The Mask

Well today’s post will be fairly off our usual PF theme again.  Today I wanted to start an open debate on an idea I’ve had.  Do I really need to blog anonymously or is there a time to step away from the mask?  In the PF blog world we have both sides: some with masks and others without.

The reason this was in my head lately was I was interviewed a while back under my real name and the story was published.  Yet since I don’t use my name on this blog I didn’t even mention it until now.  I’ve been very careful to keep my two versions of me separate.  Despite my best efforts there have been leaks between the two.  For example, I know of at least half a dozen bloggers that know my first name and at least one that knows my full name.

In order to help me decide I’ve got a few pro and con items I would appreciate your help with.

Pro

  • More simple – Less confusion for me to keep straight which version of me someone has emailed.
  • Easier for business transactions – If someone wants to advertise on the site, it makes payment a little more straight forward.
  • In longer terms, if I write a book, I’ve already established my writing under my own name.

Con

  • All my information will become a little less detailed to prevent ID theft
  • Exposing my name could result in friends and/or family being upset if they realize they were a part of a given post
  • Personal attacks become more personal.  Right now it helps to have another layer between me and an attack, without my other side it will become a bit more direct.

I’m not planning a decision right away, but I do appreciate other people’s thoughts and ideas on this one.

19 thoughts on “The Mask”

  1. My opinion, since I can only speculate, is that speculation won’t cut it. In your shoes, I would speak with other blog authors who have “gone public” to see what, if any, challenges they’ve faced since doing so. Stick with the community and see how things have played out in “RL”.

  2. Consider your career as a P. Eng. and what your co-workers and clients might think. Would this blog make you seem more or less “professional”.

    One of the most efficient ways to retire early is too make more money during the years you work while continuing to save a large portion. For example, what if you could save an extra $20,000 for the last 10 years?

    Don’t do anything that might reduce your opportunity to make more money as a P. Eng. In comparision, writers, in general, make relatively little money.

  3. Will,

    Good idea. I’ll have to ask around and find out if anyone has done this.

    CM,

    Very good point. I don’t feel the blog would impact my ‘day’ job that much. After all I don’t intend to really tell many people in my ‘real’ life.

    As to the poor pay of writers, I’m very aware of that hence I keep this blog as a hobby/small business. I would have to have some mind blowing success with a few books before I ever thought of leaving my day job.

    CD

  4. CD,

    IMO, the thing that is most admirable about your situation, and don’t take this the wrong way, is that your blog is not about becoming rich, or even getting to a net worth of $1MM or some other arbitrary # (not that there is anything wrong with these things either) but rather about the fact that you live frugally, save much of your income, and most importantly, you plan to retire early with simply the basics and maybe a couple extras.

    I’d probably be more concerned about going public if I was worth $2MM and had a $40k/yr job. People would want to know how, acuse you of making it up and be very jealous. Instead, I think most people admire the fact that you don’t need all the extras in retirement to make you happy but rather, you want to get there asap (at 45).

    When I read your blog, I am reminded that a simple life can be pretty rewarding, that I don’t need much of the ‘extras’ to make me happy either, and that I can do things to save money and also be environmentally responsible…definitely nothing to be ashamed of. 🙂

    As for personal attacks, I think you’d be more likely to get them if you remained anonymous. I think generally people are more bold when they don’t have a name or face to attack (and especailly when they don’t have to reveal theirs)!

  5. Hey CD,

    As you know I’m the author of http://middleclassmillionaire.blogspot.com
    and have been a regular reader of your blog. Personally, I’ve chosen to keep my blog and actual identity completely seperate for many of the reasons you mentioned. I wouldn’t worry about building a name for yourself in the event that you decided to write a book you could always put “John Smith – Author of Canadian Dream blah blah blah”. From experience people do treat you differently once they know you have a little money…

  6. I think telly & CM are right that people you meet professionally would look at your blog and it may affect your RL (say a potential employer doesn’t hire you because he’s worried about giving you responsibility then having you retire early and leave the company).

    I’m like yourself, mostly anonymous but a few other bloggers know me by my full name. Personally I don’t see myself ever “coming out” just because I think my parents might be a little embarassed if I was spilling all my financial details in public (which I think is fair, its not something that’s considered very polite to talk about typically).

    Plus women from all across Canada would start sending me their underwear and proposing marriage, and you can just imagine what a hassle THAT would be! 😉

  7. In your case; you do not blog with an anonymous blogging service, you’ve purchased a domain. Unless you purchased it using a corporation, or your friend/uncle/etc, then anybody can find out your name and contact info quite easily.

    So having a separate online identify is fine as long as you realize that it does not actually protect your privacy anyway.

    Shoot me an email and I’ll explain how easy it is to get your contact information.

  8. lol Mr. C

    CD – Canadian Capitalist “came out of the closet” this year and he says it didn’t change anything but u should talk with him.

    I’d say if you are worried about it, then don’t do it.

    Mike

  9. Telly,

    Thanks. That was a wonderful comment (and I didn’t take it the wrong way at all).

    MCM,

    There is that concern, but I don’t really intend to shout this out from the roof tops to anyone. It would just really mean I would just sign off by my real name than CD.

    Mr.C,

    So just don’t tell your parents. Really folks the web is HUGE the chance of someone finding you by accident are almost nil. By the way I laughed out loud at your last line. Thanks.

    Kevin,

    Ah that’s a comment I was waiting for. I had forgotten about that little point until you brought it up. Anyone with tiny degree of computer skills can find me out in under two minutes (Trust me I just tried it out).

    Tim

  10. CD, you know my opinion on the matter. Personally, I prefer to stay anonymous. It gets too weird when people know your exact net worth and the assets that you have.

    FT

  11. FT,

    I can understand your position. Yet I don’t worry about it that much.

    After all, you don’t think I acutally give you my complete net worth do you? I have several other accounts that I don’t include. I also tend to round numbers a bit and exclude certain assests. So my posted net worth is close to the actual, but not exact.

    Tim

  12. My parents could google my name as easily as anyone. I’d be shocked if potential employers DIDN’T google me (I work in the tech field). If I was going to go out on a date, I’d certainly google her, etc ,etc, etc.

    I guess all of us techies now know your secret identity… You should change yours too Mike…

  13. Well I prefer to remain somewhat hidden. Allows me to blog more openly about whatever. Although I don’t go to extremes and I am not overly paranoid. For a long time a “whois” query on my domain revealed a lot about me and nowadays I still use only one email address but just change the From: in Gmail (which doesn’t hide anything).

  14. Your hosting solution can provide a private domain registration for free or for fee. Probably 5-10 bucks. Your information can probably still be obtained in another way as it is in the ICANN database but at least it isn’t a one step process.

    I’m very surprised this wasn’t a consideration for pf bloggers as money and networth is being discussed…

    I will also mention something else: work, IP addresses and log files.

    Now that I think about it, maybe there’s no need to be anonymous 😛

  15. Mr. Cheap,

    Of course you can try and Google my real name, but really it will be confusing for you to determine which Tim is me. I know there are at least two other people out there with my name.

    Everyone thanks for your feedback, it was a great discussion.

    Tim

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