Can I call you Nick? I know it's not Ned, but hopefully it's cool for someone you've never heard of to address you so casually. It's a sign of friendship and trust, and you know what, Nick (I can call you Nick, right?), I do like you. I respect you for recognizing that America's insatiable appetite for all manner of tabloid reporting would combine with the Internet to produce megabucks way before those no talent assclowns at TMZ or FoxNews.com figured out.
Let's talk about those burner accounts. On Deadspin, which is the only one of your sites whose comments I consume on a regular basis, they've been dreadful. They bring out the worst dregs of internet commenting. They discourage regular commenters from contributing for the same reason graffiti and litter might discourage you from visiting a park. They suck. And I'm not sure they add anything.
Now, the stated reason for their existence is they make it easier to leak to you guys. That's a noble and worthwhile end, but the means are - how do I say this while maintaining the friendly respectful tone I'm looking to strike here? - not entirely logical. First, let's start with the general proposition that anonymously leaked information in the comments section of a weblog, or webalog if you will, is unlikely to be as reliable as, for example, a person's description of themselves in a classified ad in the Weekly World News.
Second, if there is someone who is interested in leaking meaningful information anonymously, wouldn't you think that they might prefer a more discrete location than the most surgically dissected comment section(s) on the Netwebs? The chances of detection just go sky high if your information is made public in its raw form, rather than filtered by editors and republished in their own words and combined with their own research. I've known a few anonymous whistleblowers in my day, and most are beyond paranoid about revealing any detail that might give away their identity (again, that's supposedly the point of the Burners to begin with), so writing it in an extremely public forum would probably not be a significant incentive to come forward.
Third, whether intentional or not, you have now chosen to place your long-standing commenters at something of a disadvantage relative to these anonymous folks. When I joined Deadspin back in the stone ages of 2009 or so, the site didn't require any info from me. Now, every one of us is forced to link our accounts to a twitter or google or Facebook account, making us far more identifiable. If we want to retain any goodwill we've built up over the past few years - and we're told that historic goodwill does play a role somewhere in the Powwow/Kinja algorithm - we need to use these publicly linked accounts. Meanwhile, some new reader off the street can come in and comment without any of these hassles. That's fine, mind you, but it should at least be an option for us regular commenters, too. (Not that I care if you know I'm @ironmikegallego on twitter.)
Fourth, and this is where I think we get into it, there's really no good reason to combine an anonymous leaking public forum - even if there were interest in publicly leaking things anonymously, as counter intuitive as that may be - with a general commenting account whose purpose is to respond to existing articles with jokes or clever insights. We used to - and may still - have a #tips forums. That would make a fine spot for these anonymous reports. Why should they be limited to leaks that relate to a given story, after all? Wouldn't the best leaks be completely unrelated to anything you're already covering?
I think the only sensible reason to have Burner accounts is to encourage anonymous drive-by commenting. People who never would have taken the time to make a real account, and yes, people who never could get past the approval hurdles in the past, can now just come in and comment willy-nilly. And, maybe this too is a worthy end. If it increases site traffic and revenue, more power to you. It's your sandbox, we all are just playing in it. But to quote Thomas Aquinas, "don't pee on my shoe and tell me it's raining."
Anyway, just take this for what it is: A prolix haphazardly-typed screed from someone you've never heard of that you will never read.
Also, what does AJ smell like? Is it a mix of Axe body spray and Top Ramen? That's always what I figured.
* Edited because it made me sound like much more of a whiny bitch than I intended, whether that was an accurate depiction or not.