Upcoming Anonymous Poll on Anonymity

Guest Post by Willis Eschenbach

Why do people not sign their own names to what they write on the internet, and in particular on this blog? I thought I’d ask people this in the form of an anonymous poll. But before I do that, I want to get the full range of possibilities, so I’ve decided to crowdsource the poll questions. To date I have a number of possible reasons someone might give for posting anonymously, which are not mutually exclusive.

Here’s the first cut of possible reasons why someone might post anonymously:

  • I’m concerned that putting my real name to my ideas will cause me trouble at my work.
  • I’m concerned that putting my real name to my ideas will cause me trouble at home or with my family.
  • I’m concerned that putting my real name to my ideas will cause me trouble with my friends and acquaintances.
  • I’m concerned that putting my real name to my ideas will cause me trouble at my school or university.
  • I’m posting from a country which discourages freedom of speech.
  • I’m concerned that someone will take violent exception to my views about climate and threaten me or my family.
  • I feel more comfortable posting anonymously, but I’m not sure why.
  • I’m concerned about putting any personal information about myself on the web for any reason.
  • I find it easier to express negative views when I post anonymously.
  • I’m posting from work on company time, or the equivalent (e.g. posting when I’m supposed to be studying).
  • I don’t want people to be able to research my previous statements.

Now, my questions about all of this are:

  • What else would be another reason that someone might have, that should be listed on the poll?
  • What other questions (age, sex, etc.) would it be useful to know?
  • How about the wording of the questions? Is it neutral, is it biased?
  • Order of the questions? Which ones first, which ones last?

Many thanks for your contributions, the relevant ones will be included in the poll.

w.

PS – Please be clear that I’m interested in possible reasons people might post anonymously on WUWT, not a justification or an argument for or against posting anonymously. This thread is to design the poll, not to debate anonymity.

[UPDATE] Added from the comments, with my thanks. Note that in the poll people will be able to choose more than one response.

  • I feel able to express more confident views if those statements aren’t personally attributable to me.
  • I’m posting for relaxation – not “publication”.
  • Using my real name is just asking for ad hominem attacks.
  • I don’t know who might read the post and what they might do with it.
  • I don’t wish to disclose my formal qualifications, or lack of them, or that I am in a different field.
  • I can say things that I would be embarrassed to say in person.
  • I’m lazy.
  • I work with people who believe Albert Gore is a scientist.
  • I work with clients/customers or in a market where skeptical views are not welcome.
  • Metaphorically speaking, I have relatives in the old country …
  • To be honest, I also say some pretty stupid things, occasionally, especially when imbibing the suds.
  • I am concerned about identity theft.
  • It’s a chance to let out my repressed wild and crazy inner personalities.
  • Stalking is always a concern to a female.
  • I have someone constantly Googling my name.
  • It’s traditional since the beginning of the web to have a handle.
  • It allows me to “compartmentalize” my opinions on very different subjects.
  • I enjoy “trolling”, stirring things up.
  • I have worked for oil companies, mining companies or agribusiness and it would likely be held against me.
  • I use a moniker because it describes what I am and how I see the world in 3 words.
  • I post anonymously for the same reason I do not register a gun.
  • Who wants to be responsible for my stupid ramblings when I am involved with Jack Daniels? Not me!
  • I am under an implied contract to never make public pronouncement under my name that might in any way embarrass or disadvantage any segment of a multifaceted corporate endeavor / large university / international organization.
  • Greenpeace said “We know who you are. We know where you live. We know where you work. And we be many, but you be few.”
  • If I posted under my own name, it would be tantamount to expressing my political views to all and sundry and in my industry/job/school would convey a lack of professionalism.
  • I am concerned that my age, gender, ethnicity, educational level, etc are factors that can affect the people who read a comment and many of them unfortunately then respond in a biased way.
  • I have been attacked for my views.
  • It is like putting on a superman suit, you can say anything, be anything and fly anywhere. And if any-one with kryptonite strikes you down, what does it matter, tomorrow you will be Clark Kent.
  • To express things I wouldn’t have courage to express otherwise, the same reason many students are hesitant to put their hand up in class.
  • I’m not even half as paranoid as I should be.
  • I don’t wish for my thoughts and comments from years gone by to turn up whenever someone does a search on my name.
  • I enjoy putting forward an identity that says more about me than my name.
  • It’s good that no-one on the internet knows if you’re a frog.
  • It would be easy to connect up my posts, email address and ultimately my credit cards. Spam and fraud would then follow.
  • I don’t want to be associated with my job when posting on technical subjects.
  • I am concerned about the UK defamation law.
  • In my country you could be targeted by the consensus people.
  • I have a common name and use a pseudonym so that I can search for my postings.
  • I am concerned it may cost me business/lose me funding.
  • I want readers to judge my comments on their content, not their provenance.
  • I plan to run for president and want to be able to change my opinions as may be convenient.
  • I am pleased to get some protection from the cloud of gnats hovering around the net.
  • A future employer might have issues with some of the things I post.
  • Didn’t Zorro and the Lone Ranger wear their masks because of things like this?
  • I am the sole support of others.
  • I’m not British / American, and for an English speaker my name is difficult to remember / sounds weird / carries a silly pun / leads to misunderstandings.
  • I think it is fun to call myself by my handle.
  • I don’t care.
  • My name is the same as a wanted criminal / bad person.
  • I don’t want current comments being dredged up in a possible future political campaign.
  • I want to maintain plausible deniability.
  • Posting anonymously offers an opportunity for crowd-sourced criticism before having my name attached to a bad idea.
  • I I do a fair bit of sub-contract work for companies that have bought into the green dream, so I’m invoking my very own version of the … uh … precautionary principle 🙂
  • A rabid green has haunted me in other forums.
  • I was stalked relentlessly by some creep who decided that it was fun.
Updates to the other questions:

  • Would you seriously consider using your real name after a reasonable period of retirement.
  • Would you prefer to be able to post under your own name?
  • Career
  • Age
  • Sex
  • Location

It has also been correctly noted that I am describing posting pseudonymously, not anonymously.

It strikes me that I haven’t looked at the other side of the equation, why people post under their own name … ah, well, one thing at a time. My own reasons for posting under my own name, in no particular order, would be:

  • I want to be able to claim ownership of my ideas.
  • I refuse to be intimidated by the dangers of the world.
  • I am much better mannered when I have to take responsibility for my words.
  • My claims tend to extravagance when I post anonymously.
  • I grew up a cowboy, and criticizing someone from behind a mask of anonymity feels like shooting someone from ambush … and a cowboy can’t do that, it’s in the contract, ask Tom Mix.
UPDATES from the comments regarding posting under your own name.
  • I am retired, and don’t care if people read what I post.
  • I prefer to say what I think and feel anyway without hiding under a cloak.
  • I don’t post anonymously because I have a martyr complex.
  • I think it is cowardice to post anonymously.
  • Because I don’t follow the herd.
  • I say what I mean and am terribly honest at it.
  • I believe it is simply good manners to identify yourself when talking to people.
  • I have no concern about people reading my opinions a decade from now.
  • I can’t lie with a straight face.
  • I have to stand for what I believe as who I am, otherwise what I say is all posturing.
  • I started posting under my real name after making an ass of myself anonymously in a blog comment section.
  • Using my name forces me to keep my posts measured and decent.
  • I feel uneasy posting anonymously.
  • It’s a matter of clarity and honesty.
  • If such things as climate change are important we should pony up and admit where we stand.
  • I’m confident enough in who I am to not be concerned about what others think of my opinions.
  • Since my work is not publicly funded or grant funded, I’m at liberty to say what I wish without concern of losing my job.
  • A person of worth will stand up in their own name for what is right and against what is wrong.
  • If they want to google my name, they should do it if they don’t have better things to do.
  • I have never not posted with my own and real name. Why would I do otherwise?
  • I feel free to change my opinion should I have reason to and will defend or dismiss my former opinions accordingly.
  • It would be cowardly for me to hide behind an alias.
  • A screen name feels like hiding behind a false front.
  • I think that in the long view we as a society get along much better when we know each others names.
  • If I have too little courage of my own convictions to sign my name to my opinions, why should anyone pay attention?
  • I don’t fear professional retribution as most of my peers hold similar views to mine or are just plain disengaged from the topic of global warming.
  • It’s a statement that I will not be intimidated.
  • I am totally uninterested about what other people think of me.
  •  I’ve had my own name a long time and have grown attached to it.
  • I consider my self responsible for my own opinions.
  • If I write something, I’ll stand for it, or I would not write it.
  • I dislike anonymity on principle

That’s it to date, I’ll add more as they come up. I must say that I find the variety of reasons much wider and deeper than I had expected. Ain’t life grand?

Indeed, I rather like this process of crowdsourcing the poll questions. It strikes me that this is a kind of appreciative inquiry that could be of use in other contexts where there is a wide variety of opinions.

w.

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Dave Wendt
April 23, 2011 11:50 pm

I find it easier to express negative views when I post anonymously.
People may feel able to express more confident views, no matter the POV of their statements, if those statements aren’t personally attributable to them. Though I’m not sure how you would craft this into a poll question.

dp
April 23, 2011 11:52 pm

Regarding the BBS in particular I sign using initials as a matter of style. I’ve used this same sig since the internet had less than a 1000 nodes on it, and it wasn’t called the Internet.
But – I provide my email address here which includes my middle initial and which is also a de-spam address. That is my spam trap domain. All mail to that domain is considered spam or worse. I see mail sent to it and use 99.9% of it to improve my mail filters on all the mail servers I run. I run my own mail servers and have for decades and hire out my services for security aware people too smart to use gmail and similar. Finally, the domain in that address is registered to me and any curious person who sees that domain can look it up in the whois database and will learn immediately who I am and where I live, my telephone number, and my “official” email address. Next stop is google and facebook but I don’t do facebook or other social networks because they’re dorky and because of security deficiencies. However, I have a large google foot print.
Everyone does.
I at least try to make it hard for google to exploit my DNA. Hence, I use my initials here. Get over it.

K
April 23, 2011 11:52 pm

Posting for relaxation – not “publication”.

Frederick Davies
April 24, 2011 12:03 am

-It should not be relevant who posts an idea, only the value of the idea; using real names is just asking for ad hominem attacks.

londo
April 24, 2011 12:03 am

I would say It’s a matter of symmetry. The poster does not know who reads the post and what he might do with it. Posting anonymously sort of levels the field. This isn’t exactly an invention of the internet era. Book writers have used pseudonyms for hundreds of years.

TimC
April 24, 2011 12:06 am

On your first question “What else would be another reason that someone might have”, perhaps that the contributor does not wish to disclose his/her formal qualifications, or lack of them or that they are in a different field.
And by “posting anonymously” do you mean to include both “cryptic” names such as mine (just a shortened form of my real name) with truly anonymous names (perhaps like dogbo121)?

Nigel Leck
April 24, 2011 12:08 am

1) So they can say things that they would be embarrassed to say in person.
no one needs to worry about climate change because God promised Noah
2) So that brought comments can’t be traced back the the buyer.
a.k.a Koch Brothers

Jantar
April 24, 2011 12:13 am

Because I’m lazy.
I have a standard login name, Jantar, for a large number of websites. I find it easier to continue to use it on sites like this rather than try to remember which sites require a unique username and which ones allow your own name, even if it is the same or similar to another.
There is noe secret to who I am, and a quick google search on my username will soon reveal mt full name, my address if required, my occupation etc.
However to save anyone here having to go to that trouble. My real name is Malcolm Taylor, and I live in Alexandra, New Zealand.

tom
April 24, 2011 12:14 am

I am a journalist for a large newspaper publisher that runs a strongly pro-AGW editorial line and virtually forbids questioning of the science. One of the reasons, by my analysis, is that the company has experienced strong growth in online readership from young people (in my view brainwashed by the education system) and therefore runs a strong youth bias in its selection of editorial content. The company’s unwillingness to investigate the science runs counter to everything I was taught in journalism about the need for scepticism. If I was to make known my conclusion (after a year of my own investigation) that AGW science doesn’t work, I have no doubt I would be fired, even though I work in an unrelated area. I run the above obfuscuated email address for the purpose of commenting on the science and politics of AGW.

April 24, 2011 12:15 am

My name really is UK Sceptic. Honest…
Grin

Bluefire
April 24, 2011 12:19 am

My option:
– It is just a culture thing.
Let me elaborate on this: When I was very young it was typical to “take” a name when playing computer games on lans and whatnot. This was not for anonymity, (everyone you played with knew who was behind the pseudonym), but rather more like taking a second name in the computer realm. For me this carried over into any discussion sites I used when discussing politics, philosophy etc.
Again, on the discussion sites anonymity did not really factor into it. I typically included a link to my personal homepage in any created profile (which would include not only name, but my exact residential adress and phone number and…) so anyone that really wanted to find out was about 2-3 clicks away from knowing.
Currently, signing under my pseudonym is what comes naturally, and for any quick posts I dont really care either way if people know who I am. So filling in any extra identifying info is “extra work” for any sites one does not post alot on.
Currently I will sign under real name if I happen to care extra for people knowing who I am, but the default behaviour is I don’t care extra so pseudonym it is.
I think this is age related. Those who grew up before the advent of computer gaming seem to consider the discussion under pseudonym as somehow suspect, while the younger generation pretty much takes it for granted and doesn’t really reflect much on it.

Alien Tourist (Mike McMillan)
April 24, 2011 12:25 am

I think it’s a chance to let out our repressed wild and crazy inner personalities.

Anonymous
April 24, 2011 12:26 am

I have an unusual name and I believe there is only one other person on the internet with the same name and he is easily distinguishable from me by his location and interests. People with common names are able to post using their real names yet still be relatively anonymous. If you are called John Smith, you can post without anyone being able to search for your name and aggregate everything you’ve posted.
The reason I don’t use my real name is that I know one person who constantly Googles my name to see what I’ve been doing. It’s his right and the information is on the internet but I’d like to engage in some conversations without inviting him along.
Also, the things I post have varying levels of significance for me in terms of the strength of my views, the consideration I’ve given to them, whether I’m being flippant, whether I’m playing devil’s advocate etc. This level of significance is lost when they appear under a Google search of my name. I have no control that what I’m proudest of will come at the top of the list.
Finally, some people on the net are immersed in a single subject. For example, the climate science bloggers. I don’t know if Anthony, Steve, Willis etc. post on any other subjects but it seems unlikely they would have the time :). All that is known about them publicly are their views on climate science. I, on the other hand, post on climate issues, music, politics, education etc. If I was in a real conversation with friends or acquaintances about any of those subjects, I would not expect my views on one of them to have any bearing on the others. With the internet, the only way to compartmentalise things is to have them anonymous.

oakgeo
April 24, 2011 12:26 am

I guess that I am somewhat concerned that I could be targeted, since googling my name will get a few hits. The hits are generally innocuous but in tandem with my unique name they would provide enough information for me to be tracked down, and I don’t trust eco-zealotry.
However, paranoia aside (or maybe not), the most immediate reason that my anonymity in blogland is important to me is my history as a professional geologist, which includes working in the petroleum exploration industry. Anything I have to say could be cast into doubt since I have been in the direct pay of oil & gas companies.
Here at WUWT it is a non-issue, but other blogs that I have visited are not quite so easy going. The culture I have seen out there tends to laud environmental affiliations but demonize fossil fuel associations. My message would be labeled as that of an oil shill, and promptly ignored.

Editor
April 24, 2011 12:28 am

Other question should be obvious “I don’t mind posting overtly”…and a range of options…”provided…my location, country, email, postal, etc….details are not disclosed”
AndiC, NZ
PS I publish with my website link, so anyone can track me down – glad that I am fortunate enough to live in a Country where freedom of expression is not an offence

kalsel3294
April 24, 2011 12:30 am

I agree with Frederick Davies that names, and titles, are not as important as the ideas being conveyed. Hence I have no problems with the use of a nom de plume, but ironically I do always wonder if a seemingly real name is the writers real name.

835b8co2bt5insg
April 24, 2011 12:33 am

I’m concerned about putting any personal information about myself on the web for any reason.

dr no
April 24, 2011 12:52 am

When I post things on the net I use a completely neutral pseudonym just to get the focus on the content and not on who I am. Age, gender, ethnicity, educational level, etc are factors that can affect the people who read a comment and many of them unfortunately then respond in a biased way and the discussion moves from content to person.

Paul
April 24, 2011 12:55 am

My decision to use Paul instead of my full name was not thought out. Now I use it just to be consistent with previous posts.
So using Paul, instead of Paul Mallon, had no ideological basis.

April 24, 2011 12:57 am

Originally I needed anonymity because I had been attacked for my views and work (elsewhere) and suffered several years’ illness as a result. Curiously, I chose the name before I was in the least interested in Climate Science, assuming everything was hunky dory. But when I came to realize the scale of the corruption in Climate Science, it spoke to me to take up cudgels, and I realized I could use that same illness as free time to study and write it all up. I reckoned with Anthony here I would need to earn the right to use the name I chose! I always give my “real” name in private correspondence but I like my online name, anyway it’s simpler to just have one “handle”.

