This might be a case of inside baseball for some readers, but I wanted to spend a little space on the issue of blogging anonymity because of this story. Here's a quick background--Mudflats is an Alaska blog that was thrust into the national spotlight when Sarah Palin was nominated as the Republican VP candidate. This resulted in a much higher profile than the owner ever anticipated. And the result now is that a thin-skinned Alaskan politician, a Democrat named Mike Doogan, has found out who Mudflats is and has "outed" her to the general public. This is a crappy thing to do as and to a human being. It's a breach of etiquette.
But I think it's important for everyone who gets into this game to understand that that's all it is--a breach of etiquette. If you want anonymity in this world, you really only have one option--withdraw completely. Don't go online. Don't have a Facebook account, don't post comments on blogs, don't use email. Anonymity online only exists insomuch as the people around you respect your wishes to stay anonymous, because the sad reality is that a clever investigator can, with enough time and patience, out pretty much anyone who spends enough time online.
I understand the desire to stay anonymous online. When I started blogging just over five years ago, I tried to stay anonymous myself--I chose an obscure pseudonym, and I scoured every post for traces of information that might lead to my personal identity, and it didn't work. I slipped up and a troll from another site started appearing here in the comments calling me by my first name and making comments about Amy. It was more than a little nerve-wracking, and I almost shut the blog down. But the lesson it taught me was that there really is no way to stay anonymous online if someone is determined to out you, and that it only takes one douchebag in a sea of people of goodwill to ruin that. And the web is full of douchebags. Enter at your own risk.
Labels: online anonymity