Over the last two years, blog comments have emerged as an important topic among corporate communicators. The thought of them often deters executives from signing off on an employee blog, internal or external, for fear someone will trash the company or insult fellow employees (ahem, lawsuit).
One failsafe is the elimination of anonymous comments; forcing readers to sign-in and attach their names to comments. The reasoning is that under the “anonymous” guise someone will leave nasty, unconstructive comments. Identifying yourself, the argument goes, will prevent such comments—and perhaps prevent real juicy comments.
Right now on Ragan.com there anonymous comment debate is playing out, although no one is actually talking about it directly. Several articles Ragan has published on the communications aspect of both the Republican and Democratic National Conventions have drawn hundreds of comments.
Most comments are constructive, others not to so much. The majority of the commentators, constructive or not, identify themselves as “anonymous” or else with a first name, nickname or initials. And most of these comments are well-written, thoughtful, mini-articles—if sometimes off topic.
So do anonymous comments advance the conversation, or dampen it?
I think they do; in general people are more candid and therefore more willing to share a workplace story without fear of ramification. The level of discourse is heightened.
That said, there’s some pretty nasty commentary in between, but hey, that’s reality. Would Ragan prevent the angry and deconstructive comments if it made readers identify themselves? It might lessen them, but take a look at the comments to the previous PR Junkie post; among the harshest came from a reader who gave his first and last name.
Of course, the very thought of this kind of free-flowing conversation might scare the pants, or skirts, off your bosses. If that’s the case, check out a free giveaway on this topic—grant it you have to take a five question poll in order to download it—that Ragan and the Toronto-based company PollStream created.
The download is an overview of both the pros and cons of allowing anonymous comments; good stuff to include in a pitch for an employee blog.
The poll is about anonymous comments. So far, it’s drawn over 500 respondents—the most ever for a Ragan/PollStream poll. Find the poll on Ragan.com (it’s called POLL-arized), or on the homepage of MyRagan.