MikeO
April 24, 2011 1:04 am

My actual very unique name is visible on the net if you google it. That makes me feel exposed so always now I am anonymous. I have relatives and friends and I don’t want my views on AGW revealed to them. I have found information on my sister in law on the net that she would not like me to know. The net is not private and there are nasty abrasive people on blogs an elsewhere. I am in my late 60s.

The Ghost Of Big Jim Cooley
April 24, 2011 1:09 am

I write anonymously because it appears very easy to upset some people, and I have found many of them to be quite strange. I certainly wouldn’t want people to know my real name in case they actually went to the trouble of discovering my address. We have a saying here in England (Yorkshire-based) which goes, “There’s nowt so queer as folk”. In case it’s not a dead-giveaway to our American friends, it means that there’s nothing as odd as people.
I came to realise many years ago that we’re all mentally disturbed, it’s just by degrees. I have upset some people with what I have written in the past, so keeping myself anonymous is essential.

Les Johnson
April 24, 2011 1:09 am

I post anonymously, as now, so that ill informed commentary, misattributed quotes, incorrectly remembered facts, spelling mistakes, etc cannot be laid at my door.
regards, Les Johnson
ah, dammit.

April 24, 2011 1:10 am

Sorry Willis – “this thread is not to debate anonymity” – missed that, but you’re going to get that debate anyway I expect.
BTW I loved reading your story – could identify with a lot of it myself.

johanna
April 24, 2011 1:11 am

I think that your questions pretty well cover the most common reasons – but suggest that respondents need to be able to choose more than one when they respond, although this may make crunching the numbers harder. You could overcome this by using an optional preferential system, where respondents can number their reasons (if more than one) in order of priority – as long as the lesser reasons are still included in the results.
Having to choose just one of those would not provide an adequate explanation, in my case anyway.

Huub Bakker
April 24, 2011 1:15 am

The Internet is a very big place and you would think that posting a comment on a blog would be noticed by only those reading the blog and be rather ephemeral. However, comments in blogs are grist for search engines such a Google and your comments will turn up ANY time ANYone Googles your name for ANY reason. (Well they do for a name like mine that appears to be rather unusual.) This may not be comfortable for many people who may not wish their thoughts and comments from years gone by to turn up whenever someone does a search on them.

Holbrook
April 24, 2011 1:17 am

Too many people and organisations know too much about us already. It is not WUWT that is the issue

DireWolf
April 24, 2011 1:22 am

I simply enjoy putting forward an identity that says more about me than my name.

Hexe
April 24, 2011 1:24 am

I view the interwebs as a medium for information and opinion exchange.
The message itself is more important than who says it, and so I don’t think it matters if anyone knows who I am and my true identity should not influence you in your thinking at all.
And, isn’t it good that no-one on the internet knows if you’re a frog… 8():

anopheles
April 24, 2011 1:29 am

I am not posting anonymously, I am using a pseudonym. I use the same one each time on each blog I comment on, for consistency, but I do not want to argue with someone here who has seen a comment I might have made on a political or current affairs blog and proceeds to make tiresome assumptions. It helps keep on topic and to the point.

NZ Willy
April 24, 2011 1:31 am

I have a family to support and mustn’t do anything to undermine that. There are a few (only a few) leftists at work who may or may not be of vindictive bent, but why take chances? Also I do scientific work in a non-climate area and just don’t see the need to sharpen my image. In private conversations I freely express my skeptical views and find people are about 50-50 about it.

AlanG
April 24, 2011 1:32 am

“At this point you’re just an anonymous nobody on the internet”. Yup, that’s me Willis :). If my name was Watt, Mann or Hansen then who I was would be important. As I’m not then no one is going to care about me as an individual – so long as my ‘name’ is consistently recognisable.
The main objection is the likes of Google and the army of spammers and fraudsters out there. What’s to stop an organisation, legal or otherwise, consolidating people’s posts from multiple sites into a kind of non-cooperative facebook? If my name was John Smith I wouldn’t worry too much but it’s an uncommon name and would be easy to connect up my posts, email address and ultimately my credit cards. Spam and fraud would then follow.

Sean Houlihane
April 24, 2011 1:34 am

Most of my internet postings are pseudonomynous, either because they are throw-away forum chat, or because I don’t want to be associated with my job when posting on technical subjects. Posting here, it seems more important that if I expect my ramblings to be read by anyone then I should at least put my name to them. If I post in other blogs, I may well chose to remain anonymous in order to keep a degree of protection from the fanatics, but frequently my comments there will be less substantive.

michel
April 24, 2011 1:36 am

There is another substantial reason in the UK why both blog admin and blog commenters should favor anonymity. That is the current state of defamation law.
Debate online often becomes robust. No more so than in a discussion or in a pub, but the difference is that the ill considered remarks are permanently archived on line, disseminated around the world, and in the UK at the moment, each reading is counted legally as publication, and the amount of potential damages for defamation is a function of the number of times its been published.
The best advice to people running a blog in the UK is to bar from commenting everyone who insists on using their real name, and to require a pseudonym for all commenters.
If you do not do this as admin you may start to get threatening letters from people who commented aggressively and then decided they could not stand the heat when they got replied to. You risk being held to be a publisher of the comments, and you will get demands that the replies be taken down and apologies issued….
Insist on anonymity and a lot of this goes away. You cannot slander or libel a person who is not identified, since their reputation cannot be injured if they are anonymous themselves. You can insult them, but again, if non-one knows who is being consulted, how bad can that be? Don’t insist on anonymity, and you will end up screening every comment, which in turn makes you liable as a publisher….
Posts are a different matter. Your posts or guest posts you would expect to take responsibility for and screen.

Cherry Pick
April 24, 2011 1:38 am

One option more: there is no benefit for me in using my real name instead of domain related pseudonym.
It is a good but not necessary thing to have writer’s name whom to refer, if there is real discussion in a discussion forum. Quotations should be easy. It is easier to use ‘Willis’ instead of Esch..
I use Cherry Pick when I talk about climate change, because that it how I see current climate science.
I like the idea of anonymous peer-review. It is only important what I write, not my academic or other background.

Geir in Norway
April 24, 2011 1:40 am

I would like to see the poll broken down not only by country, but also on state in the USA and Canada, because your states are comparable to the European countries. You might be able to show variations in perceived pressure against revealing who you are then.
I myself live in a so-called democracy where the politicians are far more gullible than in the USA and therefore prone to all kinds of new belief systems, and thus large state-owned companies of which I am employed in one, have departments where they state company policy including the company stance on global warming and climate crisis. Speaking out against your company policy is not a criminal offense per se, but your loyalty is questioned and you are kept under observation until the company’s human resource department can find anything to attach to your file with a view to get you fired.
I once was a research scientist at the largest research institute in this country, and it was only my being very famous among the public (for something completely different) that kept me from being fired many years ago, as I unwittingly came to be quoted in the local newspaper speaking my opinion about some very high-up politician’s total lack of understanding of some technological question. Needless to say I quit shortly afterwards, being disgusted with the whole spit-licking of the leaders. Time showed that I was correct in everything and I got to know in secret that the politician would never be elected to a high office again, thanks to the revealed stupidity. But the irrational behaviour of the research company’s official spokespersons writing in the newspaper even without contacting me so that they could get to know what had really happened, scared me forever.
So – the conclusion is, it is scary to write even on this blog signing your full name if you are from my country, unless you can avoid being targeted by the consensus people. And – to paraphrase another posting a year ago or so – they are many and we are few.

Joshua Corning
April 24, 2011 1:42 am

Ask an interesting question.
Like why people post using their real name.
No one cares about the intentionally anonymous, or at least they shouldn’t.

Alexander K
April 24, 2011 1:46 am

I am very careful about who can contact me; due to unfortunate incidents in the past, I am not inclined to trust the entire world. Anthony and others who run blogs have my only and genuine email address and that’s as far as I am prepared to reveal myself.
It may sound a tad paranoid and that may very well be true, but my reasons are valid for me.

Manfred
April 24, 2011 1:47 am

The possible answers are all related to the presence.
There is in my view increasingly less confidence that democratic systems will persist in the future and the internet doesn’t forget a single sentence. A perfect fundus for Orwellian governments.

April 24, 2011 1:55 am

Mostly so i can more easily find myself in discussions. I have a very very common name so i use this pseudo, it stands out more.
Secondly i’m hesitant to leave a reallife trail for eventual governmental stalkers to put me in their database. It’s also the reason why i use an L2TP/IPSec SSL tunnel. I hate being in databases.

oldseadog
April 24, 2011 1:59 am

I am a coward. If I post over my own name then my contributions to some of the unpaid charity and advisory committees I sit on will not be taken seriously since most of the members are warmists or sheep when it comes to CO2 etc.
I do try gently to inject a degree of scepticism on the few occasions when “climate change” enters the conversation, though.

Keith Minto
April 24, 2011 2:01 am

What other questions (age, sex, etc.) would it be useful to know?

” Would you seriously consider using your real name after a reasonable period of retirement.”
“Do you feel frustrated that circumstances prevent you from using your real name.” (both questions would produce interesting answers)
This is a thoughtful topic, Willis.
This site is a conversation, but open to anyone, so it is not a private group conversation but a very public one and I can understand anonymity when work or relationships are involved.
Personal names are neutral, so, I guess, are numbers, but replying to a name linked to the Black Plague is difficult, and some are almost Freudian in revealing the ‘inner’ person.
The persons sex would be interesting, females seem to have a natural, easy approach that softens the earnestness somewhat and it would be interesting to know their contribution by numbers.
The follow up to this will be interesting.

Keitho
Editor
April 24, 2011 2:01 am

Some folk have multiple personalities but like to keep them to themselves most of the time.
Out here in blogoland you can let them all have an outing.
Anthony likes/prefers us to have the courage of our convictions and to show that he feels that using our real name shows such conviction. It’s his house , so it’s only polite to the host to use the coasters and air freshener.
*smile*

Paul in Sweden
April 24, 2011 2:07 am

I use an anonymous Name in the post field(for several of the reasons cited above) but provide an email with my real name when making comments. I am anonymous to the forum but the blog owner knows who I am.
How many comment anonymously to the blog/forum while also being anonymous to the blog/forum owner? I generally don’t, if I feel I have to be anonymous with the blog/forum owner, I don’t think I really need to be commenting at that blog/forum.

Jimbo
April 24, 2011 2:09 am

PS – Please be clear that I’m interested in possible reasons people might post anonymously on WUWT

– People may avoid what you have to say and attack your personal life, lifestyle, religious beliefs etc. It’s not about me
– A working climate scientist who is a closet sceptic and worries about funding implications.
– A working scientist who is a closet sceptic and worries about funding implications.

oz cynic
April 24, 2011 2:10 am

“I work with clients/customers or in a market where skeptical views are not welcome.”
If I published my name, then I am out of business

Jimbo
April 24, 2011 2:12 am

Add career, age, sex

GabrielHBay
April 24, 2011 2:16 am

Well, my surname is simply long and tedious… (van den Bergh) So: first name and abbreviation of where I live (Hout Bay, Cape Town). I read a lot here and find that mostly some-one else has said what’s on my mind by the time I read the blog, so no need to repeat. Otherwise not trying to be anonomous.

Diego Cruz
April 24, 2011 2:18 am

I am retired, and don’t care if people read what I post. Nobody will care much about what I would say anyway, so I feel free to say it.

Editor
April 24, 2011 2:19 am

I think you’ve covered most of the bases with those questions Willis. I’ll be happy to vote and look forward to the results. I tried something similar a few months back, asking for a slightly different reason.
http://diggingintheclay.wordpress.com/2010/11/28/are-you-a-closet-skeptic/
http://diggingintheclay.wordpress.com/2010/12/13/skeptics-in-the-closet-poll-results/
Something I’d like to share too – I’ll email you.

Bob in Castlemaine
April 24, 2011 2:25 am

I reside in a sparsely populated region with a strong predominance of environmental extremists. In order to minimise the risk of violent retribution against family, most (but not all) of my media comments are made anonymously.

Another Ian
April 24, 2011 2:28 am

Jantar says:
April 24, 2011 at 12:13 am
Off thread but did you have a sailplane?

Göran Jartin
April 24, 2011 2:33 am

I’ve been using the same pseudonym almost exclusively for more than 15 years; it seems more natural than my real name 🙂
Although there maybe other people using the same nickname (though I haven’t met one), it’s very easy to find out my real name, should anyone wish to do so. So I don’t consider myself to be “anonymous”.
Having said that, I would have no problem at all using my real name at a place like WUWT, if that was required.
(In fact, as I’m writing this I’m not sure whether I do use my sig or my real name 🙂 )

Jimbo
April 24, 2011 2:36 am

Using your real name may lead to attacks on SOMEONE ELSE with the same name as yours.
By the way I just Googled “Anthony Watts” and got wuwt as well as a news story that reads:

Anthony Watts pleads not guilty to assaulting his girlfriend
The Roosters NRL player yesterday pleaded not guilty in Waverley Local Court to assault occasioning actual bodily harm following an alleged attack on Shannon Kiss at the weekend.

I also got Professor Anthony Watts who teaches at Oxford. His full contact details are there and you can imagine the kind of emails he gets even though he may or may not be a global warming sceptic.
Can you see the problem????

April 24, 2011 2:39 am

Willis
I always sign with my full name. I try to take responsibility for my words.
In my own blog I request people to use their full name when writing comments.
Best regards from Iceland.
Agust

Peter
April 24, 2011 2:42 am

In the UK you very quickly learn that divulging your identity to anyone is likely to make you the target of spammers etc, or anyone who thinks they can make a bit of money out of you.
Except for trolling, I don’t see anonymity on blogs as being a bad thing – after all, one is supposed to argue the topic, not the person.

John Marshall
April 24, 2011 2:43 am

My real name is— as advertised above. My email address shows there are many of us using that particular ISP. So a real name that is anonymous.

Don K
April 24, 2011 2:55 am

Why don’t I use my full name and why do I use a handle in some forums? Mostly, I know quite a lot about computers and computer communications. I think that communications security is somewhere between seriously flawed and pretty much non-existent. It’s quite impossible to predict what financial and other damage can be done by those who can put together enough information about me. I’ve already had a couple of small scale identity theft problems with credit cards, and fully expect more in the future.
I’d prefer that my on-line identity be a little hazy. Not a lot. I expect that anyone who really cares can track me down and put together a pretty complete profile. But I’d like to make it hard enough that stealing my identity is a bit harder than stealing my neighbor’s. Let them deal with the grief if this on-line security thing plays out badly.

Chuckles
April 24, 2011 3:06 am

Willis, I think there is quite a large gap between posting anonymously, pseudonymously and under a nickname, as several people have noted above, and I suspect the motivations might vary considerably between the groups?
Something that is touched on by some of your questions, but which is a big factor for anyone in the job market, is that it is fairly common for HR types to do web searches and to check social media sites for info on short-listed job applicants. So a question about damaging job prospects might be appropriate?
And finally, may I suggest the null hypothesis as well – e.g. I do it for no particular reason at all, it’s just what I’ve always done. Or, yeah, I post under a nickname, but it’s what everyone calls me anyway, and have done since forever.

April 24, 2011 3:10 am

The Ghost of Big Jim Cooley said
“We have a saying here in England (Yorkshire-based) which goes, “There’s nowt so queer as folk”. In case it’s not a dead-giveaway to our American friends, it means that there’s nothing as odd as people.
I came to realise many years ago that we’re all mentally disturbed, it’s just by degrees. I have upset some people with what I have written in the past, so keeping myself anonymous is essential.”
——-
I’m a Yorkshire Lass, too. Big Jim’s statement above describes my own reasons for anonymity perfectly.
(However, when contributing to tip jars, which I do pretty often, I’m perfectly happy to take the credit with my “realname” email address!
!

AlanG
April 24, 2011 3:10 am

Willis, you might want to watch this from the comedy sitcom ‘Yes Minister’ – The Truth Behind Opinion Polls: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZgyKpkLpccE
You can get the answer you want by framing the question(s) in the right way.

Allen63
April 24, 2011 3:12 am

Two reasons:
1. Its traditional with me. I’ve used the name “Allen” for all computer activity — since the days of the TSS360 300bit/sec terminals in the 1960s.
2. Security. I do not want complete strangers to know how to get into physical contact with me.
As to my qualifications to have opinions regarding science and engineering topics: I am extremely qualified. However, as a post above mentions, people should respond to the “idea” expressed in a post — not who is expressing it.

Jantar
April 24, 2011 3:12 am

Another Ian says:
Off thread but did you have a sailplane?

You guessed exactly where my username comes from; My favourite glider is the Jantar std2, fast and fully aerobatic. I’ve never owned one, but flown a club one many hundreds of hours.
Although now considered older generation, and not as good glide ratio as many modern machines it still makes me grin every time I climb aboard.

Jimbo
April 24, 2011 3:25 am

If AGW is abandoned as false then this thread will prove to be very instructive for historians examining the phenomenon of AGW hysteria and why it took such a hold. Print out and archive.

