Anonymity rules ok

If you’re making your views public on a blog should you also make your name public?

Adam Smith  over at Inquiring Mind brought this issue to my notice when he noted that Policy Blog has an issue with psuedonymous bloggers.

My name and political affiliations are there for all to see on the “about”  page of this blog. But I don’t have a job or business which might be compromised by anything I write.

Other people are not so fortunate.

Adam, Inventory 2 at Keeping Stock, Queen Bee at The Hive and Busted Blonde at Roarprawn all choose to keep their identities to themselves. But it’s not only those on the right of the blogosphere who prefer to blog anonymously, Poneke who has declared his blog a politics-free zone and Jafapete on the left also use pseudonyms.

If they were launching personal attacks against other people I would be less relaxed about their anonymity. But all of them write well reasoned and intelligently argued posts and comments – even those with which I disagree 🙂 – and I have never known any of them to indulge in personal invective.

I happen to know who Poneke is but respect his reasons for not telling the world his name. No doubt some people know, or guess,  who is behind his or the other pseudonyms.

They they choose not to blog under their real names is their perogative, and the people over at Policy Blog have the right not to accept their comments.

5 Responses to Anonymity rules ok

  1. That is a fair comment Homepaddock.
    Indeed, I have heard from at least Poneke that my career has suffered because some people know who I am.
    Am I too outspoken for these gentle well-mannered isles.
    I just believe in robust debate.


  2. bustedblonde says:


    Home paddock, its an interesting issue – as a ex journo I am not big on hiding behind a pseudonym but the reality is that the after the Madeline Setchel issue, I’m not so keen to raise my head above the parapet because I am now a ” public servant” for my sins ( only part time ). That being said – most of the journos know who I am as do most of the other right center right bloggers.

    The fact that I declared my politcal allegiance when i interviewed for my currrent position was no barrier – My involvement with the Nats and ACT is a matter of record…

    I wonder if the only reason I havent been ” outed” is because there are so many people in the public service who are really seriously pissed off with this govt.

    There is also the small issue that some of the scampi players are very nasty buggers!
    So if i am ” outed I will deal with it. Then I will deal with them!


  3. poneke says:

    Ele I do not even try to hide who I am, as you know, I am David McLoughlin. My blog is only “anonymous” because I want it to stand or fall because of its writing, not who its author is.

    As for Busted Blonde she took me to lunch at Shed 5 in 2003 and we were at the Scampi select committee many days together. Everyone in Wellington knows who she is! Her writing is utterly unmistakable.

    I don’t recall telling Fairfacts his career has suffered because of who he is. I know who he is, but we have never met, and I have never told anyone who he is. Maybe the appallingly sexist, utterly bigoted and totally over the top nature of his blog posts with the disgusting photos he puts with them have come to the attention of potential employers when he seeks a job as an impartial journalist. In real life he may be the nicest guy around but his blog posts come across as him being a total misogynist and a racist to boot. Not an easy entry to a mainstream media job.

    I don’t mind what anyone’s political affiliations are. I strongly support anyone who takes part in the political process, no matter what party they support. I have good friends who are active in almost every party. I also support, without hesitation, the right of anyone to hold their own opinions, no matter how different those might be to my own. I believe in free speech, full stop. That’s why I even link to Fairfact’s ravings from my blog, read him every day, and even comment on his blog, sometimes supportingly.

    As a journalist for most of my adult life, I have never had any problem being non-partisan. I personally believe journalists should not support or oppose any party in their public life and I do not. Good on those who do but we are a small country, without the media diversity of larger countries, and so our media traditionally are non-partisan and I think that is a good tradition.


  4. jafapete says:

    Homepaddock, whilst I agree with your conclusion, and am grateful for those of your comments that apply to me, I am not sure whether it is a simple anonymous/named dichotomy or a scale.

    Even before I was “outed” on Policy Blog (by mistake), I had knowingly used an email address that showed my name to recipients when corresponding with a number of other bloggers, whether right or left. I also use my own name on Russell Brown’s and Chris Trotter’s blogs. So I didn’t consider myself entirely anonymous.

    But I prefer to use a pseudonym because it allows me to express views as a blogger on subjects I teach, and I don’t want anyone accusing me of bias in marking. Students are much more inclined to challenge their marks these days. Sigh. And I know some left-wing bloggers are genuinely concerned about retaliation. You know, Whale Oil sort of stuff.

    Cheers Peter


  5. bobux says:

    I’m a public servant. The firing of Madeline Setchell for merely going out with an employee of the ‘wrong’ party, and her subsequent exclusion from work in at least one other department, were more than enough reason for me to use a pseudonym when commenting on blogs.

    Although I work in a technical rather than a political role, I am not confident that views I express in blog postings will not affect my employment. Which is a pretty sad state of affairs, really.


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