Reflection on Anonymity

There’s been a rousing, slightly crabby conversation on NewLib this week, full of the usual irritations and annoyances. The topic du jour is the idea of using an alias on a listserv. People seem to feel very strongly about this–arguing for or against the usage of them.

On listservs I do use my real name. At this point, it’s one of the ways that I’m developing a reputation in the library community. I’m also trying to crack the code on publishing at my POW, figuring out if I can attend any conferences this fall (summer is out…), and beating myself over the head about the article that really should be at least in rough draft format by now. It’s a way to connect with other librarians across the country and globe (at least those who speak English) and many of them have become good friends and resources.

Using one’s name on professional listservs almost inevitably ensures that a search engine query on my name will return something I’ve posted. Certainly I’ve done it to others who annoy me. I like to see if they are complainers on only a solitary listserv—rare do I find this to be the case. I think, in this hyper connected day and age, it might strike me as a little odd if someone didn’t show up on listservs after a few professional jobs. As long as one is seeking and sharing information and not engaging in flame wars or unprofessional insults, I think listservs are a fabulous way to build a reputation.

Ah–you say, but you (me) hide behind the pseudonym of the blog. True…I do. But not with any great depth. You could probably link it to my real name without any particularly hard search and I’ve given out my blog name on several listservs. I did pull it down from a wiki but that had more to do with trying to figure out WHAT I was blogging about and not wishing to provide misinformation.

I agree with those who dislike when conversation participants strongly hide behind pseudonyms that then give them the “freedom” to say whatever they want without repercussion. Participants who laud their opinions but, from experience, don’t seem to actually want to listen to the other participants. I’ve encountered some who are so top lofty, occasionally stupid, and annoying that they could be categorized as trolls.

On the other hand, I know some who just seem to be another name for that person and it doesn’t even bear consideration. I have a friend I refer to as “M” so it isn’t a stretch for me to think of someone else as “L”.

So that’s a blog post of the moment. I have to go finish knitting a birthday gift.

Hedgie