While the discussions about pseudonym use on Google+ continues on, there’s a different front that opened up in mid-August: Science Blogs, which is the home of a huge number of top science blogs, has decided to end psuedonymnous blogging.
On August 18, biomedical researcher DrugMonkey wrote:
I have just been informed that ScienceBlogs will no longer be hosting anonymous or pseudonymous bloggers. In case you are interested, despite extensive communication from many of us as to why we blog under pseudonyms, I have not been given any rationale or reason for this move. Particularly, no rationale or reason that responds to the many valid points raised by the pseudonymous folks.
Years ago, Janet D. Stemwedel wrote a scientific-career-focussed list of reasons to use a pseudonym:
You are a student whose advisor will equate your blogging with time not spent doing researchâ€¦ You are trying to get a promotion/tenure and you have no idea how the committees that will be deciding whether to promote/tenure you view bloggingâ€¦ Blogging about what you blog about under your own name might significantly reduce your safety. (This might include doing research with animals, providing reproductive health care servicesâ€¦)
Closely following this, epidemiologist RenÃ© Najera was tracked down by an online opponent and this resulted in his employer asking him to stop blogging. Tara C. Smith writes that science blogging isn’t new to this:
These things aren’t just theoretical. HIV denier Andrew Maniotis showed up, unannounced, at my work office one day a few years ago. The recently-arrested “David Mabus” showed up at an atheist convention.
Maggie Koerth-Baker has a great piece at Boing Boing about the difference between being a professional writer and a scientistÂ¸ which also has links to a lot of discussion in and near the Science Blogs community:
I know who DrugMonkey is [in the sense of knowing his pseudonymous persona] and I know that he has to be as responsible for everything he writes under that name as I am responsible for what I write as Maggie Koerth-Baker. The difference is that writing is my profession. It’s not his. Instead, he has to balance the needs of a profession in laboratory science with the needs of a writing hobby.