IndyLaw Net is an independent weblog written and managed by students and alumni of the Indiana University School of Law in Indianapolis, serving the IU Law-Indy community.

We welcome and encourage comments... Please check out ILN's commenting policy

Editor-in-chief, webmaster:
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Karl Born
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Sapere aude - dare to be wise
Friday, September 16, 2005
A comment on comments
Posted 11:10 AM by Luke
If ever a rule of internet discourse could be formulated, it would be this: anonymity encourages personal attacks and a generally lower level of discourse.

However, allowing for anonymous comments also has its benefits. Students afraid of retribution from a faculty member or administrator can comment critically without fear. A commenting forum is an opportunity for a website's readers to further "develop" a news story and critically examine the author's language and motivations. This is a vast departure from the brick and mortar mentality of journalism without scrutiny.

In light of these stark pro's and con's of an anonymous commenting system, I allowed ILN's comments to provide anonymity, accepting the occasional off-color comment or personal jab.

However, the Bradford controversy has led to an unacceptable low in commenting decorum. While the discussion has been quite productive at times-- an earnest debate on the merits of several aspects of the tenure process-- it has been marred by impersonation, vulgarity, possible defamation, and manipulation.

The biggest malfeasants have been anonymous posters and ironically Professor Bradford himself, who has posted under fake names, and possibly another commenter's name, to manipulate the forum to give the impression that he had more allies in the debate than he actually had and to use nearly vicious language at times. The IP address behind most of his comments was also used to curse in Italian at another commenter. Perhaps somebody familiar with the Bradford tenure story snuck onto his point of net access. I doubt it.


In light of this, and in response to serious concerns expressed to me by several students and faculty, I am strongly considering adding moderation and/or a registration system for comments on ILN.

I would be remiss to use my judgment solely to moderate comments, however, and a registration/moderation system presents certain logistical challenges. I welcome your input on the best method to conduct a commenting system on ILN.

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