A Blogger’s Identity: How Much of it is True?

“Anonymous Blogging 101: a Quick and Dirty Primer” is an article written by blogger Treacle, and discusses why and how someone would blog anonymously. She discusses that many people like the internet because it allows open sharing without needing to disclose personal information. Additionally, you can even provide made up personal information if you want to portray a completely different personality than you may have in real life. This idea is seen most stereotypically in online dating, but it can even be applied to a person’s blog.

So, why would someone choose to either not disclose their identity, or to make a fake one up in replacement? She gives three reasons: 1) privacy and safety 2) honesty and 3) personality and character. Some people fear that if their identity is online, their friends, family, and job may all be able to find them and there could be consequences depending on the blog topic. Additionally, strangers could find out too much information and get very creepy. Honesty plays a role in the fact that you won’t be as forthcoming with information about a certain topic if you indeed think people you know will read it and judge you. Anonymously, no one knows you and therefore can’t judge you. Personality and character allows anonymous users to be perhaps more outgoing than they are in real life, or maybe even more contemplative. I think they are all interrelated but honesty is the most understood on the actual blog site. By this I mean, if people have their name attached to something, they aren’t going to be as honest as they might have been anonymously. The content will be much more interesting and provocative if someone were to be honest in content and anonymous in identity rather than semi-honest in content and totally revealing their identity.

Now that you know the different reasons why someone would choose to remain anonymous online, how do you make it happen? Treacle gives a few options. As a blogger, you are totally in control of how much information you share with your readers. As such, there are varying degrees of identity you can reveal. You can choose to reveal absolutely nothing about yourself (what she calls “full anonymity”), use a completely fake name and post no photos, no geographical landmarks, blog entirely from hidden IP addresses or library computers so you cannot be traced. You can choose to give only some information out (“semi-anonymity”) by giving a fake name but attaching real pictures of you and few details about the area you live and what interests you. Then there is “secret anonymity” in which you know all the details you have given are fake, but people believe them to be a real identity. Under this method you would have a fake name attached to fake Facebook, Twitter, etc. which makes people believe you are really that identity.

It’s important to understand if you choose to blog anonymously that you must do this from the start. As she says, it is much easier to reveal little bits of yourself over time than try to take back any identifiers you may have provided already. Also, you have to realize that while you are blogging there is always the chance that someone can find out your real identity, so you must prepare for that event as well.

IDK if any of you listen to country music, but I thought this music video went along with the article perfectly (and yes, that is Taylor Swift back up dancing):

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16 comments

  1. hillary601

    I really do feel like it should be up the blogger if he or she wants to be anonymous or not. I know that for fan fiction I don’t care if the blogger uses a real name or not. I just finished reading a story that was written on someone’s blog today. She goes by the name ani and she said in her about me that this is not her real name. She can’t use her real name because if her corporate bosses found out that she wrote a book that was a little bit explicit than she would get fired. I would rather have her use a fake name than have her not write at all because she did not want to share her identify . I also feel like I would not judge a writer based on who they are. I don’t need to know their age, race, or gender or even their name. All I need to know is that they are talented. When I read fan fiction, I never know who the person is but they have an email linked to the site and I have an email linked to the site. A lot of these people respond to my comments and questions. I don’t feel like I need to know someone name in order to hold a conversation and talk. I can see why someone would want to hide their identify and even though I’d love to applaud them using their real name, I will still applaud them using their fake name. Everyone I entitled to privacy.

  2. Megan Murray

    Just as much as commenters want to be anonymous, bloggers can surely want to be anonymous as well! As you said in your post, this allows for greater honesty. If a blogger likes to expose the cruel innards of large corporate companies or merely blog about all the people who annoyed them that day, why would they do that while pointing directly at themselves? While I’m certainly not advocating cyber bullying, I am advocating freedom of speech and right to privacy. Even authors have published books under a false penname; why should blogging be any different than print?
    Besides just being anonymous, a lot of bloggers enjoy creating a whole new persona – no, a whole new person – who posts on their blog. Many blogs have done this with great success! This is just like online video games we play: you can be whoever you want to be. If you want to be someone other than your real self when you are writing on your blog, I believe we have that right.
    While of course you cannot steal from a store or murder another human being and expect to remain anonymous, you should be able to remain anonymous for merely writing words on the internet.

