View Full Version : To Be, or Not To Be...

03-05-2005, 07:37 AM
Anonymous, that is. A bit of discussion on ye Neverending Thread prompted this thought.

How many of you go by your real name, or some variant or portion thereof while on internet forums like this one, and how many prefer to use a handle that keeps your identity fairly anonymous?

Myself, I prefer to use a handle. It's about privacy for me, not as much for freedom of expression as for avoidance of the weirdos. I've been a regular on one forum or another for a bit over eleven years now, and on anything large enough where it's unlikely that I'll meet most of the people face to face, I'm most comfortable as Eowen. It's been my handle for about twelve years now, and I do answer to Eowen (and sometimes Eo) almost as easily as I do to my given name.

So, what are some other reasons you have for using or not using a handle on forums like these?



aka eraser
03-05-2005, 08:10 AM
As my sig line reveals, I go by both - sort of. Like many though, I prefer to post under my nick, mostly because when googling my name, I don't want thousands of message board posts to appear. I want my book, site, and other writing-related goodies to pop up.

03-05-2005, 09:05 AM
I'm same like Frank... eh, I mean Eraser.

03-05-2005, 09:16 AM
Well, with such a large writing group here, I presumed that there would come the day that I went into book print whilst a member here. So I was sure to address my real name in my bio so that my accomplishments would be tied into a real person instead of a dinosaur. Now Jenna (and all you real namers) have got the perfect marketing savy to stave off any confusion. If I see your name 70 times a day on the AW board for 3 years you better believe I'm gonna damn well know who you are when I pass your book in a Borders. That's called pounding in your "real celebrity", so nobody ever forgets it. Notice many of the pros do it here:

James D. McDonald (Have know that name for 18 years)
A.C. Crispin (18 years)
Victoria Stauss (nearly four months)
Jenna Glatzer (same)
James Richie (same)

Now tell me, what's the sense of not advertising your real name to thousands of eyes for free? How in the name of all that is holy can I find a book by someone who doesn't even list their name SOMEWHERE?

Why is it that amateurs, or newbies, or the unpublished always want to go by a moniker and hide their name when they aren't even known in the industry to begin with? When the big guns are more well known and certainly have more to lose (every darn day) in the way of personal privacy? You think they're afraid? Of what? Guys and dolls, them people is selling the poop outa books, wot?

Google Triceratops and you'll find paleontology--but that dino don't write

Google Chris Stevenson (That's me!) and you'll see my books.

Let it be known, I'm seriously considering dropping this user name crap and throwing my real author's name on the billboard. Isn't that real marketing savy, folks?

There are exceptions--some PA people have to go "shadow" and some other things like, stalkers and such. But how bout' the rest of us? And why o' why can't we see some bio's here. I mean, no age or intimate stats, but just some general "gee whiz, I never knew that about him."

Tell me folks, who writes under a different pen name in this group besides the most prolific, James D. McDonald? And a few others?

Didn't mean to rant on this--I'm really more angry with myself, but it's a little too late to change my user name, cause' people just can't stomach change too often, especially if you've been here awhile or have hundreds of posts.

Chris Harold Stevesnon

03-05-2005, 09:33 AM
Chris, just use your real name in the sig, like I do.

03-05-2005, 10:15 AM
I was thinking about doing that...

RAYI'll find your last name and city somewhere if I have sift through your sites, all over again. Or I'll just keep on diggin' till I hit the mantle.


Betty W01
03-05-2005, 10:20 AM
Careful Tri, it's easy to get Ray's name Wong.

03-05-2005, 10:43 AM
One of the reasons Eowen mentioned does fine for me: avoiding weirdos.

So, Maestro, did you know that Jamie Foxx won an Oscar last week for a movie about you?

03-05-2005, 10:54 AM
I use a nickname here and elsewhere because my first name is exceedingly common, and my last name tends to frighten strong men and children. It's much easier than it looks, really.

But I've gotten to be kinda sorta known as Medievalist, any way. Yes, even in Google. But I use my real name in my .sig.

03-05-2005, 11:06 AM
One of the reasons Eowen mentioned does fine for me: avoiding weirdos.

So, Maestro, did you know that Jamie Foxx won an Oscar last week for a movie about you?

I sing better.


03-05-2005, 09:21 PM
I keep my internet life very separate from my real life, and after two events over a dozen years, have decided that I always will.

The first writers' board I ever frequented (now long gone) had a really first-rate share-your-expertise list. A woman I knew saw someone who had knowledge in exactly what she needed, and he was happy to photocopy articles and clippings and mail them to her.

And move there. And start following her. And park on her street for hours. and observe her kids on the school playground. And send more and more clips and articles to her home and via email.

Long story short, the family ended up moving literally in the middle of the night. The kids had to change schools, and their haircuts. My friend changed her appearance and voluntarily stayed inside most of the time. They took a loss on the house and both cars when they sold them. Her husband remained angry for months and would not go to counseling.

