Thursday, June 11, 2009

Outing, revisited

My last post on this subject was mainly concerned with the outing of American blogger "publius" by National Review's Ed Whelan. But I asked readers to comment on the ethics of outing. I noted that, were I to get into this practice, it would be with those who believe they have outed me. Motive is important. It's a moral thing.

So it happened that I came across a fascinating thread over at Small Dead Ideas today.
Warren Kinsella quoted me yesterday anent the pseudonymous "Raphael Alexander," and so the two of us had the privilege of being nibbled by the angry mice over there.

Among the rodents is an ex-professor from Bishop's University, one Edwina Taborsky, who blogs under the entirely suitable initials "ET." She thought she'd have a go at outing me.*

Now, turnabout, you might think, is fair play.

Not so, it seems. When a couple of rascals immediately did to her what she had just done to me, she filled cyberspace with a shrill, outraged whine. Unethical!*

As long as someone is posting on a blog, and using a pseudonym on that blog - and we know that some people use different pseudonyms on different blogs - then, ethics requires that you, on that blog, acknowledge only the pseudonym.

When someone is not posting on a blog, whether by their own choice or by the blog owner's choice, then, I have no problem with 'outing' the name, if it is relevant to the issue.

Your retaliatory reaction to my 'outing' you, as Fishy/If/Dawg/Baglow was unethical. And, furthermore, you do NOT post phone numbers, addresses and emails - ever - in any situation. Never. Got that?

She's right, of course, on the last bit, even if the coordinates are by now well out of date. Motive, as I said, does count. But the rest of this is, not to put too fine a point upon it, a hoot. It has to be some of the most sinuous reasoning I've ever encountered. Bishop's was lucky to have her, if only for comic relief.

I do feel the need to clear up some factual errors, though, squinting as I am through my tears of laughter. Earlier in the thread, she said that I came from the US. Really impressive research, there, Prof. And I have posted nothing on the thread at all, although she appears to believe that I am, well, "Fishy" and "If" and, for all I know, the Walrus and one of the Eggmen.

Guestblogger "lance" likely knows this very well, but he's letting it ride. That's cool. He's probably getting as much of a kick out of this as I am.

In the meantime:
ET, call home. And if you forget your number--call me. :)

UPDATE: It gets better.* The terminally outraged Taborsky bleats to one of her tormentors:

[Y]ou don't understand blogging ethics. First, I have never used my name in blogging. Not here or at the Shotgun. Always my initials. You have no right to use my personal name in this blog, or inform people of it.

And then this simply scrumptious morsel of prose; I 'm thinking of having it engraved upon the head of a pin:

Don't insult people. And don't abuse blogging ethics. Again, I have no problem with telling someone who a blogger really is - on another blog. After all, we can certainly reveal who Lewis Carroll was and discuss his work, but, if we were interacting with him as such, we wouldn't violate that trust.

For the second time in 24 hours--I got nothing.

*wipes eyes*

*since excised, after this comment by Marky Mark.

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