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Why don’t most commenters here use their real names?

The vast majority of the tens of thousands of comments published here over the past five years have come from people using pseudonyms, which strikes me as cowardly.

It’s even wimpier than using a fake name in a call to a talk-radio show. On radio, you run the risk, however slim, that your voice will be recognized. But there are virtually no unintended hints to one’s identity in a comment submitted to a blog. There’s not even evidence of the state or town in which you live — at least not that other readers can see. (I’m able to trace Internet Protocol addresses, but I’ve done so only in a few isolated cases.)

As I once said to an especially snarky commenter, say of me what you will, but I put my name and even a picture of myself on my opinions. The commenters who hide behind aliases apparently lack the guts to do that.

I have a theory that anonymity leads some commenters, perhaps subconsciously, to express more hateful, ugly sentiments than would be the case if they attached their real names to their submissions.

But hey, don’t worry, cowards! We’re not going to change our policy here. You’ll still be free to peddle your venom without disclosing your identity. Meanwhile, I’ll remain brave enough to label my opinions with my name and a mug shot. (And I don’t even own a gun, which makes me even less of a scaredy-cat than some of our commenters.)

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