OK, cautionary tale on that--don't give people your address. Got it. But anybody with ten bucks and your name can find you, especially if you have a distinctive name, which I do.

My physical safety was theatened by someone I banned from another website where I'm a volunteer moderator (whose main task is getting rid of creepy older guys who prey on the young members). Since I don't use my name there, he was not able to find me. The other person he threatened, whose name is so common he would find hundreds in her city alone, reported his threat to the police, who called the police where he lived, who paid a call. He had stopped taking all his medications, which included an antipsychotic. He has since died, a complication of stopping one of his other medications.

That's why I'm content to be Maryn here, and use other invented identities at other sites.

Maryn--er, Bill. No, make that Bluto. Or Slugger. Wait, wait, I got it. Ray!

03-07-2005, 04:36 AM
For now, I'm content to use a trunk novel name. Believe me, when I'm published, you'll hear about it.

I'd rather remain sort-of-anonymous and not attract any loonies or stalkers or people interested in ripping off my identity.

Like others, I try to keep my online life separate from my offline life.

Karen (my real name, in the real world)

03-07-2005, 05:26 AM
I get disoriented if people start calling me something other than my RL name so I stay close to it. I started going online 14 years ago and have always used some variant of my real first name. I haven't had (knock on wood) any trouble so far.

03-07-2005, 05:44 AM
When I am done with my books I will market them with a nom-de-plum.

Trevanian added to the mystic by keeping his real identity secret. I have too many clues though so I will be easy to find.



03-07-2005, 09:11 AM
This topic has been on my mind lately. Two parts: Firstofall-ly, I vacillate on the reveal don't reveal true self issue. I totally agree with Tri and with Maryn too. When you're right, you're right, even if you are on opposite ends of the argument. Both sides are right. I was starting to sorta let my guard down on this board. And right away, some character showed up who has really unnerved me. Guard! Guard!

And twoly, this might be different for the boy characters than for the girl characters. Just today I was wondering if I'm becoming one of those post-feminism backlashers (no! can't be! i'm a feminist!) because when I see a young woman scantily clad in a deserted area I really want to tell her to put on a jacket, bring a friend or two, be sensible, for cryin' out loud! It's another both things are true situation. One, gals should be able to go out and about where and how fellers do; two, the world (including this digital one) is a dangerous place. I wish I could replace "dangerous" with "unpredictable." But that's the trouble, it's almost too predictable, ain't it?

-[name withheld]

03-07-2005, 10:27 AM
After some reiteration, I've come to the conclusion that a person does have to take safe-guards on the internet, and I appoligize ladies, if I came off with such a "free spirit" message. I've only been on the internet for about four months and most have you have been on for years. I appreciate more, the experience you're talking about when you say that you've been cyber-stalked or followed around from site to site. I can actually (try) to imagine that scenario, but I don't know from where I speak really, only being here for months and being a big ole' bad male, dude. I guess the internet can be a dangerous place at times, so I've readjusted my feelings about this issue.

I think what I meant to imply was that I hope nonbody totally mistrusts someone else because of past bad behavior. And I only like to see real writer's names so I'm not confused when I want to buy one of their books.

Peace and love on the internet.


03-07-2005, 05:52 PM
Just for the record, when (note that I didn't say 'if'!) my book is published, I will most certainly put its cover (which I'm sure will be brilliant) with my real name on this board. I can't imagine a greater bunch of people stalking me! The first few days, I'll buy the coffee and doughnuts.

But it's worth mentioning that one of the other moderators at the site where I volunteer moderate got an email over the weekend from someone she'd banned saying she was going to be real sorry. There's no end to the people online whose anonymity makes them feel like a Big Man instead of the worm or weasel they are in RL.

Sad. Scary, too.


03-07-2005, 06:02 PM
This thread is scarey.... I am off to find my birth cirt...or is it cert.. anyway...
I always thought my name was Biotales.... and now through AW I find that it is not........... !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!:Huh:

Mark Anderson
03-07-2005, 06:55 PM
I have been using the Intarweb for several years now, and before that I was a BBS poster. I've had 3 handles in all that time, and you can still dredge up hits on some of them. But my name is so common that it is nearly impossible to find it. I've decided to change that. :)

Besides which, this allows me to see the following when I Google myself:

Mark Anderson Sale (http://www.google.com/url?sa=l&q=http://service.netmeans.com/bfast/click/%3Floc%3Dhttp%253A//search.ebay.com/mark-anderson_W0QQfclZ4%3Bbfinfo%3Da1422714i19726843&ai=BiJF1yWosQtD1Lo_6iAGw2uDZCcD3oAeKjev4AabSy-AC0IYDEAEYATgASMQ5yAEB&num=1)
New and used Mark Anderson
Check out the deals now!
www.eBay.com (http://www.ebay.com/)<IMG height=1 alt="" width=1>


03-07-2005, 07:15 PM
I've been using the Internet even before it became mainstream. I've always used aliases and my real identity. I never had any problems. Once in a while I might get a weird message, but nothing dangerous or disturbing.

