Survey: Anonymous/Pseudonymous Blogging & Tweeting, Good or Bad?

31 Jan

I’ve written on this subject before, and my bottom line is that its a net positive for society for people who know what they’re talking about to do so in a public forum, even if in order to do so they must use a pseudonym.  I want to take a poll here and see what you all think, but before that, I want to clarify a few things (click through for the poll):

  • The good/best blogges/tweeters share some information about their background so readers can judge whether they’re credible.
  • Even without biographic information, the only measure is the quality of the content and the strength of the arguments contained therein.  It DOES NOT MATTER WHOSE NAME IS ATTACHED TO THEM.  Our country was founded by Men (and women) who understood this!
  • Bloggers/tweeters – contrary to the complaints of some – DO, in fact, have reputations to build/foster/protect.  The blogosphere/twitterverse observes fairly Darwinian dynamics: the high(er)-quality blogs/tweets tend to float to the top and get noticed by other authors of high-quality material.  The crap tends to sink to the bottom.  There are exceptions to this rule, but it generally holds true.
  • Professional writers/tweeters/bloggers/whatever are by definition public persons.  Dealing with criticism comes with the territory.  If you can’t handle the heat, get out of the fire.  Trolls have been criticizing Public Persons since the beginning of time (if not earlier!) and it doesn’t matter from whom the criticism comes.  If its an ad hominem attack, ignore it (I’m the subject of many ad hominem attacks, too,  and it bothers me just as much when I’m the subject of such an attack whether its under my pseudonym or real persona).  If its a valid argument, debate it on its merits.  It’s really as simple as that (short of outright and blatant harassment, of course)
  • Everyone gets criticized in their job (especially if they’re doing it well!).  I’ve had colleagues/bosses/etc SCREAM at me, call me all sorts of names, tell me I’m an idiot, tell me I just totally f*cked up an project in front of dozens of people.  It sucks, especially when the criticism is not just about the quality of your work but attacks you personally.  I do feel for Public Persons because there’s alot of hate out there, but you’re the one who chose your path, if you don’t like it, find another career.  Otherwise, It happens.  Learn how to shrug it off and get back to work.  That’s the only way to deal with it.
  • The whole point of this blogging/tweeting thing is to share information and engage in healthy debate.  Surely, we’re all human and every single one of us will resort to ad hominem attacks eventually, but we need to make a conscious effort to not only avoid doing it ourselves, but understanding that when others do it to us, they’re likely doing so out of impulsive anger, and responding in kind is counterproductive.  I say this fully acknowledging that I have made these mistakes myself several times.  I’m not perfect – no one is – but we all need to be cognizant of our behavior and others’ as well, and try to be civil, that’s all.

Let’s take a poll.  Are you for or against pseudonymous/anonymous writing/blogging/tweeting?  Please say why in the comments!

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20 Responses to “Survey: Anonymous/Pseudonymous Blogging & Tweeting, Good or Bad?”

  1. steve from virginia January 31, 2011 at 6:25 pm #

    I don’t think it matters in the long run. Content does. Name is a trademark … meaningless.

    What is a ‘Nabisco’, anyway?

  2. Anonymouse January 31, 2011 at 6:26 pm #

    The whole thing about this issue is that Heidi, despite being talented otherwise, has no self-control and freaks out when she perceives things to be remotely personal. I was at a conference she attended and they got her bio wrong – as if people read those things anyway. She showed no tact nor professionalism in handling the situation and instead went on a twitter screed about the organizers and how they were trying to sabotage her career. It made everyone, including attendees and other members of the press, cringe every time she belted out another tweet.
    Of course, she’s tenacious – which serves her well in her profession – so it’s unlikely that she will give up this crusade against the evil hordes of anonymous bloggers and twitters who are out to get her.

    • The Analyst January 31, 2011 at 6:46 pm #

      I remember this as well. Her reaction(s) remind me of Chris Rock’s Bigger & Blacker special, wherein he said:

      “‘Cause every woman’s got another woman
      at her job that she can’t stand.

      Women, y’all exaggerate everything.
      You turn it into some Dynasty shit, like:

      ”She’s trying to destroy me!”

      What the fuck are you talking about?
      You wrap up bags at J.C. Penney’s!

