[IMAGE] A pair of brown-skinned hands are typing on a laptop. The face of the typist isn't visible.

One of the amazing things about hosting comments on your site is that you never know who will join the conversation.

Last month, Dutch news site NU.nl ran a story about a young girl who was kidnapped from her foster parents by her allegedly abusive biological parents. The Dutch courts blamed the foster parents, although local police had apparently failed to prepare the foster parents for this possibility.

In the comments on the article (which, like all of NU.nl’s comments, were published through our Talk platform), a commenter appeared with the username ‘pleegmama’ – which is Dutch for ‘Foster Mom’.

[IMAGE] A comment written in Dutch by 'pleegmama'. It is three paragraphs long.
A comment written in Dutch by ‘pleegmama’

Because the NU.nl team monitors their comments, they were able to spot this quickly, and reach out to the commenter for more information.

We asked Managing Editor Colin van Hoek to tell us more.

How did you verify the identity of the commenter?
We sent her an email and asked for a picture of her id (with certain parts censored).

What happened next?
We featured some of her comments, told people we had checked her identity, and ended up writing a follow-up article with her comments. She mostly reacted to other comments and told her side of the story. It was all very polite and well thought-out.

Had you seen this happen before?
We do see pilots sometimes commenting on articles about airlines. Also, the Dutch administration of justice has an account with us, and they explain certain lawsuits when we write about them. They answer questions in the comments, and give people more information.

What are your goals for the comments on your site?
Our goal is to get more of these types of comments, from certain groups of people who are directly involved with the news. That can be one person or a group (pilots, teenagers, florists, teachers etc) who have something to share.
Top image from the Jopwell collection. You can learn more about Talk here.