One of the (many) problems with anonymous posters in debate, particularly in debates having to do with the character and reputations of others, is that such posting sows confusion. It is a surreptitious way of accusing multiple people. Say that Internet Bob accuses Murphy of sundry offenses, and he does it under a pseudonym. Not only is he accusing Murphy, but he is also causing suspicion (of having made such irresponsible accusations) to fall on others who might have done it. If, in the course of trying to maintain order, those responsible for maintaining order conclude that Kershaw must be Sam and Metzler Toby, except when they switch, this is then used as yet another example of the blog host’s Perfidy. All this to say that I have now skullandboned “Tim,” not necessarily for being Michael Metzler, but at the very least for impersonating him badly, which is to say, well.
Life is hectic right now and so we cannot get the web site modified to require the new rules just yet, but we shortly will — before the summer is out, Lord willing. But rather than trying to enforce the rule that just critics have to use their real names (and provide the name of their pastor), I think I am going to require this (in principle) of everybody. This would not be information passed on the general public, but would be part of the signing up process. In other words, someone could still be “Tim” in the public discussion, but everyone would know that I knew Tim’s real name, and how to contact his pastor if he started to auger in.
It might be kind of hard to make this retroactive (there are almost 800 people currently signed up to comment), but the vast majority of those signed up under their real names. So I may just put under the rules a comment that says posting on this blog means that you will not resent it if I inquire as to the name of your pastor. This should cover those already signed up. Pardon our cyber-dust as we make the necessary adjustments.
This is not meant to exclude atheists, agnostics, and whatnot from contributing or joining in the discussion. Under “pastor” they will just have to put a “mindless concatenation of atoms,” or something like that.