Sign Your Posts

I’ve written previously about anonymous blogging, and if that’s really what you want to do, by all means do it. However most of us are rather proud of what we write and aren’t trying to hide our identity. Nonetheless many bloggers effectively hide without realizing they’re doing it. If you do want people to know who you are, do yourself and your readers a favor: sign your posts.

I probably notice this more than most because I’m often trying to figure out who wrote a given post to attribute a quote for Cafe au Lait or Cafe con Leche. However, I suspect even casual readers like to know who’s writing something. Identity is important whether it’s your legal name or a pseudonym such as “Why the Lucky Stiff”. Especially when many people arrive at a post from links on other sites, it usually isn’t obvious who wrote any given post.

This may seem strange if you’ve been pouring out your personal life on your blog for the last two years. Of course people know who you are! But do they really? Do they know your name? Many readers haven’t been following along for all that time. Even if they have, they probably see the names of your spouse, children, co-workers, cats, and colleagues more often than they see yours. When we refer to ourselves, we write using “we” or “I”, rarely our actual names, even though this is one of the key pieces of information any reader is going to use to figure out who we are.

Sometimes your name is available on an “About Me” or “Contact Us” page, but that makes the user go hunting for it, and few will bother. Put your name on every page and make it as prominent as reasonably possible. This site puts my name (“Elliotte Rusty Harold” if you were wondering) in the upper right hand corner of the page. On Mokka mit Schlag, I even add a picture to go with it.

Perhaps even better is to include the author after the title of the entry or after the page, like an e-mail signature. This is especially critical on group blogs where different people write different pages. Immediately after the title is probably the best place to position the name because readers don’t always get to the end. E.g.

Sign Your Posts

By Elliotte Rusty Harold

If you do put your name at the end, put it at the end of the post, like an e-mail signature. Don’t restrict it to the bottom of the page after potentially dozens of comments few readers will wade through. You can put your name there too if you like–redundancy is OK–but a fine print copyright notice is not enough. Let us know who you are in big bold type, ideally right at the front.

Elliotte Rusty Harold

9 Responses to “Sign Your Posts”

  1. Asbjørn Ulsberg Says:

    Not only “sign your posts”, but “write an about page” too. Preferably with a picture. A blog is usually a personal website, after all. If all I know about the blog is the blogger’s name, or even worse, nothing about the author at all, how can it be personal?

  2. John Cowan Says:

    Thanks for the heads-up. I have modified the header on Recycled Knowledge to have my name right under the title.

  3. Brad Huffman Says:

    I would also recommend adding a date to all pages.

  4. lefty Says:

    I agree with Brad Huffman. I’d much rather see a date on all pages than anything about the author.

  5. Colin Prince Says:

    I second the Date comment above. Name is a good idea yes. Date is a great idea.

    The comments have dates, which is good.



  6. len Says:

    Anonymous blogs like anonymous comments go to the O-file as a policy. Someone would need a pretty good yarn not to have that done. I tried a policy of non-moderation and anonymous blog comments, but it attracts vermin.

  7. John Cowan Says:

    There really are no anonymous blogs. There are anonymous comments, of course (and I’ve used them occasionally in sufficiently righteous circumstances), but at most a blog can be pseudonymous, unless you only write one posting ever. And any blog could be pseudonymous, including yours and mine and Elliotte’s, unless you are in a position to check the author’s hard ID.

  8. len bullard Says:

    Good catch, John. The policy I try to follow:

    1. I sign everything I write with my own name. Always have and always will.
    2. On my personal blog (lamammals), there is a comment policy in the right column. Essentially, if it isn’t signed, I delete it.
    3. On the 3D blog, comments have to pertain to the subject of the blog. I try to discipline myself to keep the posts to the topic it being a code blog for learning X3D.

    I agree with Bray on this one: you are responsible for your blog and you are responsible for the comments posted there. One can come up with some very complex systems but I think that works best.

  9. eastack Says:

    I think add the author to the post is more good idea..