Tonight, I built the first stage of the comments here on beatcanvas.com. Sometime this week, I'll finish them, but at least now people can comment anonymously.
How do you make it easy for people to uniquely identify themselves if they want to do more than just an anonymous comment? I've handled that two ways.
1) Allow even anonymous commenters to give themselves a display name, with "(Anonymous)" next to their displayed name so that it can't be confused with others who uniquely identified themselves.
2) After tossing it around, I think entering an email address is a good way, but that brings jitters. ("Will I get spammed?") I considered zip code and birth month /day. I've decided on all three, with the ability to change any one of them if you know the other two.
Why zip code? Because I think the next stage of blogs is local, and I expect a lot of networking through them. For this reason, I'm using a localization engine that I built last year that for those who want others to know that they are local, they can search for every registered blogger / commenter within X miles of a zip code in the US and Canada.
Once I'm very happy with beatcanvas.com and I've built the localization registry, I'll invite other bloggers / commenters to register their location (zip code only to protect privacy) so that it's an easy lookup for other like-minded folk. Then, with a protected email form on beatcanvas.com, people could send messages until they felt safe enough to share addresses / phone numbers and actually meet.
Plus, with easy identification of the commenter, I can enable other features, such as allow you to view all of the comments across articles, and give you the ability to play editor by screening out posts of a certain category. (Don't like my politics? Choose not to view those articles.)
I though about expanding that function to include privatizing some of my articles. For example, I'm uncomfortable posting about my children, what with creepy people on the web and all. So what if I could password-protect your access to a category, such as family? Then give the password to family and friends. When they choose the content categories that they wish to view, they'll be prompted that one time for the password. That would allow family to get updates/pictures of the kids and allow me to keep their privacy.
And now, time to do the dinner dishes...