Comment is free? So 2009.
From tomorrow, the Sun Chronicle, a Massachusetts paper, will charge would-be commenters a nominal one-off fee of 99 cents. But it has to be paid by credit card, which means providing a real name and address. And the name on the credit card will be the name that will appear on comments. So it's goodbye to anonymity.
I don't particularly care about anonymous commenters. A lot of the folks who leave messages under my posts work at law firms and communications companies and i-banks, and they can't use their names to post strong opinions about politics. I get that. Maybe the Sun Chronicle is the target of constant spam attack, but surely there's a better way to promote free conversation and boost revenue than charging each commenter a dollar.
Also the writers will hate this. It's nice to see that your work provokes a reaction, even if it's negative. Erecting a paywall is going to empty a lot of comment boxes, and that's going to have a depressing effect around the newsroom.
Read the full story at the Guardian, where comment is still free. For now.