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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Blogging While Employed

Whether or not to blog anonymously has been debated for the internet-equivalent of forever.

The Publius "outing" incident last spring certainly stirred the debate again, when a newly-minted law professor blogging under a pseudonym for fear of academic retribution had his identity disclosed by another blogger who had become annoyed at the professor's "ankle-biting."

Blogging under one's own name is a choice, but it carries risks for those who have a real job and blog as a pastime. One of those risks is attempts to disrupt the blogger's employment by contacting other people at the employer, particularly the boss. It's happened to me, and I'm sure it has happened to many people on both sides of the political aisle.

Until today, I had never heard of the attempted disruption of a blogger's employment being done by another blogger as payback for criticism.

But Donald Douglas at American Power blog has a post today about an incident where E.D. Kain, a blogger whom Donald has criticized pretty vociferously, contacted the Chair of Donald's academic department. It's not clear what the exact content of that communication was, but clearly the message was not positive.

I wasn't going to post on this since the nature of Kain's communication was uncertain, but Kain now has confirmed, in a comment to Donald's post, that the incident took place. Kain's comment was an apology and a request for a truce, and he acknowledged the following as to what happened:

So yes, I did contact your department chair - not to shut you down but to express my frustration, since I had no reason to believe that you would respond to me with anything but more of the same jeering. I was not and am not trying to "shut you down" and honestly only contacted the chair because I was upset over your last post which again called me numerous names over something that had nothing at all to do with you. It was an act of frustration and I was reaching out to someone who I thought might be able to help.

And you know what? I shouldn't have done that. You're right. That was me acting out of frustration and anger and it was not the right move. I apologize.

Putting up with criticism can be tough, particularly when it is unrelenting. Being called names also is not fun, but one gets used to it.

We don't all just have to get along. But there are certain lines which should not be crossed, and trying to disrupt another blogger's employment crosses that line. Can we at least agree on that?

Related Post:
A Pox On Annonyblogging-Gate's House

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  1. Outing the true identity of a blogger can not only lead to job loss - especially in corporate America - but to endangering the welfare of the blogger. Many bloggers are outspoken on issues, others are people who feel it maintains their personal security.

    Whatever the reason for the anonymity, it is not for the would-be demasker to determine that the blogger may be rightfully unmasked. To go to his/her "boss" or "wife" or any other person about an issue between bloggers is, well, not only bad form but childish.

    Unless criticism crosses over into slander and legal action is required, then people should respect the true identity of a blogger.

  2. If a rule is upheld to stop you from blogging at work in your down time, then would that apply to non-work related conversation in the office? After all, what is the difference except that the conversation could lead to problems in the immediate vicinity.

    What does it say about the person that is trying to harm the blogger? I don't believe in calling names but this guy has a problem. I suspect he was a liberal, this seems to follow the childish nature of there thought process.

    I wish for a return to the days of honor to resolve such issues under the oaks with ball and powder.

  3. Scary , you really have to becareful these days. It really is a new world and technology is leading us places that we have never been before. 15 years ago we were just learning how to use aim. Now your boss knows what you and your friends and family did last night becasue he looked at your face book page. Technology has brought us good and bad and its a new learning curve for all of us.

  4. Good Lord. I hope the chair of the accused's department saw through this and told the complainer to go eff himself.

    What is this cyber-world coming to?

  5. There are a couple of things going on here. If you use your own computer during down time at the office AND you are careful what info about yourself you put out there, you're OK

    However, if you are using company computers or cell phones to text - your boss is entitled to the contents on his equipment. They can track you on both. Live isn't fair.

  6. After writing about a local townhall I received a comment on the post that included an implied but not explicit threat along with a very detailed description of my home. I deleted the comment but gave a copy of it to my daughter who lives out of state.

    Nothing ever came of it other than my looking over my shoulder for a few days but it does go to show that you have to be careful these days.

    Honestly, had I not jumped into blogging without a clue in the world what I was doing I would not have ever used my name.

  7. Donald Douglas thought nothing of wreaking destruction on Erin Andrews by publishing the link to the Peeping Tom videos taken of her AND gloating that he did it to increase the traffic on his blog and to promote himself. Little Miss Attila, Cassandra of Villainous Company, Dan Riehl and I all objected in posts and private e-mails. In retaliation, Douglas posted the private e-mails and outed the identity of Little Miss Attila's husband.

    I just thought you'd like to know a little more about the true character of Donald Douglas. His standards for the behavior of others are completely different from the ones he has for himself, if he can be said to have any at all except the one that all should glorify his name.

  8. I do think its crossing a line when someone is "outted" (I hate that term). For those of us whose employment involves some trust (professors, doctors, etc.) being ... revealed...could have professional repercussions.

  9. E.D. Kain acknowledges he made a mistake in reaching out to someone he thought might have some insight into (& perhaps influence over) Donald's strange behavior toward him. As our host quoted, Kain has already apologized for the mistake.

    Unless one's blog content impacts how a writer does his/her job or affects the company or institution for which s/he works, it's bad form to involve one's boss in a blogesphere conflict.

    If Donald were admitting to grading his liberal students lower because of their political views, or trashing his fellow professors or college, I might be inclined to suggest that his Department head read what he writes. Were I a prospective student (or at my age, the parent of one), I wouldn't have any issue telling the admissions office that based on the blog posts I read, I was far less inclined to have anything to do with Long Beach City College, or why.

    But barring that kinda thing, Donald's blog is between he & those who choose to read his words. I believe that those on the faculty who have oversight over him or deal with him on a regular basis ought to read what he writes--and any prospective or current student of his who doesn't is a fool--but that's up to them.

    But as Cynthia says, there's more to Donald than meets the eye at first glance, and our "victim" doesn't play by the same rules he demands that others follow, including as concerns some of the same blogger ethics raised in this conversation. I would urge those interested to read the attacks on E.D. Kain that led up to this incident (as well as the incident that Ms. Yockey references) before deciding that Donald Douglas is nothing more than a poor, innocent doe-eyed deer who's been done wrong here.

  10. I face regular efforts by a group of local Democrat bloggers to get me fired from my job as a high school teacher. Their argument is that "someone with such political views cannot be allowed in a position where he can influence impressionable children." Fortunately, I've been blessed with principals and superintendents who are familiar with the Bill of Rights and relevant Supreme Court decisions regarding the protections of public employees engaged in non-work-related speech.

    And what is more interesting is the lengths to which such individuals will go to excise "objectionable" comments from their original context, with their justification being that "there can be no context in which the comments can be justified, so the context is irrelevant." Similarly, a group of political bloggers who outed me on their websites then argued that I was unfit to be a teacher because students might be able to find my "racist and hateful" political opinions by clicking links in the posts that outed me -- despite the fact that I had always blogged anonymously and never blogged about school issues or events so as to keep my professional and blog lives strictly separate in order to keep my political activity and commentary out of the classroom.

  11. Am happy to read that it appears that American Powers department chair was good enough to tell him about the incident and to say that they wanted nothing to do with it. It appears that he is being supported for his private blogging by his department. It could have gone much worse, especially in the liberal land that is the American university world. Sad to say, but true.

  12. For the record, Douglas publicly states where he works and makes no attempt to keep that separate from his job. I would never in a million years out somebody or attempt to threaten their employment. This was nothing more than an attempt to try to understand why someone would write 23 posts about me calling me dirtbag, sleaze-blogger, and dozens of other things for absolutely no reason. I was not trying to have any action taken, only trying to better understand by reaching out to someone who knows him. As I've said twice on Douglas's blog, I am sorry I ever did it. It was something I did out of frustration and I would take it all back if I could.