Brian Edwards says that there is in his latest blog post.

Having designed blogs for ten years now, I would say that there is now less “anonymity” in blog comments than ever before.

When blog commenting started, the only real option was to require a commenter to fill in a form which include their email address. The other option was a slight adaption requiring someone to create an account which optionally verified their email address first. In either case, you still had an IP address which bloggers traced if there were problems. (Of course IP addresses aren’t foolproof.)

Blog commenting has changed dramatically in recent years:

  1. There’s less blog commenting in general, as the conversation/reactions are spread over Twitter, Facebook and the like. It’s much harder (and more work) to maintain an “anonymous” account on Facebook and a little less so on Twitter than entering in a fake email/name when commenting on a blog.
  2. Commenting systems like Disqus/LiveFrye/Intense Debate/Facebook comments etc really changed the blog commenting game, encouraging visitors to use their social media credentials rather than having to fill in a comment form each time (these also allow blog authors to disable “anonymous” comments and only allow comments via accounts. These comment systems are becoming the norm, not the exception. Blog authors love it for the social media integration, blog commenters don’t have to fill in a form every single time they want to comment on a blog.
  3. Increased awareness of lack of anonymity – the perception that what people say online is regarded as less anonymous now than ever before. While people continue to say dumb things on Facebook and elsewhere, the continual stories about lack of privacy and anonymity have changed how people interact online.

I don’t think there’s any “anonymity” pandemic in blog comments – I don’t see it as infectious or contagious. It may be widespread on some sorts of blogs, such as political ones, but on the whole seems to be markedly on the decline.

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