Red Alert

Transparency the best option

Posted by on June 18th, 2011

Am pleased and heartened to see that Rob at The Standard has outed himself as a blogger. Brave and wise I reckon.

I understand why some people blog under a pseudonym. I understand why some comment on blogs and in social media under one. It’s probably better all round if we were ourselves. Unfortunately, the world of politics encourages secrecy and intrigue, and can punish honesty and transparency.

I’m all for open-ness. Sometimes that may appear to be a naive position. But in the long run it’s better for us all.

If you are full of doubt, have a read of this. I think it’s the best example so far of how transparency reaps benefits.

Greg Jericho, also known as Grog’s Gamut is an Australian public servant, blogger, and journalist. He came to prominence during the Australian federal election in 2010 when Australian Broadcasting Corporation director Mark Scott referenced his blog during a speech.[1] He was subsequently outed by News Limited journalist James Massola, a move that provoked widespread condemnation and criticism amongst the Australian blogging community.[2] After a break from blogging following his outing, Jericho has resumed blogging and providing opinion items for other outlets, including the ABC.

I don’t like the way Greg Jericho was outed (I was in Australia when it happened) but I think the way he handled it was great.


22 Responses to “Transparency the best option”

  1. r0b says:

    Crikey – you wrote that quick!

    I’ll just note for the record that neither Clare nor anyone else in Labour knew who I was, and aren’t in any way responsible for my ramblings.

  2. Ianmac says:

    Some on other blogsites are scathing about the Standard’s contribution to discussion. This is uncalled for as much information is exposed which might otherwise go unnoticed.
    I think Rob is right up there with significant commentary and there are more like him with a deeply held concern about our future.

  3. Clare Curran says:

    And Rob had no idea I was writing this post. I do not know the identities of the people at The Standard. I sometimes hear the gossip but to be honest I don’t pay much attention.

    On Twitter many people have pseudonyms, but you can mostly work out who they are by clicking on their profile.

    I am not against anonymous blogging or commentary. I just think it’s wiser for people to be who they are in the open. And for us to have a political system that not only allows that to happen but encourages it.

    It’s a bit like the standard of dress code in parliament. If you trust people to be adults, then they generally are. If you put restrictive and outdated rules on them, then most often there will be push back and rebellion.

    Like censorship generally, people always want to see what they aren’t allowed to. Rules are important, but the more restrictive they are, the greater the response.

  4. Spud says:

    That’s easy for you to say Clare, you draw a wage based on what you say publicly, it can hurt others to have their names out in the public domain.

  5. Spud says:

    People have the right to keep their votes private so why not have it be the same for what they write on blogs? Not everyone wants their blogging life intersecting with the rest of their life. It could even interfere with their livelihoods.

  6. Dorothy says:

    it is easy to criticise anonymity on the web but unless it’s being used to harass others, I understand it.
    Many people have jobs where they do not feel their chances will be enhanced by their boss and/or workmates being aware of their political views.
    Others may already have experienced sexism or racism etc themselves and want to be treated like any other blogger, not prejudged in any way.

  7. tracey says:

    anonymity may appear to address sexism, racism etc but does it actually change the attitudes in “real” life unless the anonymous person later becomes un-anonymous?

    anonymity also ought no be confused with a justification for deceit or manipulation.

  8. Rachel says:

    As a blogging woman who used to occasionally write quite personal stuff it was useful to be anon and allowed me to write more freely. It also helped me feel safer (at one point I had a bizarre commenter who was on the verge of being threatening and I felt much safer knowing that I was anon).

  9. r0b says:

    I’m all in favour of anonymous blogging. It frees up voices that would otherwise remain silent. I’ve decided to be public about my identity, but I wouldn’t want that to be taken as any kind of slight on anonymity.

  10. lprent says:

    I’ve been around the nets for quite a few decades. I have never noticed any difference in the quality for pseudonyms or real identities. This is from BBS’es to the modern social networks. This same argument has been going on for that whole time.

    Either way you interact with the personality that is expressed through their writing. And it really makes very little difference if it is a pseudonym or real name.

