Blogging and Anonymity

Hi. You know me as Year2 around here. I don't think I ever did a formal introduction or even an explanation of where that name comes from. I picked that as my SBNation name long before Team Speed Kills existed back when I was only posting on my personal sports blog. So just read what's on that link if you want the back story.

Why bring it up now? Because of DawgSports' T. Kyle King's latest turn at getting contrary, this time about bloggers and anonymity. I left a lengthy comment there, but I feel like I should say it here too. After all, I'm just another commenter over there, whereas here, I'm a primary voice.

My real name is David Wunderlich, and that hasn't been a secret for years now. I began writing anonymously, but a while back I chose not to be. I don't remember why I made that choice, but it's immaterial. I hold bachelor's and master's degrees in decision and information science from the University of Florida (class of 2006 and 2007), and I live in Charlotte, NC. I work in IT, and that's all I'll ever say about my job because my employer is sensitive about its employees identifying themselves as such in the public arena.

Kyle believes its best in the end for bloggers to use a real name and a real photo to identify themselves. I choose not to post a photo for a variety of reasons, but I'm okay with my name being out there. I keep my SBNation login name as "Year2" for consistency sake, but I've updated my profile so it's got my name and you no longer have to go to my other site to find it. Besides, my last name is frequently misspelled and mispronounced, so I don't like using it much. "Year2" is then a way to differentiate myself from the thousands of other Davids and Daves on the Internet.

In the end though, I wonder how much it really matters. You have to take it on my word that my name is David, that I have two degrees from UF, and that I live in Charlotte. I could have made that up entirely. My name might actually be Jeff McMillan, a Stetson dropout from Ocala who uses the Internet to gather details to make it sound as though I live in Charlotte. None of that is true, but how do you know? I guess I could scan my diplomas for you all, but then how do you know they're not Photoshopped?

As long as a person stays consistent with whatever name they choose to go by, then it doesn't really matter in my opinion. If I chose not to reveal my name and only used "Year2," there is still accountability there because SBNation keeps my posting and comment history public for all to see.

For most people, there's basically a line drawn at "journalist," and you either are one or you're not. That seems to be especially true for folks who are journalists. Since I'm not a journalist, how much does it matter that I work in IT? Would it change things if I was a lawyer, a salesman, or an electrician? For all practical purposes, no. And as Jayson Blair proved, there are rare cases where the title of "journalist" may not mean much at all.

So I've given you a name, occupation, and location. For the purposes of this site, that matters little. I'm held accountable by you the readers via the comments and by that little Sitemeter icon down there at the bottom of the page. If I get out of line, anyone is free to call me out for it and there's always the option of not visiting the site.

My email inbox is always open, and I try to participate in the comments as appropriate. I know the same is true with cocknfire.

I am a true believer in quality attracting quality. The best communities police themselves, and that overcomes the strong forces behind John Gabriel's Greater Internet ****wad Theory (warning: severe pottymouth). Anonymity + Audience can often lead to abuse, and the proof is out there on YouTube (language warning again) and Twitter. Only rarely has that ever been a problem in these parts and for that, I sincerely thank all of you.

I sum this all up like this. Certainly it’s nice to know the name behind the screen name and a little something about the person, but it’s not necessary to judge the person’s body of work. This Internet and blogosphere thing is the closest thing to a true meritocracy we've got (and no, it's not fully so), and whether I'm "Dave" or "Year2" it doesn't much matter.

To paraphrase Batman, it's not what I call myself here, but what I write that defines me.

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