      What’s she doing, ripping up your paper?!?”

  3. lizzy January 31, 2011 at 6:36 pm #

    Most who use pseudonym’s that write on either financial blogs and/or tweet are well known to others who participate in these debates.

    When one criticizes another, I am not sure how that criticism becomes more or less valid, based on whether their real name is known.

    I also know that when I find out the real name of someone that (for whatever reason) has decided to use a pseudonym, I NEVER disclose that information, regardless of the circumstances.

    We all know some of the identities behind those that we regularly engage with either on twitter or on a blog. We respect one another enough to let the content of our words, stand or fall on their merits. Outing someone is the work of either a bully or a coward (usually the two go hand in hand).

    It is not my prerogative, to impose rules on other participants in the game of blogging or tweeting. That
    I leave up to the sanctimonious, self righteous among us, who are either unwillingly to debate others on the merits of their arguments or for reasons of intelligence, unable.

    • The Analyst January 31, 2011 at 7:08 pm #

      Bingo! I’ve strongly disagreed (to say the least) with people on these very pages and on twitter (and in person, imagine that) without blowing them up as we saw yesterday. Even if you get angry and impulsive, there’s things you just do not do, and that was one of them.

      We’ll see if there’s any unintended consequences that come from this, I expect there will be…

  4. Anonymously David January 31, 2011 at 6:43 pm #

    Great post! While I like the poll and understand where you’re coming from I couldn’t answer the question, hence my “other” reply. If there was a choice, I’d select all 3 as I’ve seen them all.

    Some thoughts –
    1. I think everyone is entitled to anonymity but should not assume that it is guaranteed. Even “anonymous” message boards log your IP address when you post. There really is no such thing as 100% anonymity in the digital world in which we live. Anonymous people with far more to lose than bloggers/twiterers have been outed before (think Plame affair). It’s that easy to be found out.
    2. While everyone is entitled to anonymity, everyone is also entitled to be an asshole, anonymously or in the open. The confluence of those 2 entitlements resulted in the Twitter mishap that I think inspired this very poll.
    3. If you want to be anonymous, and it’s for the harmless reasons you set forth above (protection of reputation etc) then I would suggest that anonymous bloggers/twiterers/etc should be held to a higher standard. That means don’t post shit if you think it might make someone want to know who you are. If you do, you’re playing with fire (see thought #1).

    My overall feeling is that if anonymity is something that a blogger/twiterer needs in order to share their intelligent/helpful thoughts/information, then go ahead. But at the same time,
    one should understand that if you piss the right (er, wrong) person off you might not like the outcome. I agree with the 1st commenter that content is king. At least that’s what you’d assume in a world with out assholes…

    • The Analyst January 31, 2011 at 7:11 pm #

      I’ve long since known that its only a matter of time before someone with a vendetta outs me, likely in a intentionally harmful and impulsive manner like what we saw yesterday. I was not prepared for this sort of thing to happen so soon, nor in the exact manner it did.

      Interestingly, I was conversing with The Outed last night and the event actually may have actually helped her career, which I’m sure was the opposite result The Outer was expecting.

  5. Edmundo Braverman January 31, 2011 at 7:06 pm #

    You can probably guess where I come down on the issue. That said, I have to agree with Anonymously David in that there is no true privacy in our chosen medium.

    I think the guys (at least in our area of expertise) who abuse anonymity to consistently insult others or detract from the conversation are pretty quickly ignored. As in most things, the cream rises to the top and authority is established with or without seeing someone’s birth certificate.

    As for a pseudonymous blogger being “outed” by a hissy fit or any other means, it probably goes with the territory. I know anyone with the time and inclination to comb through my stuff over the past couple years could pretty easily figure out who I am. But that’s why I never write something I wouldn’t want to have to answer for.

    I still think outing someone is pretty horrible and petty. I’d never do it myself, but I also wouldn’t be surprised if it were done to me at some point.

    • The Analyst January 31, 2011 at 7:12 pm #

      Its only a matter of time (see my response to David, as it applies to what you’ve said as well).

  6. the weakonomist January 31, 2011 at 9:56 pm #

    What are these pseudonyms you speak of? Is that like sudo make me a sandwich?

  7. ppearlman February 1, 2011 at 10:01 am #

    great post! agreed.

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