  3. gisellehernandez412

    Whenever I thought about anonymity online, I always accociated it with negativety. For instance, people who post comments on blogs, videos, and articles are sometimes anonymous and leave rude comments. Why would anyone want to hide their identity unless they were up to no good? But then again, I had never really thought about the benefits of online anonymity and Treacles article helped me to understand them. It’s true that in this day and age, privacy is nearly unattainable–especially online. Sharing too much of your personal life could affect your future oportunities–emplyment opportunities for example. It makes sense that people would want to sepearte their personal lives with their professional lives, even online. Online anonymity can help. The tips that Treacle gives are helpful for those who are interested in creating a new online identity but she also stresses the possibility of being exposed. Although you may be anonymous, it is still important to be respectful. The video you added in your post definitely connected to Treacles article. If someone wants to act as their alter ego, there perfect place to do so is online.

  4. briellebuis

    Anonymous blogging seems like a really cool idea to me. If a blog is about something that could be offensive or does not want to be directly associated with their personal identity then it could be a great idea to use a fake name or identity. The only issue that could arise is if readers get offended if the anonymous blogger is found out. Overall, the secret identity of the writer can put a different view in the eyes of the readers. I think that it would be cool to have an anonymous blog, but it would be hard for me not to tell my friends or family that the blogger was me. An anonymous blogger must have some great will power in order to maintain their writing while also hiding their identity.

  5. evanhuaru

    I feel as though anonymous blogging is ethical and should be allowed in any shape or form. Being anonymous is just another way of expressing yourself whether you are acting to be another person or not. The forms of anonymity full, semi, and secret are all ways to effectively hide a bloggers identity. I believe bloggers have the right to be able to use these forms of anonymity if they were to choose. It’s their own life and blog and no one should be able to tell them that it’s wrong or not. For example, if a blog is related to a topic that would have negative effects if their family members, friends, or coworkers found out about they should be allowed to be anonymous. Readers don’t have the right to judge a blogger if they are anonymous or not. If they like the material whether it is true or false, then who cares. If the reader doesn’t like a anonymous blog, then they shouldn’t read them. A blog is for the creators enjoyment to share their thoughts and experiences, anonymous or not everyone has the right to choose.

  6. Miss Bombshell

    As a blogger who uses the alias Miss Bombshell I guess you can consider me a blogger who has a fake identity in the blogging community. But I never make it a secret about who I really am, I just prefer using a different identity rather than my own because I consider Miss Bombshell another part of me that most don’t get to see in real life. Miss Bombshell is my alter ego who is not afraid to voice her opinion and say it how it is whether it offends people or not. And I see nothing wrong with those who choose to totally hide their identity and never disclose parts of their personal selves. Because the internet is a place where you are allowed to create a personality different from your own and be the person who is inside of you that never gets to see the light of day. Also, I think a blogger who is anonymous is more authentic than a blogger who is open about their identity because the anonymous blogger has no reason to sugar coat or lie about certain topics whereas a blogger who is upfront about their identity may fear what people closes to them have to say.

  7. lisak0

    If I read an anon blog, a part of me would want to return to the blog and read. An anon would make me so curious and would make me want to discover who the writer is. It must be fun and thrilling as an anon writer. Although you can write pretty much anything, I feel like it would also be annoying, too. As an anon blogger, I feel like one would have to recheck their work a few times to make sure that they didn’t release any information that may allow readers to discover their identity. I understand anon bloggers because they might not want to hurt people. They might want to rant or make a comment without really offending anyone. Anon bloggers don’t face a lot of judgement… there’s really no face to blame or make fun of. A lot of cyber bullying might make a person become an anon blogger, and I don’t blame them. This doesn’t mean that the anon blogger should forget their ethics and start bullying others. As an anon blogger, they should remember their morals while still bringing laughter or seriousness to readers. For instance, the waiter who created a blog didn’t mean to harm anyone. He was an anon blogger because he didn’t want to ruin the reputation of the restaurant nor did he want to get in trouble with the customers he dealt with. He just wanted to rant and inform other readers about how waiters feel with different customers. It even probably taught some readers better restaurant manners, especially towards waiters. The anon blog became famous, and no one hated; they probably enjoyed it. Now the blog is a book! It just is pretty interesting. I don’t think anon blogging is negative at all, unless someone used it in a harmful way.

