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May 14, 2007


Hilzoy: "We do this for fun"

Maybe this should be rephrased a bit: "We do this as an altruistic public service" sounds a lot better.

The fact that it's fun is secondary....

I have been reading what I thought was an excellent two-volume collection, Debate on the Constitution, which has original documents of the Federalist and Anti-Federalist debate, including letters, articles and speeches. A great many are by writers who cannot be identified to this day. I never stopped to consider the sources. How dare the Library of America amplify their cowardly voices? I probably can't get my money back, but I will complain.

Mrs. Context and I agree that it is important to be transparent. In fact, she's so transparent I hardly see her.

Why does the Washington Post waste valuable column space on this drivel?

The gatekeepers are getting nervous. They face the question of how relevant they really are any more, or at least how long will they retain some level of relevancy. Anything they can do or write to discredit new media is almost reflexive I think.

From the business perspective, it is even worse.

As ad revenue moves online, it is coming out of someone’s pocket.

If Web sites required posters to use their real names, while giving the shield of pseudonymity when it's merited, spirited online debate would continue unimpeded. It might even be enhanced by attracting contributors who are turned off today by name calling and worse. Except for the hate-mongers, who wouldn't want that?"

oh the horrible incivility of the blogs!

tell me, squid-brain, are Limbaugh, Savage and Coulter afraid to use their real names when they advocate killing liberals with bats and truck bombs ?

See, OCSteve? You have spewed your hate at the MSM from behind your pseudonym, and what do we do? We amplify your outbursts! We give you a pedestal! We put your name up in lights and force people to read what you wrote! We rent airplanes and fly them with banners saying 'OCSteve's latest comment!' over county fairs and 4H club meetings!

We should be ashamed.

this from an anonymous blogger. what a surprise. coward.

So if anticrat 424 identifies himself as Walter Brown who is going to make sure it's not really Anne Green? Are blogs going to start asking for passports?

What if he's legally changed his name to anticrat424?

Speaking from personal experience, it's nice to be able to blog from behind a pseudonym when personal circumstances might make blogging under my real name (assuming I have one) inconvenient.

The comment from "anon" at 05:40 has a delicious ambiguity of stance.

I also wanted to echo JayC on "We do this for fun": I thought you did this for this betterment of the world (or the universe for that matter).

Also, where's publius to make the ObFederalist point?

We should be ashamed.

Speaking for myself, I am, deeply.

this from an anonymous blogger.

This from a commenter cleverly named “anon”. Is that you Grubisich? That was fast…

I post under my real name - you may recognize me from the Geico commercials.

What if we all changed our names to anticrat424?

How much staff does Tom Grubisich think we have?

I volunteer to be Official Pizza Maker. Unpaid.

I also look forward to his column questioning the legitimacy of the unsigned editorials that run in his paper’s op-ed pages.

Well, at any rate we do this for free.

I have a proposal: newspaper reporters' anonymous sources should at least have to use pseudonyms. That way we could determine whether to trust "SeniorAdministrationOffical12" based partly on his past track record of being either reliable or completely full of crap, and learn how many of them they were using...

What if we all changed our names to anticrat424?

Cookie Monster: Tonight, Monsterpiece Theater present great drama, "Me Claudius".

[various characters]: "Me Claudius." "Me Claudius." "Me Claudius."

Cookie Monster: Well, me still not sure who Claudius. But this Alistair Cookie saying, "goodnight from Monsterpice Theater." [eats pipe]

"What if we all changed our names to anticrat424?"

It could be big, like that Michelle Malkin thingy...

I volunteer to be Official Pizza Maker. Unpaid.

And I volunteer to be Official Chicken Cacciatore Maker.

"I am anticrat424"

"No, I am anticrat424!"

"No, *I* am anticrat424!!"

"Shut up, Spartacus."

I offer to be Official Zombie.


