Oslo-based Aftenposten.no, the website linked to Norway’s biggest newspaper, will no longer allow anonymity in its online debate. Those writing commentaries and letters to the editor of its paper edition have had to identify themselves for years, and the practice is being extended to the website.
“From today (Wednesday), we are asking debaters on Aftenposten.no to sign their contributions with their full names,” wrote Aftenposten’s debate editor Erik Tornes. “We think it will result in at least a bit better debate.” Contributions without the contributor’s full name will be deleted immediately.
Aftenposten is the latest in a string of media outlets to demand those submitting comments to identify themselves, instead of hiding behind pseudonyms. The goal is to nurture a more respectful tone in online debate and to weed out unnecessarily harsh or crude online commentaries that have scared away others and aren’t taken seriously by experts.
“Folks behave better when they write under their full names,” Tornes wrote. Occasional exceptions will be allowed, though, if the commentator can mount a compelling case for remaining anonymous. Such appeals can be sent to the debate section’s editors for evaluation.