EFF Promotes 007 Stealth Blogging for the Workplace

Source Title:
Work bloggers offered guidelines
Story Text:

The EFF have issued dubious guidelines on how to blog anonymously. Rather than take the approach of how to blog safely, they advocate anonymity and promote tools and services to acheive that..

Now, i've nothing really against blogging, or doing pretty much anything else anonymously, but this does seem to rather go against the tide and trend of transparency within the blogosphere, and if kicking the company you work for anonymously is what you're after, surely that anonymity just makes you appear to be "some lunatic"?

From the EFF Guide to Anonymous Blogging

Let's say you want to start a blog about your terrible work environment but you don't want to risk your boss or colleagues discovering that you're writing about them. You'll want to consider how to anonymize every possible detail about your situation. And you may also want to use one of several technologies that make it hard for anyone to trace the blog back to you

They go on to list and explain several key concepts to achieve the above:

  • Use a Pseudonym and Don't Give Away Any Identifying Details
  • Use Anonymizing Technologies
  • Limit Your Audience
  • Don't Be Googleable

Almost as a footnote they address blogging safely but i really fail to see how this guide helps anyone do anything other than appear to be a raving, bitter lunatic.

Dont be Googleable?

Fantomaster rasies a good point about their advice to use robots.txt so that your anonymous crackpot blog doesn't get found: Search engines do not always obey robots.txt!

In fact, as he says, it's long been reported, and is most often explained away as "a technical glitch" when an SE breaks a robots.txt ban.

oogle has a long, ignominous track record of ignoring the robots.txt convention ever and again. (Usually trivialized as a “technical glitch” by the Googleguys of this world.) And the other engines are no exception. Granted that it’s not an ongoing violation, but it’s persistent enough to more than just mildly worry about if privacy and anonymity are at stake.

Moreover, putting one’s trust in Google of all unlikely institutions, a company exceedingly well connected with what is euphemistically termed the “intelligence community” (read snoops) and whose head honchos are notorious for their security clearance with the ? NSA and possibly other agencies, is tantamount to having all your sheep herded by that really cool and accommodating wolf next door. If you feel that’s an unfair overstatement, ask any Chinese dissident …

Like fanto, i can only think of this as a naive and misguided effort from the usually well intentioned and respected EFF.


am I missing something?

If you aren't telling friends and collegues and you don't want to be googleable then is there any point in doing it? Unless you have an audience, or at least a potential one, you may as well just mutter to yourself like a traditional lunatic surely?

oh - and of course if you write something truly awful and the company finds it and want to sue the courts could require your details are released. It's pretty hard to be totally untraceable I reckon....


> It's pretty hard to be totally untraceable I reckon....

proxies, free email registration, and a free blog software provider like live journal or blogger. how do you trace it when everything is free and anonymous?


They recommed Invisblog...


...so it was an ad for invisiblog?

Nice rants there BTW, and room for lots more ;-]


if kicking the company you work for anonymously is what you're after, surely that anonymity just makes you appear to be "some lunatic"?

Anonymity can work against you, but not always. One only has to look at how much discussion was raised on the treatment of game developers by the anonymous ea_spouse.

Still, not everyone who wishes to remain anonymous wants to do so purely because they want to complain about the company they work for. There are a number of companies that are "blogaphobic" and will treat employees discovered to have blogs negatively.

There was the incident in which Delta Airlines fired a flight attendant because she talked about her life and posted some pictures of herself in her flight attendant uniform. It makes it difficult to talk about your life in any real way if your company is going to be paranoid enough to fire you if you mention them even in a neutral light.

Of course there are other reasons to go mostly anonymous with a blog, such as stalkers. You can't go for a month on Livejournal without seeing at least one woman taking her journal private because some guy starts stalking her.

In the end, I don't believe the EFF's advice is solely meant for the A-list bloggers, but for the millions of people who use blogs to share their lives with a few friends and family. They don't really lose anything with anonymity, because they're not as concerned with getting a big following and are able to tell their friends and family how to find their writing without reliance on Google.


Derek the Delta woman posed in what she clearly meant to be provocative pictures (they didn't do a lot for me but some of you seem to find them exciting) in her company uniform on company property. That isn't a neutral comment.

I agree there may be times you want to be anonymous for all sorts of reasons but wanting to keep your baby pics relatively private doesn't require the full monty anonymous, go speak to BT or Yahoo and they'll give you an account that does it.

Anonymous isn't wrong at all in itself - but services which let you be that anonymous are on very shaky ground I reckon.


None of the reports I've read about the incident have painted them as anything other than the usual "goofy poses" people will have of themselves in uniform, so you'll have to forgive me for making a mistake regarding the situation with their content.

I also agree that going to the point of anonymous proxies and the like is overkill in all but the most extreme situations, and even then it's debateable.

Still, there are a number of reasons for anonymity to the degree you suggest, such as simply getting a Livejournal account and not revealing any obviously identifiable information. I have a number of friends who do their best to avoid such identity with their blogs on account of two of our friends getting harrassed at their workplaces after co-workers found their Livejournal blogs with a quick Google and discovered that the first was a liberal atheist and the other was a lesbian.

I know that I personally avoid putting some of my political opinions in my blog simply because I've had employers google for my name during the hiring process.


from the BBC article Nick links to there's a link to comments from bloggers - the very first one has it dead on - he speaks at length but it basically comes down to

I don't blog about anything, or share opinions, that I wouldn't feel happy talking about up on a stage in front of friends and strangers.

And otherwise:

Keep a diary. You know the ones with a lock on...

Nice touch as well - the handwriting. Use a real pen if you're feeling stylish and/or important.


Im not sure why [url=http://norsehorses-turf.blogspot.com/2005/04/for-those-times-when-using-condom-will.html
]Morgan didnt use trackback[/url] but he's a nice guy who i've been talking to in email a bit...

If that is what they call a guide to safe blogging, then it is like suggesting that a person wear a (male) condom over the wrong head (i.e., the one above their shoulders rather than the one between their legs -- a male's anyway) when engaging in sexual intercourse.

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