August 18, 2009

Anonymous Blogging- Pulling Back The Curtain

This post initially began with a smartass remark about blogging being covered as a social disorder in the upcoming edition of the DSM IV. I opted to dispose of that because this is a semi-serious post and it deserves a better joke than something as weak as that.

Anonymous blogging is an issue that generates strong feelings on both sides and one that is beginning to be discussed with increasing frequency. The primary complaint is that anonymity provides an abdication of personal accountability for what is written. It is a reasonable concern. I have stumbled upon more than a few blogs that served as vehicles to attack the character of a person(s) and or businesses.

If you have been on the receiving end of some these hatchet jobs you might have found yourself frustrated with an inability to confront the writer or writers of the posts in question. I know of several cases which led to the use of the legal system to attempt to gain the true name of the blogger.

More than one post has been written in which the author suggested that anonymous bloggers are cowards. I understand where they are coming from and appreciate why they might think that those of us behind the mask don't really stand behind our principles. Of course had they been a student with me they would know that I usually stood before the principal, but I digress.

As the seventeen long time readers know I have been wrestling for a while with revealing my true identity. In concept pulling back the curtain should provide more advantages than disadvantages. It allows me to retain the benefit of my brand while simultaneously growing it more quickly than I have in the past.

After more than five years of blogging I have an established readership and name. For years many of my friends and family have made repeated requests to get a chance to visit this corner of cyberspace. With very few exceptions I have always rebuffed those efforts. I like the anonymity because it allows me to write more freely. Take off the mask and some of the more self introspective posts will disappear.

I kind of like writing those. Of course there is nothing preventing me from continuing or establishing a new blog to keep writing them on. It is not that I can't discuss those introspective posts, because I can. But I don't really want to. Some of them are pretty raw and I don't feel like having to go through a 27 hour explanation with some of the people who will ask about them.

I have very realistic expectations about how many of my friends/family will read this thing. A bunch will take one look and never come back, but I can guarantee that more than a few will hang around. So I really need to ask myself if I am prepared to open that can of worms.

As for setting up a separate blog, well I have five now and barely have time to keep them going. Setting up something new is going to require giving something up, which might not be such a bad thing.

In addition to the benefits of retaining my brand taking off the mask would make it easier to get more writing jobs, at least I think that it would. In theory if they didn't get scared away by the wacky world I write about it would provide a ton of samples of my writing ability for them to review.

As it stands now it is a bit more challenging to produce as many samples as they'd like.

I don't expect to make any quick decisions about this. The good news is that I don't really have to, but I kind of expect to do it. At least I think that I am probably going to, but I suppose that only time will tell.

12 comments:

Ben-Yehudah said...

B"H

I say, "stay in the closet."

You cares what anyone else thinks.

SuperRaizy said...

Blogging is meant to provide the blogger with some sort of personal satisfaction. Do what feels right to you.

Mrs. S. said...

I've found that "semi-anonymous blogging" works for me. If someone searches for my real name, they won't land on my blog. But anyone who knows me in real life should be able to figure out my identity after reading a post or two of mine.

Ben-Yehudah said...

Mrs. S., This is one of the reasons I do not allow photo tagging of me on Facebook, and will not attend the Bloggeres' Convention. I use my real name.

I also don't want to lose my job, nor hurt my employer by having my opinions associated with their "stay away from controversy" stance.

Of course, many have said that my avatar looks like me a lot, and one blogger claims she recognized me solely from that.

Soccer Dad said...

When I criticize anonymous bloggers as cowards, it is directed towards those who use their anonymity as a rock from behind which they hurl verbal slings and arrows at others.

I understand that there are reasons to remain anonymous, and I respect that. And generally I don't criticize it. The exception is when anonymity is used primarily as a shield so someone can attack others without worrying about reprisals. Then it is a tool of cowardice.

The Misanthrope said...

There is far too much exposure in this cyberspace world.

Jack said...

BY,

I don't care what anyone else thinks. But it would help get more freelance writing jobs.

Raizy,

That is sound advice and more than likely what I'll do.

Mrs. S.,

I used to be fully anonymous, but over time I have been discovered by a few. Not really sure that it matters, but...

BY,

I can attest to that, you do look like your avatar, just taller. ;)

SD,

That is reasonable criticism. If you use anonymity solely to attack others then you deserve the title.

M,

Yep. Anonymity isn't always as secure as we think it is. There are lots of little tracks being left all over.

Ben-Yehudah said...

Soccer Dad, That's a good point.

BrooklynWolf said...

Interestingly, I have some of the same feelings. I, too, have been blogging anonymously for a few years now and have contemplated off and on whether or not to just reveal my identity. It's not like I'm a famous person or anything. If you heard my name, your first reaction would probably be "who?"

In reality, I've actually been letting go of the anonymity slowly. I've already told some friends and family about my blog. Some bloggers (including some of your commentators :) ) know who I am IRL.

What's funny is that the positions I take IRL are identical to those I put on the blog. So, why keep it a secret? I'm not certain that I have a real answer to that. Perhaps that's why I consider going public every once in a while.


The Wolf

Ben-Yehudah said...

Jack, True that it would help get you those jobs,...I suppose.

How do you know what I really look like?

When I asked Jameel if I looked like my avatar, he said he never noticed my avatar,... too busy I guess.

So, how would you know?

Jack said...

Hi BW,

Thanks for stopping by. If my post is not marked Fragments of Fiction then you can assume that positions taken are those I hold IRL.

So in theory I shouldn't have any problem just coming out. But I haven't quite been ready.

BY,

If they want to see clips of my writing than the blog is an easy resource to use.

Jacob Da Jew said...

Like Mrs. S, I'm semi-Anon.

My real name and other personal details are not online yet i post photos etc.

works for me.