The proposal to enforce AC posting for logged in members only on the main page was promulgated to all staff and members of the board 7 days ago. Thank you to all those who contributed to the earlier discussions and clearly expressed their own views, suggestions and potential enhancements. All are being studied for implementation, if feasible, when staffing and resources permit.
There has been unanimous agreement from all responses received in favour of the proposed restriction. However, it was also apparent that there was a wish that this will be only until other alternative methods of restricting spamming, abuse and other disruptions to discussions can be identified and implemented. This is unlikely to be achievable in the short to medium term; other sites are struggling unsuccessfully with the same problem. The long-term aim remains to include AC posting in all discussions if at all possible
Therefore, beginning immediately, all AC posting on the main site will be limited to registered members who have logged in to their account. We regret that this leaves a number of AC community members unable to contribute as they once did, but anonymity remains a personal choice.
This will not affect discussions in journals which will have no limits and will be open to all.
If there is a demand for it, I will look at alternative methods of publishing a small number of stories each day into a journal.
On a more positive note, there is evidence that because of the recent restrictions on AC posting a significant number of existing accounts have returned and are commenting in the discussions. The quality of discussions (i.e. signal-to-noise ratio) is significantly better than it was several weeks ago. Although we have lost overall numbers of comments, the value of many of those lost comments appears to have been quite low. There has also been a noticeable improvement in moderations being awarded with more positive moderations being given when compared to negative ones. It is too early yet to draw any firm conclusions from other site statistics.
It is possible now.
I have done this as both an editor (with specific system privileges, and as a 'standard' user). I would welcome somebody else doing this just to confirm my findings.
When you create a new journal entry - usually by clicking on 'journal' in the side navigation box and then by selecting 'write in journal' from your personal journal page - you are presented with am 'Edit Journal Entry' box. Usually you fill in the subject (title) and then the journal topic, and the next drop down menu item is 'Comments', along with a warning that you cannot disable comments once they have been enabled. There are 7 options presented to you, including the default 'Comments Disabled' which prevents anybody from making comments.
The remaining options allow you to chose everybody or specific groups of community members (your 'friends', 'no foes' etc) that you wish to allow to comment, and one option allows you to choose 'Only Logged In Users'. This latter option prevents ACs who are not currently logged in from making comments on that particular journal. It is precisely this option that we are using to to prevent some ACs from abusing the front page.
The options are functional but are also something of a heavy hammer because they cannot be fine tuned or used in combination. This is partly because all ACs share the same account - and an account can either be enabled or disabled. It isn't possible to select just 'some' ACs, hence the problem that we have also found ourselves with over recent weeks. However, going back to the early 2000s the problem of ACs and unwanted comments was known and the ability to prevent such comments was built into the system from the very beginning. This is NOT a new problem.
It is interesting that many of the built in capabilities of slashd/rehash are not being used by the community - and I will confess that almost every editor had 'forgotten' about this capability despite that menu being on every editing page of every story that reaches the front page, and that includes myself! I knew it could be done, but I simply couldn't remember how!