Friday, August 28, 2009

The ethics of anonymous blogging

Decline of the Logos has posted a reply to my eight sceptical theses on human rights. There are a few bits of cheap rhetoric and a bit of showing off (I've got a degree in philosophy too, darling) but also plenty of points I could engage with.

But I am not going to, because I am not going to get into an argument with an anonymous blogger - if there is an author's name on the blog then I cannot find it.

In part this is because I cannot take someone who is not prepared to reveal his or her identity entirely seriously. How can you have a philosophical argument with someone wearing a Donald Duck mask?

And partly it is because anonymity can be rude. The writer of Decline of the Logos calls me "Calder" several times. I rather like this academic convention - it has a pleasingly old-fashioned ring to it and makes me feel as though I am sharing a senior common room with Russell and Moore.

But the convention flourishes in the collegiate atmosphere of academia. It is a different matter to be referred to by your surname by someone who does not reveal his or her own name. I made just this complaint to another blog a few months ago.

I have less time for whoever wrote under the name "Colin Lloyd" on Lib Dem Voice - when this post first appeared there was nothing to tell the reader that this was a pseudonym, incidentally. He or she wrote of Liberator:
I should note that away from the left-wing sermon that is their editorial and Radical Bulletin they do print a variety of articles and even tolerate token eco-lib Jonathan Calder on their committee; but he is funny and occasionally pretends to be a post-centennial peer, so presumably fulfills some exclusive acceptability criteria of being ‘a bit right’ but Bonkers, and thus in need of some kind of compassionate care in their community.

Given that the author so spectacularly fails to get the point of Lord Bonkers, it may be that he or she chose "Colin Lloyd" as it was easy to write. (And since when have I been an "eco-lib" anyway? If I am one, it is of a pretty individual kind.)

Liberal Bureaucracy also discusses blogging and anonymity in the light of the Liskula Cohen case.


Simon Titley said...

There's a very good blog about anonymous bloggers here:

One does sense that most anonymous bloggers are in fact rather sad young men sitting in their bedrooms playing fantasy politics. How much easier to attack the grown-ups when your true identity is hidden.

It is all just passive-aggressive behaviour really, the cyber equivalent of the Post-it note stuck on the student fridge door. That, and the right-wing libertarianism that comes naturally to people with no friends who spend their entire lives in front of a computer screen.

Anonymous said...

Hi Jonathan,

I apologise, but I've actually only just seen this post - I don't get to blog as much as I would like. I thought I'd made my identity clear on my 'About Me' page, but if my name is an issue, I can tell you that I'm Adam Bell, and I currently work in Islington as our Borough Organiser.

I also apologise for any cheap rhetoric I may have used; such things are unbecoming to us all.

Jonathan Calder said...

Hello Adam

Thanks for that. I did look for your name on the site at the time but couldn't find it.

Either I was being stupid or you have updated the page since then.

Best wishes