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On anonymous comments and comments with psuedonyms

An incident which happened to me today made me think about annonymous commenting and commenting using pseudonym, without revealing identities.
Photo credit: Daniel Ivan (creative common license)

In my very early blogging days (way back in 2006) when I had first started blogging, I was terrified about what I was getting into. I felt very scared to give out my real name and hence used my initials 'PS'. Gradually I began getting popular and many of the people who were commenting on my posts regularly (they all used their real names and they used pictures of themselves) wanted to 'see' me in order to connect with me better. By then, I had figured out that the Internet isn't  that dangerous a place as it is made out to be, as long as one follows some basic rules. So I started blogging under my real name as well as I put up a picture of myself. It helped immensely later, when I wrote articles for Times of India, Readers Digest etc as Editors could easily sample my writing (with my name on it) on my blog. It added value to them and a real name did help in creating a favorable impression and gave me credibility rather than a moniker or using just the initials.

It also helped me to connect with many bloggers, some of who became very good friends and I met them many times, one of them being Niall Young, who is a brilliant artist based in UK. (Go check out his blog. he is AWESOME)

Later, when my books became popular (by which time I had a page on  the wiki too) I realised that using my real name everywhere was indeed a boon, though I did not know it at that time. It gave me 'branding' so to speak. Also I realized, it did make me very vulnerable too. Suddenly I was a 'public figure' and my actions and whatever I did, said or wrote was 'open to scrutiny'. I did not mind it much, as I do stand by whatever I have written or said so far. I have been nothing but honest and forthright in my writing, as well as when it comes to expressing my opinions. Yes, over the years, whatever I feel might have changed--but I have always expressed vociferously, whatever I believe in. I know now, it takes courage to do that.(Though I hadn't even thought of it that way!)

Naturally, I am guarded about who I am dealing with, on the Internet. I am also wary of people who do not identify themselves when they leave a comment. I like to know who I am 'talking to'. I simply do not have the time (nor the inclination)  to follow-up or find out identities of commenters who choose to reveal only initials or nick-names or even scrambled versions of their names or initials. I like it when  commenters have a profile pic and reveal something about themselves. To me, it seems only fair, as I am opening up myself quite a lot and it is only natural I want to know a bit more about you. Else I feel I am speaking to someone standing behind a one-way wall, where they can see me, but I cannot see them at all! Not a very nice feeling, especially when one is as forthright as I am.

Because of my honesty, I have been accused of many things (by even supposedly close friends who have known me for years) some of them being vanity (perhaps because of all the smiling pics I post?), thinking too much of myself, not being humble even though I am a writer (where did that come from?!), not being able to tolerate a difference of opinion (ha ha--if that was the case I would have stopped writing a long time back!) and many such things.

I have always maintained that my blog is a 'happy place'. There is no room in my blog for negativity. You, of course do not have to agree with me. You are definitely entitled to your opinion about me--but on your blog and your space and your time please! Not on mine! Thank you :)

Therefore I am happy that the Internet is slowly becoming a less anonymous place. Most sites do not allow anonymous comments and they require you to sign in with your FB profile or any other verified online identity.
To read an interesting case, which may change the face of Internet for good, click hereFact is, like the article points out, when you say something which has your name attached to it, you are that much more careful in what you say. One only has to look at the Youtube comments to see how much of utter trash and vile poison is spewed out, under the guise of 'free speech' afforded by the fact that most commenters are unidentifiable.
Personally I like it.

I truly do not believe that saying something anonymously or under twisted monikers or initials, adds any extra 'value' to whatever is being said.  If you strongly feel about something, don't be scared. Speak out. (but be careful about libel!)

Long live the Internet.
Long live free speech.

And yes, don't be afraid of using your real names. It does more good than harm. :)
Trust me, I speak from experience.

photo credit: <a href="">Daniel Iván</a> via <a href="">photo pin</a> <a href="">cc</a>

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  1. I totally agree. Many years back when i started using the internet, I was very skeptical about giving details about myself, and putting up a picture etc, but now it makes more sense to reveal your identity than not to. It helps people to feel a better connect with the blogger as you have mentioned. :)

  2. Anonymous10:49 AM

    Point taken. I started blogging just four months ago and like you, I didn't know what I was getting into. I wanted the security of anonymity to establish a voice and then decide what to do.

    A few days back I did decide to link my real name to my blog. I still have to convince my husband to help me take a flattering picture to add. :-)

    I am hopping off the fence. oijuggle is Shankari Sundaram

  3. Shankari: Wonderful to 'meet' you :) (I feel warmer already :) )Helped me identify you on twitter too. Just be wary of trolls. Delete any trollish comments.
    Since you aspire to get published, I do think blogging with a real name would help. Good luck--go write those 1000 words!

    Swetha: In the early days, i too was petrified. But gradually overcame the fear. Like you said, it does help establish a better connect.

  4. I totally agree with this anonymity thing. When I started blogging I was petrified too to reveal my true identity and put up pics. But then I started blogging more out of inspiration than out of self yearning. And the inspiration came from people like Chimayi, you, Nancy and others like you all. I was introduced initially to blogging with an identity and that gave me more confidence to use my real name.

    I also comment with my true identity because as you had mentioned there is no onus to what one says under an anonymous blanket. People think they can say whatever they want and easily get away with it. And this also usually brings out the worst in humans when they are camouflaged and have a sense of unethical freedom to say anything and everything.

  5. In my case , I think It would have worked better had I started with a pseudoname, because of the nature of my work I cant put everything .. but had i been anonymous I could have written a lot more


  6. Since I have started using the internet I have always used my real name...very particular how people know me & address me...This anon thing never really impressed me, I feel only people who are scared to come out in open and share their opinions do that...
    Recently dealt with some negativity on an article written by me on TOI but thankfully the people had a name..

  7. Agree, agree and agree! I think everyone fears their baby steps into the virtual world. But yes, using a real name gives you a face. All it takes is being a bit careful with some intimate details. :)

    There are those who will comment anon and usually their comment will be really snide. I think that is total act of cowardice. It happened to a fellow blogger who had written a sensitive post about being an outsider in a particular state. And this anon went all out of his/ her way to bad mouth the blogger on her comments section! I mean, how lousy is that!

    And about being accused - well like they say, "you cannot please everyone" You achieve something and be proud about it, people will call you vain. And if you are (god forbid!! ;)) humble, then they call you fake. Isn't it?


  8. True!!!! Its always good to know whom you are talking to.

  9. oh and loved your blog header pic. Vivacious just like the author. :)

  10. I agree to all the things you said and personally even I follow the same. But the problem with entering the user id is such that; I have a self hosted blog and I am forced to choose between google or wordpress and none of which is my correct identity :-)

  11. Everything has got its Pros and cons ..but what I always like is being your true self.. dil se ...what one has to be afraid of ..if n when we hurt someone .

    If we have a positive attitude toward anything ..we can whatever we like to stopping ..

  12. Hi Preeti,
    I don't know if you remember me, but I was one of those few followers on your blog before you became famous. And you know, I remembered the name of your blog, and typed it in the address bar, to visit it, because over the years, I had lost touch with your writings. But that is what makes it special - someone remembered.. :)
    I was like that too, initially apprehensive of the Internet and scared to use my real name, but my pseudo name which is a small variation of the spelling of my real name, became my actual name almost!! :)
    And slowly I became confident enough to reveal myself so you will be able to see the real me too.
    I agree that pseudonyms esp those that do not connect to the person using them.. are more of "be wary of them" types.
    How is everything at your end?


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