The Daily News has long required people who want to share opinions with others via letters to the editor to sign their submission and provide us with an address and phone number so their identities can be verified.
The practice recognizes that people are more likely to thoughtfully express their points of view and less likely to be vitriolic or disparaging of others if their name is at the bottom of the letter.
Yet, as is occasionally pointed out to us, we put those signed letters on our website and allow anonymous readers to express their thoughts about them. As is common on the web, such comments often take on tone much stronger than would likely be expressed if writers were required to identify themselves.
One reader recently told us he will no longer write letters to the editor because he does not want his views to be subjected to that kind of anonymous attack. He felt it wasn't fair he is required to identify himself while all those who choose to challenge his thinking are allowed to hide behind a veil.
We are forced to agree.
As a result, effective immediately, The Daily News will no longer allow online commenting on letters to the editor printed in the paper and later posted to our website. The letters can be read on our website but if you want to respond, you will need to do it by way of your own signed letter to the editor.
It's not hard to do and will take no longer than it does to post a comment to our website. We accept letters to the editor by email. There is even a handy web form that allows people to quickly provide us all the information we need.
All submitted letters will be published either in print or on our website or both. We know some won't like this change but it is designed to level out what was clearly an unfair playing field.
Anonymous comments will continue to be allowed on news stories, editorials and columns.