Authenticity: Our New Policy
Last month we had a complaint from one of our bloggers that someone was commenting on her post using a pseudonym, with the purpose as she believed of improving another blogger's reputation.
This prompted some digging on our part of that commenter, who had registered as all commenters are required to do based on an email address. This same commenter referred to the post and its comment on a Twitter account of the same name, also has a Twitter following and appears to be active on Twitter. Interestingly, however, this same persona appears in LinkedIn with only one connection.
We sent an email to commenter to verify the identity and we also sent a direct message to the commenter's Twitter account. We received a message back by email from the commenter, who said that he or she would not be commenting further. In a follow email, we asked the commenter to verify his or her identity. That email has not been answered.
Why do I bring this up? Or even care? There are and will continue to be alias, fake or even anonymous accounts on the web. I used a pseudonym myself in the early days of blogging: I was working for a major corporation and blogging about the invasion of Iraq in 2003 and didn't want my negative stance to threaten my job. But now that I'm in charge of publishing company whose reputation is held together by a commitment to transparency and authenticity, use of a fake name or pseudonym, particularly for purposes of improving one's own or another person's reputation, is a practice that we won't allow.
So be warned: while it is impossible for us to track all the comments we get back to a legitimate source, when we do find reason to doubt that a commenter is using his or her own name and is a consistent persona, we will investigate the source and ask for confirmation of identity. If this is not provided within a reasonable amount of time, then we will "out" that persona on our site.
We will list the name you use as a commenter, your email address and your Twitter account if we find a match. We will post a comment below yours that indicates that we have reason to believe that this comment source in not authentic. And we will remove your ability to comment automatically as a "trusted" commenter.
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