Marianne Mikko is Wrong

[BPSDB]The Estonian MEP Marianne Mikko wants bloggers to be identifiable. See here. This would be a mistake.

First, as we are all aware, there are many people on the ‘net who have a rather loose grasp of reality (9/11 Truthers spring to mind here). Their arguments need to be countered but if you attract their ire you really do not want them knowing who you are.

Second, some bloggers make use of anonymity to blow the whistle on malpractice and corruption. Leaving themselves open to retribution could make people less inclined to speak out. Obviously, this could not possibly be the intention of the European Parliament but the consequence is there nevertheless.

Third, many bloggers (including myself) must avoid giving the impression that they speak for their employer. Hiding ones identity achieves this.

Fourth, Mikko appears to be under the impression thast one must know the identity of bloggers in order to evaluate what they say. This is the sort of sloppy thinking that Ben Goldacre criticizes in “Bad Science”. Surely, it is what is said that is important, not who says it? Would my posts on education in Britain become any more (or less) true if you knew my real name and where I work?

The way to decide whether bloggers are worth reading is to note what evidence they provide to back up their assertions and whether or not they link to original material so that you can check the facts for yourself.

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6 Responses to “Marianne Mikko is Wrong”

  1. valueaddedwater Says:

    “Third, many bloggers (including myself) must avoid giving the impression that they speak for their employer. Hiding ones identity achieves this.”

    Exactly the reason why my blog is named as it is rather than Mr …. working at …….Company.

    My job would be made awkward, if I published my full identity, and that would comprimise my effectiveness as a writer.

    Marianne Mikko can go to hell

  2. jdc325 Says:

    Brilliant post. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I read the proposals – there are many reasons why bloggers may wish to be anonymous and few are in any way sinister. I would rather my employers didn’t know that I had a blog so I prefer to use a daft username rather than provide my real name (for similar reasons to valueaddedwater). I absolutely agree that what is said is more important than who says it and I also agree with your point that the way to decide whether bloggers are worth reading is “to note what evidence they provide to back up their assertions and whether or not they link to original material so that you can check the facts for yourself” – this enables readers to verify information, whereas knowing someone’s identity only allows them to make assumptions about the information based on the source. The day someone can convince me that assumptions are more worthwhile than verifiable information is the day I agree with Marianne Mikko.

  3. David Davis Says:

    There are of course some fortunate bloggers such as myself, whom Arthur Conan Doyle would have described (in the “White Company” where the phrase originated) as a “Masterless Man”. I can of course see the pressing need, if one works for some sort of “corporation”, to hide one’s real identity.

    But it does not matter. If that Mad Marianne Mikko really wanted to know who someone was, then it’s no sweat for a statist organisation like the EU merely to lean gently on the blog-service-provider, and the blogger’s ISP, to reveal your IP address and email, and all the rest of it.

    The EU already has all the legal and “rebuttal” protection it needs, mostly via old and well-understood practices under Anglosphere-type Common Law, against what it thinks it sees as enemy bloggers “peddling irresponsible and misinformed” comments – whish is NEWSPEAK for “stuff the EU does not like or finds inconvenient.”

    Anything else it’s asking for seems just like old-fashioned pre-capitalist barbarian censorship.

  4. Seems I’m not the only one who thinks Marianne Mikko ought to know better … « The Libertarian Alliance: BLOG Says:

    […] 10 October, 2008 · No Comments … Found this. […]

  5. “Chicken-hearted, craven, faceless cowards.” (I think she’s talking about me.) « jdc325’s Weblog Says:

    […] for people to blog anonymously. The blog “Education Watch” lists some of those reasons here in a piece about Marianne Mikko. Not wishing to have details of one’s identity available to […]

  6. On Anonymous Bloggers « Stuff And Nonsense Says:

    […] MPs, European Parliament, Marianne Mikko, MEP) I think the title of this blog post puts it best: Marianne Mikko is wrong. The Estonian MEP is campaigning for bloggers to be identified – “We do not need to […]

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