A week ago we launched a survey of Evanston Now readers to ask about certain aspect of the site, and a lot of our most dedicated readers responded.

In response to the feedback we plan to make some changes to Evanston Now over the next few weeks.

Readers were split about whether people posting content or comments should post under their real names.

Here are the results for the two key questions:

1. Assuming you had something you wished to post to the site, would you prefer to have the posted item display:

47.0 % – Your real name.
30.3% – A pseudonym or “handle” that you used consistently on the site.
22.7% – Nothing that indicates your identity.

2. When you read what others post on the site, do you prefer that they:
43.3% – Use their real name.
3.0% – Use a pseudonym.
0.0% – Post anonymously.
53.7% – Post using whichever option they are most comfortable with.

Right now Evanston Now requires users to post most types of content using their real names, but permits users to comment on stories anonymously.

As a result of the survey we plan to add a third option — to let people create a pseudonym that they would use consistently on the site. We think this will let readers gradually come to “know” those who post using a pseudonym and be able to better evaluate their comments based on what they’ve said before — while still letting people who are shy about commenting under their real names express their thoughts.

Under the new model, people who use their real name will have broader access to post more types of content without advance screening than people who use a pseudonym, who in turn will have broader posting rights than those who choose to be anonymous.

If you have further thoughts about this, please drop us a note using the feedback form.

We also asked readers how highly they value certain types of content we might add to Evanston Now. Adding discussion boards or forums to the site drew the highest score, and we plan to add discussion boards soon.

Thanks to all those who took the time to respond to the survey. We appreciate your interest in Evanston Now.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

Join the Conversation


  1. Individuals should only be able to post as one person
    I would like to re-state my opposition to people posting without being screened. I have reason to believe that some posters use this as an opportunity to bolster their own opinion. For instance, I notice that the syntax and writing style of two prominent anonymous posters are not only very similar to each other, but similar to someone else who writes here under their own name. I think this degrades the value of information on this site.

    I participate here because I like the opportunity for discussion and the general setup of this website, but I’m very concerned things are not what they appear to be. If Evanstonnow is going to allow for anonymous posting, steps must be taken so that everyone posts under the same restrictions, and no individual has more of a voice than any other.

    1. Everyone has the same posting options
      Hi Michele,

      Everyone operates under the same restrictions.

      You are free to post comments anonymously if you wish.

      You are free to post comments as a registered user using a pseudonym.

      You are free to post comments as a registered user using your real name.

      The choice is yours.

      There is no practical way to prevent people from using more than one of these options, so, if you want to participate on Evanston Now, you’ll have to get used to that reality.

      I personally would prefer that each user posted under his or her real name, and that’s the practice I follow, but some people are more shy than you or I.

      Read more about your options on the Got News? page.


      1. That’s not entirely true, Bill
        You can create a framework where only registered users may participate and an individual can’t register more than once – while still maintaining the privacy of registrants. This is done by other, similar websites: for instance, to prevent suggestions of impropriety, most news publications verify news tips with a name and phone number, and on other discussion sites, posters are required to register and to choose a unique username.

        While I have no objection to someone concealing their identity on the internet, I have a real problem with the way double-posting slants the discussion here. Those of us who consider it dishonest to post under anything but our own name or a single pseudonym are at a distinct disadvantage to those who don’t.

        Find out more about Brummel Park Neighbors and Michele Hays

        1. Sorry, but it is true
          Hi Michele,

          Your latest comment indicates that you do not understand the limitations of website registration systems.

          What you claim to want Evanston Now to do — to prevent people from registering under multiple identities — cannot be achieved at reasonable cost as long as Internet users are permitted to have multiple e-mail accounts and can access the Internet from different computers.


    1. Anonymity is cowardice
      I agree with Michele and Barnaby, “anonymous” is a coward’s way out. If you feel strongly enough to write — identify yourself.

      That is one reason why I respect Ann Rainey’s 8th ward chat board. She won’t allow people’s messages who do not identify themselves.

    2. snark
      “The snarky comments of anonymous web posters should be taken with a grain of salt, if that.”

      Comments from politicians should be taken with a grain of salt, too.

      Michelle- is Mr. Who Knows (the first person on this website to point out Dinges’ connection to the Soldier Field project) one of those prominent anonymous posters? If so, which ‘real name’ personality does his writing resemble? Enquiring Minds want to know.

      1. Who we all exist you do not- Snark
        WHO – Vito, Michele, Baraby and I – and all the other posters who put their names on what we say exist you do not.

        The truth of the matter – it appears you have lived here a very short time, never attend any meetings and have tried to past yourself off as a Professor at Northwestern.

        You clearly are afraid of your own shadow. ( claiming NIMBYS will bother you ) I doubt any NIMBYs would give you the time of day.

        Beyond a great number of misstatements, you continue to point to nonsense such as Soldier field.

        1. cogito ergo sum
          Junad, if there is a Junad, says:
          “WHO – Vito, Michele, Baraby and I – and all the other posters who put their names on what we say exist you do not.”

          Like Rene Descartes, I am certain of my own existence. I can speculate over whether Junad and Vito and Barnaby exist, but without proof (as in a theorem derived from Euclidean axioms), I will never be certain.

          1. Who – you may exist but in what form?
            Who – we all know who we are – anyone can verify anyone who post here and puts out their name, most of those who are posting are active enough you will find them out in the community.

            You could be a middle school student for all we know.

            Maybe you should come to the budget hearing? (after you eat your cocoa puffs or go to i-hop )

  2. Hi. My name is Al, and I’m an anonymous poster

    I read this article and totally disagree with it and your post.

    First, I see no evidence that anonymous posters here are rude, obnoxious, belittling or threatening. The board moderator does a fine job sifting out that stuff.

    Second, just because YOU CHOOSE to use your real name (I presume) and not post your opinions anonymously on this board doesn’t make your opinions any more valid nor does it suppress your opinions (you CHOOSE to post regardless)

    If it bothers you so much that people post anonymously here and they know your name, well then, why don’t you post anonymously? However, I do respect you choosing to use your name but I care much more about what you have to say.

    It can also be argued that anonymous opinions carry more weight because those weighing the opinions do not get bogged down in prejudging the messenger.

    Finally, if you’re uncomfortable posting on boards consisting of anonymous posts or the level of dissent is too much for you, you have every right to go somewhere else.

    That’s the beauty of the Internet – it’s a wide open universe relatively unencumbered by rules and obligations and which thrusts the free marketplace of ideas to a WHOLE ‘NOTHER LEVEL.

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