For some reason, anonymity is acceptable --- not as the justifiable shield for those who fear retribution if identified, but as a shield for those with other kinds of fears, motives or tendencies. Somewhere early in the game it became a rule instead of an exception to adopt a nickname and speak through it.
The result breaks what we were all taught rightly in school: That part of the bargain in speaking freely is the responsibility to stand up and be counted, and that part of the bargain in being criticized is to at least know who is attacking.
It's heartening, then, to read J.R. Johnson, the CEO of the social sharing service Lunch.com, observe in the San Jose Mercury News a shift to more accountability in comments online. He believes, and I agree, that more transparency among contributors and commenters will spur more participation; at the moment, many are keeping out of the fray because the unattributed cohort is given a long leash.
Ultimately the benefit will outweigh the detriment in making visible all but a handful --- those who truly need the protection.