Data suggests people using pseudonyms leave better comments

Fact or fiction? Online commenters who use their real names will leave higher quality comments.

Before you respond with a “well duh, that’s a fact” retort, you might want to take a look at new data from online conversation startup Disqus.

The company analyzed nearly 500,000 comments made via its platform and found that the digital denizens using fictitious names, or pseudonyms, are actually responsible for the highest quantity and quality of comments on the web.

Disqus determined that 61 percent of its commenters use pseudonyms, 35 percent remain anonymous and just 4 percent log in with Facebook to comment with their real identity.

“The average commenter using a pseudonym contributed 6.5 times more than anonymous commenters and 4.7 times more than commenters identifying with Facebook,” Disqus said.

These partially veiled commenters are also soliciting more “likes” and replies — positive quality signals, according to Disqus — than their anonymous and real name counterparts. Sixty-one percent of comments made by people using pseudonyms showed positive quality signals, while 51 percent of comments from those using their real names and 34 percent from the anonymous types possessed positive quality signals.

Why might any of this matter? Facebook makes a commenting system that pivots around identity and threatens the livelihood of Disqus. The latter’s commenting solution is used on more than 1 million websites, but Facebook’s Comments Box is growing in popularity and now has the support of more than 400,000 publishers. It also just got a lot more mobile-friendly.

It’s in Disqus’ best interest to show publishers that allowing their commenters to choose how they want to represent themselves is the right way to go. As such, take the company’s findings with a grain of salt and expect the identity debate to continue.

[Image via marcwathieu/Flickr]


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