Thursday, February 05, 2004

Who Am I?

Bill Hobbs (here) and Michael Williams (here) have both recently commented on the reliability and credibility of anonymous and pseudononymous blogs.

Bill's contention, and Mike's supposition, is that those bloggers who don't provide first and last names are freer to engage in, shall we say, questionable journalistic practices. Apparently to some people, your identity begins and ends with your name - if they know how to find you in the phone book, that's all that's necessary to take you seriously.

I don't quite agree with all of that, although some parts make sense. Yes, it is easier to make an accusation, sling some mud, be sarcastic or just rude when you don't have to worry about people knowing who you really are - and by extension, you don't have to physically stand by your comments. South Knox Bubba does it all the time - his reasoning being that his business contacts and customers would not take kindly to his political philosophy. But being anonymous/pseudonymous allows him to conduct his business without fear that he may lose money because of his beliefs or views.

I'm more or less anonymous/pseudonymous, just using my first name, "Barry". Several of my readers know my last name - heck, Hatamaran works across the hall from me - and that's not a big deal. The main reason I don't use my last name is because I have a young family, and don't want to possibly put them at risk. I've posted pictures of them from time to time and don't want someone who sees a picture of GiggleGirl online...well, you get the picture.

One of my favorite bloggers, James Lileks of "The Bleat", is obviously not pseudonymous. I personally think he takes a big risk because of his identification, since he talk and posts so much about his young daughter "Gnat". However, he's also a nationally syndicated columnist and gets compensated for a lack of anonymity, and he is able to use some of that national exposure and popularity to drive traffic to his blog.

So does me not releasing publicly my last name to the online world undermine the credibility of my opinions? Does it make you, Bill, less sure that I say what I actually mean? Does it make me freer to insult you? Maybe, but I'll be back here online tomorrow and if I've insulted you you won't be back - and I want you back.

I'm not someone who's going to resort to insults and profanity to bring in viewers and readers - I'll let the pros handle that. I want people to read my blog because (hopefully) I'll occasionally have something interesting or amusing to say. I want to share my opinions with you, ask questions, debate philosophy, invite commentary, and occasionally illuminate a situation I want to bring attention to.

However, since I've been blogging most every day - sometimes more than once a day - for more than a year now, I feel I've established my own online credibility. I haven't attacked people and hidden behind my first-name-only. I haven't cursed them or insulted them. I've stayed pretty true to my views and beliefs, and when there's been a wavering I've addressed it.

So, Bill, am I credible? Are you going to delink me? Do I care - probably not, because I don't think he reads here anyway...if he does, he
doesn't comment.

Sugarfused, Busy Mom, Hatamaran are all anonymous/pseudononymous (check blogroll for links - I'm getting lazy) - do you skip these fine blogs because you can't track down their address?

Does it bother anyone that I don't post my last name? Would that enhance my credibility?

Oh, another thing about comments. PLEASE add a comment to my posts - I want to know what people think!

And I promise not to have Justin Timberlake rip off my shirt to convince you :)

UDPATE: SayUncle weighs in.

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