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NEW! Anonymous commenting...

April 5, 2013 - 07:54 -- Bart G.J. Knols

With many thousands of visitors to MalariaWorld each week, we wondered why only few of you ever comment on articles, blogs, forums, etc. After all, we hope that MalariaWorld becomes a '2-way' platform, where we not only provide you with professional information on malaria, but also like to have your input, thoughts, dreams, worries, etc.

I have spoken to many MalariaWorld members over the last several months, always asking them about commenting, replying, etc. One of the responses that kept coming back was the 'exposure' issue: if you write on MalariaWorld, the whole world of malaria professionals is going to see what you wrote. That's challenging, and, some add, 'risky'.

If you reveal your name when commenting on an article, by for instance showing that the analysis of the data was not correct, the authors will not be 'amused'. Or if you ventilate your thoughts on how malaria control should be improved, those in power may feel 'challenged'. Whatever the reason, you may want to comment on things you read that would be best if you could remain anonymous (so not revealing your name).

This is possible now.

Whenever you hit the 'reply' button, you will see that directly above the 'Save' button you can click the box 'Post this comment anonymously'. After you save your comment, it will be posted as 'Submitted by Anonymized user'.

So, if you are a student and want to comment on your Professor's article on MalariaWorld, no need to be afraid anymore. Just make sure your name is not revealed.

However, please note that you need to be logged in to do this. The reason for this is that we will moderate anonymous comments to avoid use of abusive or offensive language in comments. We have been a very 'clean' platform for four years and want to keep it that way...

So go ahead, comment at will without the world knowing who you are!


Submitted by Ricardo Ataide on

Hi Bart,

As one of the members who has on occasion raised the issue of poor engagement by the MW community and it's possible causes I would like to say that, although I understand the immediate need for a 'Anonymous' option, I'd love to see some proposals on how to to make people comfortable with engaging more?

To be honest, we should eliminate this once and for all from science. This whole, 'Anonymous' stuff... Either you feel comfortable doing something or you don't. Some journals already include in their Reviewing Form an option for 'Do you want to reveal who you are to the authors'. I, for one, if given the option, always say yes.

My proposal, tough, would be that (and now speaking solely regarding Journal Reviewers) we should register Reviewers with an independent board. Every time a Reviewer would review a manuscript his/hers ID code would come in the manuscript and we should be able to perform PUBMED searches for a specific reviewer... what do you think?

Ricardo Ataíde

Bart G.J. Knols's picture
Submitted by Bart G.J. Knols on

Dear Ricardo,

Regarding the reviewer issue and the idea for an ID code, this is an excellent idea, and one I would wholeheartedly support. In the MalariaWorld Journal we have tried to reveal the names of reviewers, but only few accept to review a paper when they are told so up front...we thus had to revert to the old system (regretfully).

As for commenting on MalariaWorld, this is a different issue. I have spoken to many (young) subscribers and there is a fear of commenting in the open. PhD's want post-doc positions, post-docs want assistant professorships. Being transparent and open has its dangers if you want to climb the academic career ladder... My hopes remain high that the younger generations will become as liberal in science as they are on facebook...

Submitted by Ricardo Ataide on

Hi Bart,

Yes, I agree with you and the MW's position on Anonymity. I'm just dissapointed about having to reach that point.

As for the Reviewers idea: how about trying a poll to find out how many of us would be in agreement with that? Like I mentioned, reviewers could be registered, given a number, that number would appear on papers and we would be able to pubmed them.

Ricardo Ataíde

Jeff Juel's picture
Submitted by Jeff Juel on

Every day that the eradication of Malaria is delayed is the difference between life and death for thousands. It is possible that some important anonymous postings will make that day come sooner rather than later. On the other hand, there is a time and place for being bold - as opposed to being timid and anonymous.

I think that putting your name on your comments motivates you to be more thoughtful and responsible - but I understand that reality is complicated and not everyone has the same tolerance for risk-taking.

I personally hope that being bold and pushing boundaries eventually will pay off. (So far it hasn't worked out that way.) Galileo died in poverty under house arrest for this work, but he was bold and he was brilliant - and he was right! With Galileo, science took a great quantum leap and humanity benefited as a result - but at an enormous personal cost.

I agree with Gilbert and Sullivan's Pirate King (Pirates of Penzance): "Always act in accordance with the dictates of your conscience – and chance the consequences!"

There is little to lose and much to be gained.

Jeff Juel, PE

Tony Goodchild's picture
Submitted by Tony Goodchild on

Hi Bart and Ricardo,

Simply: comments by identified people are more likely to be taken seriously than anonymous ones. The commenter is now free to decide, thanks to MW's new policy.

Ricardo's proposal to allocate anonymised IDs to reviewers of journal articles sounds an excellent idea: the review could be seen in the context of their other reviews, and the embarassment of seeing honest comments by a colleague could be avoided!


Tony Goodchild, ex-Tanzania, retired,

Formerly at: Animal Health & Veterinary Laboratories Agency, Weybridge KT15 3NB, UK

Thanks you, I am damn sure, that anonymous commenting will help visitors to comment more. But one disadvantage of this handy feature is that, it will attract more spammers towards
I think, Now its time to hire some blog comment moderators.

Ole Skovmand's picture
Submitted by Ole Skovmand on

I think some of the commentators have to come down to the real world. If everybody just read critic as a help and not as a personal or professionnel attack or offence, reviews and other comments could be public. But the real world is not like that and accepting to be a reviewer would be a sign up for loosing professionnel network.
But there are many professionnel discussion on LinkedIn discussion groups, where you participate with name and eventual photo, and some of these derive from Malaria World, so I think the statistic is not as poor as Bart writes