April 24, 2011 3:28 am

I don’t like (actually actively avoid) to create a coherent identity on the Net, as it easily opens the possibility of it being exploited. That is why I use a pseudonym, as anopheles notes, not anonimity.
“It’s not about me”: The real identity of the writer is irrelevant to the quality of the ideas posted, or its lack. Complaining about anonimity or pseudonimity is like a reverse ex cathedra (authority) argument.

ben
April 24, 2011 3:28 am

A useful addition to this conversation is that several responders to this blog work in Australia where AGW politics are out of control and fear of identification is strong unless you support the current political fashion. Dissidents have legitimate reason to expect a career shortening, even though dissidents are 60%+ of the population, according to the most recent opinion polls. A government is about to fall as a result of its advocacy of a tax on carbon dioxide. There are parallels in history, such as the last days of the Weimar Republic …

Baa Humbug
April 24, 2011 3:34 am

The very first time I decided to post a comment, the blog asked for a ‘screen name’ so I chose one that expressed my feelings about the subject.
I always provide my full name (extremely unique Turkish name) in direct correspondence and also used my name on the Citizens Audit project because of the seriousness of the project.
I don’t wear a name tag when walking down the street, but I introduce myself when asked. I’m happy to provide my name if anyone asks, nobody has.
I’ve often wondered, if Willes used a screen name would I think less of his wonderful posts? The answer has always been no. In any case, for all I know Willeses real name is Horatio Hornblower.

charles nelson
April 24, 2011 3:35 am

You talkin’ to me?

son of mulder
April 24, 2011 3:39 am

When I first started looking into Global warming I quickly became convinced that there was some sort of conspiracy going on as the claims of doom clashed with the intuition that my applied maths and physics background gave to me about the subject. Well founded as Climategate etc showed. So when I started to write on blogs the name simply reflected that root of conspiracy and my desire for privacy.

Barry Sheridan
April 24, 2011 3:42 am

It is difficult not to come to the conclusion that much of the real reasoning has to do with fear. A factor with many roots. The second point that sticks out, although this is not really an issue on this site, is how rude and aggressive some people are when leaving anonymous comments. A glance a YOUTUBE reveals this all too clearly.
As an occasional commentater under his own name I seriously doubt anyone will really bothered about my views, but I prefer to say what I think and feel anyway without hiding under a cloak.
Oh one other thing, it certainly makes sure I avoid being overly aggressive or rude, not that it is my nature but still.

Dave
April 24, 2011 3:48 am

One reason that doesn’t appear to have been mentioned for anonymous posting is very simple: I want readers to judge my comments on their content, not their provenance.
I would also note that my current alias ‘Dave’ is intended more as a lack of identity than as an identity – the whole point is, again, that I’m just part of an indistinguishable mass.
I also, from time to time, post under another, more identifiable pseudonym. Those posts are much more carefully considered – in style as well as in content – and I’m happy to have them grouped together as the output of one character. That character’s not me, though – he’s a fictional character who thinks much the same way I do, but is more fun. Too hard to write for him the whole time, though, so ‘Dave’ comments when there’s just some throwaway thought to add, and the other character when there’s something properly thought out to say.

Beesaman
April 24, 2011 3:51 am

Ah but how do we know if it’s your real name? Apart from a number of fairly well known folk the rest of us are not up there with the good and mightly.
Personally I will carry on using the tag I’ve had for many, many years, a lot of folk who know me know me by it and I’m just too lazy to change it now. Besides some of my friends are way to easy to confuse, it’s an age thing.

Rob R
April 24, 2011 3:53 am

Hi
The bosses know my sceptical opinion but don’t want to see me actively expressing it. Higher up the chain there are a variety of opinions. However, those of the CEO and the operational manager are the ones that count. I do science related to energy. The company does work in the “Greenhouse Gas” area. So the bosses do not want the company image spoiled by any appearance of internal dissent. Therefore I keep my full name out of sight.

Viv Evans
April 24, 2011 4:01 am

I’ve got a split personality when posting on blogs.
On those dealing with science/climate questions, like this one and others, e.g. bishophill or CA or indeed here, I use my name because I’m retired and couldn’t care less what other people think of my attitude in regard to AGW.
I also believe that using one’s own name prevents one from posting facetious comments, as well as forcing one to marshal one’s thoughts.
On all other blogs, political or newspaper ones, I use various nics so as to avoid being stalked, and so as to be able to deck verbally those who diss me, without needing to fear a personal attack going beyond the blog.
I think that for many who are posting here at WUWT, anonymity is a requirement to safeguard their jobs/positions. That is sadly the way things are at the moment, and relates to the way younger members of staff in academe are fearful of losing job and or funding, should they speak out.
I wish fervently that those who runs such departments could be forced to retire early – a climate of fear which restricts free speech is unhealthy not just for democracies but also and especially for science.

April 24, 2011 4:14 am

I don’t post anonymously because I have a martyr complex

Merrick
April 24, 2011 4:46 am

Hi Anthony,
I post under my real first name for many of the reasons you’ve given. My job, however, requires that I not engage in social networking sites, etc. So I’m not on Facebook or MySpace (nor have I had any interest in being so, much to the chagrine of friends who’d like me to be). My first name is unique enough that combined with my background revealed on posts it probably wouldn’t be too hard to piece together my identity for someone who was interested in doing so (wow, I pity someone with that boring of a life!), but this also isn’t a social networking site, so I think I’ve met a good compromise between my basic impulse to not be anonymous yet comply with my other obligations
I don’t know if any of that forms a new category for your poll.
If you’re interested in more details I can provide some in a more private communication.

Allanj
April 24, 2011 4:58 am

I get lots of spam and phishing e-mail. My very good friend in Nigeria is most insistent about sending me many millions of dollars, to the point where he/she is my most constant source of e-mail.
I am retired and have filled my time doing things I want to do. I become upset when my time is wasted sorting out the good e-mail from that of the criminals who stalk the internet. But I have said enough about my background so that my friends have no problem identifying me.
If I were providing serious work, as you do Willis, I would attach my full name. As it is my contributions are trivial and deserve no more than my first name and initial of my last. While I do consider it a “Screen Name” and not really anonymous I am pleased to get some protection from the cloud of gnats hovering around the net.

Sean
April 24, 2011 4:58 am

I post with my first name only. Personnally, I have no desire to get involved in an argument on a web page that might spill over to other things. Keeping it semi-anonymous lets you walk away. I also might add that I think being civil and polite in any discussion, no matter how passionate you might be, is an essential part of any exchange of ideas.

Louis Hissink
April 24, 2011 5:05 am

I post under my name because that is who I am.
Actually Willis, I never thought about posting under anything but my real name.
I is who I am, as they say.

Curious Canuck
April 24, 2011 5:07 am

Many of the above, bearing in mind that many of us post on different topics on different sites and media outlets. Someone’s history of posting on climate change can be harmful to them, for others it can involve speaking out in favour of the fur industry (even on narrowly defined points), immigration questions, culture issues and others can lead to consequences with many of the above listed parties (colleagues, clients, family, friends etc).
Some of us are seeking to better ourselves before adopting official positions. Additionally there’s the ‘ad hom’ aspect, that echoes the effect of the likes of desmogblog that is used against people. I don’t wish to be judged repeatedly and forever in stupid drive-by shots from people who resent that I once knew less (as we all can) and sought to learn more and asked the silly questions in order to clear the air between my ears and be a more learned and understanding person.
In Canada many of these topics favour the mask, and it’s not that the wearers simply love masks. Openly commenting on topics such as immigration and integration/accomadation, the seal hunt and various other topics have lead to people being threatened. We’ve been hearing about seal hunters facing similar campaigns of telephone and online harassement, threats to the person and families of persons for years based on opinions held.
They don’t call them enviro-whackos for nothing.
For example, your analogy Willis, in the discussion on the law investigating Michael Mann you once offered. In Canada to suggest not to go the route of the law and to suggest (or even allude to) the code of the west and shootouts at high noon, would likely see one’s house ransacked, technology seised and parsed through and possibly months or years of deliberation on whether or not you were inciting people to take the law into their own hands and kill people.
This would be nearly as dangerous of kicking the beesnests within certain urban Sikh or Islamic communities, where intimidation is nothing new and in the Sikh case has seen at least one journalist, that I’m aware of, killed in British Columbia.
“British Columbia.
Police know who killed journalist: son
Police have known for years who is behind the slaying of journalist Tara Singh Hayer, his son told a memorial service yesterday in Surrey, B.C. But because of a fractured judicial system, charges have yet to be laid in the only assassination of a journalist in Canada…”
http://www.canada.com/ottawacitizen/news/story.html?id=c85d8663-2330-4d30-8e5d-29ca1793c79d

Also there was the brutal beating of former BC Premiere and federal Cabinet Minister Ujjal Dosanjh for calling for peace.
“Former B.C. premier haunted by memories of 1985 beating
22 Nov 2007 … That’s one of the lingering effects of a vicious beating 22 years ago by Sikh extremists upset at his public pleas for peace, Dosanjh told …”
http://www.canada.com/victoriatimescolonist/news/story.html?id=6746eb63-3769-4926-a3fd-8c49b60c6ebe
I’d rather learn my topics in discussions like these here at WUWT and other forums before I write anything that I feel is worth easily hunting me down and killing me or dragging me off to years of court and being painted according the stereotyping of people going on.
You speak to wild west and I say there’s a dead journalist on the left -err, west coast and the law has its hands tied. Didn’t Zorro and the Lone Ranger wear their masks because of things like this? Here’s hoping the law prevails and not the law of the jungle.
This is a great topic Willis and thank you for putting it out there. No one of us can speak to all of it and all of us together will miss most of the best reasons and examples but its importance cannot be underestimated.
Noteworthy, our democratic votes are a ‘secret ballot’ these things have their place, and are arguably necessary in societies that strive to be free.

Bloke down the pub
April 24, 2011 5:10 am

As with a number of other commenters on this thread I chose a moniker that I hoped said something more about me than my own name would. In the UK the ‘Bloke down the pub’ is the source of all new ideas and the font of all knowledge. He can also be a bit of a bore at times but you can’t have everything.

Caleb
April 24, 2011 5:10 am

I used to email out a sort of family-letter to a long list of family and friends, full of pictures and friendly gossip, about every two weeks. At some point I mentioned I was rethinking my views about Global Warming, and one friend, an ardent environmentalist, went right through the roof. He called me all sorts of surprisingly nasty things. I didn’t mind so much that he was telling me his honest thoughts, but he hit the “reply all” button, so that everyone on my family-letter list got to hear exactly what he thought of me. The family-letter list included some little old ladies, and I felt embarrassed about the language he used.
Up until then, (around five years ago,) I had no idea how nasty people got, if you hinted Global Warming might be a fraud and a scam. Now I am more thick skinned, and able to debate toe to toe with people who strike me as slightly deranged, but I still don’t like to expose little old ladies to the nasty stuff, (such as that film where people push a button and Skeptics get exploded.)
Mostly I don’t use my name because I want to protect gentle people.
I suppose that, if it ever reaches a horrible point where an eco-dictator starts knocking on doors in the middle of the night and dragging people like me off to reeducation camps, they will be able to track me down, whether I use my real name or not.

marcoinpanama
April 24, 2011 5:11 am

1) Because almost everyone else does it.
2) Because my background is not relevant to climate science, so googling me would not produce useful information. For posters directly involved in the topic, using real names is of course very useful.
3) Because my real name is unimportant, but my pseudonym can incorporate location information that is important for understanding my comments. (Others might say “… for understanding their personality/bias/neurosis/profession etc.)
It’s a beautiful clear morning at 9 degrees North on Easter Sunday morning, sitting right under the ITCZ. A few low clouds are creeping over the mountains from the Caribbean and far out in the Pacific the cumulus clouds are beginning to form, although the rainfall this year has been markedly reduced with the onset of the la Nina and drop in offshore ocean temps, which is also changing the pattern and species for the deep sea fishing folks.
Weather is what you get while waiting for climate to happen.

Keith G
April 24, 2011 5:11 am

Willis,
Interesting question–I certainly have several reasons for posting anonymously, although of course I have no illusions about how easy it would be for someone to figure out who I am if they cared enough.
One reason that seemed to be alluded to but didn’t come up explicitly is this: this is a very informal debate for some of us. Since it is a blog and not a formal paper or document, we want to be able to put our thoughts out there without having to be 100% precise. That generates discussion and lets us try on ideas. If we post under a pseudonym, it provides light cover should we say something poorly.
The pub debate had been mentioned before. How many times have you had a chat with someone named “Bill” or “Ed” and not known or cared what their full name is? Probably plenty. Using a pseudonym on a moderated blog is a similar level of formality, in my opinion.

Predicador
April 24, 2011 5:12 am

One missing option is:
– I’m not British / American, and for an English speaker my name is difficult to remember / sounds weird / carries a silly pun / leads to misunderstandings etc.
Some examples:
– Brzęczyszczykiewicz (pronunciation) is a real Polish last name. Seriously, it’s real.
– the most common Latvian male first name is Jānis. English speakers often mistake it for a female name, especially where accented characters are not supported.

JJB MKI
April 24, 2011 5:13 am

Thanks Willis. It’s interesting to read the comments here. Reasons for posting anonymously seem to be divided along lines of age, region and occupation. It seems that typically the commenter who has most to fear from revealing her / his identity is a young Australian scientist or journalist. Conversely, if you are older, retired, American or working in private industry, you don’t have as much to lose.
I’m none of those, but like commenter ‘Anonymous’, I occasionally post on a range of topics that upset people with strong political views on the left and right. Any other site or forum, I use my real name as a rule, but it still bothers me that it would be very easy for somebody to correlate all my posts to get a fairly detailed picture of my unrelated views and beliefs, and use them against me ‘ad hom’ style in AGW related topics. Just googling the names of leading AGW sceptics (rational, decent and polite individuals, including yourself), you can immediately find a wealth of co-ordinated hate, lies and smear on the Internet. I have no doubt that this is conducted by a minority activist fringe of the AGW camp, but it is unsettling and upsetting nonetheless. Even outside this fringe, people have said worrying things about sceptics, even our own (in the UK) leader of the opposition. So there is a certain amount of reasonable paranoia in concealing my identity. I do try and make it a rule here that if I am arguing with another poster who has used his / her real name, I will sign off in kind as a courtesy.
Keep up the good work!
J Burns

tim maguire
April 24, 2011 5:18 am

I started posting under my real name after making an ass of myself anonymously in a blog comment section. Using my name forces me to keep my posts measured and decent. I’ll put nothing on the internet I’m not willing to put out in front of friends and family.
It helps that I share a name with several people with large internet presences; a google name search would not help an employer figure out what my opinions are.

April 24, 2011 5:20 am

My name is linked to my blog, I do not care. I am proud to be an active member of WUWT discussions.

netdr2
April 24, 2011 5:22 am

I post anonymously because I fear for my families safety. I have had people say I should be put into a “reeducation camp” and that for the good of the planet I shouldn’t be allowed to publish my views.
There is one particular sick [literally and figuratively] wacko that I am certain would silence me any way that he could and has said so. When I told my wife she made me promise not to reveal my name for the families sake. The individual is terminally ill and would consider silencing me a worthy goal for the sake of the earth.
I never disrespect anyone but I do disrespect certain views which are contrary to the facts as I know them.
I always publish under the same pseudonym on any forum [even eBay].

tmtisfree
April 24, 2011 5:29 am

I use this pseudo on the Internet since so long I don’t remember precisely when I started (in the 90s) using it.
To the point, I have no specific reason to post with a pseudo (minus the historical one), but also see no reason to post with my real name either. Who care what’s your real name/pseudo if you have sound arguments, new scientific data to present, clear ideas, logical approaches, and/or interesting perspectives to propose? Willis Eschenbach might be named Wolfgang Emadeus, the substance of his writings will be the same.

April 24, 2011 5:40 am

The short answer is: personal habit, elevated to custom, tradition.
Back in the ’90s when I started contributing to Internet bulletin boards, chat rooms, and forums, everyone used a ‘handle’ or ‘nick’, so I picked mine to reflect the “boy named Sue” problem I experience in these parts (bank tellers: “Is this you?”—where I grew up, in Maryland, there were two of us in my small high-school class—but here in New England it seems to be a rarity). So today when web sites and blogs ask for a ‘user name’, as they all do, even if all you want to do is buy a broom online, this is the one I use.
Anthony has been making me feel guilty about not using my full name, so I may switch. I also am vain enough to like ‘publishing’ under my name. But here, in the company of so many with vastly more expertise than I have, there is some benefit to not completely exposing one’s inadequacies. . .
/Mr Lynn

Tom in Florida
April 24, 2011 5:42 am

Tom is my real first name but if you were to Google my full name you will come up with a couple of real estate agents in different parts of the country, a scientist and, most importantly, a man with a long criminal record, none of whom are me. I use “in Florida” because at one time there were a couple of other “Tom”s posting and I wanted to differentiate myself from them.

pyromancer76
April 24, 2011 5:45 am

Willis, why should “why” matter? I don’t think the reason is anyone’s business.
Freedom.

Garacka
April 24, 2011 5:46 am

I feel I have to balance the desire to have public ownership of my ideas against several of the factors stated above. I do this by using an anonymous moniker, but disclosing my name to the blog owner within my e-mail address.

