The Bug Geek

Insects. Doing Science. Other awesome, geeky stuff.

To be or not to be (anonymous, that is)

I’m mulling over the notion of losing the pseudonym and the (thinly veiled) attempt at anonymity.  I suspect anyone who WANTED to know who I am and where I work etc. could probably could figure it out if they were even remotely versed in the fine art of Google.   I’m pretty Google-able. 

Most bug/science/academic bloggers on my blog roll are NOT anonymous.  But they are also generally not sharing the dirt about their jobs, students, personal lives, etc.

It would be nice to “come out”, so to speak, so I could be a bit more forthright about some of my interests and experiences.   BUT I think I would need to clean up some posts, especially those related to my previous employment.  And I will likely need to censor/omit things in future posts.

Does anybody have advice for me? Pros? Cons? Does anyone even care, for that matter?

Please share.

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13 responses to “To be or not to be (anonymous, that is)

  1. Rachel January 29, 2010 at 2:14 PM

    This one is tough. There are a lot of times when I wish I were more anonymous so I can really rant and bitch. But over all I like my level of anonymity. Really only one person in my real life reads my blog, that I know of, so I feel pretty safe to discuss most things. My blog isn’t that popular either. I average around 20 visited a week, not counting those using my RSS in reader. I like being able to post photos of myself, friends, family, and surrounding, for me that’s a huge plus. I think you just have to weigh out your individual pros and cons.

  2. Jason January 30, 2010 at 12:18 AM

    As a blogger, I agree with Rachel.

    As a reader…I’d probably stop reading your blog because the voice I enjoy reading would disapear. Your anonimity allows you to explore and share part of yourself that you wouldn’t if you be “outed” or public.

    But I think the question to ask yourself is, “What is the purpose of this blog? What are you trying to accomplish?” If being public better serves your purpose or raison d’etre, then I think “coming out” is a good idea.

    Good luck.

  3. Ted C. MacRae January 30, 2010 at 1:11 AM

    I started my first blog anonymously so I could bitch and make fun of local cyclists. I soon realized that the details of my rants were enough to identify me anyway. I still pretend to be anonymous on that blog, but I know the gig is up.

    When I started BitB, my goal was something entirely different – to journalize my intellectual journey in entomology and natural history study. I surmised that there was no need to hide from such a noble intent, and perhaps it might even be beneficial for the ‘world’ to know who was the voice behind BitB.

    All things considered, I prefer the openness. I know that is a personal preference and not a prediction for you, but I can write freely without constantly fretting over whether I’ve tipped my cards, and the freedom to write often without such worry is surely (hopefully?) allowing me to develop further as a writer. I find that I only rarely must pause to more carefully consider my words – primarily when writing a book review, but since that is a challenge one faces in published articles as well I just consider it good practice. If I misstep, I will learn from it be all the better for it – lessons that are lost to the anonymous blogger. In the end, it depends on the personal goals you have for your blog and what you wnat to accomplish with it. I would suggest, however, that it is nearly impossible to remain truly anonymous, as the most famous ‘anonymous’ bug blogger I know of has found out.

  4. The Geek In Question January 30, 2010 at 9:53 AM

    Hm. You all have given me good food for thought, thank you.

    Jason, you and Ted raise good points about the purpose of the blog. That’s what I’m chewing on right now. The blog started as a way for me to document (and bitch and moan about) the trials and tribulations of life as a public servant, and my journey to grad school. Now that I’m HERE, I’m working to redefine/reconfigure the overall thrust of the content.

    I don’t want to change my “voice”…this is ME, after all.
    I’m quite aware that people IRL could probably figure out who I am so I do omit some details, for the sake of others’ privacy…I don’t think that would change either way.

    Having slept on this, I think, if I was REALLY honest, the main reason I would ditch the anonymity would be so I can write about the stuff that REALLY turns my crank: my past research, my current research…I work with pretty cool systems and critters, and it KILLS me not to post about them…but it would be a complete and utter giveaway.

    Perhaps the answer, then, is to find another outlet for those discussions?

    I appreciate your comments, everyone.

  5. Pete Yeeles January 30, 2010 at 7:58 PM

    I work with pretty cool systems and critters, and it KILLS me not to post about them…but it would be a complete and utter giveaway.

    You have me salivating!

    I read quite a few blogs, mainly for the “sciency” bits. I love reading about other peoples research in a forum which is less stilted than the general academic literature. I saw a comment on another blog which I really liked.. “it’s more like chatting with a colleague in the hallway, than being sent a copy of their latest paper”.

    I am a blog reader, not a writer, so am not really qualified to offer advise about your anonymity. I would say however than the blogs I enjoy the most, are largely those which have a name and a face associated with them. In fact, the only two which I regularly read and enjoy by anonymous posters are yours and Bug Girls.

    Do whatever you feel best, I will keep reading either way. Be great if you could somehow wrangle in some cool info about your research though!

    • The Geek In Question January 30, 2010 at 9:08 PM

      Pete, thank you for contributing your perspective…I find the range of opinions I’m getting on this subject very interesting (and thrilled that people are taking the time to offer their two cents!)

      Speaking of “thrilled”, may I just say that I am flattered X eleventy-million to be mentioned in the same breath as Bug Girl? *swoon!*

      But I digress.

      I’m still undecided. I see pros and cons for both scenarios. I think there are good opportunities for me to write more “hard” science/research-ey-type things in the near future, as a co-authour in a different forum. It would probably be best for me to just carry on here, status quo, and see how the other thing pans out before I start waving my “THIS IS ME” banner around here…

  6. Pete Yeeles January 30, 2010 at 7:59 PM

    Argh – obviously that first sentence was meant to be a quote… html tags didn’t work, how do I quote someone in a comment?

  7. Brahm January 30, 2010 at 10:53 PM

    I vote for “coming out’… I really like your blog and your voice and will read it either way, I think being out and being yourself and removing the safety filter will just make you more free, and open up the blog to being and expressing more.

    Just one opinion…

    • The Geek In Question January 30, 2010 at 11:57 PM

      And I thank you for it!

      Brahm, I’m tickled that you’re reading here and enjoying the content. I think it’s safe to say that, with the exception of some specific CONTENT, the “ME” part and how I choose to express myself is pretty uncensored…I don’t think that would change either way.

      But again, I’m going to sit squarely on the fence for a little while still.

      Where does this put the debate now…let’s see…2 for anonymity, and 3 nays. Is there a statistician in the house? Anyone? Bueller?

      (From one dog-person to another, Alfred is ADORABLE, by the way! I really should de-lurk myself over at your place, I do read frequently!)

  8. christie January 31, 2010 at 7:00 PM

    There are a lot of different things to consider. If you feel like you can more be yourself while writing under your own name, do that. You know that I myself am think “Gosh, I wish I were writing anonymously” but that’s because I just want to purge all of my ranting and complaining on a personal blog. I PREFER writing as myself, it feels more honest than using a different name although anonymously I write more honestly. or maybe I just write more.
    Either way, it doesn’t matter to me. I’ll read you whether I know your name or not. If you said disparaging things that could be deemed ‘unprofessional’ you would want to clean that up.
    :^)

    • The Geek In Question January 31, 2010 at 7:42 PM

      Yeah, I’ve put a few of my earlier work-related rants, from particularly bitchy days, under password protect. They were never specific (no names named), but still.

      Glad you plan to stick around for the ride!

  9. Pingback: So, Geek, what ARE you doing up north? « Fall To Climb

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