Friday, June 09, 2006

A sad day for the blogosphere

Guest post by Greg Prince

A blogger at National Review Online has chosen to post the name, employer, and even some potential clients of well-known blogger Armando, who has been a regular author at Daily Kos and Swords Crossed.

It is true that a lot of information was already out there on the web if you know how to dig -- it can be fairly said that Armando didn't really do a good job of protecting his anonymity. I don't find this to be a compelling excuse.

I was among the early members of Online Integrity, a site/pact devoted to blogosphere ethics which lists among its principles:

Persons seeking anonymity or pseudonymity online should have their wishes in this regard respected as much as is reasonable. Exceptions include cases of criminal, misleading, or intentionally disruptive behavior.

I didn't necessarily agree with Armando, but he was one of the good guys. A class act, and someone who spent a significant amount of time and effort fostering real discussion and thoughtful discourse.

If he quits blogging, we are all made poorer by his loss.

Armando at Kos:

A major Right wing site has chosen to support a troll's campaign started at this site to out me.

The writing is on the wall. I will likely be giving up blogging as a result.

If people were wondering about why I was so adamant about this, I hope this explains it.

I have never written about my clients and whenever I had a conflict, I disclosed it. But people of ill will have no decency or limits.

If I sound bitter, it is because I am quite bitter about this.

So, this is probably so long kossacks and bloggers. I fade away.

Swords Crossed: "But, as oft-maligned as they are, lawyers are a valuable addition to the blogosphere (being generally skilled at writing persuasively), and they also have a unique set of public vulnerabilities that can be exploited. Anyone with knowledge of whois and with access to LexisNexis could drive every lawyer out of blogging in about a day if they wanted to, by publishing their firms and clients. I’d prefer not to see the blogosphere come to this."

Balloon Juice: "I can understand Armando’s desire for anonymity- he has already stated he will be no longer blogging, and while I disagree with him on virtually everything (although we agree on more things as of late), I think it is a loss for the blogosphere as a whole. At the same time, I can’t help but think that someone as high profile and as technologically proficient as Armando should have known better than to leave all the trails that he did. I know that sounds like ‘blaming the victim,’ but I can’t help but think that were my anonymity at a premium, I would have gone to greater lengths to protect it."

The Blogging Curmudgeon: "The reaction from kossacks has been swift and sure to condemn this violation of the sanctity of Armando's private life. But how private was it? He posts under his own name and tells all the world that he's an attorney. In the, I'm roughly estimating here, millions of posts with which he has deluged numerous websites, he has revealed many more of his particulars. It can't have been hard to reverse engineer his identity. If he was so interested in protecting his privacy, why didn't he make an effort to do so? I have no beef with anonymity — note the dearth of information about me on this site — but it does require a modicum of restraint."

All in all, it's another gotcha, and something that was unnecessary. The Swords Crossed commentary, in particular, deserves to be read in full.

(Ed. note: The Reaction is also an endorser of Online Integrity and its Statement of Principles. -- MJWS)

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  • As a person who wrote letters to editors for many a year, I'm aware of how the Brown Shirts can make life uncomfortable for people who, for instance, remind the public that Tom Jefferson and Ben Franklin were Liberals.

    What is worse than exposing an anonymous writer is the treatment he receives by the enemies of dissent and the enforcers of orthodoxy once his identity is known.

    I feel for Armando, because I've had death threats, because I've needed to carry a weapon to protect myself from people like to tell you this is a free country while stuffing a gag in your mouth.

    By Blogger Capt. Fogg, at 9:52 AM  

  • Good point, Capt. Fogg. One problem here, however, is that Armando didn't do a great job of securing his anonymity. Indeed, a quick internet search can reveal his identity without too much difficulty.

    I don't agree with what the NRO blogger did (what was the point?), but Armando should have been more careful.

    A really good post on the Armando affair can be found at James Joyner's Outside the Beltway (one of the best conservative blogs out there -- he even links to Greg's post, which is very nice):

    By Blogger Michael J.W. Stickings, at 10:15 AM  

  • Brown Shirts? Puhleeze. That would be the Kossacks who flame people who post comments outside of Kossack orthodoxy, like me, whenever I would play up the Green Party over there.

    Beyond that, first, Armando "outed" himself. Appearing by name AND Kos association at a Stanford Law conference, on NPR, etc., there's nothing immoral about tying this together with his hyopcrisy.

    And, in my mind, he is guilty as charged both of that and of being a corporate shill.

    On that second point, it's FAR MORE than just Wal-Mart. First, Armando is a partner, not just a staff attorney, at McConnell Valdes. So, all the company's clients are his, in a sense.

    And those clients include:
    1. Altria (nee Philip Morris)
    2. Multiple members of Big Pharma
    3. GE Capital

    Read more about it on my blog. In fact, to me, this raises the question of whether he was trying to protect his anonymity not for any reasons related to his blogging per se, but to hide it from his corporate clients.

    NOTE: I got booted from Kos Friday after two successive diaries of mine commenting on this issue got deleted there. I’ve done several posts on my blog related to this about the cult-like attitude of many Kossacks, which must be at least passively allowed by Markos himself and his right-hand Goebbels, Armando.

    By Blogger Gadfly, at 4:33 AM  

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