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?

Filed under The Computer Vet Weblog

Comments (6)

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  1. David says:

    Well, I am a half way anonymous blogger, although it wouldn’t be tough to figure out my full name if one tried…

    Anyway, I think that people who blog behind the anonymity have their reasons. Among them I would name identity theft (although probably very difficult to do online…), not wanting to get in trouble at work if their boss sees they had posted during work hours, and maybe having the extra confidence knowing that no one that is reading their blog knows who they really are and, therefore, are able to post anything they want without having to reap the repercussion of their words (that doesn’t sound right…).

    That is my two cents anyway…

    Have a good one!

    Posted May 25, 2006 @ 4:45 pm
  2. p3980 says:

    Even I blog under a pseudonym… hell, I comment under one!

    (And, no, my first blog was back in 2000. The one my username is linked to I just started!)

    Posted May 25, 2006 @ 4:49 pm
  3. Myrna the Minx says:

    Hey Scott—When did you talk to M. of the RGJ. I told her you were one of the best local bloggers. Anyway, there are a few reasons I am anonymous, at least for now. 1. I have always been one to set up clear boundaries between say work and personal life. Its a way to retain my privacy. Blogging seemed to have the potential to blur that, and I didnt like the idea of people at work knowing what I did, thought, read, watched, in my time off. My software allows me to schedule posts so that they may appear like I’m blogging throughout the day, but that’s not the case so that’s not the motivation on my part. 2. I started off anonymous and created this character that I really like. So I’m reluctant to surrender the creative freedom I’ve found writing as that character, who is much more exciting than me. Its as much a form of creative writing now than anything elsee except for those times I slip out of character. 3. I never wanted my site to be about me, but about building a community in downtown Reno, and it just seemed like people would be more interested in tuning in to read what a fictional character, who is much cooler and funnier than I am, had to say about the city. The idea was that MTM would be almost a hostess. I was HOPING to gather more contributors to the site, but that hasn’t panned out as I’d hoped it would and so I’m stuck doing a lot more writing than I thought. To sum up, I do not cling to anonymity out of fear, but rather find that it allows me to create better content and allows me to protect my personal space.

    Posted May 25, 2006 @ 6:50 pm
  4. Scott Schrantz says:

    Yeah, I know what it’s like being just about the only contributor on a supposed “community” site. This line I heard back in November runs through my head every time I think about it: “Local Ain’t Easy“.

    The reporter e-mailed me earlier this week, and although I’m deathly afraid of giving interviews for fear that I’ll come off as a complete boob, I bit the bullet and gave her a call. Hopefully I didn’t embarrass myself too much.

    Posted May 25, 2006 @ 11:21 pm
  5. myrna the minx says:

    I hope you didnt come off as a boob either since you’re our only speaking resprentative. It all depends on you–this pressure all sits on your shoulders.

    Thanks for the link–I’ve been thinking about aggregating but I don’t think this area is quite ready for that yet. Not enough of a selection–some quality but not enough.

    Posted May 26, 2006 @ 4:59 pm
  6. Zook says:

    Well I am officially convinced now and I am hereby going anonymous too – changed my on line blog ID name, even my ID picture. I know it sounds paranoid – and there are still pictures of me on there, but the more of myself I reveal as far as personality issues go, the better of an idea it becomes. Thanks for the suggestion.

    Posted June 4, 2006 @ 11:07 am

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