Thursday, April 20, 2006

Friendly blogosphere etiquette reminder...

This is just a friendly reminder of blogosphere etiquette: It is considered extremely impolite to out the real-world names of pseudonymous bloggers, on their own blogs or on others' blogs, unless the blogger has done so him or herself or given you permission. If you need to refer to another blogger, use a link or the pseudonym.

Shavua Tov (for the one day of regular week)...

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Pseudonymous blogging and commenting on blogs without honest signature reduces e-discourse to grafitti. It is no accident that those who sign their real names when responding to postings on some of the livelier blogsites are consistently more civil and rational than those who comment anonymously. A signature requires the author to stand by his statement. Lack therof invites unbridled, over-the-top meshugas.

--elf's dad
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(Admin note: First comment deleted as duplicate post)
The facts dispute this claim. Many of us protect our pseudonymous identities from bad associations as carefully as we protect our real identities. Just as our real names identify us uniquely in the real world, our pseudonyms identify us in the online world.

This fact makes "anonymous" commenting and "pseudonymous" commenting quite different. An anonymous commenter may be able to expect to remain unknown and unassociated with anything else in the real world, and with anything else online. A pseudoymous blogger/commenter carries his/her entire blogging and commenting history in the blogosphere with him/her.

Just as some people will hide behind pseudonyms in order to spout "unbridled, over-the-top meshugas," so will others use their real names to do the same.

Use of pseudonyms has the advantage of protecting those of us who are not professional writers from having our blog lives used against us in our real lives.

There are a number of documented cases in blogs and in the MSM or trade press (I'll leave it as an exercise to the reader to find more of them) where a job-seeker's name turning up on Google associated with a blog was considered a negative factor for hiring -- even when there's no real indication that the blog says anything negative about the candidate. Here is one example written pseudonymously to protect the writer from retribution.

The other issue (also mentioned in the link) is that it's not just what you say that can affect your real life, but, what other people say about you, something that you can't control yourself.

So, I think I'm on perfectly fine moral ground to insist on pseudonymity. And, I would hope that my own blog (and elf's) serve as counterexamples to your charges.

(Admin note: This is a reposted version of my deleted comment, with a missing word fixed)
What would you say to someone who uses a pseudonym on how to answer a prospective employeer when asked if they do have a blog? If and when it may come to that point.

I do not know that I would want every blog I ever wrote to be in the hands of a search committee, but I do not think I will be giving up blogging any time soon.

My Space has also brought up this type of issue, at my campus the faculty and staff created a committee to review the facts and see whether or not it is acceptable to allow university computers to access the site (and in a way allowing students to look it up during classes that they use computers in, if the site is unrestricted then they can go about their business, check their e-mail and for the most part, get away with doing those things during class - very frusterating for a TA let me say). But the point is, if you say "yes" then the search committee may look for it, and in doing so find things they think are unfavorable, but if you say "no" you are technically lying and that is not right either.

Where do you draw the line?
What would you say to someone who uses a pseudonym on how to answer a prospective employeer when asked if they do have a blog? If and when it may come to that point.

If it's just a fill in form, I'd say, leave it blank. I sometimes leave off certain phone numbers, fax numbers and email addresses when filling things in simply because I don't want the other side to know about them. If it's a direct question, it's a little harder. For an employer interview, the question might really be interpreted as "Do you have a blog you would like us to consider in your application for this job?" Consider that if they ask you what you do on your personal time, you probably won't tell them that you watch X hours of TV. You'll tell them only the "interesting" parts that they might want to hear. The rest of what you do on your own time is none of their business, as long as it doesn't affect your ability to do work for them.

My Space has also brought up this type of issue,

Social networking is a related phenomenon, but it's different, because it's so dependent on giving out real-world information.

I generally oppose banning technologies because the government/administration/overlord "knows" what's better for you. (I can see limiting P2P filesharing because it's a huge drain on network resources that can be used better; I can also see a reason for limiting use of certain public computers, like those in the libraries, to reference use) but University students are adults, and they somehow have to learn what's appropriate to do online. As for goofing off in class, if they didn't have MySpace, they'd be doodling. College students get back from a class whatever they put in.
Well, I was the one who used someone's real name at a site, instead of the pseudonym, and I'm sorry. One ought to do what is considered polite. It seems inevitable, though, that real identities will be discovered sooner or later, both because of the carelessness of people like me and because employers, among others, will probably want to know who's who, and will be clever enough to find out. I think that if you want to say something really wicked, you should say it at a meeting of your cabal, all of whom are sworn by Ashmodai to absolute secrecy. But most people don't have anything that wicked to say, at least not that they really want to keep secret. Anyway, I won't be the betrayer again.
-Isaac Jacob Myers
Most searchers of this nature will be more-or-less using Google or a similar search engine, and the search will be a known name. If a person's real name and pseudonym are never associated on the publically-accessible Internet, the likelihood that a third party will find out about a blog will decrease considerably. The basic idea is to stay away from associations on search engines.

As the article I linked to points out, what you say doesn't have to be "wicked." The academic who liked writing about Microsoft Office is a good example.

By the way, you'd have to be a complete idiot to try to be an anonymous or pseudonymous blogger and badmouthe your employer and coworkers by name and never expect anyone to figure out who you are.
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