On anonymity.

So. My name actually is Robert Liguori. (Mostly. There’s an amusing story about my middle name/names that I may get into later.) I’m writing under my real name, as you may note.

This is widely considered a Bad Idea by most of the internet. It means that people can cross-reference my writings to my apparent age to my name, and identify who I am. “Aha!” they shout. “A Robert Liguori who talks about economics, programming, and music! I know that guy!”

(Note: That is not me. I do, however, recommend Robert J. Liguori’s pocket Java guide as a quite serviceable example of its species. I own a copy because having a book on programming with your name on the cover on your desk at work creates hilarity.)

But even with there being multiple Robert Liguoris (Roberts Liguori? ‘Robert Liguori’s?) around, and even with some of them being kind of eerily similar to me, I’m still putting myself out there.

But that’s OK. I don’t really feel that I’m at risk of being doxxed or outed or having a crazed mob of Twitterers calling my employer at all hours of the night demanding I be fired for my egregious outrage against the Cause of the Week. This is because I’m literate in basic statistics, of course, and can look at the relative rates of high-impact firings in my profession, and note that they are like bolts of lightning from the blue; horrifying and unfair, but also very, very rare. It’s also because I try to follow the wisdom of Paul Graham and Treebeard both, and so I’m not really a high-profile target for any group who’s likely to be throwing around the aforementioned crazed Twitter mobs. (This is not to be unfair to Twitter, of course. This is to fairly point out that Twitter is specifically calibrated for minimal nuance and content and maximal outrage, and that this calibration produces expected effects.)

So, here is the test case. Here I am, writing about what I choose to write about, under my real name. I’ve actually been doing this for years now, and I do get a kick out of people recognizing me on one site from the impression I’ve made on another. Nothing bad’s happened to me yet. In fact, something pretty good has happened to me; by writing under my real name, I feel the need to write things I can be proud of.

But, if disaster befalls me on account of this, I’ll try to let you all know.


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