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Disqus data shows pseudonymous comments are best

Via the AP's +Jonathan Stray, who noted on Twitter that "Disqus shows that psuedonymous comments are "higher quality," as measured by likes and replies. Major data point."

I agree. Thanks to +Mariam Cook for highlighting the data on her blog.

And I imagine it's one that will be raised to +Vic Gundotra, although last I heard (at Web 2.0 Summit) pseudonyms were supposed to be coming to Google+ soon.
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Guy Martin's profile photoAndré Cass's profile photoAlexander Howard's profile photoCraig Fleury's profile photo
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Excellent! It's certainly part of Wikipedia's secret sauce. People who are experts on non-mainstream topics just don't want it going down on their permanent records, for any of a variety of reasons.

cc +Jamie Zawinski
 
without even getting into any type of whistle blower sort of issues, just being attacked if your expert opinion in a field contradicts your bosses interests
 
Doesn't surprise me at all. I wouldn't comment on a political blog using my real name, as I feel work always goes smoother when such things are kept under wraps. However, I am pretty informed on the subject and thus have something useful to offer.
 
Sorry to be a contrarian folks, but my view is that communities ultimately suffer from anonymous comments. Sure, the data above may show that a lot of people 'like' comments made by anonymous sources, but the trust fabric of a community can break down very quickly if folks are allowed to hide behind anonymity. That being said, I am in favor of anonymity in cases of whistleblowing, battered women's support groups, etc., but by and large, if you don't have the internal fortitude to own your own comments in an online community, you probably aren't contributing something that's going to be valuable to the community as a whole long term.
 
The article data share your pessimistic view of anonymity, Guy, but boost pseudonymous posting. Which I think means: consistently maintained reputations, recorded and traceable somewhere, associable from site to site. This seems to be an important middle ground to keep in the discussion. In the "cafe society" of the blogosphere, an avatar or nick may be personal enough to keep people positive.
 
+Guy Martin Maintaining high quality online comments isn't about banning anonymity, per se (as the data shows) but persistent use of a given pseudonym that has social capital that a human values, along with a strong community that enforces social norms.
 
Thanks for posting +Alexander Howard - agree persistent use of a pseudonym develops social capital "within a strong community that enforces social norms." I also feel the high quality nature of such participation can be traced to the fact you are building up a persona and self-moderate in line with whatever reputation you wish to cultivate for that particular self.

This is something I have consistently found from years of online interaction, so delighted to have a massive cross-site commenting platform back it up with their data. Unfortunately research into the benefits, challenges and consequences of different types of participatory identities online is sparse and vastly based on speculation - it would be great to add an ethnographic study onto the quantitative Disqus data.

What we find here as +Jack Repenning has said, is that maintained reputations associable from site to site provide an important middle ground (between anonymity and real names) for cultivating high quality discussion. Having said this - of course, we should not use data like this to generalize that all real name comments are dull and unengaging nor that anonymous comments are all unconstructive - There are many occasions where entirely anonymous participation is essential and valuable. This comment by tekchip over on my blogpost made me smile:

"I am the 4 percent!"
 
I suspect the quality correlation of pseudonymity is due to the fact that, while their contributions may never be traced to their true identities, they still have a reputation to cultivate and defend within the context of the forum. Even if the forum is unmoderated, attracting a reputation as a troll, bigot or garden-variety idiot ultimately results in losing your audience. The volume correlation needn't surprise anyone.
 
While the analysis may feel about right for the current state of online discussion, I'd like to see the data and the methodology that lead to the analysis so that I better understand why the real names portion, which is +51%/-9%, is colored red and the anonymous portion, which +34%/-11% is colored orange. It seems to me they are backwards. The ranking I'd give using just the few numbers they show here is: Pseudonym use: 61-11=50 (1st rank), Named: 51-9=42 (2nd rank), Anonymous: 34-11=23 (3rd rank). That's be about 43.5% 36.5% and 20% of reputation or lack there of signaling quality. Alternatively you could rank just positive percentages, or just negative percentages coming out with P=41.7%, N=34.9%, A=23.3% or N=29.0%, A=35.5%, P=35.5% respectively where the latter rank is reversed due to being a rank of negative responses. Altogether, the measure of quality itself may not correlate well because there's a possibility pseudonymity, anonymity and use of a real name affects the likelyhood that others are willing to express their positive or negative feelings about the comment, thereby not expressing their feeling about each type of comment evenly.
 
Though I don't deny that you may be speaking from experience, +Rommel Dominguez, pseudonymity is no more or less susceptable to plagiarism than using a real name. Search engines (especially Google) can be easily utilised to spot copied text, even if it has been minimally altered.
 
+Andre Goble +Rommel Dominguez The issue of online plagiarism is tangential to the use of pseudonyms in comments or their quality -- though, as you might imagine, it's one I care about....
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