Thursday, November 05, 2009

Blogging Anonymously

We know that Blogger allows us to blog anonymously, by promising to never reveal our identity as a blog owner.

This policy leads to mysterious scenarios, like when someone forgets the account that they used to create a blog, that they do own. And, it leads sometimes to tragic scenarios, like bloggers who don't have access to the back door email account, and can't prove blog ownership.

Even though Blogger allows us to pursue our anonymity, though, that doesn't guarantee absolute anonymity without effort. There are things that we still need to do, to ensure that our name / identity isn't connected with a given blog.

The most obvious strategy would be to publish your blog(s) as private.

With the blog published privately, we then disable indexing of the blog(s). This won't be 100% effective.
  • Not all search engine spiders will respect the "NoIndex, NoFollow" directives.
  • Not all bloggers want their blogs to be private, even if they don't want a personal and permanent connection with the blogs.
  • Private blogs are not completely hidden from public view.
  • RSS feeds may contain information which we do not select for appearance in the visual blog copy.

So, look at additional techniques - but be aware of techniques that will have no effect.

First, remove the "About Me" gadget from the blogs. Either publish blogs without a native Blogger "About Me" gadget, or make up a custom one.

Second, remove the blogs from the "My Blogs" list in your Blogger profile, or don't share your profile at all. And setup a second owner for your blog, so your Blogger profile number isn't visible, in the blog header.

Third, and not the least of your concerns, is what blogs interest you? Be careful how you Follow blogs - both your own, and those published by other people. Visibility of other blogs in your profile, as well as your visibility in various Following communities, may tell a lot about you.

Be aware of what profiles you use, as a Follower. For maximum anonymity, don't Follow at all - just subscribe to the blogs that interest you, using the newsfeed reader of your choice.

If you're truly paranoid, you could transfer control of the blogs, to a secondary account that you own. If you do this, it would be wise to use a non GMail account, so you can avoid a Google cookie clash caused by trying to use two Google accounts simultaneously. And please, if you want to retain control of your blogs, use a valid non GMail email address, and keep control of the email address.

And you can always Follow other blogs using a different identity.

Finally, check behind yourself, carefully. Comb the contents of your blogs, and make sure that you don't inadvertently reveal any personal details. This may be an ongoing concern, as you publish any blog, anonymously or not.

Protect yourself. These are things that you have to do, for yourself.


(Update July 2001):To let us selectively share information about ourselves with some people (as we choose), Blogger / Google is giving us Google+, which lets us replace boring unshared static information with exciting selectively shared dynamic information.

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4 comments:

Neil said...

Paranoia springs to mind... if you want to remain anonymous, turn off your computer, disconnect your modem, turn on your computer and put the modem in the bin.

Almost forgot, change your name, never register to vote, never complete any form, don't bother getting a phone etc.

If you want an anonymous life style move to another planet, we live in a society that craves information, everything we do or say is recorded somewhere on some kind of media, our towns & cities are full of cctv's, phone calls are often recorded ;for traing purposes' I could go on... but I won't! :)

Darlene S. said...

Thanks for this post! :)

David said...

Hey i had just discovered Profile surfing, clicking on the tags in my own profile and discovering people who had a similar interest, and reading about them. not looking for anything too personal, just face value stuff.

Now I feel some what guilty.

MissJamieD said...

The reason I asked if you can post anon is because I'm starting a blog where you can go to complain about life and tell your secret thoughts. I don't want people's information, I could care less about that, but they probably don't want other people to know who's secret is posted. So in order for this blog to be successful I think people need the ability to post anon.