Steve from rockwood
April 24, 2011 5:54 am

Providing ones real name on a blog post is irrelevant. Only the message is important.
Willis, do you think the content of posts on WUWT would change significantly if posters were forced to identify themselves?

Dave Springer
April 24, 2011 6:00 am

It’s usually a good idea to follow local customs i.e. when in Rome do as the Romans do. Given that most people are anonymous here herd mentality then dictates that you too should be anonymous. For me, I tend to eschew the customary. A rebel need not always have a cause.

DJ
April 24, 2011 6:04 am

I don’t mind being known here, but if I cross post or reference this blog to some other blog where I do not want to be known, it could compromise me at work.
Anonymity is the price paid for directing people at other blogs, or the newspaper’s comment section here for the real skinny.
That, and I don’t want Hansen to know where I live in case he takes his civil disobedience to the next level.

Jim Berkise
April 24, 2011 6:05 am

There is considerable relevant research into uses of anonymity in “computer supported group processes”. For anyone who is really interested I recommend :
A COMPREHENSIVE MODEL OF ANONYMITY IN COMPUTER-SUPPORTED GROUP DECISION MAKING by Poppy Lauretta McLeod at Case Western Reserve as a good starting place .http://www.csl.mtu.edu/cs6461/www/Reading/McLeod97.pdf

Jeremy
April 24, 2011 6:06 am

I consider Science to be an entity that should not be a respecter of persons, hence I see no added value from attributing names to statements when trying to get to the facts.
In other words, I’d rather people attack what I say, rather than who is saying it.
I’m also from internet generation 1, so I have a healthy desire to keep personal information off of it when I can.

Richard S Courtney
April 24, 2011 6:08 am

Willis:
Thankyou for encouraging the sharing of thoughts in this thread.
I write to comment on a related issue that I think is pertinent so is not too far off-topic.
There are several bloggers who are academics and blog under false names (e.g. Eli Rabbit, Tamino, etc.). Their true identities can be simply determined and are well-known.
As academics they have a personal interest in publishing in the technical literature any ideas and/or analyses they conduct because this increases their publication count and, thus, benefits their careers. And publishing something on their blogs prevents its later publication in the technical literature (because technical journals reject for publication anything that has been previously published anywhere and in any form). But these academic bloggers publish things on their blogs under false names.
One clear reason for their anonymous blogging is a desire to avoid accountability. They post smears and lies against individuals who have no redress. It cannot be proved that one of these bloggers wrote a specific statement unless he/she admits to having written it, and this enables the bloggers to freely lie, slander and smear which they do.
Another reason is to dupe the gullible. Anything the blogger has written which he/she recognises is so flawed and/or unworthy that it has no chance of publication can be posted on his/her blog. This, of course, is rubbish that he/she has decided to throw out instead of publishing in a technical journal. But it is swallowed and used by gullible acolytes.
Richard

Girma
April 24, 2011 6:10 am

My view may change in the future, and I don’t others to hold me to my views in my past.

Dave Springer
April 24, 2011 6:11 am

Jimbo says:
April 24, 2011 at 2:36 am
Using your real name may lead to attacks on SOMEONE ELSE with the same name as yours.
By the way I just Googled “Anthony Watts” and got wuwt as well as a news story that reads:

“Anthony Watts pleads not guilty to assaulting his girlfriend”
The Roosters NRL player yesterday pleaded not guilty in Waverley Local Court to assault occasioning actual bodily harm following an alleged attack on Shannon Kiss at the weekend.

I also got Professor Anthony Watts who teaches at Oxford. His full contact details are there and you can imagine the kind of emails he gets even though he may or may not be a global warming sceptic.
Can you see the problem????

Yes I see the problem!
We now need to ask the proverbial question: Does Anthony still beat his wife?
LOL

Garacka
April 24, 2011 6:15 am

Given the contentious nature of the main topic of this blog (and others), I post anonymously because I am in a better position to convince in-laws and work colleagues, who don’t have the same level of background that I have, if they haven’t 1st read my postings . I am afraid that they would put up a firewall to anything I say and I wouldn’t have the opportunity to adjust my conversational entry point to potential conversations on the topic making changing minds a much larger hurdle. Adjusting conversational entry points according to the background of the other person is critical to making progress as I see it.
Note that my problem is with in-laws and work colleagues, as I have no problem telling my direct family of my views. I have 2 relatives (in-laws) who are fully “invested” in the fraud.

April 24, 2011 6:34 am

I started posting on climate sites with my own name as a matter of clarity and honesty. A screen name felt like hiding behind a false front and I’ve never cared if anyone disagrees with me.
The down side has been that my name has been harvested from WUWT and Google will find instances of me giving good reviews of products on sites with virus threats. I’m still the only Maurice Garoutte known to Google but I post less now because my (formally) good name will lead to a computer threat. Also it doesn’t help that the USPTO puts my name and address on the web, accessible to the casual searcher.

Madman2001
April 24, 2011 6:36 am

Madman2001 has been my net-name for many many years now, so to great extent it IS my real name. My birth certificate name is just another of my names. They are all “me”.
Does it make a difference?

DirkH
April 24, 2011 6:39 am

I’m posting from a country which discourages freedom of speech.
Germany. ‘Nuff said.

Peter
April 24, 2011 6:40 am

Our real name is not something we choose. It was bestowed on us by our parents, or guardians. Unless you’ve gone to court to get it changed. Seems pretty logical to me that you might want to choose one that reflects the real you, or makes a statement about your views. It just seemed the thing to do at the time. Just as everyone had a ‘handle’ during the short lived CB radio craze.

jaymam
April 24, 2011 6:41 am

A nutter has several times offered a reward for my identiy.

Daniel
April 24, 2011 6:41 am

One that I didn’t see mentioned, though many similar ones were, is the specific concern about current comments being dredged up in a future political campaign. Disgusted with the current status quo, I’ve thought at times about running for office. This potential (though incredibly small, as I’m highly introverted) keeps me from posting many things that I might otherwise (particularly on Facebook, but elsewhere as well).

Michael Jankowski
April 24, 2011 6:44 am

The internet allows for cool nicknames and alter-egos. Not everyone’s email address is “yourname@____.com,” and too many people share names for that to realistically happen. You get to make a new identity.
What’s most interesting is the identity some folks choose, such as “Tamino.” Sort of like how music folks liked to turn themselves into heroes in the short stories that often were music videos (back when MTV played them), you have someone who decides to liken himself to one.

Gerald Wilhite
April 24, 2011 6:47 am

WUWT contributors, be forewarned! Publicly expressing your name with your opinion can be dangerous to your economic health!
In 1983 I found myself in a defamation legal action in the US State of Oklahoma. An elected offical had made public statements that caused a weak-kneed employer to fire me. Because of a few newspaper opinion pieces I wrote over the period of a few years it was determined that in the eyes of the law I was — at least in Oklahoma —- in the same category as an elected “political figure”.
I have never written any article for or against any elected official or any political party, and I have never held or run for any public or partisan office. But, alas, in the eyes of the State of Oklahoma, I am fair game for anybody. It is legally impossible for anybody to defamed me — no matter what outrageous lies they write about me, say about me, or do to me — short of an actual physical attack.
My concern have always been about public policy. My writings have mostly been simple “letters to the editor” concerning the admittedly controversial topic of residential racial segregation. I have written about ways public policy influences urban growth patterns and the phenomena of “white flight”. More specifically my concerns are about ways urban growth policies can negatively affect minority property values and the net worth of minority families.
In my view I am a citizen exercisng my right to express an opinion. Wrong! I am mistakingly assuming that “freedom of speech without any prohibition thereof ” is my right under the first amendment to the US Constitution. Wrong again. Freedom of speech be damned. The Supreme Court has found that a “political figure” can be defined in any “reasonable” way a State wants to define a political figure.
The whole affair has been a very expenssive lesson, but in hindsight it all has turned out well. It was impossible for me to find employment where I lived, so I packed up my family and moved to Texas — a very smart move for us.
I am 69 years old now but not the sort to ever retire. In spite of the often vicious nature of the internet I still feel compelled to attach my moniker on what I write.
However, I understand and fully respect those who choose anonymity.
Gerald Wilhite

Sal Minella
April 24, 2011 6:51 am

I don’t mind using my real name here (Lance Boil) but would never do so elsewhere due to the fear of becoming entangled with and harassed by malignant trolls.

JohnD
April 24, 2011 6:52 am

Plausible Deniability

John Garrett
April 24, 2011 6:52 am

My professional career ( not in climate science ) was destroyed by the “tyranny of the majority.” “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.”
I no longer trust the judgment, fairness or justice supplied by lynch mobs.

April 24, 2011 6:56 am

Regarding posting under your own name:
* I don’t give a flying rat’s behind. Make my day!

Jimash
April 24, 2011 6:58 am

I’m concerned that putting my real name to my ideas will cause me trouble at my work.
I’m concerned that someone will take violent exception to my views about climate and threaten me or my family.
I’m concerned about putting any personal information about myself on the web for any reason .
I have been attacked for my views.
———–
In truth, my posting moniker is half of my name.
My full name is shared by two other people in the continental US .
Not only am I easily identified, but these others ( one in particular) could be damaged.
I have been targeted spammed and hassled on line,
by lunatics .
And yes I think that potential employers google people,
and take exception to their views and activities, that can be detrimental to getting hired .
I do not care to be tracked and researched for posting in forums.
There are many usenet postings under my full name, including some offensive ones directed at offensive people, and they never disappear.
But I respect you Willis, even admire.
Try not to think less of me.

Jim
April 24, 2011 7:03 am

I work with a bunch of liberals. I do fear retribution if they know how I really think about global warming.

GaryP
April 24, 2011 7:04 am

I usually use my first name and initial because I sometimes comment from work when I’m taking a break. If its actually a comment on the science that I would be happy to see in the local newspaper with my name on it, I use my full name. The company I work for sells materials used pretty much everywhere. The goal is to sell profitable, cost effective products to our customers, whether it is used to help mine coal or build better windmills. That doesn’t make it safe to get the marketing guy selling the “low green house potential” fluids upset with me. Likewise, the guy selling to the windmill manufactures better not be getting the coal industry upset.

rbateman
April 24, 2011 7:07 am

Radio types should understand the term ‘handle’.
You pick a ‘handle’ when posting on the Internet.
It’s your trademark.

General P. Malaise
April 24, 2011 7:11 am

I plan to run for president and want to be able to change my opinions as may be convenient.
…..actually I think there may be repercussions to me and my views in the future, at this time I do not feel any threat but that doesn’t mean the warmist and political hate list isn’t being tabulated. The gulag is not in the top ten vacation destinations for me.
I am thinking the climategate emailers were wishing they were more careful.

April 24, 2011 7:13 am

I post with a pseudonym because it is allowed. I always provide my URL and would continue to post if full name were required. I have been a part of the letters to editor pages my whole life, where full name and address and phone number are required. A few years ago my name was prominent in the letters to editor pages over an issue that was eventually decided in court; my opinion on the losing side. After the court case went against my point of view the letters editor phoned to inquire if I still wanted my last “losing” letter printed. I did, but that was intimidating, as was a call from a cousin from 2000 miles away laughing at my beligerent ways. As you well know Willis, “thinking outside the box” comes with a cost.

Mark V
April 24, 2011 7:16 am

Willis
I have worked for oil companies or other “eco-criminals” (miners, agribusiness) and it would likely be held against me.
I think the “eco-criminals” label is going to bias responses as it will cause a reaction. A more neutral question would be:
I have worked for oil companies, mining companies or agribusiness and it would likely be held against me.

starzmom
April 24, 2011 7:21 am

I simply prefer not to be traceable if someone wants to locate me. It goes back to threatening phone calls years ago. I don’t have an address on my checks and my phone number is unlisted, too. If anybody here had a really good reason to contact me directly, Anthony knows who I am.

Hector M.
April 24, 2011 7:29 am

I float tentative ideas in blogs, ideas that I’m not yet sure about. Blogs offer an opportunity for crowd-sourced criticism before having my name attached to a bad idea. Ideas surviving the blog test are ideas I feel more confident to put into serious publications. However, my blog name is not such an inscrutable or cryptic pseudonym: just my real first name and the initial of my surname.

OK S.
April 24, 2011 7:35 am

Most all of the founders of the United States wrote under psuedonyms for various reasons, as did many notable Europeans of that and previous centuries.
Noah Webster gave, I believe, a couple of reasons why he did. But the main reason he gave was that when he was young and with no reputation, he wanted his ideas considered on their own merits without an appeal to the reputation of the writer.
Today is not much different. Many people appeal to the status of the writer rather than consider the merits of the argument.
OK S.

Dave Worley
April 24, 2011 7:44 am

I taught my chilren never to reveal their identity or location over the internet. I promised them that I would do the same. There are too many nut cases out there, and it is much easier for them to locate you if you give a real name.
Rather than having to give lots of other false information and make up stories, the pseudonym is the closest thing to a firewall I can think of.
Privacy is something that has value and is best protected, unless you are in the media business, politics and such and you need the attention of the masses.
I doubt that most kids today who frequent these open social networks realize how thier posts are likely to be a burden for them in the future. You can change your setting to private, but there is always the wayback machine. It’s out there for life.

ldd
April 24, 2011 7:45 am

Not big on leaving my full name – just initials… just because I value my privacy more than anything that I say or opine on the net and because I’m not ‘anybody’ in academic circles.
However when I fling funds – that data, containing my name, address, phone #, is real.
🙂

Neil
April 24, 2011 7:52 am

When I write any limerick surreal,
I sign my emission with “Neil.”
Why? It’s half of my name!
If I ever get fame,
I’ll tell you the other half. Deal?

Editor
April 24, 2011 7:54 am

I can understand some of the legitimate concerns that have been expressed here. I use my real name for two reasons: it makes me think twice about posting something (sometimes thinking three times would have been better, still) and it’s a statement that I will not be intimidated. And no, I am NOT the physicist at Trinity.

Lena Hulden
April 24, 2011 7:54 am

Interesting question. If I write something, I’ll stand for it, or I would not write it.

David S
April 24, 2011 7:55 am

If someone knows your name they can probably find out where you live. With that info they might do harm to you or your family. There seem to be a number of psychopaths in the country who might do exactly that. Ted Kaczynski, a.k.a. the Unabomber, would be one such example. Also one of the global warming skeptics (a former professor of climatology from Canada) had to go into hiding because of death threats.
So for safety’s sake I think it’s better to remain anonymous.

Haha you will never find me.
April 24, 2011 8:02 am

I am saying something that is likely to be stupid and don’t want it tied to me for the rest of my life.
The real reason is,
1) I know future employers/others will Google me and there’s a good likelihood they hate skeptics (I work in acedemia), and don’t want this to be held against me.
2) I don’t care enough that the added validity would be worth attaching my name to my statement.

Jack
April 24, 2011 8:07 am

I don’t use my real name because it could very well negatively impact me at work. I am a librarian, but can’t get full time work. As such I get paid the going rate, but don’t get benefits. (How’s that for solidarity?)
I would like full time, but I know that if I used my real name that I’d be very unlikely to get it.
If I was retired, or independently wealthy, I’d use my real name without a worry.

April 24, 2011 8:08 am

Well my name is Steve and I live in Sunderland, so I guess thats only semi anonomous.
🙂

Jack
April 24, 2011 8:11 am

Some of the comments are really good, especially about young men in the 17 and 1800’s using a pseudonym because they wanted their arguments to be considered on the merits.
Can you imagine Tom Friedman’s or Krugman’s arguments being considered on their merits? Those two don’t want that.

Sam Parsons
April 24, 2011 8:13 am

My wife is terrified that I will make an inadvertent remark about muslin and some member of our family will be terrorized. I am worried that the D*p*rtm*nt of Houseland S#c#r#ty searches for anyone who might cast doubt on muslin.

April 24, 2011 8:13 am

It’s good that no one on the internet knows if you’re a frog.

OK… Unfortunately that won’t work for me.
Signed: Sonicfrog!

Pamela Gray
April 24, 2011 8:15 am

Why do I post under my name? I say what I mean and am terribly honest at it, especially since I can’t lie with a straight face. I want folks to know that “I” said it, regardless of whether it was smart or stupid, not someone named snigglefrits. I wear who I am, with all the good and bad of who I am, visible and easily discerned. The consequences be damned. So much so that if Bill Clinton had my personality, he would have said, “Yes I did.” before the inquiring mind had finished the question.

DeNihilist
April 24, 2011 8:23 am

as I said on KK’s pole,
when ya got the best handle in the debate, it’s kinda hard to give it up!

Publius
April 24, 2011 8:30 am

I post under a variety of different noms de plume. Keep everyone guessing 😉

Brianp
April 24, 2011 8:32 am

I just thought thats the way its done. Why is it important. If you ask for real names ill do it.

