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October 19, 2006


Barbara P

I blog under my own name, but I barely post so it probably doesn't matter much. I stopped commenting under it because I don't want google searches to keep finding my comments.

Someday, if I ever decide to actually put a lot of time into a blog, I will probably make it anonymous.


When I was a teenager, I did something I later came to regret. Having it follow me around for years afterward making me miserable definitely shaped my perception of identity. Fortunately, much like baby teeth, your childhood identity eventually falls out of who you are.

Now that I am grown up and several publications into my academic identity, which is attached to my real name, I do not want my random blog comments to follow me around for the rest of my professional life. Hence, I am anonymous for the sake of my career.


In my second year of a theology extention course taught at my Parish, one of the other students started calling me Monk in Training. It sort of stuck. :)

Emily H.

I post/comment variously as Firstname Lastname, Firstname Lastinitial (Emily is such a common name, I get mixed up with other Emilys in comment threads), and More-Or-Less-Permanent-Pseudonym. (I believe I've been using it to register for web forums since 2000 or so).

Pseudonym is for fandom stuff--comic books, TV shows. That kind of thing.

Emily H. is for political/issue-oriented blogs, or blogs where common practice is to go by one's real name, and Pseudonym seems too frivolous for those.

My full name is for my book review blog, which I don't really mind if people link up to my real identity. (I'm a librarian, so it helps my employment prospects insofar as it proves I read a lot of books).

My sisters and I ego-google each other. My parents aren't computer-savvy enough yet, but you never know. I'm nervous about my employment prospects, sure, but more nervous about having to be accountable to my family for what I say about sex and God.

I don't really care about the relationship between a person's real identity and their internet identity--well, I care enormously if a person tries to pass themself of as someone they're not in order to gain sympathy or credibility, but I don't care about whether the "Hugo" or "Lauren" at the bottom of a post matches up with a person I can look up in the phone book.
If a person maintains a consistent online identity in some fashion--if I can trust them not to use sock-puppets--then knowing their real name matters to me not at all.

The Gonzman

Repost for relevance:

Handles - very easy for me. In high school, as my hair grew longer and I began to grow my biker moustache (the bushy fu-manchu) I resembled "Gonzo" Ted Nugent. A lot. I also ran with a guy named Cassaday. So it became "XXXXXX Cassaday and the Gonzo Kid." (Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid?) I got the "Kid" appended to it because I was, well, 16.

I don't pull of "kid" real well anymore. I may not look all of my forty-mumble years, but that just doesn't fly. Gonzo Man doesn't flow trippingly off the tongue. Gonzman does.

So - thank the Dean of Students at my high school. Almost thirty years later....


I post as "The Chief" because it's a nickname a rather eccentric friend hung on me in high school--not sure why, I have no appreciable Native American blood in me and I've never been the head of a police force--but he still calls me that to this date.

Why use a pseudonym? I'll admit, I like and probably need the anonymity. I'm an MRA and an extreme civil libertarian. In my perfect world family law would be radically different, most drugs would be legal, prostitution would be legal, all pornography not involving children would be legal, etc, etc. These view are not always conducive towards regular employment or being treated civilly by other people. If it were just me I might handle things differently but I have two dependent children to think of, hence the pseudonym.

Jeff Pack / jfpbookworm

I use my handle and my name interchangeably these days.

My current handle started in college as an email alias (bookworm@brown.edu), because they used a First_Last naming convention that was inconvenient. It didn't offer much anonymity, because it was possible to look up who a particular alias corresponded to in the school directory, but it did offer a way to display a little more personality.

I added the "jfp" to it at some point as a login name at some site where "bookworm" was taken. After that, I started using "jfpbookworm" for consistency's sake - it was easier for me to remember a single alias than many, and it helped other people correlate my presence on various sites (without confusing me with any other Jeff Packs out there, at least one of whom also has a strong internet presence).

I don't make any effort to hide my name. I use the handle, when I use it (my primary blog and email address no longer use the handle), more as a way of being more memorable rather than less. I realize I have privilege in this - the worst that's happened to me is that I got a harassing phone call from a spammer I reported - and I try not to judge anyone by whether they use a real (-sounding) name or not.

I also think there's a bit of a culture clash going on here. There are many communities where using a nickname is expected, even if you aren't intending to hide your identity. BBSs, LiveJournal and MMORPGs all come to mind. Using one's real name on those is often either infeasible or seen as a sign of unoriginality. When people who are accustomed to this move over to a forum like this, where there's only name/email/URL fields, they are likely to keep using their handle, because this is how they're known, rather than a real name which likely means nothing to anyone they're talking to.


