Andrew Alexander comes down on the side of permitting anonymous comments and monitoring them.
He believes there are legitimate reasons for people who cannot identify themselves --- either for fear of reprisals or because their work would not permit it --- and sees their contribution as more important to encourage than a system that would demand transparency to drive out the cranks.
He points to new technology coming to the Post --- others, presumably, too --- that provides a preferred ranking to those with experience commenting appropriately.
"Anonymous loudmouths can still shout, but trusted commenters will be easier to hear," he says.
Which might be easy for him to say because the Post has a relatively large staff to review the comments and delete the inappropriate ones. Smaller newsrooms are finding it much more difficult to cope, even when they have filters for words and phrases (the filters are pretty easy to circumvent).
Most difficult are the libelous comments, and different countries have different challenges in not only the definition of defamation but the publishers' responsibilities and how they are legally defined.
Even a so-called "skinny registration," in which someone has to provide an email address, is potentially a big help in dissuading inappropriate remarks and identifying who said what.
What isn't clear is whether it's also a big impediment to traffic and comments. In other words, is the culture of free expression so embedded that even a lighthanded registration will encourage people to go elsewhere and discuss?