In defense of Anonymity
I am a big fan of Tom Belford and Roger Craver because of their work at The Agitator. They write about relevant news with expert insight combined with uncany access to some of the country's best fundraising experts and professionals.
So, imagine my horror to read Tom's new post: Anonymity Sucks.
I added the emphasis myself on lines that hit close to home for me.
Whether in the context of ...
* Posting a "Big Sister" Hillary video.
* Writing an blog "evaluating" charities.
* Making a "Comment" on someone's website or blog.
* Sneaking a contribution to a political candidate.
* Faking "grassroots support" for a legislative goal.
* Hiding behind an e-mail nom de plume.
Anonymity used to attack or manipulate springs from cowardice and/or malice.
It is the antithesis of integrity.
It is the enemy of authentic discourse.
Whatever merit the message might hold.
Sure, I'm an anonymous fundraiser who works at a charity and is reluctant to use my real name and professional affiliation online. However, in my defense, it was always my hope that readers of my blog understand that the online identity of "a fundraiser" has an honest point of view, shared without malice. If anything I often regret that my online reputation as "a fundraiser" may be wider known than my real identity because "a fundraiser's" ethics and integrity (not to mention brilliant sense of humor) is solid... with the hundreds of regular readers.
I would go one step further. I think Tom is wrong.
I believe users of "Web 2.0" need to be granted the ability to create online identities protect their real names while still ensuring an authentic discourse backed by the reputation of that identity.
People who play online virtual world games like The Sims and Second Life understand this important distinction... so do people who use online chatrooms and message boards.
Using my identity as "a fundraiser" translates into a reputation. I've worked hard to build and protect this reputation.
Tom could never convince me that online reputations are the antithesis of integrity... I believe it is one of the essential core tenants of a successful and thriving web community.