Anonymity

You know, when I first started writing this blog, I wasn’t sure what my purpose was.  I thought I would work to explore what I thought about teaching and language and Grad school and anything else that came to my mind.  I knew from experience that it was easier to solidify my stances on things by talking them out and this online forum was a safer outlet than the teacher workroom or talking with my students.  When I started, though, I was worried about saying something that would get me in trouble.  So, I came up with a pseudonym, as many do, and have worked since then.  Those that pay attention can probably identify a great many things about me and if one of my students or colleagues stumbled across this blog, they might very well recognize some of my stories or my writing style, but for the most part, I’m anonymous.

Is that good, though?  I’ve been frequenting a number of teacher blogs lately.  Most of them do not use pseudonyms, although they may not give their entire name.  Maybe they just go by a first name and then proceed to talk in detail about their classes.  Some, though, give their entire name and talk specifically about their school, classroom, students, etc…  Maybe that would be more useful.  Maybe I could make it part of my teaching.  Maybe my students and some of my fellow staff would find my blog to be insightful and helpful.

Or maybe no one would notice.  After a year or so of running this blog, I have about 50 hits per day, sometimes more, sometimes less.  I have cultivated a few relationships among the bloggers.  If I started over, I’ve have no faithful readers.  I’d be out there alone.  Maybe students and staff would come find my blog, but would I have to advertise it?  I’m not sure.

The main thing here is the idea of anonymity.  Am I being too cautious in hiding behind a false name?  Would I have more success if I revealed myself and focused on matters that were closer to home?  I’m not sure, but it’s something I’m thinking about lately.

I am the language lover and these are my thoughts.

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4 Comments

  1. Eve said,

    November 3, 2008 at 4:43 pm

    I blog under a pseudonym and have a variety of reasons for doing so. People who know me in real life, including family, are invited to read if I want them to (and they do).

    One of the main reasons I blog using a pseudonym is that I have evolved quite a bit since my former professional life, and am in the process of integrating all that I am. This is taking me some time. I don’t want to lose anything or give anything up, so while I’m in this process it’s better for me to keep my professional, psychologist, writer self in one place and the blogging self in another. The two, of course, are in the same person (me), but I want to do right by my professional self. This blogging self goes off on tangents still, and my professional self can’t do that (yet, if ever). So that’s my story.

    Most of the bloggers I’ve met who blog under a pseudonym do have their real-life readers and their blogospheric following. I think therefore that it’s up to you. You can keep it working as it is now, or ask yourself what you think will happen if you go public. We, your readers, will follow you; all you have to do is to let us know where you went.

    You might also try having two blogs, a professional one and this one, and see how the professional one goes.

    If you’re worried about readership or worried about whether you could teach more by giving yourself a presence, you can look at Scott Erb’s blog as what I think is an excellent example of professionalism and personality.

    But readership isn’t everything. Maybe you’re a fringe thinker and oddball and are only ever going to appeal to a smallish percent of the population. I personally do not want to pay the price of blogging popularity. I have never received an award of any kind in over a year of blogging now, and I personally think I put a lot more into my blogging than many other silly bloggers who regularly receive heart and smiley face awards. The fact is that we have different motivations. What is yours?

    If your IQ is high, or your temperament type is unusual, your peers may exist in only 1% or 2% or 5% of the population. If that’s the case, you probably will have to sell your soul to the collective devil to raise your blog hits. However, you might simply try using more tags and more links to others to increase your readership.

    Finally, another question I’d suggest is that you ask and answer one of my favorite questions I learned during studying Buddhism, which was “what are you doing?” What is your purpose in blogging? What do you have to offer that no one else can offer, and are you offering it as best you can?

    One answer, of course, is yourself. You must always offer yourself (a blog friend recently reminded me of this, so I am passing it on).

    I enjoy reading, even though I’m a new reader. I would hate to see you compromise too much, but wish you luck whatever you do. Just let us know if you’re going to move!

  2. November 3, 2008 at 7:17 pm

    Thanks, Eve. I think you hit upon my main question: What am I doing here?

    Maybe I will decide to create a “professional blog” and use it to explore my professional thoughts and ideas. Whatever I decide to do will have more to do with what I want and less to do with readership. I just have to say that I like knowing that I have readers. Not that I’m writing for them, but it’s nice to be noticed.

  3. Nicole said,

    November 6, 2008 at 10:19 pm

    I’m kind of pseudo-anonymous I guess. I don’t hide who I am – but I don’t advertise it either. If you really wanted to figure out who I was it would not be a long research. I’ve decided that as far as a professional blog I just won’t say anything negative about anyone – and that way if someone happens to stumble across my blog there’s nothing that could endanger my professional life. I don’t worry about it too much – though I think I would find it rather weird if people I knew were reading me and I didn’t know they were reading me.

  4. Scott Erb said,

    November 14, 2008 at 4:49 am

    I don’t use a pseudonym because I have decided that I’m going to state my ideas as I have them at a particular time, and not worry about how others react. So far, I haven’t gotten in trouble. That said, I have no problem with people posting under a pseudonym. I know you as “language lover.” If I knew you as “John Doe” I’d not really react differently. Names are arbitrary. Whatever you feel comfortable with is OK, I think.


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