Blogging Ethics

I was asked a question during a lunch meeting today: “Would you write a blog for us, but using a pseudonym?  You could totally express yourself, but we would want to ‘create a character’ for you”.

Interesting question, and I’m not sure I gave a complete answer.  A lot of it depends on “why?”.  For Good, or for Evil?  Why would it need to be a pseudonym? If it’s because the company doesn’t want to be tied to my personal rants and such here, I can understand it – but I got the feeling that wasn’t it – like it was more of, “We want to create an imaginary person” – and I don’t understand why you would want to do that.  There is only one blog I read that I know is written by someone hiding their identity (Violent Acres).  I don’t really care if someone wants to hide there identity – unless there is profit involved.  Then it get’s to be a stickier issue with me.

But what do you think, is it wrong to write a blog under a pseudonym (assuming it’s for someone else, and will be used in conjunction with a business)?

Comments

  1. I have seen many a company and blogger go down in flames for pretending to be something they weren’t. So, I agree, you need to be careful. Look at the Edelman/WalMart flogs (there is even a name for this). As for blogging under a pseudonym for personal reasons, there is nothing wring with that, but companies should take care, it is their reputation at stake.

  2. Paul – good points as well (and if you aren’t really Paul Claussen, I need to contact Homeland Security!).

    I guess there are two issues – what’s generally accepted as “ok” and what *I* think is acceptable. In this case, I think I may be more careful than what the “general public” might expect.

    Rob

  3. Kami – thanks. You pretty much just confirmed to me what my gut was already telling me. The other option they offered was for me to blog as if I were the CEO, then the CEO would modify my posts prior to them going public. That seemed even less appealing to me (I know it’s done in business every day under the names of “marketing” or “public relations” – but I am not in those fields, and it just didn’t feel right to me).

    I think there isn’t a fit in this deal for me. And that’s ok. I would love to take their money, but not at the expense of feeling good about what I’m doing.

    Rob

  4. No, I don’t think it’s wrong to write under a pseudonym at all (you don’t really think Paul Claessen is my REAL name, do you?). As long as you don’t pretend to be someone else, I mean a different ‘real’ person. Doing it for someone else is okay too, UNLESS people would think you would BE that someone else. Whether it’s in a business context or not is irrelevant.

  5. Yes, I think it is wrong, at least under those circumstances. If it is written under pseudonym, it needs to be transparent, like a character blog (though you have to careful about those too, many have ended badly for the companies that launched them). Check out these two blogs to see people that use this well and ethically:

    http://www.katherding.com/ (see the right column under contributers

    http://connieversations.typepad.com/blogabillies/ (see meet the Blogabillies on the right column)

    My 2 cents anyway.