Why the IT Skeptic abandoned blogger anonymity

The IT Skeptic has decided to abandon anonymity on this blog.

Why did the IT Skeptic choose to be anonymous?

1) I can comment without restraints that might be imposed by other roles I perform in my profession

2) I can avoid nasty emails and heated debates at conferences and meetings. I imagine my physical safety could be an issue with a few of the comments I have made

3) it's fun

A fourth reason, related to the first, was to avoid any embarrassment to colleagues on the committee of itSMFnz. I was concerned that some overseas itSMF people might not appreciate the itSMFnz newsletter editor giving them stick, and they might make life difficult for the New Zealand executive. (The New Zealand committee have always been in the know, and unanimously supportive).

In the early days of the blog this was probably the right decision: it saved hassles and it made the blog a bit more interesting.

As time has passed, anonymity has become increasingly farcical. All the people who might make waves know exactly who the IT Skeptic is, along with a tribe of others in the know.

I hope the probability of anyone objecting has declined as the blog established credibility and a track record for fairness (or at least even-handed unfairness), and for moderation of comments. In addition the itSMFnz editorials have been written by my “regular” self demonstrably free of Skeptic subversion – well at least no more than any good editor would exhibit. Readers can judge for yourselves.

Furthermore this blog spends a fair amount of time campaigning for transparency and community involvement in itSMF and other ITIL bodies. Any attempt to stifle debate now would just be grist for the mill.

These are considerations, but the main reasons to drop anonymity are more fundamental ones.

First, even though I strived to establish as much credibility as possible, reading comments on the blog and other websites showed that anonymous writing in general suffers from diminished integrity.

There are some distasteful corners of the internet, where people air opinions and attack others in a manner they simply would not be able to before the emergence of the internet. There are forums and sites that are no better than scribblings on toilet walls, or the malicious gossip whispered amongst a bitchy few. But now this rubbish is broadcast to the planet. The IT Skeptic has no desire to be associated with this kind of social deviancy.

Second, there is a fundamental inconsistency in an anonymous blogger advocating transparency and disclosure. And I was unable to challenge anonymous commenters on my blog to identify themselves when they made attacks on other people.

I conclude that anonymity has its place:

  • In the early days of a blog
  • Where employers and associates might object or feel uncomfortable
  • Where the physical security of the blogger and family might be compromised

But in general blogalistic integrity is (hopefully) enhanced by standing behind one’s remarks, and a more wholesome blog environment can be encouraged.

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