Dispatches From Blogistan

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Dispatches From Blogistan
by suzanne stefanac
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anonymous blogging explored

09.9.06 @ 01:27:28 pacific

Bcap.gifloggers who choose to mask their offline identities behind a pseudonym or no name at all are increasingly common, raising questions about the integrity and verifiability of the content posted by these individuals, while at the same time allowing certain bloggers the freedom to post truths and opinions that would otherwise go unpublished. The ensuing debate is unlikely to be resolved in any near term. In the meantime, high-profile instances provide unique opportunities for exploring the positive and negative aspects of anonymous posting.

Josh Marshall over at the popular Talking Points Memo has been showcasing a guest blogger known only as TPM Reader DK and today Marshall addresses some of the questions raised by the anonymity of the individual. He details his relationship with DK over time, assuring his readers that he believes DKs posts to be truthful and well-founded, and to some extent he explains the reasoning behind the anonymity (as a lawyer with a midwest firm, DK chooses to publish anonymously for professional reasons.)

Marshall writes:

All things being equal, I’d prefer DK write under his/her own name. But I understand their need to remain anonymous, at least for now. And I think, on balance, the voice and point of view DK brings to our virtual pages outweighs the downside of anonymity.

Aside from the tortuous singular/plural gambit, Marshall’s willingness to tackle the issue head on seems like the right way to address reader concerns. The transparency that comes with blog publishing introduces new ethical dilemmas and we’re watching as solutions evolve in real time. It is instances like this one that will help each of us to define our own criteria for gauging trust within blogs.




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  1. 12.12.06 @ 02:39:16 pacific

    You say “Aside from the tortuous singular/plural gambit”… what’s so tortuous about it? As DK was already mentioned directly in the previous sentence, saying “I understand the writer’s need” would be a touch clunky and self-conciously formal. Gender can’t be applied, so the only sensible option is to use the gender-neutral form of ‘they’, ‘their’ and so on.

    (This is something that many publishers should consider far more often, rather than trying to balance gender by applying an unnecessarily specific use of he/she - and especially by switching gender almost at random! I’ve seen this numerous times, and it always grates.)


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  1. Keith says:

    You say “Aside from the tortuous singular/plural gambit”… what’s so tortuous about it? As DK was already mentioned directly in the previous sentence, saying “I understand the writer’s need” would be a touch clunky and self-conciously formal. Gender can’t be applied, so the only sensible option is to use the gender-neutral form of ‘they’, ‘their’ and so on.

    (This is something that many publishers should consider far more often, rather than trying to balance gender by applying an unnecessarily specific use of he/she - and especially by switching gender almost at random! I’ve seen this numerous times, and it always grates.)

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