27 March 2007

How Anonymous and Faceless Can You Be In Blogosphere?

I have been mulling about this issue for some time. This topic was thrust into prominence by the recent Mr Philip Yeo - Chen Jiahao spat. Mr Yeo was reported to have said on Mr Chen's blogsite that "he dislikes blogger anonymity". He said some comments were from "a rude young generation who hides behind blog anonymity spewing vitriolic words without real knowledge or depth of thinking. Sad for the future of the next generation".

Having blogged faceless for almost two years now, I encountered no problems doing so whatsoever. After all, I believe people visit my blog to read what I have to say. Why on earth should they be interested in how I look like? Does looking good give credibility to what one has to say? I really doubt so. How about looking wise (and old, not that I consider myself that)? Mind you, looks can be deceiving. You'd probably think that I am 10 years younger than my age, haha. Having said that, I think it's true that many male readers are attracted to blogs written by SYTs (sweet young things) especially if photos (not necessarily scantily-clad ones) of the SYTs are posted on their blog.

If operating faceless is blogospherically acceptable, then how about blogging with a nick (nickname)/moniker, otherwise known as a pseudonym in the older days of the print media? Of course, you can use a Christian name like Chris or Victor. There are probably more than 10,000 Chrises and 100,000 Victors in the tiny red dot here. So using names like those is as good as being anonymous. However if our real surnames are included in the nick, the numbers become smaller - there could be just 1,000 Chris Sims and maybe less than 100 Victor Koos - because my surname is much rarer than Chris'. Well okay, there are probably no more than a few dozen Chun See's here but you should get the drift.

Victor is in fact not my real name. By that, I mean that the name is not in my birth certificate nor my identity card. (In that sense, I think Chris is not Chris' real name either.) The name Victor was given to me by a Pre-U classmate (Mr Han C J) in the early 70s. I have been using it for informal situations ever since. I do not use it often, that is until I started blogging.

I guess the short answer to my poser is - to each his own - or as Chris puts it more eloquently (as he always does), different strokes for different folks. A blog is a personal space in a public domain. It's your canvas. You write what you want. If readers like your articles they will read them and they will be back for more. They should not be dictating what you say on your blog, as long as you observe some basic blog etiquette.

You operate your blog in whichever way you feel comfortable with - the topics your write, how frequently, the tone and language, the photos you upload, how much to reveal of yourself, etc. Some people just love the anonymity which blogging seems to offer. They probably can write with less inhibitions and express their views more freely without fear. That explains why some people prefer to comment anonymously on a blog post. On the other hand, some people just can't wait to show their faces on their blog. Not just recent photos get uploaded but everything from their baby photos to their recent ones.

For blog owners and readers who love anonymity, do not be so naive to think that you are truly anonymous even if you do not upload your photos or use your true name. If need be, you can always be tracked by your IP address. There are software that track IP addresses. Such information is also available at the ISPs who are obliged to give the data to law enforcement agencies if an alleged computer crime has taken place. How else do you think that people who sent bomb hoax emails or made racial remarks got caught recently?

I would have gladly continued to operate faceless (though not nameless) if Chris didn't recently up the ante by posting his photo on his blog. All of a sudden, there could be only one Chris in this whole wide world of blogging. Chris even went as far as to upload his Slim Lady's photo too, probably without her blessing. Wise men like Chun See seemed to think that it was not too good an idea and I can understand why. The Slim Lady may not read Chris' blog but don't forget that she may have dozens of colleagues and friends who do and could easily recognise her in the photo if they happen to visit Chris' blog by chance. I just can't wait to see the puncture marks in Chris' knees caused by kneeling on durian shells. ROTFLVVL.

Chris has even started to apply not-so-subtle pressure on me to upload my photo into my blog. Why, he even just emailed me a very nice shot of me standing besides a huge golf ball. The photo was proudly taken by Chris with his new toy (a camera phone). Of course, a photogenic subject helps in making that shot a nice one besides Chris' photo-taking skills, hehe.)

Okay, okay. To get Chris off my back, here's the photo. I hope Zen doesn't mistake me for a golf flag and can tell the "prince from the greens". Oh by the way, that ball did not drop out from my pants, okay? I think it is a marker of sorts. Will some kind golfer please enlighten?

Finally, can anyone convince me why I should give in fully to that pesky Chris by uploading my clear mugshot as my avatar?


Anonymous said...

Aiyo...picture(not the mr darlie,1st pix) sooo small, how to see? On purpose wan right?

And alo, you talking from the ground right? Hahah...how will HE know the ground(blog) situation? I like to quote this..."the observer from the ground has a truer picture than the observer from the helicoptor..."! LOL!

