Wednesday, September 12, 2007

A Complicated Anonymous Blogging Scenario

Let's say that you're an academic blogger. You have maintained an online presence at this academic blog for, oh, say, just under a year. You feel like while the blog is pseudonymous, that you blog as though your name were attached. That is, perhaps a little more circumspectly than anonymous blogging allows, or perhaps illusorily seems to permit. The point is, you are comfortable in your bloggerly skin, as someone who writes as a professional, but doesn't necessarily want that blog connected to your professional identity. Nonetheless, you are not so guarded about your identity that you don't share it freely in email exchanges, or leave telling hints as to your real life identity.

Now let's say that before you wrote this pseudonymous blog, you maintained a named blog, one that was again, professional enough that it didn't hinder your academic job search process, but was a mix of both the personal and professional (much as your current one is). You closed it down not because of any identity problems, but mostly because you felt that it was time for a change, and that pseduonymous blogging might be a bit safer in the long term (Ivan Tribble got to you, basically, but not badly).

Now let's say that in the intervening year, the old blog was not deleted per se, but that much of it is either missing or difficult to access, even though it can probably all be retrieved.

And let's say that in the most recent issue of College English, on, hypothetically speaking, pages 26 and 27, your old blog and your real identity, are given some thorough consideration and even a long quote. The post is one of which you are proud, but it is itself inaccessible at the address cited. Assuming your wonderful friend would help you with the technology, would you try to restore that post? The rest of the blog? Even if you don't intend to add more material to that blog?


Nels said...

What a ridiculous scenario you've imagined. It could never happen!

(Actually, when I read the online version of that article last week, I wondered if that entry was still around. Can you just put that entry on your professional website if you have one? I once did freelance work for a site that went down, and I posted all the writing from that site on my website.)

Dr. Virago said...

The situation might make me think, will the one link lead to the pseudonymous blog, and is that something that I'd want regular, non-blogging College English readers to eagerly read? Hm. And then I'd probably think, well, I should already be blogging with such potential readers in mind, and if I haven't, perhaps I should go through my posts and remove the less-than-thoughtful fluff and/or rants. But since *you* don't really have any of that, you probably have less of problem to worry about. So in your case, I'd probably say yes, restore the post so that the CE readers can see just how thoughtful and interesting a blog can be.

undine said...

Yes. I think making the post easy to find would be a good idea, although there's a risk your Horace identity could be outed.

Horace said...

In this hypothetical situation, there would be no links from the earlier blog to the more recent one. And as for the risk of being outed, it doesn't worry me too too much. It's the difference between anonymous blogging (where the identity is secret) and pseudonymous blogging (where the identity is easy to figure out, but simply replaced by another name).

Dr. V. has said flatteringly what I would say more moderately, which is that there's nothing on the new blog that would damage a person's career.

I would just rather that this page's link not come up on Google as one of the first hits for my real name. I'd like that honor to be reserved for my book. The old blog already does that, but as it ages, it concerns me less.

Sisyphus said...

But your book is not out yet, no? And once it is, Google search can be "massaged" appropriately (or rather, "google bombed").

But you have hit on the crux of the problem I see mentioned all over the academic blogosphere: how can we combine taking credit with anonymity or self-protection?