Anonymous Blogs – another tool for community-building

The Annual O’Connor Christmas Day Christmas Party always produces a few really interesting conversations. This year I talked to an old friend (who will remain anonymous – you’ll see why in a minute) about using blogs as a way for people to talk to each other without revealing their identity.

This kind of thing has been happening on the Internet ever since the beginning, but public blog site (like Blog Spot) make it MUCH easier for “normal people” to set up an anonymous space than most of the preceding tools.

So natcherly, this morning the New York Times runs a story about an anonymous blog. Pretty darn handy. The story on the Times site is about Anonymous Lawyer, a fictional web site about life in a Big Law law-firm. A great example of an anonymous site, run on a public blog service.

In this case, eventually you find out the identity of the author of the site, but only because he allows that to happen. I imagine there are lots of blogs out there where it would be very hard to figure out the real identity of the person posting.

Another possibility would be to set up a “private group” on Yahoo Groups. That would tend to keep your posts off the search engines — a drawback to Blog Spot is that most of their blogs get sucked into the search engines (I’m not sure whether you can make a Blog Spot blog “private”).

If you have a finite group of people in the group, you could all share the same user-name and password when posting to your blog/group and thus add another layer of anonymity to the conversations.

Marcie’s blog is an example of a site where identity is consciously “managed” within narrow limits. She’s very careful not to reveal the location of our farm, because she doesn’t want people to come visiting unannounced. For a long time, you also wouldn’t have been able to get in touch with Marcie except through the blog, although we recently changed that.

So — if you’re an organizer looking for a place where identity can be masked in order to have candid discussions, consider a blog on a public server.