Alamak, and HE have just made it as if I have no inTERgrity liddat leh - i am almost faceless (coz I put an icon that does not represent me) and use a nickname. So thereby I am given the DEATH sentence of no real knowledge and no depth :O ...oh yes yes, I am not a scorLA, of cos no real knowledge and destined to just wash test-tube only lor!
(Oops, u and chris in CS wan right? did I just offend any of you there...sorry if I did)

BTW, I already linked u long time ago, and also did not ask permission leh!

Anonymous said...

I like your blog personality that's why I keep coming back. Picture or no picture, doesn't matter it's the content that counts.

Chris Sim said...

As Etel is proned to say.... I like this post a lot. There's a lot of depth in what u wrote.

But you ah, can stop hyperlinking me or not arh? Like dat, it's only a matter of time the Slim Lady find out her foto's been splashed all over the net. Die lah... how to get rid of all the durians in the whole world?

I uploaded my pix to give my blog an identity. It's that simple.

Anonymous said...

wahahahahaha chris how u know i wanna say that lol.. i love these kind of posts... muahahaha

durians? what durians? *blur*

GD: pic so small might as well dont upload man.. whahaahaha.. just kidding. ok im on mc today. also consider as "eng" =x

btw, ROFLVVL = Roll On Floor Laughing VERY VERY Loud?

Great minds think alike GD? :p

Victor said...

Tigerfish - Hahaha. The photo is made so small on purpose of course. I agree with you. The way HE talks is so disdaining. Buay ta han ah.

Victor said...

Firehorse - Thanks. My head is swelling. :)

Victor said...

Chris - What are you saying? Got depth? So not enough breadth, izit? LOL.

Victor said...

Etel (from now on, you will be addressed by your nick because of some bad experience recently) -

durians? what durians? *blur*

Didn't read Chris posts lately, right?

On MC again? Although you only have 7 days' annual leave, you more than make up for it by your MCs. Wahahaha.

Only joking. Take care and hope you recover soon, dear.

Shilpa said...

Hahaha, you really damn farnee! Yah, you're right, to each his own. I know I'm not completely anonymous in the blogosphere, but I suppose if I don't want to show my face, it's because I want people to come to my blog for the right reasons, ie, to read what I write and to see what I cook.

Aiyah, if you didn't say, I really would have thought you were the golf flag! Hahaha!!

Chris Sim said...

Half-cooked measures get you nowhere Victor. Want to put up yr foto or dun want? Reduced the size until so small... can't even see your big coconuts you always claim you have. Or have they shrunk as soon as you upload that pathetic foto? The golf ball looks more interesting leh... or is that one of your coconuts? Gee .... freaky man you.... LOL

KopiSoh said...

Oh btw I am so honored to be linked, I've kinda link you under my "new visitor for the month" but would like to change you to my "favorite Hawker" so if you don't mind, what would you like to "sell" at my kopitiam?

Lam Chun See said...

Maybe he scared that his female fans cannot sleep after seeing his humsup, sorry, I mean handsome face.

Victor said...

Shilpa - You must be damn pretty then. (I am not saying this because I am humsup as someone alleged.) If not, why are you afraid that your readers get distracted from your blog contents if you post your photo?

Victor said...

Chris - You seem to have difficulty getting the message of this post into your thick skull. Too deep for you izit? Haha.

Victor said...

Firehorse - Thanks. I am so flattered to be nominated as your favorite hawker. Can I sell horsemeat, I mean German sausages. (Like the 5-spice sausage someone proposed before, there is no sexual connotation intended.)

Shilpa - There is something about the French in the German-sausage link above. My comments were tongue-in-cheek, as always.

Victor said...

Chun See - Since your comments on my blog have led me to believe that you are more interested in calling me names and attack my moral character rather than (have an) insightful discussion on the pros and cons of blogger anonymity, it's a pity that there would be no point meeting your son for him to tell me how to remove my aquarium waste the natural way. Haha.

Anonymous said...

bad experiences? hmmm....... wonder what happened.

Lam Chun See said...

Sorry lor. I thot you always pride yourself to be highly 'motivated' in that dept.

Blogger anonymity ... I guess it depends on the type of blog or topic. If one is making strong criticisms on serious issues then, more credible to let people know who you are.

Otherwise, it doesn't matter one way or the other. Of course your regular readers would be curious to know more about you personally. But if for some reason you do not want your face to be seen by the whole world, they will understand.

That's as serious as I can get on an issue I am not very serious about.

Shilpa said...

No lah, Victor, I not so thick skin to say I ownself pretty. But in cyberspace got lots of "colour wolves", mah, as long as got photo, how ugly oso they want to "hoot" (whack), haha! Speaking from experience lah! Some people born humsup what to do?

