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.
This actually strikes me as a pretty good idea. I’d return a degree of anonymity by allowing people to choose a display name though. The small fee would stop 99% of trolls dead anyway.
I did notice that the Sun Chronicle had no comments on any of the recent stories I checked. They seem like a pretty small operation though.
I wonder if a service like Disqus could centralise a scheme like this?
EDIT 2011.10.30: Originally I had titled this post Paying for free speech: The Sun Chronicle comment paywall, but decided to change it on a whim. ;)