I blog under my own name, but if I could do it again would probably blog under a pseudonym. But at this point it would be impossible to change everything, so it would all end up back to me anyway.


I've been SamChevre and/or Sam Chevre online since my second email address. Sam is my real first name, Chevre is derived from my childhood nickname of "billy goat" (which I earned by my habit of climbing on things.)

I use the same name across a variety of fora, so SamChevre is me online; anyone who knows me IRL and frequents sites I frequent knows who I am. But the alias makes it easier to separate the online me from the real me when I'm making arguments that I may think are good arguments, but which don't convince me; it also makes real-life harassment on step harder. It also allows me to share stories of friends without outing them (although, very occasionally, I do that under "anonymous" if the need for confidentiality is crucial).

Mr. Bad

I use a pseudonym to protect myself, both from termination from employment, career assasination, and to avoid physical assaults from angry feminists and other so-called 'progressives' on our campus. Yes, people with un-PC views have been physically assaulted here by feminists and others, and I have recieved threats of such assaults via my pseudonymonous (real word?) email account. The need for MRAs to protect themselves is real folks.

I chose "Mr. Bad" because I heard the term used to describe a 'cool' person in a 60s funk song; unfortunately I can't remember the name of the tune nor the artist, but it was a cool - bad, if you will - song. I also like the fact that it has double-entendre message to it, as I think that some in the feminist community might think that I'm bad, i.e., malevolent, because of my ideas and writings.


I blog under a handle, but append my name to it.

Why? Hard to say. I've had a number of names in my life, most acquired by happenstance. There was a forum where I used a pseudonym, and only that (so there are people who still call me Murphy) because I was asked to come in, and play a role. That role went away, but the sense of person attached to the name persisted, and thought of myself as Murphy.

These days, because I blog under pecunium, and I see no reason to hide myself, I use that where possible, though there are fora (mostly where I know the participants from before my blogging days, back in the years of usenet and letters and face to face) where my given name is the one they see.

The nom de plume allows me some small sense (misguided, perhaps, and known to be false, since the one is linked to the other) of freedom to speak my mind (and being a soldier there are limits). On occasion I will post with a totally false name, and addy, and the like, because I can't afford to have the sentiment associated with me, and plausible deniability/lack of direct pointer are needed.



In most places, I comment under the name 'aphrael'; it was a name that I had been using in an RPG when I got my first unix shell account, and it's stuck with me as my online identity ever since. I'm reluctant to change it, since there are many people who know me by that name; and it feels a bit like a comfortable piece of clothing, now. I have no idea what image it causes to arise in people's minds.

In some places, where the culture obviously requires or prefers it, I comment under my real name, 'Robert West'; but doing so generally feels awkward, and i'll only do it if I think the culture of the site requires it.


First, I want to point out the difference between a pseudonym and a handle or screenname, at least as I understand it. A pseudonym is meant to conceal the legal identity of the writer -- hence, `Mr Bad' and `Bitch PhD' are pseudonyms. A handle, screenname, or nom d'internet need not be used to conceal one's legal identity, as in the case of my handle, Noumena, or Ampersand.

For me, writing under a handle is simply an old habit left over from my teenage years, spent on internet bulletin boards and in chat rooms, where using one's real name was discouraged. It's not a matter of privacy -- click on my name to go to my blog, and my blogger profile has my legal name and a link to the website I maintain under it. Like aphrael, writing under this handle just feels comfortable, and I see no real reason to change.

I considered severing all links between my legal identity and my nom d'internet a few months ago -- there are a couple social conservative student groups here that have happily engaged in incredibly nasty smear campaigns against liberal faculty, and I wasn't sure I wanted to risk being targetted by them. But I realized that my political commitments are an important part of who I am, and as a feminist intellectual my politics are thoroughly integrating with my writing (and, eventually, my teaching). I won't apologize for it (though I will defend it), and I certainly won't be terrorized for it.


I don't trust most "people" on the internet, and have seen situations where someone's words on a forum were used to get them fired by unknown and likely psychologically unstable internet persons. Although I represent my views similarly in real life, I'd rather not have some bitter person keep a log of everything I've posted, and try to somehow use it against me in the future when I have a public career.

It's why my amazement with Hugo's incredibly candid posting style never ends.


I use a pseudonym, as you probably know. My main reason for doing this is to protect myself from online harassers, and I learned last fall that even with a pseudonym, I hadn't done it well enough: Just by virtue of my naming, on my blog, the city to which I'd moved, I attracted the attention of a belligerent and threatening guy who emailed me several demands (they certainly weren't requests) to meet up. And he'd name locations with which I was familiar, which were nearby. It was frightening, but I can only imagine how much more frightened I would have been had he had my real name.

