Anonymous Commenting is BACK

The Phoenix Editorial Board is once again allowing anonymous commenting on our website. This policy change took effect on Monday and overturned a Fall 2019 policy update that required comments to be submitted under a legitimate-looking email for The Phoenix to approve them.

The intention of the now-overturned comments policy was to hold individuals accountable for their words in order to reduce anonymous hate in the comments section. The policy emerged in response to explosive waves of fraternity-related discourse throughout 2019 as well as the unrelated anonymous banter app Looped, which was briefly popular in Fall 2019 and subsequently taken down.

There are several reasons that The Phoenix’s current Editorial Board has decided to overturn this decision. Firstly, the Board believes that there is value in anonymous speech online, so long as individuals and groups do not weaponize anonymity to incite violence or attack already-vulnerable populations. The internet is perhaps the most powerful bastion of anonymous speech, and anonymity can embolden individuals to express ideas they are fearful to voice under their real name; this isn’t, however, an inherently negative quality of anonymity. The current Editorial Board of The Phoenix (of which only five members were on the Editorial Board in Fall 2019) believes the old comments policy was the result of an emotional response to a stressful wave of discourse, rather than a logical response that fully considered the implications of de-anonymizing online commenting.

Secondly, the old comments policy was questionable from a logistical standpoint. The Phoenix already moderates comments on the website to prevent the proliferation of discriminatory or violent comments. Moreover, there is no way to discern between a real email address and a fake email address; for example, while “anonymous[at]gmail[dot]com” is obviously fake, an email address such as “georgecarpenter15[at]gmail[dot]com” looks real but could be fake, and there is no way to verify its authenticity. Even if commenters did use a real email address, they could still input a fake display name for the comment since email addresses are not publicly available on our website.

In the past two years, there have been many genuine and thoughtful comments on our website that we have had to delete not because they were hateful or violent, but simply because the author did not add a realistic email address. As a newspaper, we aim to abet productive dialogue in our community, not stifle it. We look forward to seeing how this restored comments policy allows our readers to contribute to campus and community discourse, as well as adds new life to our website.

To all of our readers, go ahead. Be free. Comment to your heart’s desire, whether under a real email address or not.


  1. I don’t use this website but found it from googling “anonymous comments”. I just found out that facebook had an outage in 2021 and how I had no idea, so I tried to comment on an article talking about it. Tried on a few various news pages and all of them require a sign in or using some social media cookie, so here I am. The whole point of the comment was to share how little social media has mattered to me in the last decade, but here it circles back again. ANYWAYS…

    I don’t know what your website is, but awesome on you for allowing whoever to comment! I’ll probably never see a reply to this, nor does it matter, but maybe it brightened someone’s day somewhere. Throw some sunshine into the void as it were.

  2. So I found my way back to this page again. Another website has the restrictive comment system which pushed me to search ‘bring back anonymous commenting’ on google, and second result brought me here again. Looking down the page, it’s like “hey I remember leaving that comment!”, but also re-reading it reveals it’s a bit murky in the writing department. ANYWAY…

    I thought I’d leave another just to share what’s going on here:

    Looking up some info about a ufo sighting occurring in the 70’s in Delphos Kansas that I’d always heard about as a kid in the 90s from my parents (here’s the page I wanted to comment on going over some of the details:

    So my mom grew up in a town near there, and around that same time period had a vague memory of something happening. She always thought it was a vivid dream, but she woke up one night with bright lights shining through her bedroom window and everyone else in the home being scared and panicky. Nothing She remembers asking her parents the next morning about what it was, but they didn’t remember any such thing happening. Additionally, in her yard below where she saw the lights, was an apple tree that inexplicably had the top leaves burned. Her parents told her that this was due to the summer heat and nothing out of the ordinary.

    I was fascinated by this story as a child, although I’m guessing my mom wished she’d never told me since she would get embarrassed whenever I would bring it up. Well, if I ever happen to come across this site/page through google search again, I’ll leave another story! Maybe someone reads this, maybe not. Feels more like the check-in thing from the DKC2 bramble song comments on youtube, ha ha.

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