Archives » May 25th, 2006

May 25, 2006

Anonymous Bloggers

I had a phone interview today with a reporter from the Reno Gazette Journal. She’s doing a story on blogs and is talking to some area bloggers, getting quotes and profiles from them, and giving them a chance to plug their sites. And it turns out that, out of everyone she talked to, I was the only one willing to go public with my real name. Everyone else wanted to be anonymous. She didn’t give away any names (obviously) or even their online personas, but it’s not hard for me to take a guess who she was talking about. The two best bloggers in Reno, “Yukon Sully” and “Myrna the Minx“, both blog under a psuedonym. Although if you connect the dots from this post, you can easily figure out Yukon Sully’s alter ego.

One of the questions she asked me had to do with anonymity, since I not only write under my own name, but I also put up pictures of my son, my wife and my niece, and give all their names. And to be honest, I had never really given any thought to being anonymous. I guess when I started blogging, back in 2002, using your real name was just what everyone did. Especially among the influential bloggers that I was reading at the time, like Dave Winer, Doc Searls, Jeffrey Zeldman, James Lileks, Jeff Jarvis, and so on. Everyone used their real name, even named their blog after themselves. And so it just seemed natural that I would too. But now so many of the new bloggers, especially local ones that are just ordinary folks, are starting their blogs under pseudonyms and trying to disguise their real identity. Even my wife, now that she has a blog, is using a nickname.

So what’s the draw of anonymity? Are they afraid of being “outed” among their friends and coworkers? Are they afraid of stalkers coming after them and their family? Do they enjoy swaddling themselves in a cloak of mystery? Do they not want to get sued? As someone who has never been anonymous, who has always signed everything with my full name, I just don’t see the motivation. So maybe all you anoymous bloggers out there can chime in and whack me with a clue stick: why the nicknames?