As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

On Pseudonyms

I haven't given this any space, but Ed Whelan, a guy who runs something called the Ethics and Public Policy Center, outed the Obsidian Wings blogger Publius because he criticized him. After a couple days of criticism from the left and the right, Whelan apologized and publius accepted.

I run a pseudonym on this site but my name is pretty readily apparent, and for me it's just what I happened to come up with when I started the site, so I kept it. At Calitics we were constantly getting criticism about hiding behind anonymous handles - as if that degrades the quality of the content somehow - so we defused that critique by using our real names. But I completely understand the desire for someone - for professional or personal reasons - to conceal their identity online, and the last thing I would ever think to do is to run down that information and report it to the world. The mentality of someone who immediately thinks that does not compute to me.

For hundreds of years, writers who wished to impact the political debate used pseudonyms - publius is names after one! - for whatever reason, sometimes just to allow the words to take precedence over the personality. If you look at the preening subjects of the Village these days, I think you'd only wish for pseudonyms.

Hopefully this sorry episode reveals an understanding about respecting other people's wishes, on the Internet or off.

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