  8. mlew210

    My thesis is actually on anonymity, so I’ve done a bit of research on this topic. In my honest opinion, I believe that people should have the freedom to be semi anonymous. The way the internet works right now, a lot of people can go to most websites, sign up with fake information, and pretend to be whoever they want. I understand that anonymity gives people privacy and security, but at what cost? Giving people these two things allows them to abuse their so called rights in a multitude of ways. Anonymous users can go out and say things with no strings attached. They can attack other individuals without worrying about being caught. Hell, I even remember watching a video where they researched how pedophiles were using an anonymous chat room to find and virtually molest young girls in poor countries. Internet users and bloggers should be forced to submit at least SOME personal information. No one should be able to go out and do whatever they want without being held responsible. The only reason why I say this is because I’ve read and seen just how horrifying people can be on the internet. People have an incredible capacity for cruelty, and letting them go just because the general consensus is that anonymity should be allowed is not okay.

  9. mjdenis38

    Identity anonymity comes down to the individual. Personally, I would rather be an anonymous blogger than an identified blogger. Then again it comes down to the implication of the blog. If it’s a cooking blog, you are more apt to be disclosed. If you’re revealing confidential/breaking news then you would be more apt to by anonymous. There does seem to be more trust between the readers and the blogger if the blogger has disclosed their identity. I agree with matthew’s comment that though we should have the choice to be anonymous, it leads to people abusing how they interact with others on the internet because they can develop their own personas. Some information is useful to post, and I think as the blogger progresses with the blog, they would be more apt to disclose parts of their identity. My username for wordpress is somewhat anonymous, and in my blog I often use the term “we” to describe what the author is thinking and feeling. It is an individual choice, but for the most part I think people reveal who they are in order to establish a quasi-relationship with their readers.

  10. karencronin

    I understand why people blog anonymously. There are so many controversial topics to blog about out there that I would imagine many bloggers would really be putting themselves on the line for posting things that others may not agree with. Topics such as religion or sex could probably generate a whole lot of unwanted comments from readers for the blogger. Not to mention family, friends, and employers. Blogging about controversial topics may put the blogger in a different light to the people they know. Depending on what they are blogging about, even their job could be in jeopardy. So, while I do understand why people blog anonymously, I can’t say that I would be a reader of those particular blogs. I like to know who the author of a blog is. Anytime I read a new blog, I always check out the “About” page to see who is writing the blog. By knowing a little bit about the blog and blogger, I feel I can relate to them and what they are writing. Even when I start a new book I like to read about the author, find out who they are and what they are about. While I am sure most anonymous bloggers are writing about legit stuff, who really knows? If their identity is not legit (or revealed) then who is to say what they are writing is legit. Maybe most people don’t care if it is or not. If they are being entertained by what they are reading, I suppose that’s what’s important. (What a great video that was!)

  11. hg163

    I personally hate putting my real information out there on the Internet, whether it’s my name, address, or whatever. Even when a website asks for my birthday, I usually put a random birthday. Though, I don’t really like to go “full anonymity” because it would be too hard. You have to remember to not accidentally put out any information that might give you away, even posting under a different IP address (after a while, it might slip the mind once or twice). I have definitely visited blogs where the writer is anonymous and it makes it more intriguing, as lisak0 said. The readers in that community always joked about what the particular blogger looked like and I was also very curious. Then he put his picture online (or someone found him and put the picture up, I forget which) and everyone went crazy (he actually kind of looks like Wolf Blitzer on CNN!). Strangely, an anonymous blogger could bring the particular community together in a way.
    I think people enjoy being anonymous online, not just while blogging, because they don’t really have to “own up” to their words (makes it easier to troll) but they can also put their real thoughts about controversial topics out there. Unless you are already some sort of prominent figure, it makes sense to stay at least a little anonymous online so that it makes it difficult for people you don’t want to track you down (family, friends…).