April 24, 2011 8:32 am

Yes, to all of the above.
Also a clever nom de plume (or nom de guerre?) demonstrates just how clever the writer can be.
I formerly used my nom de guerre for identification.
(One of my hobbies is Cowboy Action Shooting . You choose a “Cowboy” name, get dressed up like an 1880s cowboy and have shooting competition with period firearms. Cool, jsut like you were 13 years old, again. Only this time, the guns are real!)
Then Anthony wrote that he had little sympathy for those that wouldn’t identify themselves. So, I started to include my real name also. This IS Anthont’s blog.
But….. There is also a philosophical reason for using my real name. Some seven or eight years ago I came to realize that there is an actual war going on in this country. A cultural war, perhaps, but it is still a war with real casualties. For example, denying the poor people in Africa the technology to deal with malaria costs them about 1,000,000 lives a year. 1,000,000 mostly poor, mostly black, and mostly children and pregnant women. The casualties due to just that issue have been on the order of those lost in a World War. (Malaria has been a subject on this blog if you would care to look it up.)
So…….in the “culture” that is mine, a person of worth will stand up for what is right and against what is wrong. Using an alias is a very minor thing, but it would be cowardly for me to hide behind one. The slow painful deaths of about 30,000,000 poor black people somehow require `it of me.
I must admit that I am retired, so I don’t have much at risk by using my real name. I do understand the risk to others that may be employed at “liberal” organizations. “Liberals” are vicious and vindictive and there is a real threat if they have power over you.
Back when the Democrats controlled Texas, voters were required to sign the backs of their “secret” ballots. If you voted “wrong”, you or your father, uncle, etc. could be fired if they had a County job. This is not a joke and it is not made up.
It really is a war.
Regards,
Steamboat Jack (Jon Jewett’s evil twin)

R. de Haan
April 24, 2011 8:33 am

I use my own name.
But it is risky these days.

Dr. Dave
April 24, 2011 8:34 am

I regularly post comments at about a half dozen sites. I starting using the abbreviated “Dr. Dave” to prevent fallout from the ultra-liberal, government-funded organization I worked for at the time. I continue to use “Dr. Dave” for consistency. I’m the same “Dr. Dave” you see at PJM or American Thinker or any one of a number of other sites.

Douglas DC
April 24, 2011 8:36 am

I use a handle because of my own experience of being accused . Anthony has my real
e-mail and name, as I recall. Right now anyone openly doubting or critical of the local
windpower development in my area is considered anathema, doubter, infidel. There are
local people who scour Google for any critical names. I kid not…
One woman who is very critical is now off the internet, btw…

nc
April 24, 2011 8:37 am

I used to write letters to the local paper where one has to use your real name. One day a semi intelligent moron did not like my response to an editorial, story short police involved. I am also employed with a power utility, my views don’t match their politically driven ones about C02, windgenerators etc, thus I prefer anonymous.

April 24, 2011 8:46 am

There are some very good reasons for anonymity…but also some very bad reasons used by people who lob scurrilous bombs while hiding behind a tree. I despise these cowardly people.
Can I suggest an automatic subtraction of 20% from the credibility coefficient of anyone who speaks anonymously?

wayne
April 24, 2011 8:48 am

No upside and only a possible great big downside. Security’s the name of the game today and people only read something written only if they want to know and learn through time whether they can generally trust and its worth considering the thoughts anyway. I hate authority of any form, it’s really all about content and commonsense in the words.
What’s the upside but ego? I agree with Beesaman and Dave above, would me using two names such as “Mark Twain” be better? It’s just a sequence of letters and “Willis Eschenbach” may just be a pen name for all I know, really, how would I ever know. Same for all of the other names above in any post on any blog. At least my signin is half true though half missing. ☺

April 24, 2011 8:51 am

Samuel Langhorne Clemens used several pen names, finally settling on one, as described here:
http://www.marktwaininstitute.org/pen-names.html
Did he ever say why he used pen names, or was it just the custom for an alter ego?
At any rate, take heart: yours could also become better-known than your given name.
/Mr Lynn

John Blake
April 24, 2011 8:52 am

Dislike anonymity on principle, and post using identifiable real name accordingly. Everything I’ve ever written is thereby on public record, and PCBS types concerned to shut off commentary on whatever stupid premises will have to seek elsewhere. From murderous mullah-dullahs to Green Gang climate cultists, we’ll stand with Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, who advised a threatening blackmailer: “Publish, and be damned.”

John Gorter
April 24, 2011 8:52 am

Well, it is my name. I’ve had it a long time and have grown attached to it. I am not yet afraid of expressing my opinions, even in Gillard’s Australia.
John Gorter

Roberto
April 24, 2011 8:54 am

I’m not too concerned about fallout at my present job. But I could see it affecting future employment searches.

Shub Niggurath
April 24, 2011 8:56 am

I wrote about my views on anonymity in the climate debate in this post:
Kevin Trenberth and the memes of the Post-Climategate Period
I post under a pseudonym because it forces people to focus on what I am saying.

Richard Barraclough
April 24, 2011 8:56 am

It would help if posters could identify their geographic locations when it is relevant. For example “swept 3 inches of snow off the driveway this morning”, or “driest spring in 50 years here” is much more interesting when we know where they are talking about.
A damp, cool autumnal day here (26 S, 26 E) – South African highveld.

PaulH
April 24, 2011 8:57 am

I’d say that I’m posting semi-autonomously. Paul is indeed my first name, and H is the first initial of my last name. If someone wants to do some digging, I’m sure they’ll find the rest of my name. 😉

HK
April 24, 2011 8:57 am

If you do the survey, please allow respondents to cite multiple reasons, because several of those listed apply in my case.
As an additional reason: I wouldn’t discuss politics with colleagues/customers/clients, unless I know they are also good friends. I would advise most people not to do that either: in my industry, it is close to unprofessional to do so. If I posted under my own name, it would be tantamount to expressing my political views to all and sundry and would convey a lack of professionalism.

Harold Pierce Jr
April 24, 2011 9:00 am

I always use my given name. After I successfuly defended my thesis in Oct ’72 at UC Irvine, the best last bit of advice I got from any professor was that from my senior thesis adviser. Prof. Mike Fisch said to me: Don’t ever be afraid to blow your own horn!

anon
April 24, 2011 9:01 am

I’ll lose 90% of my friends if they ever find out what I truly think about the Holy Global Warming.

Editor
April 24, 2011 9:03 am

A couple reasons to post anonymously from anonymous commentors I’ve exchanged Email with:
One is a petroleum geologist. Like all geologists, he knows Earth has seen worse than anything CAGW has dealt out. Cape Cod is but a moment in time. Eventually , all the great cities will be scraped off at a tectonic plate boundary. For some reason a subset of people go ballistic when they see posts from petroleum geologists.
The other is a person with influence on grant proposals. While eminently fair, he doesn’t give special consideration to “green” projects. Those who do would go ballistic if they knew that person reads WUWT, let alone occasionally posts here.

andy jones
April 24, 2011 9:07 am

I do ocassionally use my real name (as above) but often like to use silly pseudonymns because…well, that’s just the way I am….
I generally never court vicious or hateful controversy in any case and am able to be reasoned with better than many I feel…..
Just my view.

Kev-in-Uk
April 24, 2011 9:12 am

Personally, I’d be quite happy to post under my full name – I don’t think it would cause me any embarrassment or threat.
One thing Willis may not have considered is the ‘traditional’ nature of a ‘handle’ or nickname/nom de plume?
Blogging appears to always have been based on a ‘handle’ – I confess, I chose mine because it seemed ‘traditional’ and no other reason.
That said – the google/isp aspect is a little worrying especially if someone is ‘in’ a sensitive environment and with various data losses and security breaches – at least a nickname is a bit of personal ‘firewall’?
I don’t understand the crazy litigous nature of the USA – but I guess it is also some protection against those that perhaps deliberately set out to inflame and get a response in order to sue! Although, I personally am unlikely to leave myself open to such a claim – in the heat of discussion, some might easily fall into the trap?

Molon Labe
April 24, 2011 9:19 am

The reason for anonymity is due to the disparity between the lack of careful thought one puts in making a blog comment versus the world-wide and for-all-time audience of the post.

April 24, 2011 9:20 am

Because I used to be able to make this cool frog sound with my voice since 2nd grade, I’ve always been nick-named “frog”-something… “froggy”, “froggymike” “ribbit-frog”, Pee-Wee Ribbit Frog.. whatever. In 92, right out of college, I started then destroyed my own tee shirt company called “Frogonit”! Years latter, I started my current business “Frog’s Pool Service and Spa Repair” and have been in operation for 11 years. My bass guitar cabinet has one of my “Frogonit” designs painted on it, and my current business logo is another former tee-shirt design. My friends used to differentiate me from other friends named Mike by dubbing me “Froggymike”. In the early 2000’s, when acquiring internet domain names was all the rage, I acquired a few. Sonicfrog.net is the one I used most often. On the net, I was froggymike for a long time. Then when I decided to start my blog (just before Surfacestations.org was launched btw) I (semi)officially became Sonicfrog.
If someone wants to find out my name, it’s not hard to do and I don’t have any problems with anyone knowing my name… It’s just more fun this way!!!

BarakO
April 24, 2011 9:21 am

In my current professional position, it would be uncomfortable for me to be known as a global warming skeptic. That’s why I don’t use my full name on WUWT.

Editor
April 24, 2011 9:22 am

Amazing – my last comment got dumped in the spam bucket!
As for why I use my real name:
I implemented some of the ARPAnet protocols that are still in use. The ARPAnet community was small, and had a few groups of people that all worked together and appreciated the new medium. I think we were all surprised at what happened when non-implementors showed up and didn’t have our background.
Back then, we all used our name, and I figure with a name like Werme (and even a nickname like Ric), there’s no place to hide now. Besides, I tend to avoid ad-hominem attacks, and reply to criticism with level-headed explanations and support. As such, I haven’t been stalked, haven’t found a cross burning in my front yard, nor woken up to find a horse’s head in my bed.
BTW – recently someone created a web page that has a reference to me from 1971, before ARPAnet days! See http://www.conwaylife.com/wiki/index.php?title=Lifeline_Volume_1 Curiously enough, another person, Ray Tomlinson, mentioned in that sentence also went on to ARPAnet Email development. I think he gets credit for the first Email sent between similar OSes, I may get credit for the first sent between dissimilar OSes. It wasn’t a “Watson, come here” moment, it was more like “Test after remembering CRLF in MLFL command.”

HK
April 24, 2011 9:29 am

Another suggestion for the poll:
You don’t provide any option to allow a user to edit or remove a comment.
If someone posts with a typo or error of grammar (or even meaning) his clumsiness/stupidity will forever after be visible. Personally I don’t want to have to check every word I post on every blog as if it will follow me around for the next 50 years. I’m not writing academic theses… they’re blog posts.

Editor
April 24, 2011 9:30 am

I have shareholders who should’t be negatively impacted by any backlash associated with my blogging. I also think that the facts I present should stand on their own/be viewed in isolation, irrelevant to who I am.
With that said, I plan to attend ICCC6 at the end of the quarter, which will likely mark the end of my anonymity.

jmrSudbury
April 24, 2011 9:32 am

“I feel able to express more confident views if those statements aren’t personally attributable to me.”
This is interesting to me as suggesting a higher level of confidence that what is warranted has not stopped the IPCC from suggesting high levels of accuracy.
John M Reynolds

Ron Pittenger, Heretic
April 24, 2011 9:33 am

I am an infrequent commenter at WUWT. Though this isn’t an issue at WUWT, it is at other various sites I visit. Many require a “profile” that they limit to a few types of ISP accounts (gmail, or Facebook for example) and disallow the comment unless a profile is selected. Lacking an “approved” account, I often have to pick “anonymous,” though I then generally sign my name or some variant (like Ron P.). I suspect those sites may do it this way due to lack of human moderators being available, but it can be frustrating.

H.R.
April 24, 2011 9:39 am

I have had personal experience with loonies who posed a credible threat while I was posting regularly on another highly controversial topic. Also, on the same topic, a rather large corporation was interested in a SLAP suit against me (no basis, just to silence me) just so I’d quit posting. Lesson learned.
Anthony and TheMods (doo-wop, doo-wah) can just email me and ask who I am… if they give a rat’s patootie about who I am.
Some commenters express appreciation for some of my humorous comments; when I ask questions (now and then), the regulars make sure I get an answer; when I do throw in a tid-bit or argue a point of the science (rarely), I do it with respect and I get shown the error of my thinking or my point is not refuted.
AND… no ad homs from me (except Al Gore – fair game). I agree with Willis that “shooting in ambush from behind a rock” is not acceptable.
Anthony said long ago that annonymous posters would be allowed but would be second class. So be it. I like WUWT because respectful annonymous posters are actually treated very well here, so long as they are not throwing out ad homs at anyone.

Quis custoddiet ipos custodes
April 24, 2011 9:47 am

w.
I started out using my name with a link to my little business on WUWT. After gaining a bit better understanding of how Google, et al collect data to sell to others I felt it might be a wiser choice to come up with some handle that comes close to my personality and how I process information. Hence my current tag.
As to what questions (answers actually) would be of interest to me in a poll- As a lot of the discussion here has to do with the scientific method and how one uses it to reduce uncertainty I would be interested in the following questions:
1) Have you personally used the scientific method. Yes, No.
1.1) When you applied the scientific method what type of investigations/inquiries did you undertake;
1.1a) In the hard sciences: physics, chemistry, etc…………….
1.1.b) In the soft sciences; economics, sociology, etc, political science
1.1c) Would you classify your efforts efforts in using the scientific method as product or process related (engineering, system related,etc)?
1.1.d) What percentage of your use of the scientific method falls in the following categories
1.1.d.1) Basic research
1.1.d.2) Applied research
1.1.d.3) Product and process development
1.1.d.4) Maintenance of processes using the scientific method (quality engineering, etc.)
2) How many years experience do to you have using the scientific method?
3) Have you ever taken a personality test such as the Meyers Briggs Personality Profile http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Myers-Briggs_Type_Indicator. Yes, No
3.1) If yes, what was your classification: list the 16 variations in MB profile
As Steve McIntyre has noted many folks who have used the scientific method in Applied Research, Product and Process development (or any combination of Exploratory Research and Development Engineering -as noted in Pearson’s Uncertainty matrix-) , or quality engineering feel that science of climate isn’t settled.
John Gaynard discuses Person’s matrix as follows (as noted: http://johngaynardcreativity.blogspot.com/2009/01/industrial-design-three-different-types.html):
“Alan Pearson described in his 1991 article “Managing Innovation: an uncertainty reduction process” (which is impossible to find on the web, although there are many references to it in Google Scholar). Here are Pearson’s types of innovation:
Exploratory Research, when there are unclear objectives and no clearly understood ways or technologies for getting to those objectives.
Development Engineering, when the objectives are clear but the ways, technologies or processes to reach them are unclear.
Application-seeking, when technologies or processes are already part of the company’s knowledge and competency base but it is unclear how they can best be used.
Technical and market combination, where the objectives for innovation are well understood and the technologies for getting there are also part of the firm’s toolkit.
These four different types of innovation are caught in the Pearson Matrix for Mapping Uncertainty a 2X2 matrix based on unclear means, clear means, unclear ends and clear ends.”

Jeff Wiita
April 24, 2011 9:47 am

Who is Steve Goddard and what happened to him?

Atomic Hairdryer
April 24, 2011 9:48 am

I prefer to be anonymous for a number of reasons.
Some of it is work related. I had problems at a previous employer for not demonstrating the company values regarding climate change. As a previous poster said, employers will search social network sites and in general, and make hiring decisions based on what they find. My work has very little to do with climate change, but I need a job and I’d prefer not to be rejected because my beliefs conflict with someone who can make or influence a hiring decision. I also post on some other potentially controversial subjects using other pseudonyms for the same reason. I want to keep my work and private life seperate.
Privacy erosion and security. There is no such thing as anonymity on the Internet but providing too much personal information can lead to identity theft, harrassment and sometimes worse.
Curiosity about identity and privacy. This started at Uni when my partner complained she was getting harrassed online. I made a female nick and started getting harrassed as well. Later, I had another partner working on a similar study to the McLeod one looking at online gender identity issues. MMO’s can be an easy way for males to find out how unpleasent sexual harrassment can be. It’s also interesting to see how people can respond to identity cues. “Justin Bieber” turned up in a combat game I play and died rather rapidly. A simple name can generate much emotion, and online identity and privacy is a fascinating subject.

