I will miss anonymous commenting on theday.com

Today is a watershed of sorts for www.theday.com, the first day of a new policy identifying subscribers with their real names when they comment on stories.

Gone will be anonymous voices that have become well recognized in the commenting section of the website, a section an early web designer for theday.com once said was a place where The Day's journalism stops and the unedited and unfiltered voice of the public chimes in.

So I will miss LEO, voice of reason, LongtimeMysticResident, wooleybugger, RASCALS, wtfdnucsailor, wylie, GEE-BEE, Live Here, MamaBird and all the many others who created a strange, almost family-like forum on theday.com.

I liked it even though I was often a target of some commenters' wrath. I figure that goes with the turf.

I even liked the fact that, because of the cloak of anonymity, the opinions were baldly honest, no matter how hateful, mean, dark-spirited and sadly pessimistic some might have been. I appreciated learning some of the unvarnished thinking of our readers, some thoughts I otherwise wouldn't imagine lurking so close to the surface here in our kindly community.

The sometimes brutal honesty occasionally was eye-opening. There were a lot of sentiments you would never hear expressed over the backyard fence or in a checkout line at the supermarket.

Although I would not have pulled the plug on anonymous commenting if I had the authority, I have come to respect the wisdom of the decision to do so.

After all, it makes no sense for The Day to have different policies for print and online commenting. We wouldn't publish an anonymous letter to the editor, a longstanding tradition in newspapering, and therefore created a double standard by allowing anonymous online comments.

Mostly I became convinced that pulling the plug was a good idea after reading the comments of the aggrieved. Amid the howls of protest, the threats to cancel subscriptions, the personal attacks, I didn't hear one good argument for why people shouldn't own up to the opinions they offer in a prominent public forum.

If people fear an employer's reaction to their online anonymous posts, it may be because they know they are being coarse, uncivil or unreasonable.

I've never heard of an employer denying an employee the right to sign a letter to the editor in the local newspaper. If there is one, I'd like to know who it is. They are denying workers their freedom of speech.

This is a good place to remind everyone that the comment section, where the journalism ends and the public voice can be heard in a prominent place in eastern Connecticut, still very much is open for business.

I suspect the dire predictions that the crickets will reign in the comment section after today are only misguided rants of those who don't want to come out of the dark. I will have faith that those who already have been using their real names will be joined by those who see that there is satisfaction, too, in claiming credit for your thoughts and input to a community dialogue.

So, come on out and comment with your real names.

Maybe I can entice you.

How about that Dan Malloy? Hasn't he been a great governor? Doesn't it seem like those great eight years just flew by?

How about that President Trump? Not only did we vanquish Hillary but we put Vladimir Putin in charge. Putin is making America great again, right?

Won't the reveal be fun, when you put a real face with the fantasy screen name?

I would like to know, for instance, if MamaBird is really a woman.

This is the opinion of David Collins.

d.collins@theday.com

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