If Web sites required posters to use their real names, while giving the shield of pseudonymity when it's merited, spirited online debate would continue unimpeded.
Call me paranoid, but this article partly sounds like ideological groundwork making a moral argument in favor of the anti-anon nice police (while reporters continue quoting anonymous sources unimpeded, of course). Forum administrators can turn anonymous posting off. That should clue in anyone looking for spirited debate.

Or, quit yer bitching, drop the celebrity journalism model, and do some investigative journalism if you want us to stop bitching about your lack of investigative journalism, WaPo & Co.

"So, your name's not anticrat424?"

"No, my name's Michael"

"Well, that's liable to cause a little confusion."

"Mind if we call you anticrat424, just to keep things clear?"

if he were consistently unpleasant, I wouldn't continue to seek him out. Is it impossible to do this on the internet? No. (Pie!)

mmmm. pie.

hilzoy: Does anything -- anything at all -- force us to read comment threads we don't like? No.

Wrong. The answer we were looking for was "Yes, our own miserable lack of self-control."

Jesurgislac, Gwangung: I volunteer to be the Official Pizza and Chicken Cacciatore Taster!

i'll bring the wine. any requests?

+blink blink+

Wow, that's rather dense.

Now that you mention it Cleek, I could use a glass of Shiraz right about now.


'Ugh' made me laugh. I rather like those caveman commercials; I don't know why.

I use my real name here. I was rather glad when the Harry Potter movies came out, 'cause everyone now pronounces my name correctly! I've heard all the mispronounciations before, by the way: snaps, snap, snipes, snapee, even snapé!

I use my real name here.

I thought I recognised it! Is it you or your younger brother who's Potions Master at Hogwarts?

I blog (and hence post) anonymously mainly because some of my blog posts concern my daughter and I don't want to embarass her too much in the future. (She can't read yet). Anyone who really wanted to could probably work out from information on my blog about my research interests and when I got my PhD who I am (or they could contact me if they had a legitimate reason to find out my real name). All I'm doing therefore, is stopping someone Googling me and concluding that I make rather twee art installations or am a prize-winning Canadian gymnast or whatever else other people with my name may have done.

Not merely do I not use my real name in my posts, but I decided a few years ago to not sign up for sites where giving a real name and/or e-mail address is a requirement to post, whether on the left or the right, as I do not trust anyone to have that information. And in light of the blogfather's penchant for outing people he is vexed by, I think my decision has been the right one.

I stay anonymous simply because I'm embarrassed by my insipid viewpoints and lack of knowledge. jrudkis knows who I am, but he doesn't really count.

Ha, ha, more fool you, Hilzoy! For if you had done your background checks, you would have discovered the horrifying truth - that I am actually former President Jimmy Carter (history's greatest monster); that bril is the vengeful ghost of Roy Cohn; and that Gary Farber is actually just a sock puppet for some guy named Gary Farber.

I post with a link to my Dutch blog, which has a link to my family site with all names and info.
Also, if you use a nick consequently people have a reasonable idea of who and what you are. If you google me you get a fair idea of the blogs I read (and even of part of my books I noticed - and google things Dutch Rebel is a good alternative) and the things I say.
Anticrat1234 is probabely easier to google than John Smith ;)

i'm pseudo for many reasons, but some of them are: i've seen what happens to people who get on the wrong side of bloggers like Misha and Malkin - i don't need angry wingnuts harassing me; and because of nasty mail i've received in response to letters posted under my real name from the editor of my local paper; and because i've had employers question me about posts i've made at Slashdot (under a pseud, but one that was well-known around the office).

it wouldn't be too hard to find my real name, and i've even voluntarily outed myself a couple of times in comments. but, for the most part, i'm just cleek.

What ThirdGorchBro said.

If you look up posts by "J Thomas" you get a lot by me and a lot by at least one self-proclaimed conservative who uses the same name. http://www.rightsideredux.com/

I can't tell how many of the others are him.