  12. yadyayala105

    Reading this I realized that keeping you identity anonymous is not only negative. When I thought of being anonymous I always thought of trolls. Trolls and ignorant people leave comments on the web that makes people cringe. I still hate those people because they think they can get away with things because the Internet is so big and the rules are hard to follow. I was always kind of mad that the Internet allowed people like this to exist. Bloggers can be anonymous and that is okay. I do not think that everyone on the Internet needs to know everything about you; it is okay to keep at least some things private. Bloggers can have fake names just as writers can have pen names. I think it is normal and if you do not want your professional appearance to be tainted because of something on the Internet animosity can really help. An example could be that you have a blog that talks about music but you curse on your blog or something along those lines, your blog wont’ affect your professional image if you are under a fake name. As a reader I think them concealing their identity makes it more thrilling. You do not really know much about the writer and slowly learning who they are but knowing that they still have some secretes is exciting and kind of makes me want to continue reading the blogs. Why you ask? Well, if I read their blog more I will get to know them better and slowly unravel the mystery behind the anonymous blogger.

  13. Brian

    Personally I believe that anonymity is a right as a blogger. Whether they use it or not is their own personal choice. However, with an anonymous persona, you gain a great deal of freedom on how you portray your thoughts. One can use this unknown persona to enhance blog’s theme for the audience. I have seen this done on a blog that I follow very well. The author, Dr. Cynicism, never gives a great deal of personal information but uses his persona to fit in with his lecture styled posts. I feel that it would have had a much weaker effect if he had used his real name. On the other hand, I have the belief that using an anonymous persona can be more beneficial to the writer given the situation. Perhaps the blog writer wants to create a completely different persona, a complete 180. They might feel hesitant to reveal their true identity because they wouldn’t normally say the things that their content portrays in public. These bloggers look to their blogs in order to express these ideas that they think but may not feel comfortable showing. However, now because of the freedom that is offered from anonymity, bloggers can reveal these thoughts with a little more courage and protection.

  14. tedrihn

    As a blogger myself I fully understand the benefits of anonymously blogging. You don’t have to worry about any repercussions to your words and nothing can hurt you. I love how the internet is a place where I can be anyone I want to be. Most of the time I just enjoy being myself but I don’t mind being a sophisticated person once in a while. In fact it’s kind of nice to just be able to pretend and that is what I think most attracts me to the idea of anonymity, is that I can pretend to be anything. Sometime long ago, like most people, I lost a piece of my childhood where I could pretend and just lose myself. As part of a topic to whether it should be allowed I am a firm believer that it is a first amendment to free speech. The first amendment gives us as United States citizens the right to say whatever we want and however we want. Bloggers don’t necessarily need to use anonymity if they are comfortable saying what they are saying with their known identity and that is their choice. Anonymity just gives those without the courage and comfort needed to speak up and have a voice.

  15. jordannao

    I have double thoughts about blogging anonymously. I do believe that some people might opt out to choose to create blogs that are totally anonymous and that is totally acceptable. Especially for those that wants to become a different person that they actually are. The internet allows an individual to have this other “persona” and that is why many chooses to blog anonymously. I have seen where this sort of becomes a therapy to many people that suffer depression or any other issues related to their social life. The blogs allows them to express their real selfs and becomes a healthier being internally. However, some people take full advantage of this possibility of blogging anonymously, they start to create hate pages and starts to bully people, that is wen I disagree with blogs being anonymous. I believe that having the ability to express your other side online is acceptable and very important, but it should not be a way to hurt others!
    I also believe that anonymous bloggers are always on the run and always hiding somehow. They are always trying to hide from family and friends their blog so nobody would know. I believe that I person needs to be mentally ready and be aware of all the possibilities that can can happen if someone discovers your identity. Finally the author needs to be ready to embark in this anonymous lifestyle.

  16. dmhgs

    I feel like anonymity has gotten out of hand. Sure I think it’s fine for things like protecting your identity so that people won’t find you or you won’t get into trouble with your employer. However when you look into what the video is portraying it’s very easy to come up with a fake identity. I don’t like that you can create a completely different online version of yourself because then you are lying to a bunch of people. All I can think of is the television show called catfish where people get into online relationships without ever really meeting someone. Then they get help to find out if this person is really who they say they are. Most of the time it’s never who they thought they were. That’s the kind of anonymity I don’t like. If you just want to hide your name online but you stay true to yourself, that’s fine, but if you become a lie that’s not okay.

    Ps. At the end of the video the guy and girl marching aren’t in step with each other and that bothers me. Yep, I’m a band geek.

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