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Do you blog? Do you identify yourself on your blog? Please do!

Note: This blog post is from 2006. Some content may be outdated--though not necessarily. Same with links and subsequent comments from myself or others. Corrections are welcome, in the comments. And I may revise the content as necessary.
I'm so surprised by how many blogs I come across where the blogger has not identified themselves in any way: no name, no bio, no email link. I suppose some may do it intentionally, as some form of anonymity (and I do realize why some may not want to list their email), but I honestly think most just had't thought about whether to list their name or anything more.

I'd like to put out a plea to at least consider listing your name, either in your title ("clever name - by blogger name"), or just in some text below it, or in your toolbar. Better still would be a small bio, or a link to a page that has one. (Maybe it would help if blog software offered an "about" pod that made you think of it more readily.) A photo would be nice, too. And for reasons (and with cautions) I propose below, I recommend you also list your email address.

Why bother with name, bio, and/or email? Because it's in your interest!

There are a couple of reasons to consider it, and they help both you and your readers.

First, as for listing at least your name, a good reason is simply to associate yourself with all the value you create by your blog. Why not get credit for your work? Plus, many would really like to know who you are. (And if your blog software puts a tiny "by" under each blog entry, I'll argue that's not enough. I've missed that myself on more than one site.) Again, whether in the title, below it, or in the toolbar, just put it somewhere! :-)

As for a bio, again, even just a couple sentences about yourself (below the title or in the toolbar) can really personalize the blog. Don't assume everyone knows your background, even if they know you by name. Many readers will appreciate knowing more about where you work, where you're from, etc. Such details can also lend perspective to what you write about. (For instance, if you're a fan or a foe of something where that would color all of your posts, it can be helpful for people to realize, "oh, he works for them|on that open source project|with that tool| etc.)." Let people know where you're coming from.) But at least consider offering some background, even a single sentence.

Finally, as for your email address, someone may want to contact you to offer feedback that's not specific to a post. They may want to offer you work (and not want to announce that in a blog comment)--and even then, which post should they enter such a generic note to you in, anyway? Keep in mind that not all readers realize that you get notified of all comments by email, so they may give up trying to contact you.

Heck, they may even have trouble posting a comment, and therefore need *some* way to contact you. I've certainly seen that before.

But isn't it bad to post your email address online?

OK, I realize you may not want to offer your email, as spambots will capture it. But you've probably noticed more and more people listing their addresses as "name (at) domain". The thinking is that people can figure that out, but spambots (at least the dummer ones) will not. I'll grant that they'll eventually catch on. You just need to way how important the benefits are against the pain of more spam. (You do have a spam catching program, I hope? I love the one I use, Cloudmark Desktop. No, it's not free, but there are certainly many of them you can check out.)

Be careful using that (at) trick with Mailto links
If you do decide to use the (at) approach, but you also offer a mailto link, like:

be careful: you need to list the "anti-spammer" address in the mailto (used to launch the email) as well as between the a tags (as shown to the user). Spambots grab all the text on your page, not just what's "visible". This is a pain, because then in the email that's opened the user must notice that you've done this and change it, or the mail will fail to get to you. What I do is explain to the user that by forcing some body text into the mail that's opened. Did you know that was possible?

<a href="mailto:charlie (at) carehart.org?body=please change the spam-fighting email address format I filled in for you, replacing the (at)!">charlie (at) carehart.org</a>

And for those who maybe already knew about it, did you know that you could also use:

<a href="http://tipicalcharlie.blog-city.com/forcing_a_line_break_in_an_html_email_link.htm">force a line break within such content in an HTML email link</a>
(this is from another blog of mine, typicalcharlie.com, which is for generic, non-CF tips)

So please, bloggers, step up and identify yourself. We'll all appreciate it!

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Comments
Charlie,
I believe you are absolutely correct. I myself am guilty of not doing this and I need to take my online presence more seriously. After MAX, I will probably choose a CF host provider to launch a website for personal promotion and infomation sharing as way to brand myself.

Excellent tips of the mailto links.

Teddy
# Posted By Teddy R Payne | 10/6/06 10:59 AM
Guilty. I've been meaning to do this, but I'm waiting until 5.5 is publicly released so I can take advantage of all the fun new stuff (like Pages).

Not that anyone wants to contact me or anything though.
# Posted By todd | 10/6/06 11:03 AM
Todd,
I think the whole point here is to make people want to contact you. branding, driving your content..etc.

Teddy
# Posted By Teddy R Payne | 10/6/06 11:09 AM
Thanks, Charlie. I like to credit people -- or make sure that I'm not forgetting to credit people! -- and I feel stupid doing a WhoIs search just to try to learn who contributed something good.

Scoble got onto a "must provide private contact" campaign for awhile, but he also learned it wasn't sustainable, in his situation -- I've been target of misdirected (and broadcasted) private support calls for many years, and it has scarred me from backchannel, off-the-public-record work.

If you're trying to attract new business opportunities for yourself, though, then a contact path is necessary. For anonymous blogging, it's helpful if the blog states it's intentionally anonymous.
# Posted By John Dowdell | 10/6/06 11:11 AM
Thanks for the kick in the pants Charlie! I actually had a situation the other day where a reader wanted to send me congrats on my new job offline and had to guess my e-mail address. He got it right, but that was enough to realize I needed to my tail in gear and get something up. Done now!
# Posted By Dave Carabetta | 10/6/06 12:01 PM
Glad to hear people are liking it, and especially if bloggers are responding to it. :-)

Hey, let me say here, too, that I've gotten email from someone saying he could not leave comments on my blog because of a problem with the captcha. But clearly that's no problem for many.

