Should I Blog Anonymously?

In real life, among many other things, I am software developer. I’ve done some work on a few rather well known open source projects, and have decided to bring that spirit of openness and collaboration to a question that has recently become a bit stronger in my mind.

Should I blog under my own name?

I number of bloggers I respect greatly do this, and I am thinking about taking the plunge myself.

So I am opening this up to anyone who wants to throw in an opinion, but especially regulars and the dear friends and allies I’ve come to know since starting this enterprise. (note: in no particular order, words linked to make the sentence look neat and crafty)

What are the pros and cons? Have you thought about posting under your own name? Why? What’s stopping you?

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14 Responses

  1. […] No you shouldn’t blog anonymously Published November 7th, 2007 meta-blogging Dan at Fitnessfortheoccasion asks “should I blog anonymously?“ […]

  2. Your choice. I do so quasi-anonymously, that is I don’t go out of my way to advertise the real me, but at the same time I don’t make it a secret either. To many creeps, cowards and trolls who think it is fun to mess with others over the Internet, and the real wackos will try to do it in person.

  3. Rafael,
    Hmmmm. I know anyone who really wanted to could figure out who I am anyway. Anonymity on the web is a bit of an illusion. But this lower the barrier of entry significantly.

    Very good points to consider my friend, thank you.

  4. I still chuckle over the definition of e-thug… lol….rofl…roflcopter….

  5. This is a good question.

    When Emily and I were starting up our blog, we talked about this a bit. We even considered blogging under a shared pseudonym, I think. Eventually, though, we decided to blog under our own first names, and, while we don’t broadcast our full names or where we live, they’re certainly not secret. For the most part I’m sure this was the right choice — it keeps everything simple and honest, and it makes it easy to share the blog with our friends and families.

    I’ve had moments of regret, though. A trolling commenter once threatened my life; while I’m certain he posed no actual threat at all, it was chilling and it made me think twice about how easy it I am to locate. Also, as I’ve blogged about my experiences in classes this year, I’ve been keenly aware of the fact that all my posts are advertised on my Facebook profile for my classmates to see.

    In general, though, I think blogging under one’s real name, as one’s real life self, is the best choice. It’s provides transparency and credibility, and it forces you to own your words. Unless you’re in a situation where blogging anonymously is the only safe choice — like if your thoughts could get you fired or outed — I don’t think anonymity is the way to go.

  6. Thanks for the responses all.

    Daisy,
    I think your approach is the best, at least for now.
    My little sister has advised me to follow the dictum:
    “WWSW” and more importantly “WWSNW” (what would Sarah not write?)
    Of course, she said I should really be doing this anyway.

    I came up with another good reason to do this. The rhetorical impact. By putting myself out there, I am encouraging more discourse, and more confidence to to speak up and out. We need to stand together against the people who threaten bloggers, and start creating a culture that values opinions and allows for mistakes.

    I already try to own my words, and the challenge to not self censor, at all, is one I feel completely up to. So up on facebook I go (and if anyone wants to friend me on facebook, just shoot me an email). I won’t immediately be going out of my way to advertise who I am, but I won’t hide it either.

    🙂 Thanks.

  7. Awesome! I think that’s great — good for you.

  8. I like this idea. Good luck with it, sir!

  9. Thanks Sally Jane, that means a lot 🙂

  10. I think you’ve made the right decision. Good luck! 🙂

  11. Sorry for being late in finding this thoughtful post. One thing and then another has limited my online time.

    I’m not sure I get why one would choose to post with their actual identity. How would that add depth or clarity to what we write? In my own case, even with a moniker, I have experienced stalking to the degree that I had to involve my local authorities and ultimately my relative anonymity has been my protection.

  12. Thanks Catherine!

    mirth,
    I think it adds a certain confidence. But the stalking/crazy factor is certainly worrying. (Did that get resolved? What happened?) For my part, I’m just showing this blog to my friends via facebook and email. For me, that leaves me a bit anonymous, but with one foot in the “I did this” door.

    I did discuss this with a friend who is technically minded. His advice was that anonymity is an illusion, and anyone who really wanted to could find me anyway.

    I think though, that there is something to be said for putting myself out there, even if only a little. We shouldn’t be afraid to have our opinions loudly.

  13. I see you agree with Daisy which is also my postion & Rafael’s I guess, the way I do it is, it’s not exactly secret. There is some ‘tradecraft’ in it, people know who I am, but if someone I don’t know has found out that tells me they have initiative and a further agenda (whether good or ill). Plus it sounds cooler than my full surname (and if it’s ok for Chuck D it’s fine by me)! I think some use anons for nefarious reasons, but most need it because of employers etc, we are not as free as we might like to think.
    So do what you feel cool with, although if you claim to be Awesome SuperFly Sex Machine Godhead III people might suspect you are fibbing.

  14. Sorry for the delay in answering your questions.

    After a flurry of emails this person was supposedly writing as he drove across the country to kill me, very vivid in detail, my authorities contacted his authorities and it’s been nearly a year since I have heard from him.

    Your friend is right that if someone wants to find you, they can do that. In my case, I had given him none of the semi-correct-but-enough-to-find-me personal information.

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