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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