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How to Become a Better Blogger 2: Online Privacy

The Better Blogger is aware that blogging is based on relationship building. There are no shortcuts to relationship-building. You need to lay the foundations by being clear about who you are, what you are about and what you hope to achieve through the new relationship.

In the first article in this How to Become a Better Blogger Series we briefly examined the need to introduce yourself to your readers and to consider who your readers are under two subtitles:  Who are you?  Who is Your Audience?

In this post I would like to focus on Online Privacy.

Who Are You?

Blogging Under Your Real Name

The proponents of blogging under your real name take the position that  doing so provides:

  • a sense of responsibility for the things they blog about and publish;
  • readers a clear idea of their interests and preoccupations;
  • business and professional advantages of becoming a well know name in a chosen field.

My blogging tip is that if you are a make money blogger, or yours is a business blog or a professional blog, then you may want to consider blogging under your real name and posting a recent photo. Blogging under your real name allows you to build a name and branding credibility for yourself  and your blog in your area of interest.

If you are a business or professional blogger who desires the freedom to be more casual in your blog, or if you want to develop a tone and persona online that’s different than the normal you, then blogging under a pseudonym will be the better choice to make.

Further reading:
The Name Game: Transparency, Authenticity, and Being Your True Self
Blog under your real name, and ignore the harassment
Photo credit

Online Privacy

Both within the blogosphere and without, the proponents of blogging under your real name and proponents of blogging under a pseudonym appear to be evenly split.

But how personal is too personal? How shocking is too shocking? How will what we post today affect our personal safety? Our relationships with friends and family? Our future job prospects? Our customer relations?

How do we remain true to ourselves and our unique voices, while making sure our online world doesn’t intrude negatively on the three-dimensional one? — Jenn Thorsen in Wave!– The World is Watching

For most people being anonymous on the Internet is not a life-or-death matter. You aren’t dissenting against a fascist police state, or trying to hide from the secret police or from a crazy ex-lover who means to do you harm. You are anonymous because you want to keep a modicum of privacy. It is an easy goal to achieve if you put some thought into it. — engtech in Web Anonymity 103 – Online Privacy

I recommend reading the following:
Web Anonymity 101 – Digital Breadcrumbs as an introduction;
Web Anonymity 102 – A Case Study of how easy it is to find information about a person online;
Web Anonymity 103 – Online Privacy on steps to protect your online identity;
How to Blog Safely (About Work or Anything Else).

Who Are You?

Blogging Under a Pseudonym

The proponents of blogging under a pseudonym take the position that blogging under your real name has  led to:

See also: At the Uneasy Intersection of Bloggers and the Law
Photo credit

Posting Contact Information Safely

Spammers have several ways to collect valid email addresses. It’s also noteworthy that some viruses that spread themselves by email read the browser’s cache of the infected computer to find possible victims: so if an infected computer is used to browse a web page containing your address, the virus might sends itself to you via an infected mail from that computer. There are simple ways to prevent such spam bots from doing their “dirty work”. Four such strategies can be found in Eluding Email Address Spam Bots.

How to become a Better Blogger Series

  1. How to Become a Better Blogger 1
  2. How to become a Better Blogger 2:Online Privacy
  3. How to become a Better Blogger 3 Ethics and Links
  4. How to become a Better Blogger 4 Essentials
  5. How to become a Better Blogger 5 Your Online Presence
  6. How to become a Better Blogger 6 Theme Evaluation
  7. How to become a Better Blogger 7 Brand Evolution
  8. How to become a Better Blogger 8 Goal Setting

Read also >  Why About Pages are Essential

68 thoughts on “How to Become a Better Blogger 2: Online Privacy

  1. Thank you timethief. Was a theme I have been thinking about. About 4-5 months ago I started social networking and my blogging. I always used my real name, since I do it for professional purposes. I think, I had nothing to cover or hide or be ashamed of. But I was thnking of giving away my identity, is that right or wrong? Reading your post I understood that there could be different approaches. Again thanks for your post. I will bookmark your blog in my social sites. Many things to learn here. Including the links you provided.

  2. @John Sullivan
    I really don’t know how to reply. I’m sorry to hear you hated me before :( I’m glad you admire me now :)
    I do like to help people and I do help everyone who asks.

  3. You know putting aside how much I actually used to hate you from Blogcatalog I have to say that I’m wrong and will say that I do admire you.As far as the topic I use my name and don’t worry about security etc but if I was a women I would and have a private whois and all that.For the last few weeks I have taken a closer look at you and come to realize that you really are a great person and try so much to help people.Thanks

  4. @exposingtheplayers
    IMHO you said it all when you said: “I still choose to share my ideas and strong feelings about things but I will never again give someone the chance to stalk me and harass me. Getting your life back is too hard.”
    Happy blogging :)

  5. @Mark
    Thanks for reading and for commenting too. As you are a professional I understand why you made the choice you did. Best wishes to you for happy blogging. :)

  6. If I was blogging professionally, I would definably use my real name. Seems more clean cut that way. I don’t know that using “Chica” at a professional site would be good for business anyways.

    I blog pretty much everything in my personal blog. Whether there are bad consequences from that, I’ll never know, and I’ll “own it” either way.

    Great post yet again! :)

  7. Once I was naive and now my name is splattered all over the internet with derogatory terms attached to it. Threats against myself and my family members, including minor children, were also published. I still choose to share my ideas and strong feelings about things but I will never again give someone the chance to stalk me and harass me. Getting your life back is too hard.