2hotel9
April 24, 2011 9:53 am

Willis? Can I call ya Willis? I don’t actually post anonymously. Many, many people out in the world know who 2hotel9 is. Some of them even like me!
As for the purpose of this thread, I have to agree with many of the comments above, you should structure your poll so that respondents may pick more than one answer. Different circumstances and situations call for anonymity. With the widespread incidents of identity theft many people are choosing anonymity in their online activities. In political blogging/commenting anonymity is much more common due to the viscous nature of Progressivism and its adherents, and it is a rather double edged blade, often used in what is termed “sockpuppet” posting. Another common tactic from that political quarter is hijacking a person’s name and commenting as them, often in derogatory ways meant to harm that person in their professional or family lives.
This is a rather complicated issue, really, and I can’t wait to see your poll results. Oh, well, guess I do have to wait, don’t I.

galileonardo
April 24, 2011 10:01 am

Willis, cowboys deserve and get respect, but I think you underestimate the value of a good sniper. I have explained before my pseudonym. Were I to “come out” it would be economic suicide and immediate annihilation, something I cannot afford at this stage in life (I provide my family’s only income).
I would be able to tolerate the other ramifications, but not those affecting my wallet. I reside in an area that shows little tolerance for skeptical views, despite claims from the same bunch that they “celebrate diversity.” There would most certainly be severe economic ramifications for us.
Further, I am involved in several environmental causes and would be made a pariah. I could live with that, but would rather continue the work in which I have been involved for a long time, as to me these causes are quite important (and one of the main reasons I am so against the fanatical AGW distraction).
There is wisdom in maintaining my sniper’s nest: self-preservation when facing an overwhelming number of combatants while still chipping away at their foundation. It’s a win-win. The ivory tower of cards will come ‘a tumbling down. Chip. Chip. Chip.

jorgekafkazar
April 24, 2011 10:03 am

Big Global Warming has trillions of dollars at stake. We’ve already seen the almost total prostitution of science, and academia, and, in the UK, government. We’ve all observed repeated official whitewashes of scientific corruption, early attempts to control or shut down the Internet, the infamous 10-10 child-snuff video, the Green”peace” we-know-where-you-live threat, failure of the MSM to show our side of the issue. People who are driven to steal by greed often have no moral objection to violence, either. If I had it to do over again, I’d still be pseudonymous. Metaphorically speaking, I have relatives in the old country…

Charles Higley
April 24, 2011 10:03 am

As the warmists also love to denigrate, verbally abuse, and call skeptics names, it is fun to see if they Google a name looking for credentials. If they cannot find any, does that make the science being described any less valid? No. If they cannot locate a name, they gleefully discount everything. You have aright to your own opinion, but not your own facts, unless you are a warmist.

Bill Gannon
April 24, 2011 10:06 am

I work with a bunch(90%) lefty’s. They believe Albert Gore is a scientist, and his word is the gospel truth. They talk about visiting WUWT, Real Science, Ice Age Now and others. These so called smart people joke about the postings and comments. Last July 30th when the supervisor pointed out how some of the trees around the plant had leaves turning color earlier than normal these clowns called him just about everything but African American,they received a three day holiday with out pay. Now a days I keep my mouth shut and post to relive the frustration. Thank goodness for spell check.

Eyal Porat
April 24, 2011 10:07 am

It’s just a habit, avoiding personal information on the web.
Since I read your personal post where you talked about it I feel uneasy, so I decided the time is right to abandon my shyness.
Love your posts, keep up the excellent job!
Eyal Porat
Israel

April 24, 2011 10:07 am

In general, I think it is cowardice. Though I can identify with concerns about work, or protecting my family from attack. Look at the threats the “Civil” Left made against Republican senators and their families in Wisconsin. But not giving their names allows cowards to make vicious attacks and use foul language with impunity. So I tend to sign my posts with my name and blog address.
Robert A. Hall
http://www.tartanmarine.blogspot.com

TedK
April 24, 2011 10:08 am

For the people who know me, (as in have personally communicated with me), my signature is enough for them to know it is me as I’ve used it as an abbreviation since High School. When someone calls or writes me and uses my first or last name, alarm bells go off.
For the people who don’t know me, I don’t give a rat’s ass. Except, and this is a very big exception; I view the internet as a massive relatively undeveloped farm. There are companies and individuals out there seeking ways to actively farm, (or is mine a better word, perhaps plunder?), the undeveloped internet. WSJ did an excellent series of articlesabout these companies and how they are getting better at collecting people’s seemingly random postings into profiles. Profiles that will and do impact credit ratings, security levels and brand you with a public perception that is not necessarily your intention, like jury duty. My apologies if these WSJ articles are behind a pay wall…
I am and have been retired for more than a few years.
I learned long ago, not to wear my heart on my sleeve. That doesn’t mean I should put my ass there instead.
Ted
[HTML links fixed. ~db stealey, mod.]

Hank Hancock
April 24, 2011 10:10 am

I use the name I’ve gone by since high school – Hank – which is a contraction of my last name (first three letters followed by the last). Most of my friends and peers wouldn’t recognize me if I were to use my given first name so, in a sense, I am using my real name that everyone knows me by.
I am a leading journal published medical researcher with a keen interest in research study design. I remain under impressed that many AGW studies lack proper methodologies and the conclusions derived from said studies are borderline delusional. It seems many studies are designed to impress bureaucrats to send more money with little real content beyond wild a** guessing. Skepticism is a welcomed virtue in my field as it promotes honesty and transparency. Climate research doesn’t appear to appreciate such values but I digress.
I’m confident enough in who I am to not be concerned about what others think of my opinions. I don’t fear professional retribution as most of my peers hold similar views to mine or are just plain disengaged from the topic of global warming. Since my work is not publicly funded or grant funded, I’m at liberty to say what I wish without concern of loosing my job. I have no concern about people reading my opinions a decade from now. I feel free to change my opinion should I have reason to and will defend or dismiss my former opinions accordingly. At the end of the day, I want to know the truth and see no wrong in seeking it by testing what is offered as truth with skepticism. If it passes the test, I’ll receive it. If not, I reject it. Presently, I reject the unfalsifiable theory of AGW which, with glaring religiosity, bends even contradiction into proof and conveniently disappears things it finds inconvenient.

April 24, 2011 10:12 am

It’s less typing.

Dena
April 24, 2011 10:13 am

My name is my first name and my last name is contained in my email address so I am giving my full name. I trust this web site not to expose my email address so my full name is safe. I did give my name to a web site years ago when I wasn’t thinking about posting but I have decided it’s best to keep my internet foot print small because a future employer might have issues with some of the things I post. If they get to know me, they will understand my postings and views will not interfere with my work, so hiding my full name will allow them to get to know me.
If an employer ask, I will tell them the truth as I see it but I want to get that face time before I am judged. Other than that, I freely share my views with others but will keep my mouth shut if a discussion would be to heated and not accomplish anything.

Duke C.
April 24, 2011 10:14 am

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.”

DAV
April 24, 2011 10:18 am

I, too, use my initials as you can see from my email address. I use them outside of the web and on the job whenever practical as well. It’s my preferred identity. Some people see this as an attempt at anonymity. However, from my IP, you can gather a lot more information about me than I can about you. Very specific information in fact. Information I’d rather not have disseminated thank-you-very-much. I value my privacy. It’s becoming a rapidly scarce commodity. Why should the process be helped?
Willis Eschenbach says:
April 24, 2011 at 12:35 am
“Get over it”? What makes you think I care in the slightest either way if you use your initials? At this point you’re just an anonymous nobody on the internet, why should anyone care if you use your initials or your Grandma’s maiden name? …Nobody cares.
If you don’t care as you stated in your reply to dp then why this poll and blog post? Idle hands and all that? The people usually asking your questions often seem to have some problem they need to get over. I, too, wonder at why people ask these questions. Why DID you feel the need to ask — if you don’t really care about the answer, that is?
There are ways to avoid giving away too much that but they are genuine bother to use. I hope my trust in your and this blog’s discretion hasn’t been misplaced.

Pascvaks
April 24, 2011 10:20 am

Willis –
A name (real or not) has no meaning on the Web, it is the quality (or lack thereof) in the comment that matters; not the who that said it.
Given names only matter in personal communication, not on world-wide-weblogs.
Pen names (or “nom de plume” or a pseudonym) are just as traceable as a realname.
I don’t care if the CIA and Chinese know who I am, it’s the principle that counts.
My name is the only thing I’m taking to my grave, I’m not going to allow just anyone to throw dirt on it before then.

April 24, 2011 10:21 am

* I’m concerned that putting my real name to my ideas will cause me trouble at my work. (True)
* I’m concerned that putting my real name to my ideas will cause me trouble at home or with my family. (False)
* I’m concerned that putting my real name to my ideas will cause me trouble with my friends and acquaintances. (False)
* I’m concerned that putting my real name to my ideas will cause me trouble at my school or university.(False)
* I’m posting from a country which discourages freedom of speech.(False)
* I’m concerned that someone will take violent exception to my views about climate and threaten me or my family.(True)
* I feel more comfortable posting anonymously, but I’m not sure why.(False)
* I’m concerned about putting any personal information about myself on the web for any reason.(True)
* I find it easier to express negative views when I post anonymously.(False)
* I’m posting from work on company time, or the equivalent (e.g. posting when I’m supposed to be studying).(False)
* I don’t want people to be able to research my previous statements.(False) (I use the same name and even link to my blog)
* I feel able to express more confident views if those statements aren’t personally attributable to me.(False)
* I’m posting for relaxation – not “publication”.(Truish)
* Using my real name is just asking for ad hominem attacks.(True)
* I don’t know who might read the post and what they might do with it.(True)
* I don’t wish to disclose my formal qualifications, or lack of them, or that I am in a different field.(False)
* I can say things that I would be embarrassed to say in person.(False)
* I’m lazy.(True, but not the reason)
* I work with clients/customers or in a market where skeptical views are not welcome.(False)
* It’s a chance to let out my repressed wild and crazy inner personalities.(False)
* I have someone constantly Googling my name.(True)
* It allows me to “compartmentalize” my opinions on very different subjects.(False)
* I have worked for oil companies or other “eco-criminals” (miners, agribusiness) and it would likely be held against me.(False)
* I am concerned that my age, gender, ethnicity, educational level, etc are factors that can affect the people who read a comment and many of them unfortunately then respond in a biased way.(False)
* I have been attacked for my views.(False)
* I don’t wish for my thoughts and comments from years gone by to turn up whenever someone does a search on my name.(True, goes back to employment)
* I enjoy putting forward an identity that says more about me than my name.(False)
* It’s good that no-one on the internet knows if you’re a frog.(False)
* It would be easy to connect up my posts, email address and ultimately my credit cards. Spam and fraud would then follow.(False)
* I don’t want to be associated with my job when posting on technical subjects.(True)
* I am concerned about the UK defamation law.(False)
* In my country you could be targeted by the consensus people.(True)
* I have a common name and use a pseudonym so that I can search for my postings.(False)
* I am concerned it may cost me business/lose me funding.(False)
* Would you seriously consider using your real name after a reasonable period of retirement.(yes)
* Would you prefer to be able to post under your own name? (No)
* Career (No)
* Age (No)
* Sex (No)
* Location (No)
* I want to be able to claim ownership of my ideas. (True)
* I refuse to be intimidated by the dangers of the world. (People are crazy out there, what about if they attack your children?)
* I am much better mannered when I have to take responsibility for my words. (False)
* My claims tend to extravagance when I post anonymously. (False)
* I grew up a cowboy, and criticizing someone from behind a mask of anonymity feels like shooting someone from ambush … and a cowboy can’t do that, it’s in the contract, ask Tom Mix. (False)
The reality is that conservatives are not nuts and crazies, and for the most part do things through proper and standard process. This is not the case with the progressives, people who write letters to your employers demanding they fire you, people who send goon squads to people’s homes, goons who have shown a preference for physical violence in many cases, “environmentalists” that burn SUVs, commit other arson, start forest fires, fire guns at people’s homes, throw rocks through peoples windows. I really have no particular need to place myself or my family at risk of “retribution” from these people.

DireWolf
April 24, 2011 10:21 am

What affects my style of posting is context. I do post under my name at a major newspaper because there my pseudonym would likely cause the conservative audience to take my postings less seriously. Here I expect and find that I am judged by the content my posts rather than the color of my handle.

vigilantfish
April 24, 2011 10:26 am

As I have posted elsewhere, in my own research which is focused on the history of marine science some of my closest colleagues are warmists. Most of them I know well enough and would trust to reveal to them my deeply skeptical views (backed up with the excellent information gleaned over the years from WUWT), but not all, and therefore I remain in the closet in my immediate field.
My closest colleague is a wonderful person with whom I have never discussed the issue for the simple reason that this person’s thesis supervisor was N—-i O——s, a leading voice for the CAGW movement, with whom this person has a good relationship. I do not want in any way to jeopardize the personal and professional relationship I have with this colleague.
Many friends in the history of science who move in other research circles already know my views; I am happy to think that I will have been ahead of the curve in my field, which inexorably is being drawn towards the issues exposed by Climategate.

Doug Proctor
April 24, 2011 10:34 am

I have, more than once unfortunately, said things that were wrong philosophically or technically; more than one error is attached to my name for those who remember. But the blogosphere is a group discussion in which one is unable to be corrected in a timely fashion or retract and restate when what comes from your fingers doesn’t well match what was running around in your head. But there appears to be a large tolerance for those on the learning curve as there is in a well-run group discussion. Not always, and the internet allows a certain over-enthusiasm at times (and for some people) but I accept the cringing I sometimes create for myself as part of the medium and involvement.
We should feel free to express ourselves. Having a blog nom-de-plume allows a persona to take the fall, but if such things as climate change are important, should we not pony up and admit where we stand? At work and in social scenes my views are not always well received, but in silence there is danger, as any historian will remind us. Using your real name with all its perils of blowback is a mature thing and perhaps it moderates one’s rebuttal, if not in substance than in sensitivity. The world can always use more sensitivity from its people.
The usage of “handles” is, in my opinion, more about play-acting than anything else; it is fun. We like nicknames, even those who don’t have them, as they capture some essence and (usually) humour of some type that appeals to us. But in a serious debate using your real name gives you more credibility as it says you are prepared to have your thoughts attached to you when you leave the theatre, ether-based or other.
At some point, to be taken seriously, we have to stand for what we believe as who we are. Otherwise what we say is all posturing. Posturing is fun and safe but it has no long-term value.

gcapologist
April 24, 2011 10:37 am

I post anonymously so that I am not a target of ANOTHER libelous and slanderous smear campaign from local environmental activists. (I am a scientist. The smear campaign occurred as a result of my presentation of facts and findings (in the course of doing my job) that did not support the activists’ agenda.)

Pascvaks
April 24, 2011 10:41 am

Willis –
Can’t resist,
I don’t want the people I work for to know how smart I am. I need the job.
A name is like a grain of sand in the Sahara.
I’m retired, I don’t need the publicity.
I’ve got all the trophies and medals I need.
I don’t want to embarass my spouse and kids.
My family doesn’t know what I do all day.
Folks always thought I was smarter than I really am, why spoil their memories?
I’ve done so many things I’m not very proud of and I’m praying for a miracle.
Even at the beach I wear a hat, t-shirt, sunglasses, and sit under an umbrella with a towel over my legs.

Venter
April 24, 2011 10:46 am

I post with a pseudonym. I run my own business and will definitely stand to lose business if my posts were seen by some of my clients.

Raymond
April 24, 2011 10:47 am

After some considerable time investigating political correctness, feminism, socialism, postmodernism, islam, immigration, environmentalism, genetics, … I have come to be a serious reactionary and can afford to offer my opinions only piecemeal. Most of my “friends” have eaten the modern 1968 trash hook, line and sinker.
So, in order to write anything without causing serious conflict in my social life I simply have to use a set of pseudonyms.

P. Solar
April 24, 2011 10:56 am

Good idea.
A couple of points:
Anonymously means without a name which is different from posting under a pseudo. Anon is not possible here since you need to provide a publically displayed name so you need to rephrase all the question referring to anonymous.
You boilerplate wording has a derogatory (poss. judgemental) tone: “I’m concerned that putting my real name to my ideas will …” . It has an echo of Zimmerman’s “lack of integrity”.
You seems to be assuming that the reason someone may not use their “real name” is because they don’t want to associate with the post. It may be for simple privacy or the host of other reasons you have covered quite well so far.
More neutral wording may be “I don’t want to display my real name because…”
Another for the list may have to do with no edit/correction or retraction possible.

April 24, 2011 11:06 am

On the subject of anonymity, the WSJ has some basic steps to cover your tracks.

Duke C.
April 24, 2011 11:08 am

There is no mention of those who choose to be anonymous in order to subvert and confuse readers. Trolling should be included in the survey.

Snotrocket
April 24, 2011 11:08 am

Y’know, Willis, I’m a great fan and I’ve done a lot of thinking about this and similar arguments in your previous posts.
You do make a good point about standing behind a comment and I have often thought I should be proud to append my real name to comments I leave here, after all, in letters I’ve had published in The Times and the Daily Telegraph, I have no qualms. But that said, what’s in a name (a rose…..etc)? My (real) name is merely a collection of letters that in our Western society is recognisable as a ‘true’ name, whereas my blog name is….a collection of letters – albeit, some that I hope with the additional word: ‘science’, add a little light relief. In any case, if I signed my comments with John Philips, you would know I am lying but readers would assume it to be my name. Where does that get us?
So for all that, the string of letters that people use to identify their comments as theirs are merely that: identifiers. You (or Anthony) know their real and genuine id and as their blog names are ‘constants’ their contributions can be tracked and identified as belonging to an individual.

Jeff F.
April 24, 2011 11:11 am

I post anonymously for the same reason I do not “Register” a gun.

April 24, 2011 11:12 am

Willis, I blog under a pseudonym because my son is bipolar and I post about it sometimes. The pseudonym is because while the stigma of mental illness isn’t what it used to be, it’s still present.

