Friday, August 03, 2007


Mountain Goat has sparked a discussion of anonymity in blogging. Huckleberries Online has a post, including comments by Wayne Hofffman here. Mountain Goat has a follow up to his original post that started the discussion. Kevin Richert's take is here. Jill Kuraitis has a contribution.

I see a distinction in two different types of blog anonymity. A blogger like Mountain Goat keeps his personal identity private, but his online identity is out there and consistent. When he leaves comments, it's as Mountain Goat. After a while we get to know the persona Mountain Goat. (Just using MG as an example; plenty of others, like me and Bubblehead and Tom Paine and binkyboy, are in the same category; semi-anonymous).

The truly anonymous blogger usually doesn't maintain a blog, but just posts comments on other blogs, or he or she has a blog with multiple editors all using the same name, like The Idahoan. We never know if the comment or post is by the same person so we can't develop a sense of the person or outlook behind the nom de blog.

I read national columnists who identify themselves by name, but I'll never meet them. Many of them I'll never even see a picture of, but I still know something about them. I know Mountain Goat, or at least his commentariat persona, at least as well as I know George Will or Maureen Dowd, or even Dan Popkey. I'll probably never meet any of these folks. Anonymity or lack of it makes no difference in how I evaluate their opinion or how much credence I give to their viewpoint because I know their consistent persona.

So, MG's anonymity isn't the same as the Idahoan's.

BTW, what interests me more than anonymity in blogs is the trend of appending "blog" to a word because it's used on a blog. Blogvertorial, blogvertisement, bleg (!!), blogonymity ... when will it end?


Bubblehead said...

I hadn't considered before you wrote this that I was "semi-anonymous"; I put my name in posts every couple of months, so I figured that "outed" me. I just go by Bubblehead because I like the concept of a nom de blog. Still, to remove any doubt, I went ahead and added my name to my Blogger profile.

Adam Graham said...

You're not semi-anonymous. Your name was clear to me for sometime, even before you e-mailed me. I used your real name on my blog June 20, 2006, so I guess I outed you.

As for the others, You mean Tom Paine's not his real name? :) j/k.

For me, I guess I've never tried to hide my name, only personal details that my put me or my family at risk.