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How to Blog Anonymously

The best way to blog and still preserve some privacy is to do it anonymously. But being anonymous isn't as easy as you might think.

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.

1. Use a Pseudonym and Don't Give Away Any Identifying Details

When you write about your workplace, be sure not to give away telling details. These include things like where you're located, how many employees there are, and the specific sort of business you do. Even general details can give away a lot. If, for example, you write, "I work at an unnamed weekly newspaper in Seattle," it's clear that you work in one of two places. So be smart. Instead, you might say that you work at a media outlet in a mid-sized city. Obviously, don't use real names or post pictures of yourself. And don't use pseudonyms that sound like the real names they're based on--so, for instance, don't anonymize the name "Annalee" by using the name "Leanne." And remember that almost any kind of personal information can give your identity away--you may be the only one at your workplace with a particular birthday, or with an orange tabby.

Also, if you are concerned about your colleagues finding out about your blog, do not blog while you are at work. Period. You could get in trouble for using company resources like an Internet connection to maintain your blog, and it will be very hard for you to argue that the blog is a work-related activity. It will also be much more difficult for you to hide your blogging from officemates and IT operators who observe traffic over the office network.

2. Use Anonymizing Technologies

There are a number of technical solutions for the blogger who wishes to remain anonymous.

If you are worried that your blog-hosting service may be logging your unique IP address and thus tracking what computer you're blogging from, you can use the anonymous network Tor to edit your blog. Tor routes your Internet traffic through what's called an "overlay network" that hides your IP address. More importantly, Tor makes it difficult for snoops on the Internet to follow the path your data takes and trace it back to you.

3. Use Ping Servers

If you want to protect your privacy while getting news out quickly, try using ping servers to broadcast your blog entry for you. Pingomatic http://www.pingomatic.com is a tool that allows you to do this by broadcasting to a lot of news venues at once, while making you untraceable. The program will send out notice (a "ping") about your blog entry to several blog search engines like Feedster and Technorati. Once those sites list your entry ñ which is usually within a few minutes ñ you can take the entry down. Thus the news gets out rapidly and its source can evaporate within half an hour. This protects the speaker while also helping the blog entry reach people fast.

4. Limit Your Audience

Many blogging services, including LiveJournal, allow you to designate individual posts or your entire blog as available only to those who have the password, or to people whom you've designated as friends. If your blog's main goal is to communicate to friends and family, and you want to avoid any collateral damage to your privacy, consider using such a feature. If you host your own blog, you can also set it up to be password-protected, or to be visible only to people looking at it from certain computers.

5. Don't Be Googleable

If you want to exclude most major search engines like Google from including your blog in search results, you can create a special file that tells these search services to ignore your domain. The file is called robots.txt, or a Robots Text File. You can also use it to exclude search engines from gaining access to certain parts of your blog. If you don't know how to do this yourself, you can use the "Robots Text File Generator" tool for free at Web Tool Central . However, it's important to remember that search engines like Google may choose to ignore a robots.txt file, thus making your blog easily searchable. There are many tools and tricks for making your blog less searchable, without relying on robots.txt.

6. Register Your Domain Name Anonymously

Even if you don't give your real name or personal information in your blog, people can look up the WHOIS records for your domain name and find out who you are. If you don't want anyone to do this, consider registering your domain name anonymously.



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