Several months ago, the blog group discussed different blog policies. Around that time, I began seriously pondering my untyped policy about naming people on my weblog and decided I should write it down because I know some of you wonder why I name some people and not others. When a friend who recently started a weblog asked me for guidance about naming people, I realized now is as good of a time as any to put it down.
I try to be conservative when it comes to using people’s names or otherwise identifying them. I know many people who do not want their name all over the Internet, so I until I know for certain whether someone wants me to use their name or identify them specifically, I usually don’t. There are many entries where someone involved might recognize that I’m writing about him or her and perhaps a few others might recognize certain people some of the time. I believe strongly in privacy and anonymity, especially if someone wants those things for him- or herself.
I usually name or identify people under these circumstances:
- I’m pointing to something on the Web that already contains someone’s name.
- Another source clearly identifies the person.
- I have the person’s permission to identify him or her.
- The person attended a public event where many other people knew about this individual’s presence and actions.
- I know that blogging about the person is okay through some other means.
- The person is identified elsewhere on the Internet.
Some people wish to be identified only vaguely. Some people prefer me using their first name, initials, nickname, or some other feature rather than their full name. I try to abide by their wishes.
Sometimes, I decide not to name people because I want to protect my associates. I don’t necessarily want everyone on the Internet to know who my friends and associates are all of the time, with whom I’ve been socializing, or what I’ve been doing. The balance between blogging publicly and keeping aspects of my life private sometimes gets complicated.
Sometimes, I’m intentionally vague because names aren’t important. I might be trying to make a specific scenario become more generic and relevent to others by not giving names.
All that being said, I like giving credit where credit is due. Many people who read my weblogs send me items they think would interest me. Many of these people, however, do not always want me to publicly identify them. I try to acknowledge the contribution without identifying specifically who sent it to me. If you send me something and I do not know whether you want me to credit you or not, I might ask you–especially if you frequently send me things.
If I have named you and you wish not to be named, please let me know. If I haven’t named you, and you would like me to, please let me know.