jump to navigation

Why I almost don’t read anonymous blogs December 15, 2007

Posted by Sharath Rao in blogging.

There is much discussion in the Indian blogosphere about anonymous bloggers. [ Digression: I am amazed that wordpress is flagging the word “blogosphere” as a spelling error – what irony ! ]. The issue is about commenters and some elements trying to ‘out the identity’ of these anonymous bloggers, presumably for the sheer pleasure of it. While it is bad manners, discourteous and all that, I think we will need the expertise of someone like Judge Richard Posner to convincingly argue why such practice might be tantamount to invasion of privacy and hence must invite legal consequences. Anyway, thats not what the post is about.

Its my inability to bring myself to be a reader of anonymous blogs. I respect their right to stay anonymous and won’t even require them to give reasons why. But I respect my own right to not read anonymous blogs and will give ‘reasons’ (prejudices is probably a better word) why :-).

To state upfront, great content might come in from anywhere. Occasionally when I am done reading that some really interesting post someone linked to/emailed, the next thing I do is see who the blogger is. It is important, or better yet comforting for me to know where the blogger comes from. I may not really care about the blogger’s real name (as long as the pseudonym can be easily pronounced 🙂 ) , but other things – place, primary area of expertise, education and training, homepage would be great. I want as much context as possible. Without much of this information, my interest quickly vanes and I am unlikely to return to the blog.

To make things clear, its not a matter of policy to not follow these blogs, which means the next time you send me this link to a great post from an anonymous blogger I will still read it. Except I may not continue to return to the blog. This of course does not apply to ‘anonymous bloggers’ whose identity I know through personally knowing them. I think this is consistent with my view that while I respect their right to be anonymous to the world, I can’t bring myself to read blogs from bloggers I don’t know about.

One might argue that all the information that I sought above can be derived from reading a few posts. Very well likely, but I won’t do that. Why that extra cognitive load ! After all,

a) Elasticities abound – there is no dearth of good content out there.

b) there is a real dearth of time anyway.

In an attempt to find a real-world analogy for this discomfort, I wonder if reading anonymous bloggers is akin to speaking to a person “face-to-face” while the other person has his/her shades on, or worse still, a mask on. How long can you do that ?

In reply to Amrita who says:

These people are not your bitches, they didn’t call and ask you to visit, they didn’t hound you into giving them your custom, you are not doing them a favor by visiting their space, you do not own them or their material – and they’re not making an extraordinary request of you by informing you that they don’t wish to share their identity with you. If the lack of a real world name bothers you so much, don’t visit.

Okay, I will take that last option 🙂

In summary, sorry anonymous bloggers, although I understand that many of you are compelled to remain anonymous, I can’t bring myself to read your blogs. Which of course means I can’t bring myself to ‘out’ you or urge people to boycott you or bother you in any other way either.

Peace 🙂



1. Abi - December 15, 2007

I agree that some personal context is a good thing, and can enhance our understanding of what the blogger is on about. When the content is good, I think we all share this incredible urge to know more about the person behind the content. When that is missing, we end up feeling frustrated.

But still, content is king! The best example that I can think of is Fafblog. The entire progressive blogo-hemisphere has been in mourning ever since it stopped posting new content a while ago! No one knows who is (or, who are) behind all that amazingly whacky and wicked humor.

Bottomline: when the stuff is consistently good, we don’t mind the hidden face of the blogger. The key phrase, of course, is “consistently good.”

In the subcontinental blogdom, Curious Gawker fits this category.

2. Sharath Rao - December 16, 2007

Yeah, as I was writing the post I was telling myself that there will be exceptions trumping the rule – after all, it was too strong a claim to make.

Nevertheless, none that I came across from personal experience. Must check out curious grawker !!

3. Sudhir Pai - December 17, 2007

Hey Sharath!

I’m just left wondering if a persons identity has such an impact on a reader. I’ve never really given it any thought before! We probably cannot take anonymous bloggers too seriously because we cannot draw a mental picture of what they look like. Having said that I never seem to look for a journalists name in the newspaper even if i really enjoyed the content. Do you? just curious…

4. Sharath Rao - December 17, 2007

Very interesting question – and there is the reply :

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: