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I’ve just had a very painful blogging experience, involving someone whose work I rather like: I’m refusing to publish an article submitted for guest posting.
Let’s back up a bit…
Long time readers (bofem) know that blogging (whatever that means) is only a part of what I do. I spend a fair amount of time programming, learning new technology, and working with my clients. Anyone who has connected with me on LinkedIn also knows I have far too much education, and my professional connections span an unlikely range of people from Berkeley professors to Florida tanning salon owners to boiled peanut salesmen from Georgia.
All good in my book.
Long time readers also know I have published articles on Website In A Weekend by anonymous and – this is important – pseudonymous authors.
These authors are anonymous to you, but not to me. I have a policy of connecting via LinkedIn with all authors who I publish here.
I have made no exception.
And that’s what’s painful.
Because I really want to make an exception in this case.
But I’m not going to and here’s why.
My personal goal for Website In A Weekend is to use it as a platform for developing real, absolute expertise with respect to WordPress, blogging and to a lesser extent, online sales and marketing. Now, I don’t especially care for the terms “guru” or “expert,” and you won’t find me claiming to be an expert on much of anything, but I do want people think of me when they have a problem to solve in this space.
In short, I’m building authority.
When I publish something from an “anonymous” author with whom I’ve connected on LinkedIn, I can assert that I know who that person is, and why I’m willing to vouch for that person’s authority and credibility.
As stated above, I maintain professional relationships with a wide range of people, spanning a number of communities. By communities, I’m also implying a subculture with many unwritten rules governing social behavior within the community.
Anonymity has no place in those communities.
The article I want to publish is really very good. It’s covering breaking technology, right on the heels of Scoble. It’s well written. The material is useful and interesting to readers of Website In A Weekend.
So what’s the problem?
The author of the article requests full anonymity and won’t connect on LinkedIn.
I had to think about this one. Should I break policy just this once? The article is excellent. I like the author, and in fact have spent some time mentoring that author. But think. It’s a slippery slope, and what’s the long term upside for me? A blog post? At the expense of credibility?
Publishing on Website In A Weekend may not seem like a very big deal. And perhaps it isn’t. But it’s still publishing. And publishing in the large is a partly matter of doing a lot more publishing in the small.
At the least, blogging is “good practice for the real thing.”
Folks, this stuff is as a real as you make it. As serious as you want it to be. Anonymity surely has a place in the wider scheme of things, of that there’s no doubt.
But where is anonymity’s place in the content and relationship market place of blogging?
And how do anonymous authors get paid?
I’m asking these questions in good faith. This has been painful. However, while I’ve made up mind for now, I’d like to hear what others have to say. Given the current brouhaha erupting around anonymity’s kissin’ cousin privacy, this discussion is timely and relevant.
For what it’s worth, I instituted the LinkedIn policy after having an article submitted by a somewhat controversial blogger who, at the time, was publishing anonymously. I accepted on the condition of a real head shot and a LinkedIn connection.
Going forward, I’ll be making LinkedIn connections mandatory for mentoring as well. I’m not charging anything for mentoring (probably another gross mistake), but seriously, I need to know who I’m spending my time with.