Anonymous
April 24, 2011 11:12 am

Willis:
I’m surprised you wouldn’t understand the need to post anonymously. In the days of usenet, when one could post through proxies and be completely hidden, some very nasty people did some very nasty things. It is less common on a site such as this, where it is not possible to be anonymous.
Do a search of Richard Scoville.
Hence: “I post anonymously to avoid personal, real life attacks by ‘trolls’.”

dp
April 24, 2011 11:14 am

Willis – my response is generic and not directed at you or your poll specifically. It is to the question itself. People have reasons and needs to minimize their exposure particularly when the subject matter is controversial. We should not be endlessly queried as to why.
The “nasty” is a pre-emptive shot to those who make absurd claims of cowardly anonymous postings. I hadn’t read all the posts, but just now did a scan and sure as hell there are some dim bulbs playing the coward card. To them I repeat – get over it.
Clearly this is a topic I’ve waded through in the past and find it ridiculous in the same vein as birthers and other unbudging forms of zealotry. It is tiresome to have to explain a perfectly normal behavior. Its the Al Franken reflex. “You have not broken any laws but we want you to explain yourself, anyway!”

Jan v J
April 24, 2011 11:23 am

Privacy is a right (and, BTW, software should be free!).
Some of us are obsessive about privacy (I Google myself and extirpate, as far as possible, any references). Even my email, although it works, contains nothing relevant and has multiple anonymous cut-outs, and I post from anonymous proxy IP addresses.
This obsession goes well beyond fears of identity theft or internet fraud. It may be a partly a hang-over from early days on discussion boards, where
a) distasteful (at least to me) views were expressed and I didn’t care to be associated with them (my employer, also, was quite PC ….. & ruthless)
b) I needed anonymity and multiple personæ to harry someone (a close relative had been badly mistreated) – worked a treat!
Thus I learnt all the tricks. Still use ’em. Have had to explain myself (anonymously!) to wide-awake blog owners/moderators H/T EMSmith aka Chiefio.
PSolar also has it right in distinguishing anonymity from a pseudonym nom-de-plume or alternative identity).
I suppose I would add ‘obsession with privacy’ to your list.

John David Galt
April 24, 2011 11:35 am

I work in an unrelated field, for a quite open-minded boss, and like being known for my ideas (& have been around on the Usenet newsgroups forever, also using my real name). Thus I only rarely use a pseudonym, and then mostly when my post is intended not to be taken seriously.

Editor
April 24, 2011 11:37 am

Willis,
‘anopheles’ has a good point – there is [a vast, a tiny, some] difference between posting anonymously and using a pseudonym. Posting anonymously would be using a different ‘not your real’ name each time you post, or on each thread, or blog. A pseudonym used regularly/consistently is ‘you’ for all intents and purposes, even if it does not match the name on one’s birth certificate, passport, or driver’s license.
In that sense, I have used a pseudonym since I was three years old – a nickname that appears here – but, alas, with apologies to my late mother – is not the one I was given at birth, which I have never in memory used, except as required by law.
Maybe this should be clarified in your poll – to you mean anonymous? or do you mean ‘using a pseudonym’ or ‘web handle’?

DesertYote
April 24, 2011 11:52 am

DireWolf
April 24, 2011 at 1:22 am
I simply enjoy putting forward an identity that says more about me than my name.
###
Same here, but I have other reasons, and my “handle” is a clue to what those might be 🙂

Jan v J
April 24, 2011 12:00 pm

AlanG & others – look at pipl.com. They already aggregate all the interwebs information about specific names. A ‘John Smith’ or a ‘Murphy’ or a ‘Müller’ are probably OK.
Pascvaks couldn’t be more wrong. Catch me if you can!

Julian in Wales
April 24, 2011 12:07 pm

Julian in Wales tells the reader something about me, especially on interentional blogs like WUWT, Julian Williams is just a name I sahre with about 500 other people. But I often use Julian Williams on UK political blogs or when I am attacking the rubbish I read in newspapers.
I don’t want to hide, I want to stand up to the madness, however I try not tell customers who buy my products about my political opinions. Mostly because my business is not doing well enough to risk losing customers.

Claude Harvey
April 24, 2011 12:07 pm

“I am retired, and don’t care if people read what I post.”
This one is more complex than mere issues of bravery or cowardice. When I was employed as a corporate executive, any public opinion I might express under my name would be attributed to my company. I was under an implied contract to never make public pronouncement under my name that might in any way embarrass or disadvantage any segment of a multifaceted corporate endeavor.
Now that my tongue has been unlashed from the corporate mast, I’m a veritable blabbermouth. It also helps to be old enough, especially in California, that the social stigma of espousing unpopular opinions no longer really stings.

u.k.(us)
April 24, 2011 12:11 pm

This is the first blog I ever commented upon.
I stumbled onto it about 2 years ago.
Most comments where made by people with obviously anonymous “handles”,
I thought it was the norm.
So I dreamed one up, now it seems to be too late to change it.
I think “anonymity” probably encourages participation, possibly too much, as quite a few of my comments can attest.

OK S.
April 24, 2011 12:12 pm

I will add a little more to my previous post.
Pseudonyms have had a long and honorable position in America—and in Britain among other places. All anonymous authors have reasons that matter to them. And all authors—even writing under their own names—are anonymous unless they are personally known to you. The personal name or title of a stranger gives their discussion no more currency than the value of the argument they provide.
I will say this about personal attacks: they add absolutely no value to any discussion. Mr. Watts, on this blog, usually warns posters. On my own blogs, I delete personal attacks summarily and without comment. I don’t engage in personal attacks, and don’t allow anyone to use my forum as a stage to snipe, either under their own name or from behind the cover of the anonymity of the internet.
I will quote A North-American (psuedonym of John Dickinsen):

I am of their opinion, who think it almost as infamous to disgrace a good cause by illiberal language, as to betray it by unmanly timidity. Complaints may be made with dignity, insults retorted with decency; and violated rights vindicated without violence of words.

OK S.

randomengineer
April 24, 2011 12:13 pm

Willis I think you’re asking an unimportant question.
In Ender’s Game, Ender’s siblings Peter and Valentine Wiggin post as Locke and Demosthenes and change the world. This change would not be possible if anyone had realised these were kids under 10 years old. Ideas are useful or they are not. It matters not if the writer is male, female, black, chinese, 8, or 65.
Anonymity is a bad thing only if you use different monikers daily and/or use these to shill for yourself. I have no idea what the real name of Snoop Dogg is but he sticks with this enough that one can ID his work — i.e. I know who he is when I see him in a TV show; it doesn’t matter what his name really is.
If an anon moniker is used consistently, real names aren’t important.

Crab
April 24, 2011 12:24 pm

To express things I wouldn’t have courage to express otherwise. The same reason many students are hesitant to put their hand up in class.

Paul Deacon
April 24, 2011 12:25 pm

Willis –
I used to post on this site including my city and country after my name. Some participants on a thread took exception to a remark I made, and started trying to track down who I was, in a manner I found intimidating. So I stopped adding the city and country bit. Were something like this to happen again, I would consider using a pseudonym.
I don’t think this fits the “trouble at…” categories that you have listed. It is something like intimidation per se, rather than trouble with people or organisations that you know.
All the best.

John Silver
April 24, 2011 12:33 pm

“I’m not even half as paranoid as I should be” – John Silver 2011

ict558
April 24, 2011 12:35 pm

My half-brother found me.

Agile Aspect
April 24, 2011 1:02 pm

Authoritarianism is the antithesis of science.
On the Internet, nobody knows I’m a dog.

anna v
April 24, 2011 1:02 pm

Dear Willis
In particular the AGW climate change climate disruption etc which is covered in this blog has polarized a lot of science outside climate science too. I happen to have a son who is also a scientist and he has no need of a vociferous on controversial subjects retired mother 🙂 . Even though I have a web page in greek that clearly states my views and give lectures when asked about AGW NOT, greek is not a wide spread language :). So the relative anonymity of pseudonyms allows me more freedom of expression on this and similar boards with large audiences.

Nick Fleming
April 24, 2011 1:11 pm

The problem is one of endurance and archiving.
If I say something silly in public it is soon forgotten.
If I write something silly in a forum it is retained for ever.

jae
April 24, 2011 1:18 pm

A large part of my job is interacting with many regulators and “interested” NGOs(mostly safety and environmental people), and I have found (surprise, surprise) that the majority of those people are strong leftists; and despite the narrative we all keep hearing to the contrary, leftists are not known for their fairness and they are not really “liberals,” at ALL. IMHO. Since I work for “resource extraction” company, I/we are not extremely popular in some circles, anyway. If I were to get embroiled in some silly argument online that somehow impacts the firm I work for, then I will probably be retired real quickly :).
To be honest, I also say some pretty stupid things, occasionally, especially when imbibing the suds–and I don’t like my aquaintances (or the smart-asses on line) to chide me.

Adrian Smits
April 24, 2011 1:22 pm

I have never not posted with my own and real name. Why would do otherwise?

David Ball
April 24, 2011 1:26 pm

There are consequences to everything. I try to conduct myself on the net as though I were involved in a face to face discussion. We must take responsibility for the things we say and post, especially if the things you have posted will draw the spotlight to you. This requires fortitude. I understand both views on this issue. The hardest questions should be those we ask our selves. The ultimate smell test.

mindert eiting
April 24, 2011 1:30 pm

My surname is even in The Netherlands an exceptional Frisian name and my family name is exceptional too. Both come from my mothers and fathers families, making the combination unique. I am the only one on this planet with this name. I post under my name because (1) I am totally uninterested about what other people think of me, (2) if they want to google my name, they should do it if they don’t have better things to do, (3) I consider my self responsible for my own opinions.

April 24, 2011 1:30 pm

Golly,
If this will make anyone happier.
My REAL name is Thomas Pearson.
I have been using Sunsettommy for at least 10 years.Because it is a internet “nickname”.I will still use it for long time to come.
Since I am not a scientist,or a big shot in anything concerning making policy.There is no particular reason for me to have to post my real name.It would make no difference at all.
I run a tiny climate skeptic forum,because I want to help the layman.My name real or not is irrelevant there.I do not even bother trying to convince anyone to post their real names there.Because again it is a layman based forum with an inner forum (in my forum) run by Derek.That has a lot of the “heavier” science in it.
But Richard Courtney made an excellent point about scientists who does hide behind some username.It is to avoid easy accountability of their deliberate misleading claims they make.It speaks of their disinterest in their own personal credibility.Only to push some AGW propaganda on the unsuspecting world.
These are the people who SHOULD post their real names.Since what they comment can carry weight with politicians,Environmentalists and the bewildered voters.We need to know who they are and what they promote is credible.
For the layman.It is not really necessary to post a real name.
For the scientist,policy makers and organized group leaders.They should have their real names posted.
Otherwise,how would we be able to examine their records on what they say and do?

Rational Debate
April 24, 2011 1:31 pm

For me it’s a number of issues, many of which have already been noted. I haven’t read thru all the comments, but one I don’t see mentioned in the article yet that is a concern of mine is the possible long term effect on one’s career. In other words, not so much in one’s immediate job, but in the possibility of someone who happens to have very strong (and perhaps unfounded) beliefs about xyz, deciding to refuse to make a job offer simply based on a comment I may have made a bazillion years ago on the subject – especially when so many things I comment on have NOTHING to do with my career field. The person may not even be a science type, they might be in HR, and yet decide that they don’t happen to like something I posted. I work in a very highly technical scientific discipline that also happens to be very small relatively speaking – and I don’t want some opinion of mine from years ago on some utterly unrelated issue to cause problems this way. Its just too easy and quick for people to google you – and also far too quick and easy for things posted to be taken WAY out of context, because too many people aren’t going to bother to read the entire thread or any follow up comments that you may have made once they happen on something you wrote that is contrary to some strongly held belief of their own, if they happen to be the type of person who is likely to cause you this sort of problem.

Peter Plail
April 24, 2011 1:31 pm

I believe it is simply good manners to identify yourself when talking to people.

Orkneygal
April 24, 2011 1:42 pm

My friends know who I am. Strangers can’t find me. That’s the way I want it to be.

April 24, 2011 1:44 pm

Which name do you use when someone changes their name?

April 24, 2011 1:46 pm

Having your real name and other information posted online, creates a greater possibility of being targeted for identity theft.

xyzlatin
April 24, 2011 1:52 pm

Stalking is always a concern to a female. I do not want just anyone to know my real name and address. People can look up my address on Google earth/maps etc and see my house, my back yard, and my security or lack of security features.
I run a business, and any business person knows that (unless have already made their money and thus independent), you should not mix business with your politics as your business will suffer. That has always been so. Nothing to do with AGW. That’s the reason most business groups are patsies and do not rock the boat with government.
AGW is a political movement intended to bring the world under one world socialist/green government. Ever read the book 1984? Read that and you will know why most of us blog under a pseudonym.
As one person has said, fear is the motivator. I don’t think there is much democracy left anywhere in the world, or any unpoliticised public service, or teachers associations, the left has seen to that.
If you own a mobile phone, you are being tracked everywhere as well.
Let’s face it, Big Brother IS watching us.

Mike Spilligan
April 24, 2011 1:55 pm

I’ve got a common name (here in England) and I know three others with it. My “go by” name can raise a smile here, too, for reasons too long to explain. It might also avoid people contacting me saying – for example – Are you the “Bill Smith” who won that big lottery prize last week?

bob
April 24, 2011 1:58 pm

I am looking for a job, and am concerned that anything I say would be used against me no matter the subject. There are some real dummies in personnel departments.

crossopter
April 24, 2011 1:59 pm

Its a good question asked. Ancient fossil fish, lobe -finned ‘personalisation’. ., hence pseudonym’. Its unfortunate that the Crossopterygii’, precursors to amphibia/land adaptation, remain in preservational deposits, and remain across a series of major probable EU exploited strata, whilst indeterminate legislation confirms, across their geo potentialn’t want.
I dont want to be known; but if a little appreciative realisation that this spectacular grouping deserves recognition, be it for the fins.

bob
April 24, 2011 2:07 pm

jae says:
“To be honest, I also say some pretty stupid things, occasionally, especially when imbibing the suds”
OK. That one really comes home to roost. It is a whole lot more fun to snipe at someone in a comments section when fortified with alcohol. Who wants to be responsible for my stupid ramblings when I am involved with Jack Daniels? Not me!

April 24, 2011 2:09 pm

Willis Eschenbach says:
April 24, 2011 at 12:52 pm
. . . My experience is that people are nastier, meaner, and less thoughtful when they are posting anonymously … myself included.

Perhaps, but your experience may not be generalizable. You are also continuing to conflate ‘anonymous’ with ‘pen name’ (or the Internet equivalent), a correction others have made above. I have used mine for so long—but in just a few forums—that people generally know what I think, and so I’m not really anonymous.
I have found that spoilers or trolls, intent upon stirring up trouble on Internet boards, always use pen names, or handles, for the masks they confer, so in that respect you are correct. But most of us just rely on our pen names out of habit, or for other reasons expressed above. I, for one, would not write any differently if I used my family name, because to people here and elsewhere, I am, for better or worse,
/Mr Lynn

SPM
April 24, 2011 2:11 pm

While I rarely post on this site (I read it to learn and rarely know enough to make a relevant contribution to the conversation, but I love learning from here), I do post in a couple of other places and don’t use my real name for several reasons:
— I would like to find a new job eventually and my name is rather unique so if someone googles me there is no confusion about whether it is me or someone else. While I stand by any comments I make, I don’t want them figuring into a job interview one way or another when they would have absolutely nothing to do with the type of job I was interviewing for or the quality of the work I do.
— I have two teenagers and feel like being a teenager is tough enough without having a teacher or peers reading what their parent says and holding it against them.
— I sometimes enjoy engaging in a conversation on the web at times that I choose on blogs that I choose. But I don’t want to have a neighbor or co-worker engage me at a time when I prefer not to be engaged because they read what I wrote.
Now all three of the above are probably more important to me because I have rather skeptical, libertarian, conservative views and live in a very left-leaning area that is populated with some activist types. While I don’t hide my views or pretend to think differently than I do, I also don’t care to have anyone who cares to google me discover them.

Grumpy Old Man
April 24, 2011 2:13 pm

I use a moniker because it describes what I am and how I see the world in 3 words. I could post as Kevin Lohse, but my name conveys little of what the reader can expect.
Scientists who post on this blog under their own names use their names as monikers. Many of you are widely known in the field, so readers know what to expect when they see your name as a byline.

Duke C.
April 24, 2011 2:14 pm

Now, my questions about all of this are:
* What else would be another reason that someone might have, that should be listed on the poll?
* What other questions (age, sex, etc.) would it be useful to know?
* How about the wording of the questions? Is it neutral, is it biased?
* Order of the questions? Which ones first, which ones last?

