More on Anonymity on the Internet

Mark Bennett, consummate defense attorney and proprietor of the hold-no-punches-take-no-prisoners Defending People blog, will no longer accept anonymous comments — we wants real names and verifiable email addresses. In this, he is joining a minor movement.

I'll miss commenting at Mark's blog. I'm secure in my reasons for blogging semi-anonymously, and at peace with the fact that some people I respect think it's chickenshit. Obviously, as semi-anonymous bloggers, we won't be requiring commenters here to use their real names. We will, however, continue to reap your credit card information and your hot cousin's beach pictures from your hard drives.

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  1. says

    Exceptions will be considered for people with established internet personas (personae?), especially if I know who they are. You and whatsisname are always welcome.

  2. Mike says

    The "courage" stuff is getting the fuck out of line.

    Dude, the people talking about courage have good blogs. But the blog are most certainly NOT controversial. The blogs don't take any courage to write. They aren't identifying unethical prosecutors or judges; or taking any real risks.

    Again, so no one gets butt hurt: Good blogs – fantastic by legal blogging standards. The blogs aren't the kinds of thing that cause a person to lose his job, though.

    Fuck, the What About Clients? blog (which I also read and enjoy) just bitches about how lazy kids are; and brag about how much the bloggers work. "We tell our associates that work-life balance is *their* problem, not ours." Well, fuck, if that ain't just the most courageous shit I've ever heard. NEVER heard of a hard-working lawyer: The profession isn't full of workaholics. Good grief.

    What the fuck?! So bitching about "kids, these days" and bragging about working a lot of hours is some sort of act of moral courage – because it's not done anonymously?

    Once I start seeing posts that make me think, "Oh, shit. That blogger is going to see that prosecutor in court tomorrow. That judge he just called a 'prosecutor in robes' is going to be pissed! That's gonna be awkward," then I'll be more sympathetic to the bravado.

    Seriously, bro…. Do you remember when Norm used to blog regularly at C&F a couple of years ago? Now *that* was courageous blogging. Norm used to say shit that actually caused awkward moments. Even I'd cringe, thinking, "Dayuuuum, son…" A co-blogger even got so whiny that he quit blogging at C&F because of Norm! Norm has always been my model blogger. Who in the legal blogosphere is doing anything like what Norm was doing?

    Blogging CAN require some courage. That said, I don't see peeling-paint-from-the-walls types of post that justify all of this talk about courage. I don't see bloggers risking their jobs or reputations based on some principle they believe in. I see some ruffling of the feathers, but that's it. Most legal blogging is just pissing and moaning about "the system," or poking and prodding other legal bloggers about bullshit that doesn't matter; but that both bloggers take seriously.

    I just saw some pictures of a friend's child "graduating" kindergarten. That picture reminded me of the blogospheric talk of courage.

    P.S. While you fucking cowards brewed your own swill, I went OUTSIDE for coffee this morning. You know how many people DIE on the MEAN STREETS each day? Cowards!

  3. Bob says

    I maintain a fairly anonymous presence on the web because I don't need a job interview to turn into a congressional hearing while someone who doesn't have a public record of everything they've ever thought is given a free pass.

  4. says

    I sure hope it was decaf.

    I cannot tell you how hard I laughed at this. Tell Mike that Guiness Book of World Records called, and he's one "fuck" short. It must be something about Popehat, because he's such a choirboy at SJ.

  5. Mike says

    Oh, and another thing!

    People are mistaking narcissism for courage.

    How many people would blog if they couldn't blog under their real names? Let's face it: People like seeing their name up in lights. Google Alert your name. Check your stats. Google your blog's name. See who is linking back. Reciprocal link to encourage mutual e-blog-fucking and linkbacks. Etc.

    I used to be into that, though, so I can relate. Once I found my own identity, I stopped caring. Seeking the validation of others means that one is not confident in himself. True egoism comes from a detachment from the approval of others.

    "I want people to know who I am," isn't the same thing as being deserving of a Silver Star with a V for Valor.

