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What's your name?

June 5, 2009 |  7:10 pm

It’s a long-established newspaper convention that readers include their names and residence areas in letters to the editor. In fact, the paper has always verified those names to make sure the writers used their true names.

In the blogosphere, people have taken to adopting nicknames when commenting. At L.A. Land, unlike many other newspaper blogs, it’s become rare to see people commenting under their own names.

Why is that? In some cases, people might feel that their jobs require them to keep their personal feelings to themselves. That’s understandable for a few fields. But is that true for most? 

I wonder if the crude and sometimes downright hostile comments on this blog wouldn’t be toned down if people posted under their real names. It’s sad to see that when people disagree with a post, they feel they must also pile on personal insults or attribute ill motives to the author.

If you meet someone face to face, do you begin your conversations with an attack on the person's integrity? If, for instance, you’re returning a product you found unsatisfactory to a store, do you start by saying, “You moron, you sold me this product because you wanted to make me miserable and profit unfairly from the deal”? I hope not.

I’d like to propose that unless there’s some important reason not to, we put our names on comments, and maybe even say where we live. For one thing, I’d like to get a better sense of the geographic distribution of L.A. Land readers. If it encourages us to see one another as real human beings rather than as caricatures with monikers worthy of pro wrestling, that would be an added bonus.

If for some reason you can’t use your name, even a first name, why not explain, i.e. “I’m a real estate agent and my broker would fire me if he saw me say this on a blog”? If you don’t want to use your name because you’d like a license to be rude, maybe you need to think about what, if anything, that adds to the discussion.

So tell us who you are. What have you got to hide?

--Peter Y. Hong
(my real name)

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