Blogging: Real Name or Pseudonym?

masksIt’s said that each of us has at least three faces: his real one, the one that he shows to all people around and the one he thinks he possesses.

I began blogging under my real name but was I harassed and cyber stalked.   I deleted my original blog and started blogging again under a pseudonym.  After someone very close to us went through 18 months of a living hell due to identity theft, my friends and I made a pact.  We do not blog about our private lives, relationships with friends and family, or post any images of them on our blogs.

“A mask tells us more than a face.” —  Oscar Wilde.

While over 40 million people are now enjoying Plus, the still-shiny new social network created by Google, many have taken umbrage with the inability to do so using a pseudonym. I’ve witnessed a variety of accounts using pseudonyms being inactivated, as well as people with legitimate (but odd in Western terms) names fall into the no-pseudonyms trap.

According to Google’s Senior VP of Social Business Vic Gundotra, this is all about to change. Gundotra, during San Francisco’s Web 2.0 Summit, conceded that Google is working to include pseudonyms or nicknames in Plus, at least someday in the future. —  Google+ Relents, Says Will Support Pseudonyms

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 known name in a chosen field.

Blogging Under a Pseudonym

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

There’s a new unfortunate case study (short version: “EpiGate”) showing how blogging under one’s real name can lead to serious threats and potential loss of employment, among other things. — On the value of pseudonyms.


Do you blog under your real name or under a pseudonym?

Related posts found in this blog:
How to Become a Better Blogger 5: Your Online Presence
“Me on the Web” for reputation management

87 thoughts on “Blogging: Real Name or Pseudonym?

  1. Just stumbled on this very appropriate post (have been using your site a lot in my starting out) as I just launched my blog this week and I have not listed a picture of myself nor have put too much personal information. However after reading the above posts I am a little concerned and would love to hear other comments – My blog is about family travel, so how do I maintain privacy and security without compromising the fact that I write about family travel. (would rather not put pictures of my children especially) – all 4 of us have nicknames ie Frenchie and Mr. Techno to maintain privacy – Lots of family travel blogs do put pictures but am aware that this would be risky.

    I am a complete novice and refer your site all the time but at times I still don’t get the lingo..will keep trying. Any comments about my blog are welcome too!

    1. If my post has not covered what you are concerned about then I do apologize but I have nothing more to add to it.

  2. Hi there, have a few questions to you all:
    1. Do you actually admit that you are using a pseudonym?
    2. I guess there are no rights and wrongs, but thinking of a nom de plume, some key types occur to me. These are, regarding first and last name, respectively: i) real/fake; ii) fake/real; iii) fake/fake and iv) not person’s name, like, “The Author”, “Likeable Banker”, “Sphinx”
    3. Do you believe using a pseudonym (assuming your readers know that, hence 1. above) decreases receptiveness or interest from the part of your potential readership?
    Let me hear your thoughts.
    The Author ;-)

    1. 1. I don’t think there are any people who are actually named “timethief” and I think it’s obvious that it’s a pen name. Whether or not others choose pen names that could be actual names or not and whether or not they admit they are blogging under a pseudonym is up to them.

      2. Aside from choosing a name that could be perceived as being one that’s being used to impersonate another person I’m not aware of any rights or wrongs.

      3. This blog contains practical how to information and I’m not aware of any reluctance or lack of receptiveness that my blogging under a pseudonym has had or may have had on any readers who are looking for the information my posts contain. It could be that some exists but if it does then I’m not aware of it.

      1. Thank you timethief.

        1. Hello again and you’re welcome.

  3. Hello timethief,
    Thank you for writing this post and would like to know if you have written anything about computer generated photo avatars? (I have very low tech skills) By the way, I love you photo gravatar image.

    1. Hi there,
      I’m sorry but I have no resources on computer generated avatars. I suggest using Google search to locate site that offer such programs.

  4. Hello,

    I too use a psuedonym and have only been blogging for about a month. I am afraid in the excitement of receiving one or two comments, I may have let the cat out of the bag too soon by inviting some family members to follow. My concern is that even little mention of a family dynamic or memory could lead to big hurt feelings.

    Regretfully Semi-Revealed

    1. My family members and close friends and I have an agreement. Someone close to us all experienced a living hell due to identity theft. We don’t blog about our relationships with each other and we don’t post images of each other online. Though I do have a personal blog here > this agreement works very well for me and for them too.

  5. I love the quote by Thomas Sowell:
    “There are only two ways of telling the complete truth – anonymously and posthumously.”