    Or, as Hull would write it: Remember the Name. V. For. Valor. Integrity. Italicized. Courage is Never Having to Post Anonymously.

    This is ten percent luck, twenty percent skill
    Fifteen percent concentrated power of will
    Five percent pleasure, fifty percent pain
    And a hundred percent reason to remember the name!

  6. says

    Here, "courage" is a red herring. It's got nothing to do with the question at hand. The opposite of cowardice is not necessarily courage.

    That those who key cars in the nighttime are cowardly doesn't mean that diurnal car-keyers, or people who don't key cars at all, are courageous.

    I don't claim any sort of courage in blogging; more often than not the threat of retaliation against my clients keeps me from posting as Normly as I would in a perfect world. And I'm still sad that Mike won't comment on Defending People.

  7. says

    Mike–WAC? is about a lot things. Thanks for reading it; however, it would be good if you could be fair about what it is and isn't.

    Hopefully, WAC? is really about quality and old verities. And increasingly read by lawyers who are well-rounded, and have robust educations and leadership instincts. We're trying, anyway. We think the law, lawyers, and even the Internet can be better. That's all it is for us: making the whole neighborhood better, more credible, and a place we can feel proud of being a part of.

    We have never taken blogging that seriously. As of April of 2005, I still had no idea what a "blog" was; I had to ask. People suggested that we do it due to our ideas on law practice–commercial litigation in federal courts in particular–and our international practice (which we were doing in a boutique setting with 15 lawyers formerly from much larger firms and GC offices, and doing that way since 1996, before lawyering abroad was "cool"). And we had a few good writers at the firm in both PA and DC. We had also intended to write a lot about corporate tax and M&A–and we will likely do that in the future.

    Lawyering: that we are serious about. We are also serious about hard work–and not sending the wrong messages to people who want to accomplish anything in any workplace. You can't dumb down lawyering at certain levels. Not much cookie cutter stuff. Time intensive, too.

    Blogging, frankly, to get back to that, kind of embarrasses us (our law firm). Most of the people we really respect–and want to impress–are just not blogging or even reading blogs. They are too busy accomplishing things, and solving problems. Certainly, our clients and targeted clients are NOT blogging or reading blogs. They are too busy. I am 100% sure of this. It's not happening. That may change–but I am not sure I even want it to change. Frankly, I would rather choke to death than mention our blog at lunch, dinner or in a phone conversation with any GC or in-house lawyer for a client. If we did talk a lot about blogging, clients (note: ours are generally publicly-traded; the reps are hardworking and well-educated) would think my law firm was a bunch of lightweights and pansies with not enough work to do.

    Clients know about WAC? But we only talk about it if asked. Doesn't happen much. The truth: sophisticated clients could care less.

    Bloggers need to understand that we are still an insular community. Yes, that will probably change. For now, many people think that bloggers are passive-aggressive backdoor-power types who are not too swift out in the real world. Bennett and Greenfield? They do not fit the stereotype at all. They are the kind of lawyers in personality type our clients like very much.

    Younger lawyers/Gen-Y: it is my firm's failure that they have not worked out. And my failure, and Julie McGuire's. We are now thinking about either (a) not hiring any more "young ones" for a 5 or 6 years, or (b) making them pay to learn on our shop. In the last 5 years alone we have lost hundreds of thousands of dollars (maybe more) because of a drop-off in the work ethic and a failure to acknowledge the elegant–but difficult–complexity and ambiguity that many legal problems pose. The law schools have not emphasized in any measure to current students the sacrifices you must make to learn and do law right. Or its complexities. Research, analytical and writing skills–even among 'great' students–is way down, and bordering on semi-retarded, semi-literate and just plain lazy and goofy. Standards themselves are down. I have no idea why. Tech has changed things–but it can't change the time and ardor it takes to solve complex problems for corporations, or individuals.

    In short, we blog/write because we feel strongly about law practice being hard–and have some ideas on how to do it, and even make it fun.

    And we like to write.

    Thanks for reading, sir.

    Dan Hull