Haha, thanks for the link to the other post, as usual make me laugh like hell only. How true, how true. I happen not to like French cars, too. I not so rich to drive German car, but my reason for not liking French cars is superficial - they all look alike to me! Cheh! How to find your car in the carpark liddat?!

Anonymous said...

I think if you want to comment on controversial issues or challenge others, you should not be anonymous.

Anonymous said...

I have no issue with bloggers remaining anonymous and i disagree with "fr" that re controversial issues/challenges, one should not be anonymous. Especially with such issues, one may have valid reasons requiring anonymity (at least ostensibly as IPs can be traced) to elicit or express frank and honest opinions eg fear of reprisals is 1 reason that immediately springs to mind.

To me, it is not the speaker (so to speak) that counts but the substance of the speech. So what if i don't know the identity of the commentator if what he says has a strong basis, logic, reasoning etc. I may even agree with parties that I normally disagree with or am even prejudiced against - depends on what point is made.

btw, i certainly won't mind Victor posting his photos starting from his baby photos - would probably be good for a laugh at least!!! I think babies from his generation usually have one taken naked lying on tummy upon a towel - hehehe. Other than this special pose, puhleeze no scantily clad one - i may need to lose some weight but not by puking my food up ok.

As for your teeny tiny photo Vic, it can easily be enlarged and made clearer etc and then . . . pasted on the net for nefarious purposes *wicked laugh* But luckily for you, don't think there's market for your "type" la (not drool worthy standard), so dont worry


Anonymous said...

and vic, should i wish to, i am confident that i can already hunt you down from all the info already on this blog without you uploading any mugshot.

and if i - an extra dumbo technosaurus - can do it, what more smarties??? So effectively you are already outed.

But if you do decide to upload a clear photo, for goodness sakes, learn how to use photoshop software on it first!!!! *snigger snigger*

Victor said...

Etel - No lah, nothing very much happened. Something personal.

Victor said...

Chun See - You ah, always so serious wan. Loosen up a bit can or not? My first cheeky reply to you was mostly quoted ad-verbatim from the article about Philip Yeo and Chen Jiahao (refer to the first link in this post). You seriously thought that I was asking for your serious comments ah? It's a pity that the humour was lost on you.

Victor said...

Shilpa - Thanks for your insightful comments. Rest assured I am learning more and more about you with every comment that you make, even though I don't have your photo to drool over but just your name. :P

Victor said...

Frannxis - Hmm... can't agree fully with you on that one. Meow has a point (see comments above and my reply to Meow below).

Victor said...

Meow - Thanks for that long comment. Looks like you really got substance, eh?

To me, nicks such as Fr/Frannxis or Anon1/Meow are as good as anonymous ones because readers know next to nothing about your identities. But still, I know more of Frannxis than you because:

1. I know he is a man because he seemed more interested in female opera artistes than in male ones, haha. In that sense, you are more anonymous because I don't even know if you are a male or female feline.

2. Although I know very little of Frannxis besides his sex (by that, I mean that he is a man), I can find out more about him from his blog. In contrast, you don't even have a blog. (Okay, maybe you have one but just don't wish to disclose it. That's alright too by me.)

3. I know that he lives in Singapore because he often talks about local places and events in his blog. As for you, I don't even know whether you are of local, Persian or Siamese origin.

Having said that, I feel that it is acceptable to use a nick when writing a blog or when commenting on one because people would not really know you even if you have used your real name instead. Not unless you are a public figure like Philip Yeo or LHL or LKY. So I feel it's okay to use a nick even when commenting on controversial issues. It is more important that comments on controversial issues should be objective, sensible and logical rather than emotional, scandalous and derogatory.

Lastly, stick to using one nick so that we know we are talking to the same person.

Oh BTW, my Photoshop skills are quite good already, as can be seen by the medals I created in my last post, so no need to learn again. But more importantly, I don't photoshop myself because I am proud of my natural signs of wisdom, i.e. my wrinkles and white hair. Hahaha.

Lam Chun See said...

Phew! Victor, thanks for that clarification. I thot you were angry with me for my sharp 'rebuke' at my blog regarding the Nanyang girls. Got me puzzled becos you insisted previously that you can take 'serious' shit.

As for Philip Yeo, although I don't like his arrogance, I think there is some truth in the things he says. Looks like my friends in Spring will have to shift yet again. Some depts actually moved from Bt Merah to Science Park and back again not long ago.

Victor said...

Chun See - Was that rebuke 'sharp'? Eh, I thought it was quite blunt? It's one of those things which, regardless of whether it's sharp or blunt, still can hurt, isn't it? Haha.

So when will your son teach me how to remove 'serious' shit... from my aquarium hah?