Do you write anonymous comments on your blog?

Rest easy Hennepin County bloggers — comments on your site won’t get you into legal trouble. Unless you wrote them yourself.

That’s the upshot of a key ruling Tuesday in blogger John “Johnny Northside” Hoff’s trial.

MinnPost media critic David Brauer reports on the pro-journalist ruling:

Lawyer Jill Clark built the case that Hoff posted the anonymous comment to his own blog.  The evidence was … interesting. It came from Donald Allen, a former Hoff ally and former defendant in the case who is now testifying for [former University of MN contractor Jerry] Moore. Allen contended that he could recognize Hoff’s wording in the comment; Hoff has denied authoring it. Allen not only told Clark he had written anonymous comments to his own blogs, but “all bloggers do that to start a conversation.”

Brauer mentions he has never posted an anonymous comment and he speculates that many other bloggers don’t do it either.

Seems like a lot of speculation from all parties, but it made us wonder: Have you ever anonymously seeded comments on your own blog? How widespread is this practice?
Murder rate reporting that deserves to be killed

Headline from

Violent Crime Down Across The Board In Mpls. In 2011

As translated by

Murder rate drops by 70 percent in Minneapolis

Mind you, “2011” means all of 31 January days, while “70 percent” means a drop from seven to two in that period.

Welcome to another episode of “January gets too much attention,” in which small sample sizes are misleadingly cast as something bigger because of the calendar’s first page.

Still, here’s what I can tell you: the damn thing looks a lot better. Designers have been allowed to rediscover the ancient concept of “white space,” the ad count is down, and the main business of the site — the stories — are no longer framed by cacophonous commercials, come-ons, and headline teases.
Did local TV experts violate ethics rules in Charlie Sheen stories?

Obviously, the Sheen story is white-hot, and beyond the ratings-grubbing, there’s legitimate public interest in helping viewers understand what’s happening.

Several reporters made it clear their experts weren’t Sheen’s doctor. Still, if the “Goldwater rule” remains any guide 50 years later, stations need to be more careful about letting their medical pros display Sheen-like overconfidence.