Anybody who was hostile who was willing to put in some effort could separate me from the others, find the other names and email addresses I've used and my moribund blog, and pinpoint my location at least down to the town in northern virginia. But it would be more work than if my name was korzybsk123.

I second Katherine's motion that reporters assign pseudonyms to their anonymous sources. They did it for Deep Throat, so it's got a nice history.

I also propose that reporters suggest pseudonyms to their anonymous sources, starting with the person's real name spelled backwards -- it's time we weeded out the vampires. Starting with Lrak Evor.

I became "dr ngo" as a (fairly transparent) means of distinguishing my off-the-cuff comments from my professional work, published under my actual name. The latter is, by and large, well-documented and copiously footnoted; I may be wrong, but I'm never hasty. In cyberspace, OTOH . . .

It was only after a few years that I began considering the other alternative Ways Of Being in the Interwub (real name, complete anonymity, &c.) and the reasons why people chose them. So far I've seen no reason to change my original decision. Anyone who cares to can easily find out who I am, but as yet I've not been troubled by stalkers or Google bounty hunter. And for me, the distinction between Serious Work and Frivolous Talk remains a useful one.

As always, YMMV.

I meant to reference the distinction between "Iain M. Banks" (who writes SF, I believe) and "Iain Banks" (who writes non-SF fiction [including the unforgettable The Wasp Factory] and non-fiction). Mr. Banks is not trying to fool anyone, merely direct his prospective readers to the appropriate readings for them.

The Wasp Factory is on my list -- of his non-SF work, all I've read so far is The Bridge.

Lesly: "Call me paranoid, but this article partly sounds like ideological groundwork making a moral argument in favor of the anti-anon nice police (while reporters continue quoting anonymous sources unimpeded, of course)."

My motto is that Freudian projection is the single best explanation of much of what the right says. The WaPo has no problem quoting as many anonymous gov't officials as they can stuff into their pages. They have no problem saying things like 'many colleagues believe...', where the 'many' isn't even quantified, much less named.

People use aliases because you never know who is going to be reading this stuff. Folks who opine for a living get paid to spout off. Folks who don't can get fired for it. Grubisch is either naive or an idiot if he doesn't get that.

For the record, I use my real name here because the knucklehead factor here is extremely low. Other places, I don't.

This gave me a laugh:

The author, a former Post reporter and editor, writes about grass-roots journalism for Online Journalism Review. His e-mail address is [email protected].

Let's all call him "Mr. Editor" from now on.

Thanks -

"and that Gary Farber is actually just a sock puppet for some guy named Gary Farber."

I'm outed!

I use my real name because I thoroughly believe, based on deep lifelong experience of, and even deeper knowledge of, going back over the past 77 years, a community of people (original core science fiction fandom) writing their opinions back and forth to each other, both pseudonymously and non-pseudonymously, that anyone depending on the cloak of that pseudonym protecting them is, in fact, setting themselves up to be ultimately outed.

I would say that anyone who is going to write substantially for over a year is going to ultimately prove vulnerable to outing, if sufficient push comes to shove.

And, personally, I know I never could have gotten away with trying to conceal my identity; I have far too much history and continuity in my writing; moreover, the overwhelming point of my desire to get online back in the mid-Nineties, long long after just about everyone I knew had gotten online, was to be in touch with my friends; trying to do that pseudonymously would have defeated that purpose.

But those are all reasons entirely or partially limited to my own circumstances; there are endless good reasons for people to use pseudonyms for a time, and most people aren't apt to be sufficiently in the crucible as to wind up eventually facing people fanatically trying to out you, or subpoenas, or such. I couldn't more heavily endorse people's right to responsibly use pseudonyms under most circumstances.

But I do urge caution if you think you're seriously protected; you're not. My own view is that once words have been typed, even if only on your own hard drive, if you don't treat those words as if the worst possible person to read them will surely eventually read them, you're setting yourself up for potential problems. But that's me: I've seen too many people, over many decades, crash and burn over that delusion.

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