The True Consequences of Blogging Anonymously

Filed as Features on January 29, 2008 9:39 am

I’ve been in “secret talks” with a friend of mine for the past few months about blogging anonymously. She wants to be a whistle-blower, speaking out about the atrocities and abuse she sees within her industry. But she doesn’t want the consequences of being a “public” whistle-blower.

In other words, she wants to keep her job within that atrocious industry.

I’m so thrilled. I really respect people who want to work from within the industry to change it for the better. But our discussions have been really difficult because I believe you should speak out publicly, not hiding behind a blog. I understand her position, though, and the risk she is taking.

Recently, she pointed me to some interesting articles on this issue beginning with Cool Cat Teacher’s “Why Should You have to Hide Behind Your Blog”, discussing another blogging teacher’s dilemma over going public or anonymous:

I am extremely disturbed by having to go to the level of being completely anonymous in order to be a teacher-blogger.

If we are to model the future for our students and we have to run and hide, what is that. Notice, I do not blame the blogger. Instead I applaud her/him for opening up and talking about what is happening and the process of thought.

Free speech is a right for all of us, however, remember as a professional, I am to protect the privacy and sanctity of my classroom where the students are protected. I am to be a professional in my disagreements with administrators and represent my school well. I believe in on-campus accountability and set up e-mail blog subscriptions and signed up my curriculum director as one of my first readers…I take it very seriously how I act here and WANT to be held accountable.

Because I blog publicly, my school has been in numerous papers and magazines including the Wall Street Journal, Boston Globe, Wired News, CNN Money, and countless others.

Vicki A. Davis has made standing in front of her blog work for her. The article she references, Hiding Behind My Blog, lists a lot of articles about others having trouble because they blogged publicly or were “found out” – admitting that she is now more paranoid about blogging publicly, putting her job at risk:

After reading all of this, my bravado fled and all the horrible images of being ushered into an administrator’s office and told I’m fired started flooding my mind. I tend to react to things fairly quickly, so I changed the name of my blog to Reflection 2.0 and changed the email address in the about section. The part that killed me the most was removing a bunch of the links (still some out there I didn’t have time to get) to my classroom blog – I’m SO proud of that, I hate not being able to link to it. I know there are still some things here that could lead back to a pretty definitive ID, but at least it won’t be quite so glaring.

She still has her picture on the site, and is waffling over how private and anonymous she really needs to be, but it does bring up some serious concerns about our rights to speak out and our rights to keep our job because we speak out.

When Your Lips Are Sealed

There is another consequence to blogging anonymously that my friend hadn’t thought about before beginning her blog. She can’t tell anyone.

She and I are both very proud of what she is doing, but I can’t talk publicly about what she is doing because a lot of people know I’m her friend. She can’t talk about what she is doing for fear she will be discovered. She can’t brag about her latest witty post or the great comment she got the other day. Only a very select few know about what she is doing, and we only have each other to cheer with quietly.

She has trouble spreading the word about her blog, keeping her identify carefully hidden behind layers, which is fascinating to learn but challenging to keep track of. She chooses carefully the comments, social networking and site submission services she participates in, keeping the distance at all times, monitoring what she says, what information she discloses, and on the alert constantly to remove any clues that might give her away.

It’s exhausting, but she is determined to change the world and I applaud her work, from a distance.

And to all of you anonymous bloggers out there, risking your jobs, and sometimes your lives, to get the word out and change the world, I applaud you. Being truly anonymous in today’s world of spies everywhere digging into our personal business is very hard to do.

So is taking a stand at such great risk.

Tags: , , ,

This post was written by

You can visit the for a short bio, more posts, and other information about the author.


Submissions & Subscriptions

Submit the post to Reddit, StumbleUpon, Digg or Del.icio.us.

Did you like it? Then subscribe to our RSS feed!



  1. By Dan Cole posted on January 29, 2008 at 1:15 pm
    Want an avatar? Get a gravatar! • You can link to this comment

    I would suggest that she blogs anonymously until she gets enough support that she can’t be singled out.

    The creator of the Fake Steve Jobs blogged anonymously until his own company wanted to hire the guy behind the website… hire someone that already works for them.

    Reply

  2. By james posted on January 29, 2008 at 2:23 pm
    Want an avatar? Get a gravatar! • You can link to this comment

    Even those of us who are public still have jobs and self preservation to think of.

    I write about pretty tame stuff: travel, restaurants, and events. But I do intersperse my opinion on politics, media, and products – which CAN overlap with my day job.

    Rather than sanitize an issue I feel strongly about I’d simply not address it – if it would cause any concern for my welfare…

    Reply

  3. By Stephan Miller posted on January 29, 2008 at 3:48 pm
    Want an avatar? Get a gravatar! • You can link to this comment

    I blog about blogging, marketing, etc. But I also live in a very backwards part of the country. Every once and a while I can’t take it and post about issues in my home town, because I know I will take a top position in the search engines for it. Most sites from this location are still in the 90′s.

    This is different and the same. My family lives here and my kids go to school here. We have had a little backlash. They can just find my name and look me up.

    This is the area of the country that pro-life supporters get pipe bombed for being evil and anyone who rocks the boat is evil to begin with.

    So there can be more than a job at stake.

    Reply

  4. By Anthony posted on January 30, 2008 at 9:55 am
    Want an avatar? Get a gravatar! • You can link to this comment

    I have a number of blogs and I remain anonymous for some of them. That is the best part of internet…you can talk all you want and no one will know if you are their neighbor next door.

    Reply

  5. By Huysmans posted on January 30, 2008 at 5:45 pm
    Want an avatar? Get a gravatar! • You can link to this comment

    I am so happy to find this article. I recently had to drop a class at my university for winning an argument with the professor in regards to blogging my experiences in the class. I wanted her to be involved in this process, knowing as well that I didn’t really need her permission. Well her response was not to help the process but to shut it down and make me promise that should I choose to stay in the course I cannot blog about it.

    We live in a world where people are just too scared of being honest online. I hate all the negativity that is surrounding digital personalities. I agree with the article, lets end the silence, anonymously if we have to.

    Reply

    Your words are your own, so be nice and helpful if you can. If this is the first time you're posting a comment, it might go into moderation. Don't worry, it's not lost, so there's no need to repost it! We accept clean XHTML in comments, but don't overdo it please.

    Current day month ye@r *