Sometime in the next few days, I’m going to be putting up a post that asks readers to comment on a rather sensitive issue. I expect many people will want to contribute to the conversation but not give their legal or working names. Given that, I want to make a few things clear about the comment policy here.
We welcome pseudonymous comments.
When you comment, you need to put some text in the Name field. It does not have to be your legal name, or anything that even looks like a legal name. If you want to hide your identity, please use a pseudonym rather than “Anonymous” because it makes it easier to conduct a conversation, especially if multiple people are posting anonymously, but the pseudonym doesn’t have to be connected to any other names you might use elsewhere; all I ask is that you consistently use one and only one name in any given post.
You also have to put something that looks like an email address in the Email Address field. The only person who sees the email address is me. If you want to hide your identity from me, you can use an address like firstname.lastname@example.org, or a throwaway free address from a site like Gmail or Yahoo! if you want to be able to subscribe to comments.
If you want to protect your identity but are concerned that your comments may not be taken seriously without real-world context, you may request credibility verification. How this works: You email the text of your comment to email@example.com from your usual name and email address. I post the comment under whatever pseudonym you want to use, and add an editorial note describing you in general terms so readers know why your comment is relevant. The comment would look something like this:
I was also sexually harassed by that editor. I never spoke up because I felt it would put my career at risk.
Editorial verification: This comment is from an award-winning female author. /rjf
I will run the verification note past you before I post it, so you can be confident that it establishes your credibility without exposing your identity. I will never share your identifying information with anyone. This is my best attempt to create a blog equivalent to “The official spoke with us on condition of anonymity”.
All comments are held for approval. I approve them as quickly as I can. Note that held comments may still be sent out to people who subscribe to email notifications; please don’t put anything in a comment that you wouldn’t want the whole world to see.
My general policy is to approve all non-trolling, non-spam comments. I reserve the right to make exceptions.
These policies are mine, not PW‘s, and may not be applicable on any other PW blog.
If you have any questions about this, please do let me know.