Hank Manz February 28, 2011 at 01:44 PM
The toughest kind of communication to deal with is an anonymous one. We receive a small number in the Selectmen's office. You really want to check things out to see if there is something there that needs to be fixed, but often more information is needed before anything can be done. So without anybody to contact, the communication languishes in the "Need More Information" pile. And sometimes you think "This is a misunderstanding. If I could just talk to the person ..." But of course you cannot. -Hank Manz
Denise February 28, 2011 at 03:25 PM
being REQUIRED to leave a fully name has a CHILLING effect; so do you only want "filtered" comments; or do you really want to hear what people are thinking???! No one should be REQUIRED to leave their full name. And since some require it, why not have this as the place that doesn't!
Abby Jordan (Editor) February 28, 2011 at 04:16 PM
We don't require full names in order to leave a comment, however I like the idea of people voluntarily doing so. It helps editors and writers contact people when they would like to find out more information on a point that's been made. It also holds people accountable for their comments, and lends itself to this being a forum for discussion by people, not just anonymous posters.
Denise J. Dubé February 28, 2011 at 07:28 PM
Hi Denise, this is the other Denise. I don't think leaving a full name stifles the conversation or should filter it in any way. Leaving a name allows us to have a community conversation. Denise Dubé
Abby Jordan (Editor) February 28, 2011 at 07:47 PM
The fact that two people named Denise have commented on this column illustrates perfectly why last names are useful. When I saw the first Denise comment at 10:25, I thought it was Denise Dubé who had written it, but then realized it was a different Denise. Giving last names clarifies who is who in a discussion, so no one is misled into thinking one's comments were made by another.


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