If anyone finds they can't comment, please drop me a note at charlie (at) carehart.org, indicating your browser and OS. If you can include a screenshot showing the problem, I'd appreciate that as well. Thanks.
# Posted By Charlie Arehart | 10/6/06 3:15 PM
The captcha component that you can use can create some pretty unlegible characters. it is hard to determine the differences between 1 and I. It may be a matter of limiting the pool of fonts used for the capture and the level of distortion.
# Posted By Teddy R payne | 10/6/06 3:21 PM
No, that wasn't it. He was saying there was no captcha image, so it's something more troublesome.

As for the captcha tool's occasional use of illegible characters, are you really referring to mine? I've modified it to make it much more readable than any other use of that captcha tool, as I discuss in the link below the captcha itself.

Indeed, there should never be concern over 1 vs l, as it is only characters. But I don't point that out. I'll add that. If I could, I'd change it to use only numbers, but that's not an option in the captcha tool's setup currently (Peter, you listening?).
# Posted By Charlie Arehart | 10/6/06 4:38 PM
Now that would be an interesting feature if you could limit your alphabet. I have not digested the Lyla Captcha as yet.
# Posted By Teddy R Payne | 10/6/06 4:43 PM
Don't forget good ole <img> for your email address: human readable, not machine. You could even make a captcha-like image for your email address.
# Posted By Matt Williams | 10/6/06 9:23 PM
Hey, that's a good idea, too. Thanks, Matt.
# Posted By Charlie Arehart | 10/6/06 9:40 PM
Charlie, I'm a long time sinner in this regards. The waterswing blog I'm running has no mention of my name what so ever. However, one of several reasons I've bloged so little there lately is that I'm setting up a new blog for my self, with my name both in the url and the header image. I'll not bore you with other reasons why I've blogged lately, but will confine my self to mention that several of these issues will resolve once I'm over on the new blog. Stay tuned :)
# Posted By Trond Ulseth | 10/8/06 6:44 PM
I guess if you are looking for a job, then "branding" would be good......that being said....

There seems to be a fundamental difference between my generaltion (baby boomers) who place a premium on privacy, and the next one, who don't seem to. Not that either is wrong, it is just an interesting difference. Like most of my peers, I find the public blooging, websites, and especially the MySpace phenomenons perplexing at best.

Okay, back to lurking.
# Posted By Mkey | 10/9/06 12:43 AM
Interesting take, Mikey. That said, I really have to disagree with the assertion that only one "looking for a job" should worry about this. (I mean, if you meant "branding", ok, though that would apply to consultants as well, who sell their services.) But as I said in the entry, this isn't just about branding but simply letting readers know who they're reading.

I mean, if you have no idea who a person is, you don't know for sure what to make of their assertions. They could have a severe bias that may not be obvious at first--and many do just read one or two entries of a blogger, because they're pointed there by an aggregator. Not all readers are loyal ones who come to know the blogger.

Finally, though, you say you find public blogging and websites perplexing--and you even suggest that this is a common sentiment among your peers. Forgetting Myspace (a separate phenomenon entirely), what part is perplexing?

It can't be "why people read them", since you are doing so yourself. :-) If instead you mean why people would write them, do you mean why would they share their knowledge (which for me is to return the favor of so many from whom I've learned)?

Or do you mean why do some bloggers share more intimate personal details? That part I can agree I don't get, but different strokes. I just want to make a clear distinction between blogging and sites that share knowledge for everyone's edification, versus those that are more pandering to voyeurism.
# Posted By Charlie Arehart | 10/9/06 11:42 AM
Situation mended: http://trond.ulseth.... :)
# Posted By Trond Ulseth | 10/18/06 4:03 PM
Great to see. Thanks. I may start a new blog listing the many "offenders" that remain. I put that in quotes because (as discussed above) some may intentionally prefer to stay anonymous.

Really, I'm not out to embarrass anyone but rather to help them. I'm sure many just don't even notice it and (like you) will address it if it's brought to their attention. They may not read my blog entry, but a friend may point out if I have listed them.

(Same with those who run BlogCFC and have not implemented the simplified captcha. I may list them, hoping to cajole them to fix it. I even now just give them the XML file to drop in to solve the problem: http://carehart.org/...)
# Posted By Charlie Arehart | 10/18/06 4:19 PM
Getting that xml file for the simplified captcha in there was on my todo list. Because of your comment above and a little kick in the butt by Andy J in a comment on my blog I now got around to doing it. Thanx a bunch for making the xml file available Charlie!
# Posted By Trond Ulseth | 10/19/06 4:16 AM
Guilty as charged. Amended now Charlie.
# Posted By Peter Coppinger (Topper) | 3/28/08 12:07 PM
Thanks Charlie for this post.
# Posted By Akbar | 4/19/08 2:36 AM
Glad to help, Akbar. Thanks for the feedback.
# Posted By Charlie Arehart | 4/19/08 3:01 PM
To the discussion above about ways for people to contact you, here are a few solutions to let you offer a contact form on your site:

http://www.makeuseof...
http://www.makeuseof...
http://www.makeuseof...

And here's a way to create an image with your email address, which at least stops automated harvesters:

http://www.makeuseof...

Finally, there are a few other solutions mentioned in an article on stopping spam in general:

http://www.makeuseof...
# Posted By Charlie Arehart | 7/18/08 10:44 AM
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