Secondary reasons for my use of a pseudonym: It protects my family's privacy; just because I want to "share" online doesn't mean they do (I also try not to write about 'em too much). Using a handle also keeps me from getting too bigheaded about myself, because my pseudonym's really just a dumb, dumb joke. It's absurd. I don't mind if my handle projects a little absurdity to others, or if others are inclined to take me less seriously because of it, because that attitude's healthy for me and maybe healthier for them, too.

I love Ann Bartow and I don't want to revive, even inadvertently, any bashing on her--but I'm really glad you provided this thread and ASKED people why they do whatever they do (use a real name, a fake one, comment anonymously), rather than assuming anything about the reasons.

What I am not sure everyone who uses his or her real name online realizes is how sort of backhanded by the real-names -rule! crowd you can feel if you're pseudonymous; like, "Well, I thought providing the same email address everywhere I comment and having a distinct writing style identified me as a discrete individual and gave me legitimacy enough, but maybe they're right, maybe what I have to say doesn't count as much if I don't sign my real name to it." That hurts. Thank you for not doing that.

deirdre dashwood

I use a pseudonym because it's fun to lead a double life. A few people know who I am (because I've told them) and a whole lot more could figure it out if they had the time and inclination.

I get a kick out of being anonymous. It's like having a secret affair. There's a definite frisson quality to it all.

I know I could be outed at any time so my philosophy has always been never to write anything I wouldn't want to own up to.


My name is a blatant play on my first name because it's such a common name (I'm either declaring myself bad or it's cute I'm not sure which).

Q Grrl

I post as Q Grrl because years ago my roommate at the time was the bassist in the lesbian band The Butchies and when we played video crack (MegaTouch), her handle was Riotgrrl, and because I am a big time pool player I was "Q" grrl, just to make sorta matching themed nicknames. "Q" is also a play on queer and a play on the oft used "Suzy Q" that goes with my given, real life, name.

Hope *that* all made sense.

I like the use of pseudonyms b/c of the creative atmosphere it lends to the internet word.

Q Grrl

er, world


I've used this silly nom de post for years across a variety of fora, and my primary motivation has been not to have my off- and online lives collide. I value my privacy and do not want my posts trailing me for the rest of my life even if I never post an opinion I wouldn't be willing to defend in person. As an introvert, I prefer to reveal myself to people I meet IRL according to my comfort level; it would make me feel very vulnerable to know that they could google my name and instantly know the range of my opinions.

Also, recently I was stalked online (and, eventually, offline) by someone who did manage to find out my real name and address, and it's an experience I wouldn't wish on anyone. Now that I've had that experience, I know for sure that I'll always be pseudonymous online.


For most people, real names are meaningless. I could claim my name is, say, Johanne Gagnon. There are hundreds of Johanne Gagnons in this city -- how would you know which one is me? Or that I'm telling the truth? I could make an email address at one of the zillion free email accounts, etc -- for the very small percentage of people who have a professional web presence, "real name" is meaningful; for everyone else, it's just a claim you make about the name you go by.

I use a psuedonym because I do not want people who know me in real life to google me and find my blog etc -- it would not be good professionally or personally.

Shawna R. B. Atteberry

My professional blog is under my real name because that's what I write under and where I send editors. My personal blog is under a pseudonym, so I have my own space to say whatever I want to say and not have to worry about it affecting my personal life.

Shawna R. B. Atteberry

Woops: I meant my personal blog was a place I could say whatever I want and not have it affect my professional life.


I post under my real name primarily because I started my blog as self-promotion (I'm an author). Of course, from time to time I say something inflammatory and someone promises to burn my books and never ever recommend them again. Which makes me wish I was pseudononymous. Not because I fear a loss of sales, but because it's such a stupid threat to engage with and because the whole "not getting it" thing about such a person is being smeared all over my work.

bluefish A

i use the psuedonym bluefish A because i live in fear that mens rights activists will find out where i live, work and teach and they will then tear me apart like a pack of wild dingos whilst shouting "know your place, woman! feminism is making me do this!" yes, sometimes men do physically assault women- i know it's rather shocking consider we women are responsible for over half of the domestic violence rate.
sorry, i just read mr. bad's post and i thought it was hilarious.
i post blog comments under bluefish A because it's a combination of my birth sign, favorite color and the fact that i am A NUMBER ONE! in my own mind.

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