Now, if I'm a celebrity or something, it might be different. Obviously I wouldn't want my address book published on the Internet. ;)

03-07-2005, 08:34 PM
I use my own name. If I published stuff with an alias maybe I would use one on the boards. My website also has my real name--and at the rate I do anything to maintain the site maybe I should've used an alias.

That's a horrific story, Maryn.

There was a guy on another board who didn't like folks using aliases. He used to try to get their IP numbers and threaten to expose them their bosses if they were connecting from their jobs--just those who disagreed with him.

03-07-2005, 09:57 PM
I use a variation on my real name. Saritams8 (Sara) I just don't send my last name out into the cyber world (at least not yet). Although, I have a very common last name, there are at least 4 of us in State College, alone. It might be hard to pin me down ;) I think fundamentally people are good but I think that line of reasoning could get me in trouble one day.

Just be careful with your info and always be prepared!:guns:

William Haskins
03-07-2005, 10:05 PM
since my parents, in their infinite cruelty, saw fit to name me "t0t4L_L4m3R" on my birth certificate (hey, it's a family name), i decided to come up with this kooky 'william haskins' personal for my online activities.

i feel warm and cozy in my cloak of anonymity..

03-07-2005, 10:55 PM
Well, Charlie is rather nondescript, so I used the nickname my nephews gave me (Uncle Chunky) and put the C on the end to give it a bit of street-cachet. Yeah, I know. The only thing "street" about me is the fact that there's one out in front of my house. And yes, I'm chubby, see the Office Party/March Health thread for what I'm doing about it.

I've had an Internet access account and e-mail address since early 1992. Web surfing with Windows 3.1 on a 20mhz 386 & 9600 baud modem was so cool! I honestly believe there were less than half a million web pages available at the time. The number 300,000 keeps pinging my brain for some reason. Gawd, how things have changed.

This is the first place of this type I've "joined" online. My main fear is of identity theft, so I only reveal more than my first name and the town I live in to friends I trust ... a number of whom are members here.

03-07-2005, 11:13 PM
I'm one of several administrators on another board (not related to AW). It's been known to have members who were suicidal and, less often, homicidal. In that circumstance, if you kept your identity secret, you're glad you did.

03-08-2005, 04:21 AM
Sounds like a group who expect, upon their demise, 72 virgins waitng for them.

03-08-2005, 06:04 AM
I've not been stalked myself, but I've had friends who have been. Quite freaky enough to make me very leery of posting my real name in a public forum. (I belong to another forum where members are only allowed to use real names on the private forums, for precisely this reason. You aren't allowed on the private forums unless someone can vouch for you.)

If I ever write something of publishable quality, I will create a website with all relevant information, and link to it from here and darn near anywhere else I can find. Not to mention creating a real sig file with said link so I don't have to re-type it every time (:


03-08-2005, 06:36 AM
Sounds like a group who expect, upon their demise, 72 virgins waitng for them.
Oh, nothing nearly that dramatic. A very few members, out of many who use the forum, have shown the kinds of instability that trouble administrators.

03-08-2005, 06:41 AM
If I ever write something of publishable quality, I will create a website with all relevant information, and link to it from here and darn near anywhere else I can find.

This seems counter-intuitive to me. Seems like someone would be more likely to stalk a "famous author" than just someone on a message board.

03-08-2005, 07:35 AM
I think you posed a very good question. The answers here are very interesting.

One, I think women have more to worry about than men(getting stalked, harrassed, etc.) I like being anonymous.

Two, I use a username so I can speak freely about editors and companies.

Three, I think people who end up becoming famous (whether they are movie stars, writers, singers, comedians, politicians) face certain risks that go with the territory. Many celebrities have been stalked, bugged, hounded by paparazzi, threatened. I'm not saying this is right, but unfortunately fame has its dangers. It does make me wonder sometimes whether or not I'd really want to be famous.

And one more thing to ponder: How do we ever know for sure about anyone that we meet either online or in person? Some people can do a very good job of faking people out.

03-08-2005, 08:30 AM

Story time.

A few years ago, while still in Germany I met someone online, through chat. The woman was in Texas.

We moved here (Texas) and I continued to chat with her. Over time we had told each other a lot of things--I am pretty truthful, skip locations other than close to or in this state.

I did know she was in the same town we had moved to. Unlike others I have met online and have established friendships off-line with, I just didn't feel right about this one. At times she said one thing and then a short time later something else--she, I felt was lying to me on many counts.