    I have done most of my writing on the nets using lprent – which was my origional login at university in 1980 – it is shorter than typing in my name and just as distinctive. My real identity has always been known when I have written as lprent.

    But people largely only know as much about me as I have chosen to share. I have been sanitizing my trail through the nets forever and I am notoriously private. Unless you happen to actually know me, you’ll find that there is very little information available that I have not deliberately shared. My friends and workmates certainly don’t share what they know – nor do the political people I work with. And this is despite being involved heavily in political circles throughout that time.

    I consider the whole debate to be one that just appeals to the pathetic dumpster divers on the net. While making their false guesses (Whaloil for instance once asserted with conviction that r0b was Rob Salmond) they can feel like they have finally managed to use their brains. But you’d have to view them as being pathetic. They have been around ever since I started dialing into the US BBS’es in the 1980′s. And as a general rule, if they feel this type of issue is important, then they are usually also distinctive by having nothing else of importance to say.

    In the end what is important is the quality of the thought and the writing that counts. If someone presents themselves as their real name or as a pseudonym I really don’t care. I’ll just protect their right to do so.

  11. Spud says:

    @tracey – attitudes can be changed without some poor person having their privacy taken away. If someone like r0b chooses to come out then good on him, but the rest of us shouldn’t feel coerced into doing the same thing.

  12. Spud says:

    @r0b – Thankyou! You are dead right! BTW keep up the good posts! :-D

  13. Monty says:

    I have to say Clare that pseudonym are important, and especially were necessary under Labour Government. The fact is that there are fears that people could have reprecussions for their careers if their real name were to be known either as a blogger – or as a person such as myself who posts on blogs.

    Probably the best known but somewhat extereme example is Benson-Pope and Madeline Satchell affair. I don’t particurlaly hide who I am, but I think people who post should declare who they are to the owners of the blog.

  14. Roswell says:

    I don’t blog myself but I do enjoy being able to add to the discussions on certain blog sites includeing this one.

    Personally if I could not comment anonymously on this site I wouldn’t. I have worked in the public sector and have had to declear my involvement with the Labour Party and I had to declear every submission I made, meeting I attended etc. If I made a comment on this blog under my name I would also have to declear it.

    I now work in the mental health sector with an NGO. I again had to declear my involvement with the Labour Party, the fact I am on a Policy Referance Group and am the Chair of a special intrest branch. This is cos part of my role is to comment on the policy of day.

    I also belong to a online support group for people who live with mental illness. I am often quite open about my health issues and I have met face to face some people from the support site, but it is also useful to be anonymous to an extent as I have had my mental health issues used against me and I have been discriminated against.

    I think Red Alert has got the mix right where some can comment under a handle but their personal email is noted for safety reasons.

  15. Spud says:

    “but I think people who post should declare who they are to the owners of the blog.” Why should they? The people who comment on blogs don’t know the people who are running the site. They may or may not know their names. They don’t know if they can be trusted with their private information. A person may post on a site just so that they can rebutt the rubbish on it. I don’t think people should have to give away their power like that. It would also put people off commenting if they had to declare their identities to people who could do anything they liked with it without any regard for the person’s rights.

  16. Spud says:

    “If someone presents themselves as their real name or as a pseudonym I really don’t care. I’ll just protect their right to do so.” – Good on ya Lprent! :-D :-D :-D !

  17. Portion Control says:

    I like people blogging anonymously, blogging should be about the quality of ideas not the voice that says it. But if people are going to make attacks on other people personally they should have the courage to use their real name.

  18. Gary Jones says:

    ..if people are going to make attacks on other people personally they should consider using the rwnjs’ approach and outsource/use proxies.

  19. Cactus Kate says:

    Agree with point regarding women. Many women blog and are abused mercilessly with filth back. I guess you can fling it back or go offline. Many very good female bloggers have stopped because of the abuse.

  20. tracey says:

    spud I didnt say everyone should be “outed”.

  21. Spud says:

    You mentioned people becoming unanonymous. :-(

  22. tracey says:

    yup, in relation to those who said anonymity can correct sexism, racism etc and if people are being deceitful/manipulative.