June 7, 2009

IS IT WRONG TO “OUT” ANONYMOUS BLOGGERS? I think blogging anonymity is fine — though in the absence of a track record I tend to trust anonymous bloggers less — but is it a “despicable” act to identify an anonymous blogger? I’d say it depends. Certainly the political operative who leaked the Foleygate story via an anonymous blog had no right to anonymity. On the other hand, what about people who blog in a non-hitjob fashion but just want to avoid job repercussions? I’m more sympathetic there. But if you appoint yourself someone’s anonymous blogging nemesis, you can probably expect to be outed.

This whole kerfuffle has a familiar feel, and in fact I remember this 2006 post from Eric Scheie: Outing Closeted Gays Is Good, But Outing Anonymous Bloggers Is Despicable!

UPDATE: Outer Objects To Outing.

ANOTHER UPDATE: More comments from Dan Riehl and Stacy McCain.

MORE: Ed Whelan responds.

Plus, more from Ed Morrissey, Ron Coleman, and Joe Gandelman. Plus, Michael Krauss and Walter Olson.

STILL MORE: Further thoughts at The Mudville Gazette. And Ann Althouse comments, and corrects me in her own comment section — it’s pseudonymous, not anonymous here. Good point. But one of her commenters weighs in:

Why should we feel sorry for him? If I was ever outed, I doubt that any liberals would raise their voices in my defense, except in a perfunctory “say it now so they can’t call me a hypocrite later” kind of way. And by then it would be too late. I would be outed and I would lose my job.

The same liberals who worked to get Prop 8 donors fired are now sobbing, sobbing, heartbroken, because this formerly-pseudonymous cyberbully is now on equal footing with the target of his bizarre obsession.

The same liberals who out closeted gays who have sex in private insist that they have a right to publicly harangue people with complete anonymity.

Lots of other discussion — mostly, but not always, taking the opposite angle — there, too. Meanwhile, Mike Hendrix isn’t shedding a tear. Plus, further thoughts from the formerly pseudonymous Jonathan Adler.