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A newspaper website is caught between two worlds; on the one hand you have the un-moderated anything-goes commentary found on many web groups and alt sites, and on the other side you have the print edition of The Reporter, where editors control what appears in the paper. Even the anonymous Sound Off is read by somebody before it appears on your doorstep.
So now we have a compromise...say what you want (within certain bounds of decency and libel), but we know who you are.
The hope is to foster a somewhat civilized discussion.
I'm not sure if our founding fathers envisioned a time when free speech meant no accountability whatsoever - even those at 'Speaker's Corner' standing on a soap box could be seen by their audience.
But those who fear retaliation for their views also deserve some protection and the right to speak their minds.
So in the end we strike a balance between accountability and invisibility. That balance has to be right for the forum, which in our case is the space below our news stories on our website.