In the wake of the outing of Publius at Obsidian Wings by an asshole at National Review, Matthew Yglesias makes an excellent point about the outing of bloggers, which is that nothing is really gained by “outing” a pseudonymous blogger, except some small measure of happiness by the person who got their scalp in publishing the blogger’s real name.
Strangely, pseudonymity is one of the biggest complaints I hear about bloggers from traditional media and political staffers here in Missouri. The argument seems to be that if a blogger is going to step into the public arena, he or she should show their face. Specifically, Fired Up gets all sorts of flak for featuring pseudonymous posts, because they are “mean and nasty.” Well, if someone finds a post mean and nasty, that’s really the issue, not whether someone wrote it with a pseudonym.
What does it matter if I or hotflash or Blue Girl or .Sean or 24th State use our real names or not? None of us are ghosts in an amusement park in an episode of Scooby Doo, caught and unmasked in the end to show how we dressed up to scare off business so that we could buy the land to expand our milling operation. We’re average citizens who want to participate in the public discourse, except we, along with our families and friends, don’t have the protections that employment at a newspaper or TV station or by a political party might afford us. Insofar as we’re all using our own stable, recognizable Internet personas, it should be enough to address us on the strength of our arguments alone.
Strangely, Prime Buzz is one traditional media site that seems to get it, maybe even a little too much. They’ve granted us superpseudonymity, ascribing every post they linked to on our blog to Show Me Progress, even when we are a community blog composed of frontpagers who sometimes don’t agree.