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 Saturday Aug. 30, 2014 |  12:28:40 a.m.
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Anonymous NetizenThe comment posted to YourArlington was from "Kay." No last name.

The subject line was "Yuck." The comment, not yet published but sent to me for approval, was: "Worst haddock I've ever tasted."

It was not published at the story to which it was linked. Why? No full name provided.

Further, when I wrote to "Kay" to ask for a full name, the Yahoo.com address came back undeliverable. Thus, a phony address.

No full name + no real email = no publication.

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I'm publishing the comment here to make a point: If you have an opinion, and it reflects a real experience, have the courage to back it up with your real name.

A personal opinion about one plate of haddock does not warrant anonymity. Allowing a fake name in this case opens the door to fake claims.

Aliases infect Internet discussions everywhere, including those on comment sites involving Arlington -- WickedLocal, The Advocate's site, at Arlington Patch.

A recent thread on Patch involves claims about METCO taking finding from those "in Arlington." All supporting such claims use aliases, including "Silas Tripp," who has said he would like to see a public referendum aimed at having Arlington pull out of METCO. See the string of comments here >>

My bet is these xenophobic plans (look it up) will not go beyond anonymous blither on a website.

Let's say I'm wrong. Let's say they want a public vote on the issue.

If such a goal is to reach first base, our anonymous friends will have to discuss their plans with town counsel. When they do, they will have to emerge from the darkness and identify themselves with their real names, not some alias similar to a character in the 1989 film "Glory."

If those who believe METCO robs funding from "our children," let them have the courage to identify themselves with their real names in the first place.

In the interest of improved public communication, I believe all local media, including Boston.com and BostonHerald.com, should adopt policies requiring the use of real, full names on most comments.

Are there exceptions to a call for such courage and transparency? There are.

Whistleblowers -- those whose comments would jeopardize their jobs -- may use an alias. But these cases are few and may be handled behind the scenes -- via an email sent directly to the publisher reporting some alleged abuse. The publisher then can investigate to establish facts behind the claim.

To be clear: This column addresses only comments posted in response to news stories. The issue of anonymous sources in news stories themselves is a separate matter. For the most part, though, I believe the sources of information reported in news stories should be clearly named and anonymous sources should be used only rarely.

As to opinions, posted as this one is to the site's blog, Your View, I welcome a broad spectrum. If you believe YourArlington ignores a particular perspective, step up and let the public know. When you do, provide facts regarding your view -- and sign with your real name.

Mere anonymous complaining does not advance public discussion.


NOTE: For instructions about posting to Your View, see www.yourarlington.com/faqs/use-your-views

 

 

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