Later, I ran into her at the place I work--she'd applied for a job there. And when talking she said hey, IM me sometime--and told me who she was on AIM--I about flipped. I shouldn't have told her who I was.

She's made my life very hard at work. I think part of it is embarrassment. She told me her husband was killed on the German autobahn when she'd been in the military. Turns out her hubby (both of them) (both x's) are alive and well. She said she had a degree, she never went past HS and so on--so now she is always running to the boss and causing or trying to cause trouble.

What a nightmare and she is an awful worker on top of it.

So there are other considerations to using your real name.


03-08-2005, 09:50 AM
Let me start by saying that I mainly use an alias for recognition purposes, because I have been using it for quite some time. Now to the point.

Crazies use the internet too.

Crazies are also around in real life, but the internet and a person who is too trusting can make their malevolent job easier.

There was a story going around in the papers a few months ago (I made an unsuccessfull attempt at locating an online version, perhaps someone will have better luck than I did). I apologize if it is vague, I am just writing what I specifically remember in order to be as close to accurate as possible without having the actual article.

If you have a light stomach, read this and skip the next paragraph: Basically, two women met on an internet message board dedicated to dogs. One had recently come into a litter of puppies, and the other obtained her phone number to set up buying one. She found out the breeders address, drove to her house, and killed her. Both were regulars on the message board, and that board community was shocked when they found they had a murderer in their midst.

These are the disturbing details omitted from above:
Woman B = Breeder, Woman C = Crazy.
'B' had mentioned that she was pregnant to 'C'. C said she was also pregnant. They talked about things that pregnant women do [I have no clue what these things are]. When C drove to Bs and killed her, she did so by cutting the baby out of her womb in a violent fashion, such that it killed her. C proceeded to take the baby home and show it around her small town. This raised a few eyebrows, since she had not been pregnant. Those who knew her were also privy to the fact that she had lost a baby much earlier. They tipped off the police, the whole event was unraveled. I do not recall if the baby lived, though logically I would assume not.

Of course, this terrible occurrence is by no means standard.

It's important to be safe. It doesn't matter if you're a 6'4'', 200 pound, 3rd degree black belt (though to be sure, that would help if a situation arose), don't put yourself into potentially dangerous situations. You've heard it all before, if you have to meet someone you don't know, come with a friend and do it in a public place.

Hell, my Dad collects antique oil lamps. A while back he won an auction on Ebay, and arranged to go pick up the lamp himself (to get it faster and save on shipping, the seller was only about an hour away). Both parties brought a friend and did the transaction in a Tim Horton's. And my father isn't exactly a small guy.

The internet is a terrible and wonderful thing at the same time. It's a bit of a sore spot for me... I hate finding out about people and families suffering, when their only crime was being friendly and trusting - from my experience, society is really lacking these people to begin with.

I shudder to think of the unnecessary risks people are taking, or letting their kids (who may not know better) take.

So there's my rant. Sorry if I've disturbed anyone.

Be safe.

03-08-2005, 04:58 PM
The baby did live. That was a nasty story.

I work at a 7-11, have had a gun pointed at me 3 times (not at this store)(only once here) Yes, there are a mess of crazies out there.


03-08-2005, 06:29 PM
I have met some crazies in real life. Mugged twice. Robbed at gun point once (with my parents bound and gagged next to me). Almost got into a street fight with someone... have a crazy coworker stalk me for a while, etc. I'd say you run a higher risk of endangering your life in real life, unless you shut yourself in your house, never stepping out (then again, the crazies might come to your house). ;) I refuse to live in fear.

But the Internet does make some things easier. At the tip of your fingers, you can find info about someone. The running joke in movies now is "Oh, you want to know something this guy, google him." In the past you have to find a private investigator. Now you just "google him."

03-08-2005, 09:27 PM
Hmm--I suppose making google (or googly) eyes at someone no longer indicates a crush but some sort of obsession, no? (I bet it means an older speaker, too--my grandma used to say that.)

Maryn, stepping aside before any of Ray's puppy's pee dribbles down one message

03-08-2005, 09:37 PM
My girlfriend almost married a guy who turned out to be a stalker/wacko. He didn't show his true colors right away. There were some signs along the way that she missed. And when she broke off the relationship he just didn't want to take no for an answer. She had to get a restraining order from the police.

03-08-2005, 09:45 PM
I use my real name, but everybody thinks it's a handle or pen name.

03-08-2005, 11:32 PM
Love the name Poppyhullings. I'll eventually use it as a character in something.

03-08-2005, 11:35 PM
Oh, thanks. Dare I ask what kind of story that would be? Horror? LOL

03-11-2005, 04:36 PM
I've no idea. I'm threatening to write a novel that takes place during the last NYC Transit Strike, but I'm extremely word-impaired so it might just show up in a short story--maybe even a haiku.