    From it, the people who expose their full names do not ever write the complete truth…

    Many times and long time ago I tried to use my real name,
    it always was just a matter of time when it backfired into my face…

  6. Hi Timethief.
    When it comes to the net, I am very skeptical about releasing private information – even to a website like WordPress! You can obviously see my first name (Brad), but I use the pseudonym of Eager as my surname, purely because you can never be too safe on the internet.

    1. Hi there,
      I do agree with you. If you want to be pseudonymous online then it’s up to you to maintain your privacy.

  7. I prefer to blog under a Pseudonym. Although it’s not exactly rocket science for anyone to figure out my identity, I’d rather not hang it up on banners for identity thieves and other crooks’ convenience.

    If I lived in an oppressive country (which the United States is starting to look like; what with SOPA, PIPA, PROTECTIP, and the 2012 Defense Authorization Act), I would choose a pseudonym nobody could ever connect to me and change my writing style entirely. I would SSH to a VPN to Tor any time I posted anything, and would only do so over an SSL/TLS-encrypted connection after double-checking the destination IP address via tracert. All my conversations would be over WhAESper or, and I would blog at abnormal time intervals to disguise my locale.

    Sound excessive? Some people need to do this to survive. That’s why they cling to pseudonyms. They’re not cowards, they’re just not suicidal.

  8. timethief, I have read dozens of your pieces. You are a really good writer, and more than that, you share so much of your time helping people navigate the blogosphere. Your suggestions have been very helpful in my blog development, though I’m just taking baby steps so far. I did use a pseudonym, but just recently changed to my real name.

    Someday, my dream is to guest post on a site like yours.

    1. Thanks for much for the positive feedback on my blog. It’s so humbling to hear you have read dozens of my posts. I visited your blog and you are doing very well. I do accept guest posts so when you are feeling ready you can contact me. :)

  9. I too struggled with this question, and decided that for my professional blog about my experiences as a college reading and writing teacher, I would create an anonymous persona. Otherwise I couldn’t write honestly about my students.

    The anonymity initially presented some challenges, mainly when I wrote content I wanted to share with my students. I resolved this by created a second, personal blog for my students.

    I also agree with the above comment about wanting to take credit for favorite posts – I do have my mom sending me rave emails, but my professional peers don’t know that the brilliant post was actually from little ol’ me!

    And, I want to chime in on the above debate about whether or not we behave better when not hiding behind the anonymous mask. I agree with both sides – I have found that living in a small town and having personalized license plates means I am a MUCH more polite driver, but since my online persona is (I am ever the optimist) going out to my professional peers I work to sound thoughtful and kind (avoiding my tetchy driver’s temper tendencies!)

    I have a page on my blog about my anonymity, and would like to add a link to this discussion – other than crediting you is there more I should do??

    Your blog has been helpful to me more times than I can count – many many thanks, and joy and peace to us all this holiday season.

    1. Thanks so much for your thoughtful and interesting reply. Have a great holiday season. :)

  10. Very interesting post, and IMO pseudonymns for those of us not involved in online business is just “smart.” Ever since I first came online at the end of 2001, I have been cagey and downright paranoid about using my real name. For a long time I wouldn’t even shop online for fear of identity theft, etc. and this was back in the day when “identity theft” was not the household word it is now. I still feel a little weird about online shopping although for the most part I’ve been OK. Just got an email acct hacked once and had a CC problem which CS quickly cleared up for me. Anyway, today I never use my real FULL name, only occasionally give my first name only (a common one) and if it’s a forum or something where one’s true home address and phone are not important, I’ll fill in make believe info. I’ve had so many “screen names” for different uses, I’ve lost count! But they have all been used for good reasons…mainly that personal feeling of safety.

    I don’t post images of myself, family or friends on my sites either. Just my cats, and my garden… Anyone not from my neighborhood won’t know me from Eve… I have never felt comfy about writing about my personal life, either. Now I’m even more glad that I never did, and don’t intend to. There is a lot of gorgeous natural scenery in the area where I live, within walking distance (with gas prices what they are I don’t “pleasure drive” anymore), and my garden and pets at home also give me happiness. My personal life is on the dull side otherwise. I’m not a poet, either. And any gardening essays might be better presented by the horticultural experts out there… Therefore I let my photography speak for me ;) I’d rather hide behind the camera, lol.

    Just thought I’d chime in and comment on those sage words of our friend TT…

    The Wild Wandering Girl ;o)

    1. Thanks for taking the time to share your experience with us. I appreciate it. I also agree with you on this:

      IMO pseudonymns for those of us not involved in online business is just “smart.”

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