« Journalism vs truth | Main | Taking "our" jobs? »

June 17, 2009



"Forcing people to identify themselves would force them to invest their reputation in what they say, thus improving public dialogue."

Yes, but you don't need to know someone's real name in order for them to have a good reputation. As it happens, I do know Unity (Ministry of Truth/LibCon)'s real name, but very few do.

But he has a reputation as one of the UK's best investigative bloggers. For a long time, Nosemonkey was completely anonymous, but he had a reputation and definitely improved public dialogue. DK and Guido were of course also anonymous for some time, not sure what affect they've had on public dialogue.

Thinking back through history, the Federalist Papers were just as influential when no one was sure who the pseuodonymous authors were, and what proof do I have that you are in fact called Chris Dillow?

My screenname is based on my real name--Matthew Grant Bowles becomes MatGB, but MatGB is where I invest most of my reputation online.

Overall, of course, I agree with you, the loss of these bloggers is a bad thing, and I hope we'll manage to progress, but for many (including many of my favourite blogs), the pseudonymity of the author is essential for their continued existence. Just as the anonymity of journalists sources is also essential.

The Times, once again, shows it has no standards or integrity.

puro yanqui

Back in the Internet's infancy, over twenty years ago, I sent a couple of rather tasteless jokes to an Internet newsgroup. They're still there, and they're among the first ten hits you get when you google my real name (I happen to have a virtually unique name). I wonder sometimes how many job interviews I've lost because of those, or because of a rather strongly worded letter I sent to the editor of a local newspaper fourteen years ago, which looks like it will live forever in cyberspace as well. I haven't changed my mind about what I wrote in that letter, but given how polarized politics in the USA have become, it's not something I would ever discuss in any public setting ever again.

If I am only free to express those opinions which I would want every potential job interviewer, or next-door neighbor, or schoolteacher in my child's school, to know about, then I'm not going to say much of anything until I retire. The risk is too great.


"It’s only bosses’ prejudice that says otherwise."

What a silly comment.

Of course most bosses know their organisations are imperfect. It's a truism, but there's a difference between a generalisation about all orgs and the specific failings of one. They don't want you to know because (a) it's their job to identify and fix those failings and (b) in the absence of a level playing field (ie all orgs' failings being exposed concurrently) their org would be under the spotlight.

The Execs job is to tell everyone outside the company: customers, suppliers, investors etc. that everything is wonderful; that the problems they've been faced with are unprecedented and unique. They are the make up artists hiding the wrinkles and whilst we all know the reality is somewhat less, it is silly to describe the boss doing his job that he is being "prejudiced".

Having said that, an interesting post and your recommendations void my (b)


"I say this because Eady is right: there isn’t a right to anonymity. "

True, but only partly true. What's missing is that, whilst Jack night may not have a LEGAL right to preserve his anonymity, there is no public interest whatsoever in his identity being revealed and this action of the Times reporter, whilst legal, is utterly utterly utterly reprehensible.

Eady could have made this clear.

john cramer

And what do the bosses do if the blogger is wrong / malicious / revealing secrets that will cause commercial harm. ??

puro yanqui

"And what do the bosses do if the blogger is wrong / malicious / revealing secrets that will cause commercial harm. ??"

There is a lot of information which only is (and should be) available after you take somebody to court and get some kind of a search warrant. Once you have that, you can get the IP addresses he has been posting from, trace them to the appropriate Internet service provider, if necessary install monitoring software, etc. A careful and sophisticated hacker can beat those measures, but 99.99% of the population would get caught.


The real fault on this issue is probably not with Eady but with the Times who had no good reason to reveal the blogger's name and who are old enough and grown-up enough to know that this is likely to have an adverse effect on good journalism. However, as demonstrated in the Sunday Times' treatment of Girl With A One-Track Mind


Wapping has form on this question, and it's the form of unscrupulous bullies.

Laurent GUERBY

For reference there was a crackdown on public servant anonymous blogs in France a few years ago, I wrote at the time:


rolex yachtmaster watches

And a lot of it reflects a switch from bank deposits to securities; foreigners “other investments” in the UK, http://www.watchgy.com/ mostly bank deposits, fell by £143.2bn in Q1. And of course there’s no guarantee such buying will continue.

The comments to this entry are closed.

blogs I like

Blog powered by Typepad