The topic of blogger identity (in all its myriad of potential meanings) is a constant hot button issue, for obvious reason. Every now and again someone will run into massive real life issues based on their blogging activity, as our friend DGT did most recently, and the shock wave will be felt throughout the blogosphere in various ways. It should not be surprising that those of us who blog under a pseudonym can be protective of our identities, even if we go out of the way to ensure we don't reveal much that might get us into any trouble. Nevertheless, there are readers who feel they will somehow be enriched by knowing the blogger's identity, even if it really has no bearing on what they reading. I can promise you that you know far more about me by reading the blog than you will ever learn from my CV or by browsing my publications. Perhaps for some, the ability to find my lab website or verify my track record gives some credence to my opinions, but you will only find that I don't claim to be anything I am not.
On three occasions I have been contacted by people who had "discovered" my identity - twice by an email from people who know me personally that recognized something on the blog, and once by an anonymous comment left on the blog yesterday morning on an earlier post. Though yesterday's commenter was complimentary of the blog and suggested that they had no intention of "outing me", there remains an element of discomfort in reading that an anonymous stranger spent time digging through potential candidates to figure out who I might be, while content to remain anonymous themselves. It is one thing to have a friend write and say "This has to be you", and yet another for an anonymous entity hailing from a city where you have never been to be searching you out. Perhaps there is an alternate version of Science Scouts out there, where merit badges are earned with each blogger identity determined.
Whereas I do not take special effort to conceal my identity, I also try and limit any details that might make it easy for someone to figure it out. Anyone who reads this or most blogs for long enough will probably gather enough information over time to narrow their search, but the question remains, what is gained in doing so? For those who find the search some sort of internet scavenger hunt and who feel the need to inform the blogger of their success, I would suggest doing so in a manner that is not entirely anonymous. We don't come to your house at night to whisper "I know who you are" through your window and it would be nice if we could expect the same. Though I am not particularly bothered by a few readers being able to find my lab website, the reason I blog under a pseudonym is because I try to be open about what I am going through to give those who are interested a feel for the trials and tribulations of this job. Can I do that honestly while getting "I found you!" notes slipped under my door? I'm not entirely sure. I guess it comes with the territory in our "US Weekly culture" that seems unable to separate the public from the private.