  8. I don’t blog anonymously because I began blogging for professional purposes. I began to expand that, but I stayed under my real name. But I am more careful about what I post—also what I stumble, bookmark socially, etc.

  9. a.eye
    I agree that if you want to rant about your job, boss, students or co-workers in your blog that choosing to blog under a pseudonym is a wise choice. However, still be cautious because we all still leave digital breadcrumb trails. Thanks for commenting. :)

  10. @Tiffany
    “I never gave any thought to whether or not to use my real name when blogging because I’ve always used my real name in journalism and as a public speaker, and don’t really see much difference.”

    Your decision makes sense to me and it doesn’t differ from many others I have heard. Best wishes for your writing and all for else that you do. :)

  11. @renalfailure
    I love your blog of wild fabrications and outright lies and the mystery of not knowing your name “fits” so well. ;)

  12. I blog under a pseudonym for a few reasons. I don’t really think it is important for a person to know who I am to get something out of what I am writing — I write my thoughts on issues, what is going on in society, and occasionally general things going on in my life. I also sometimes rant about things going on in my job. Doing this got me a visit to the bosses office after a student found my blog and saw an image of me and figured out that it was me. Nothing bad happened to me, but I would rather they not be able to read if I am writing things about my situation. Since that point, I have started a different blog, and am writing a bit less that can identify me and my work place, though I still do have some rants at times over things that are done there that are not acceptable.

    Plus, I like the bit of mystery that it lends. Almost like I can be more free because people do not know who I am (except my family and friends).

  13. @Jane Q Citizen
    “I choose anonymity for safety. I used my real name on the world wide web before and it attracted far too many crazies for my liking.”

    Same here. Although I know that blogging under a pseudonym does not make me invulnerable, at least it’s a barrier. Best wishes for better blogging. :)

  14. @searchingwithin
    I agree that after you become a star you can easily drop the alias and be no worse off for it. May your star shine brightly through the cloud cover. lol ;)

  15. @Kdawg68
    “At first I was all in favor of pseudonym blogging – if for no other reason than privacy concerns. However, I soon realized that I wanted people to know who I was, I wanted to be able to be easily found by people who knew me, and I wanted my thoughts/work/intellectual capital to belong to me and me alone.

    In other words, I’ve gone to the “real name” style of blogging. That being said I don’t blog about controversial things, so all that appears under my name is information related to my niche.”

    The choice you have made makes perfect sense to me. Thanks for the visit and the comment. :)

  16. @Cooper
    “I think no matter what you write you have to be aware that you may not be as invisible as you think.”
    Thanks so much for sharing your experiences and advice with us.

  17. I don’t blog under my own name for a number of reasons. One of which that hasn’t been mentioned is that it adds an air of mystery about my blog. Besides, it’s a blog of wild fabrications and outright lies, would you believe me if I did use my real name?

  18. I’m a big fan of Jenn Thorsen, but I have to take issue with her suggestion (quoted above) that there are somehow two separate “worlds” in play. When we choose to blog, we choose to enter a public forum. Try to imagine offering to teach a class at your local park district, then showing up and telling students they could call you KnittinChik because you didn’t use your real name in public forums! I never gave any thought to whether or not to use my real name when blogging because I’ve always used my real name in journalism and as a public speaker, and don’t really see much difference.

  19. @raincoaster
    “The best reason I know to blog pseudonymously is that it frees you to speak truths you might not otherwise dare, either for fear of emotional exposure or social and political exposure.”

    That’s an excellent reason. Thanks so much for sharing it.

  20. @Mak Ossa
    Thanks so much for commenting and thanks especially for the link to the New York Times article. I incorporated it into the blog post in order to bring it to everyone’s attention. Best wishes for better blogging. :)

  21. @Chris
    “I am concerned about my family when it comes to using my anonymity. I am able to protect myself and my online identity, but i cannot control what nuts might do to my family.”

    I also have a personal blog and I asked my family members and close friends how they would feel about me writing about them in it. They all gave me the thumbs down on writing about them and I have respected that.

  22. @totaltransformation
    I am concerned about the identity theft issue too. Here’s an example of something I consider to be invasive. When Facebook came out with Beacon, it created somewhat of an uproar once people realized just how much of their personal information was being relayed to others. Some Facebook users were not bothered by it but a lot of them were not so happy. Even the bothered users continued to use Facebook despite their concerns because they had so much time invested in it and did not want to lose their network.

    A new plug-in was developed that will help counteract the collection and sale of personal information. This free plug-in is a toolbar that will allow users several different options to monitor and delete Cookies, offline content and track visits to Facebook Beacon collaborator companies. http://flugpo-blog.blogspot.com/2008/04/flugpo-sponsors-plug-in-that-protects.html

    There is a group on Facebook called MyDataIsMyData and there are already almost 200 people in the group. It looks like a lot of people are happy to have this new option ie. to keep chosen information private.

    Did you know that Facebook still has all the data that you give them on their servers even after your account is “inactive”. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/click_online/7375772.stm
    Before de-activating your Facebook account, remove all photos, school history, employment history, all of the “About Me” profile type type information like interests, favorite movies, books, music, etc as well as hometown, country, political views, religious views, groups and all contact details.

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