——————————————————————————————————————-
From “Understanding Polling Methodology” :
What type of poll is it (omnibus, commissioned, academic)?
What were the exact dates of polling?
Who conducted the poll, for whom, and for what
purpose?
What were the exact question wordings?
What was the order of questions?
How were undecideds treated?
What was the response rate?
Is this really something the public has views about?
Link to source:
http://www.queensu.ca/cora/_files/mendlesohn_e.pdf

Ethan Brand
April 24, 2011 2:15 pm

Unfortunately anonymity fosters a positive feedback loop in a bad way. Consider the following: You are in McDonalds and someone brushes up against you, spilling your coffee. How do you react if 1) You know the name of the person (not necessarily “know” them, just their name) and 2) You don’t know their name. In case one a “person” has accidently spilled your coffee, and just like you would, probably feels bad and promptly apologizes. In case two, a “thing” has accidently spilled your coffee, and you probably want to “whack it”.
I understand the reasons why someone would post anonomously (career, reputation, retribution, etc), but I think that in the long view we as a society of “persons” as opposed to “things” get along much better when we know each others names.
I think a reason for posting anonomously is to perpetuate a notion that I am a person, and everybody else is a “thing”.

Editor
Reply to  Ethan Brand
April 24, 2011 2:56 pm

@Ethan Brand,
Strange world you inhabit. What you describe is a loss of civilisation. I don’t need to know someone’s name to apologise to them for spilling their coffee – and I expect the same courtesy in return. And no I wouldn’t feel like ‘whacking’ them.

Greg Goodknight
April 24, 2011 2:22 pm

I’ve been posting under my own name since the early ’80’s when I was developing ARPAnet equipment as “good@acc”, no bloody dot-anything required. I have no doubt that slanders against me by latter-day sock puppets have injured me in my career, but if I have too little courage of my own convictions to sign my name to my opinions, why should anyone pay attention?

Rhoda Ramirez
April 24, 2011 2:30 pm

I started posting under a handle 1) because I worked for the Government, 2) because I thought it was an extention of the old CB traditions, and 3) because I liked the idea of my handle being my alternative ego. Now I’m retired and just carried on using the handle out of inertia. So, even an old dog can learn new tricks.

GregO
April 24, 2011 2:49 pm

Willis,
Here’s the story of my anonymity:
I had never been on a blog, or paid any attention whatsoever to blogging until I read about Climategate in the Wall Street Journal. I had actually paid very little attention to Global Warming although prior to the WSJ articles and op-eds I do have a recollection of reading something by James Hanson in Newsweek and was appalled at his urging of college kids to riot. I thought he was unhinged (at the time). I now realize he is suffering from some mild form of psychosis.
Anyhow, those WSJ articles got me interested in climate science and somehow I ended up here. I wanted to join the comments and join the fun – so I signed up here. I thought one was supposed to “make-up” a name – I thought it was part of the game. I just really didn’t know. So I called myself GregO and started commenting on blogs.
For the record, my real name is Gregory Olsen, I have degrees in Mechanical Engineering and Business. I have been a practicing engineer since 1980. I own my company – it is a small manufacturing and engineering firm and I employ 14 people. I live in Arizona.
There.
I think it is fun to call myself GregO and will continue to do so.

Steve C
April 24, 2011 2:50 pm

I went for semi-anonymity: (a) I am indeed a Steve, and didn’t see any of the other Steves commenting here using my surname initial, but also (b) what Orkneygal said. Not inaccurate, but not too specific.

Jim Brock
April 24, 2011 2:52 pm

I always use my real name. Dunno why others would not…your poll will be informative.
Jim Brock

April 24, 2011 2:55 pm

The “Stepford Wives” justification for anonymous posting:
Because we can.

Tom Trevor
April 24, 2011 3:01 pm

I wouldn’t want someone reading what I said and then calling me up to argue with me about it. This actually happened once when I called a radio show. That is despite the fact that I just gave my name and town. When I asked who was calling he just laughed and said “I know who you are, but you don’t know who I am” that was kind of scary.
I also am a bit afraid about giving out too much information that might be used by identity thieves.

April 24, 2011 3:02 pm

1. Paid bloggers need multiple names to look like more people.
2. Once proven completely wrong, uninformed bloggers can start over with a new name.
Thanks
JK

specie@verizon.net
April 24, 2011 3:05 pm

[Snip. Another ‘beckleybud’ sockpuppet. ~mod.]

King of Cool
April 24, 2011 3:11 pm

I have at least two reasons:
1. I already receive at least 6 emails a day, telling me I have I have just won an internet lottery or how I can earn money or how wonderful Viagra is. I used to have a personal website with my name and Email address on it for family and friends which included a page on a small business venture for a group of us. Not any more. If your personal details are in cyberspace the hustlers are going to find you.
2. We all have different sides to our personality, from our serious work persona, to our family commitment persona, to our drinking with the buddies persona, to our deep inner self.
In cyberspace it is like putting on a superman suit, you can say anything, be anything and fly anywhere. And if any-one with kryptonite strikes you down, what does it matter, tomorrow you will be Clark Kent.
I think also Anthony Watts needs to determine who and what he represents. If he wants to make it a credible scientific rebuttal of global warming have real names and titles. If he wants to brighten it up and cover more broadly and attract people that like to fantasise, consider more colour and even avatars. But you do seem to be going along pretty well with what you are doing.
And thank you for almost single handily leading the world wide push to dispel some of the misinformation, outlandish alarmism and dammed lies that is being perpetrated in the name of science. I remain in awe at the knowledge of contributors to your blog.

Jimbo
April 24, 2011 3:12 pm

Here is something that was allegedly taken out-of-context:)

“If you’re one of those who have spent their lives undermining progressive climate legislation, bankrolling junk science, fueling spurious debates around false solutions, and cattle-prodding democratically-elected governments into submission, then hear this:
We know who you are. We know where you live. We know where you work. And we be many, but you be few.”
GreenPEACE blog!

1DandyTroll
April 24, 2011 3:16 pm

Because the law says so, to give people the right to exercise that right just to keep overly nosy people, including government, at arms length.
It is not strange to exercise ones rights, but it is very strange to want to dismantle those rights.

Bulldust
April 24, 2011 3:24 pm

From a personal perspective, Bulldust is a nickname many people know me by in real life. My real name is more anonymous than Bulldust, being as common as John Smith (almost). Bulldust is more recognisable, and hardly anonymous to hundreds, if not thousands, of people. That and the word ClimateGate being associated with Bulldust… too hard to turn that back now LOL

Al Gored
April 24, 2011 3:27 pm

Willis Eschenbach says:
April 24, 2011 at 3:03 pm
“Gosh, you poor guy! I’ll add your name to the “Do Not Force Me To Respond To Internet Polls” list, I can’t imagine how upsetting this endless querying must have been for you. Has it ended yet?”
OK Willis. I’m brushing my tears aside… and forced to answer this question. Hopefully the pain will end soon.
I started posting anonymously for a very simple reason. I am retired but still have friends and former colleagues working in fields ruled by the AGW regime so this makes it easier to avoid any ‘guilt by association’ rubbing off on them. That is why I started doing that and although that is getting better it is still real enough.
When I picked this name it was wishful thinking. Gored is supposed to be a verb.
Now it has come true, in spades, though the old man-bear-pig is still wriggling in his last spasms.
I use this same moniker to post on all AGW related sites.
For me what matters is the content of the posts. Not the name or the real or alleged qualifications. I learned this from reading so many lies and misinformation from ‘distinguished’ people with names and alleged qualifcations. A baboon can get a PhD in ‘global climatology’ if they go to the right place and just agree with their prof.
Willis, you could use the name Porky Pig and your articles would still be fantastic because they make logical sense and are so well written. Period.

Jimbo
April 24, 2011 3:29 pm

Robert A. Hall says:
April 24, 2011 at 10:07 am
In general, I think it is cowardice.

1) Are you retired?
[I read on your blog that you were elected to the Massachusetts State Senate in 1972]
2) Do you think you would hold the same opinion if you were looking for work at the age of 28?
3) Do you own your home outright, ie no mortgage payments left?
4) Do you have children? If yes do they currently live in your home?

Reference
April 24, 2011 3:37 pm

I want to be able to contribute information to the debate without getting involved in the discussion.

Jimbo
April 24, 2011 3:38 pm

Here is something I forgot to mention in general. It would be all too easy for people to create a ‘real name’ and register a new email address and stand by their ‘real name’ being Kosher. How would any blogger / moderater be the wiser? Meanwhile a malicious idiot may try to track down this ficticious person and end up abusing an innocent person. What has been gained?
Real names don’t matter for us commenters as long as we don’t libel someone and stick to the terms of use of the blog concerned. Finally, insisting on actual real names may lead to silence.

Nonegatives
April 24, 2011 3:49 pm

Back when you had to dial up a BBS computer with your 300 baud modem you had to have a username and password to login. People still use the term “log on” for the internet even though you rarely have a password. I guess I got used to using a more unique name other than william148. I have been using Nonegatives for many years now, it is more ME than my real name would be. Can’t wait ’til they require you to use your SS# to post on the internet.

Bruce of Newcastle
April 24, 2011 4:00 pm

I post semianonymously – the blog owner knows who I am, but the crazies on the doorstep I can do without. I use my own name in blogs where the content is not so subject to strong feelings.
I also second randomengineer’s comment. Literary pseudonyms are a valid way of getting past possible prejudice so that what you say is considered.

Malcolm Miller
April 24, 2011 4:14 pm

I use my real name. I have lots of Google entries, mostly about my poems. I am retired, but even as an Australian public servant in the Federal service I refused to do anything that was against my conscience. Of course this hampered my promotional prospects! To me, my personal integrity is valuable, and I knew this long before I became a Quaker late in life. I loathe bullying and injustice, whether practised in schools, by governments, or powerful media, and will always speak out against them. I speak the truth as I understand it, and I don’t pretend to be always right or that I can’t be wrong. That’s why I think that religions (and AGW is one now!) are basically evil, since they insist of telling their followers what they are to think and believe. To me, this is laughable and criminal.

peter_dtm
April 24, 2011 4:21 pm

How about this one :
Although I post anonymously I always use the same ‘handle’ which allows others to build a picture of my views.
a corollary : although I post anonymously; those who know me would recognise me from my ‘handle’
both of which are true for me

Jimbo
April 24, 2011 4:24 pm

Here is food for thought.
Has anyone wondered why we bother with secret ballots? Let’s get it out in the open shall we. Some countries would welcome this idea. ;O)
http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/PR1872.htm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Secret_ballot

April 24, 2011 4:46 pm

My reasons for Zorro as below – and yes these reasons are compellingly believable.
Zorro is a fictional character created in 1919 by New York-based pulp writer Johnston McCulley. The character has been featured in numerous books, films, television series, and other media.
Zorro (Spanish for fox) is the secret identity of Don Diego de la Vega (originally Don Diego Vega), a nobleman and master living in the Spanish colonial era of California. The character has undergone changes through the years, but the typical image of him is a dashing black-clad masked outlaw who defends the people of the land against tyrannical officials and other villains. Not only is he much too cunning and foxlike for the bumbling authorities to catch, but he delights in publicly humiliating those same foes.

Hilary Ostrov (aka hro001)
April 24, 2011 4:49 pm

Willis,
This has been an interesting – and enlightening thread. While I’m far more often here (and on other blogs) as a “learning lurker” rather than as a poster, I use my initials rather than my full name for a few reasons – although my name is readily found on my blog (linked to my nym in all my posts).
One reason (and it’s quite silly, really!) is that when using my name, people often address me in response by using 2 l’s – and there’s only 1 in my name! Another is that I do a fair bit of sub-contract work for companies that have bought into the green dream – and, while I think it’s highly unlikely that there would be any adverse consequences if my posts/comments were to be found, I’m invoking my very own version of the … uh … precautionary principle 🙂
Hilary Ostrov (who, notwithstanding all the above, does sometimes use her real name when posting outside the WordPress environment!)

wayne
April 24, 2011 4:51 pm

I would ask the contraire…
why would make it so important to tie words to an identifiable person, unless you will only read and listen to identifiable authorities that is? This question keeps coming up, why?
Just got an earful here; http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/03/29/visualizing-the-greenhouse-effect-molecules-and-photons/#comment-647062 . Begging that they are the only “authority” you should ever listen to, they all quickly lost any of my respect except David, he seems still trying to learn. I’m pretty knowledgeable in physics of forty years and find such attitudes sickening. I’d rather converse with a mere unidentifiable “Myrrh” than the above. From him I actually learned something deep in radiative transfer I had never given much of a single thought to before. He might not be totally correct but any intelligent person can parse the good info from the bad.
Same goes for AnnaV, she helped me so much make the transition into climate science with her clear mind on physics and she must be following this far longer than me specifically in atmospheric physics though seems here base is in particle physics.
In fact, most of the real knowledge I have added has been from “anonymous” readers. Anthony Watts is one big exception, much is owed to him.

Pompous Git
April 24, 2011 5:11 pm

Calling myself Pompous Git kind of stymies what people can call me 🙂
It’s a pseudonym and a Google search will find the “real” me. Internet stalking is a genuine problem. A rabid green has haunted me in other forums, claiming that I drink at least 3 bottles of wine a night, that I buy my wine in bulk (that one’s true) and other nefarious things. Such is life…

April 24, 2011 5:19 pm

Willis,
Too many responses to more than skim through, but I’d be interested to see response to those who, like me, post under their own name, in regard to some issues. I hesitated to use my own name in the first place because I’m in the high tech business with many research universities etc as customers. The technical decision makers are more interested in getting the best bang for their buck than my political or science beliefs, but that doesn’t change the fact that their bosses, the researchers and the administration organization care a great deal. Similarly, many politically correct employers might also be hesitant to hire someone with known and strident views.
To date it has made no difference that I am aware of, but I’d be very interested to know what others have experienced. Bias against researchers like David Ball who speak out, and the shenanigans exposed in ClimateGate to get contrary opinions excluded apply to the research community. I don’t engage in debate of religious or political or climate topics in the workplace as a rule of thumb, but I’ve experienced prejudice in the workplace on the first and second items for certain, so why not my position on climate? Would be very interested to know if I’ve escaped unscathed by accident or not.

pkatt
April 24, 2011 5:21 pm

About 15 yrs ago I made the mistake of letting too much info about myself get on the internet. I was stalked relentlessly by some creep who decided that it was fun. Now I use a portion of my first name. P for a first name I never use and Katt .. shortened from Kathy, thus Pkatt was born. Im sure it would not be terribly hard to find out my last name but it makes me feel slightly safer.. right up there with not storing passwords or credit card # on my computer. I look at the internet as a hostile jungle, where the unscrupulous and creepy hunt and never ever believe someone is who they say they are.

April 24, 2011 5:25 pm

Being an open, non anonymous climate skeptic has cost me some business, and occasionally causes problems in my personal life – but I would rather walk free in the sun, than skulk around, frightened of my own shadow, tugging my forelock at the EcoNAZIs.

Richard Tyndall
April 24, 2011 5:27 pm

For me, though I don’t post that often, it is the case that I feel that by posting under my own name I am showing I am willing to be open and honest about who I am, what I do and why I believe what I do.
I feel that any argument or observation I might give has more weight because I know that any false statements I make about my personal circumstances, employment or experience can be found out by anyone with a little bit of time and effort should they really be bothered enough to check. As a result it helps me to ensure my comments are rigorous, absolutely honest and un-embelished.
Personally I hope to lead by example as I think blogs and discussion fora would be much better places if everyone posted under their own name and was willing to be submitted to whatever scrutiny their opponents might desire.

Luther Wu
April 24, 2011 5:30 pm

Don’t like what I have to say?
Don’t be comin’ ’round here.
Luther

Keith Minto
April 24, 2011 5:30 pm

#
#
Greg Goodknight says:
April 24, 2011 at 2:22 pm
……. if I have too little courage of my own convictions to sign my name to my opinions, why should anyone pay attention?

Good point, many reasons have been expressed to conceal the authors real name.
It really depends upon the passion people feel for this topic. I have seen climate science morph from being an abstract topic muttered by academics in the 1990’s into a hard political reality today that threatens, through ignorance, to shut down our electricity generating capacity, replace it with ‘toy’ wind and PV generation, tax us ’till we weep and bring inflation to an unprecedented level. I do not say these things lightly.
In Australia we have made political ignorance an art form. I am reading distinguished researcher Ken McCracken’s book Blast Off . Ken designed cosmic ray experiments for the Pioneer spacecraft in the 1960’s. On his return home he describes how lack of political and Government courage led to Australia dropping its fledgling space programme and selling its locally designed and built equipment to the Indian Space programme for a song.
Greg started my spiel with talk of courage, and there it will end, because that it what is needed right now, if you have something to say and if you can, then put your name to it.

April 24, 2011 5:33 pm

Re: #1 – I’m concerned that putting my real name to my ideas will cause me trouble at my work.

Never had a DOD (security) clearance, Willis? Defense contractors require such on occasion depending on the work, esp. for anything hi-tech … for that reason, it’s a little easier to go anonymous for posting anything substantially under than the ‘treason’ (wiki-leaks) threshold …
.

Brian H
April 24, 2011 5:41 pm

Leftist posters get a free pass. Others, not so much.

ZT
April 24, 2011 5:43 pm

I’m not sure if your options captured this, but I think that some scientists post anonymously because the ‘consensus’ has been so effectively controlled. Not wanting to appear to be heretic (and lacking the courage to explain the details to all and sundry), I believe that some scientists take the anonymous ‘easy option’.