I like allowing readers to be able to post anonymously and without having to register or go through a process where I review before I post. I don't want to erect barriers to people being able to express themselves freely and immediately.
Ultimately, I think this allows people to express themselves in ways that is different than, say, if they had to sit down and carefully craft a letter to the newspaper.
While both are valid forms of self-expression, anonymous online message boards, I believe, give people a chance to say what's really on their minds, at the moment they are thinking it. Of course, people also create identities when they are online--somewhat like Yours Truly--so a participant of online message boards, either as a writer or reader, needs to be discerning in how they judge anything that's posted, and that includes by me.
Overall, I've been really delighted by the level of conversations that have been taking place on CrazyinSuburbia message boards. People are thouthful and passionate. Sometimes they are snarky and funny. I've also seen instances of readers policing one another, admonishing others when they cross what might be judged, amongst readers, as a line of decency or good manners.
There is a risk to a blogger like me allowing anonymous comments. Sometimes a few bad apples can spoil the bunch, as they say. This happened overnight. Someone posted some really rude comments, obscene in nature, about a person, whom they named. The problem, as a reader astutely pointed out, is that I didn't check my e-mail until early this morning, to see that the comments had been posted. I immediately deleted them, but they had been up for several hours. I'm sorry that happened.
I moderate comments, but not constantly, and I would prefer not to have to start. And, again, I would prefer not to have to put up barriers on readers being able to comment immediately.
Someone suggested I hire someone to help me moderate comments. Well, I'm just me. I don't have a staff. I do this volunteer, pro bono. I do this blog because I love doing this blog, and I have no intention of making money off it. I enjoy getting a chance to rant about my own pet peeves regarding life in Walnut Creek and suburbia. At the same time, perhaps I am providing a public service, informing, commenting on aspects of our community of which the mainstream news organizations might not be aware or which they might deem not newsworthy.
I also see this blog as belonging to you, the readers. I try, but don't always succeed, in getting your ideas and tips up onto the site. I need to get better about that.
Notably, the message boards belong to you, really. So, I'm hoping that anyone who chooses to participate in them will make them worthwhile places to visit and exchange ideas.