Why I Rarely Read Anonymous Blogs

I’m giving a talk next week to lawyers about participating in the blogosphere, and this has been a good opportunity for me to think about how I choose blogs to read. In looking over my blogroll, I realized that I had almost no anonymously-authored blogs on it–Cracker of an Issue and Law on Caffeine are the only two that I can recall (and I know who writes Law on Caffeine).

I’ve been trying to isolate why anonymous blogs don’t make my blogroll. I can offer 2 possible (and overlapping) reasons:

1) Part of my decision to add blogs is based on the credibility of the author. If I can’t determine the author, then I can’t gauge the appropriate level of credibility to give the blog.

In this respect, it prompts me to think of Ender’s Game, where a young punk was able to change the world through prolific pseudonymous postings. In theory, it’s possible for words alone to be compelling enough to subscribe to them, but that’s a very rare feat. Indeed, a number of blogs I subscribe to solely because I’ve grown to know and respect the author from offline contacts.

2) I think there may be a cause-effect between the motivations for retaining anonymity and the quality of the blog. Anecdotally, I’ve found that anonymous blogs tend to be lower-volume and to fizzle out more often/more rapidly. I don’t know if the lack of attribution diminishes the incentives, or if the motivations for anonymity affect the ability to produce blog content. Whatever the case, I’ve found that anonymous blogs rarely pay off the reader as much as attributed blogs do.

So, a friendly tip to bloggers: if you want my readership, you should plan to stand behind your words!

UPDATE: Unused and Probably Unusable (an anonymous blog) has collected various postings about anonymous blogging.