Should I Delete Or Keep This Comment?

I received an email yesterday from an Australian reader. It seems that he had left a comment on one of my stories last year — but he doesn’t want it to appear on my blog anymore.

You’ll find his email below. To protect his anonymity, I’m not including his name or the name of the original post he commented on.  He writes:

Dear Mr Phillips,

Due to a change in my employment status, I am taking steps to reduce my online presence. Regarding the following post: [Post name deleted]. Could you please be so kind to remove my comment or at least change my name to “anonymous”.  I would be very grateful. If you require photo ID from myself confirming my identity, this can be arranged

Thank you and kind regards.

It’s a bit more complicated than that. This reader didn’t merely leave a comment in the comments section—he replied to one of my “Questions of the Week,” and that post had this specific disclaimer:

“Please leave your thoughts in the comment section below. I’ll compile your answers in a post later this week.”

I did exactly that. His comment—a thoughtful one that’s not at all incendiary—was included in a post that compiled several responses. To delete his comment would require me to edit the post slightly and renumber the comments. (That said, the changes would take me just a few minutes to make.) 

My feeling is that since he voluntarily submitted a comment and knew how I planned to use it, he should have no reasonable expectation that I should edit, redact, or delete the post. It also sets a bad precedent—once a post is published, I’m not inclined to change it, other than to correct bad information or bad grammar or to help make a point more clearly.

What do you think? Please vote below, and please leave any additional thoughts in the comments section below. (Just don’t expect me to delete them next year!)

[poll id=”31″]