Wednesday, February 22, 2006

The Reports of My Death Have Been Greatly Exaggerated

No, folks, I've not stopped blogging. I have, however, been quoted out of context (without being identified, I might add) in an inside higher education article about academic blogging, and the author asserts that I have, in fact, decided to stop blogging because the strain of my pseudonym was too much to bear.

Note to author: try reading the people whom you choose to quote, reading them carefully even. Yes, I have stopped blogging in my old space. Yes, I now blog here. Under the same name. The name that I created for blogging. My alter-ego, if you will. And don't use me to support your argument that blogging, particularly pseudonymous blogging, is too serious, or at least not "serious" in terms of "postmodern play and experimentation" in a way that you deem appropriate for the genre. Dude, I AM experimenting. I AM playing. You just weren't invited to the game.

(Postscript: I'm not sure which irritates me more: being quoted out of context, being quoted without being identified, or being quoted in the service of an argument that I find less than convincing. I suppose it's a toss-up, really. And I'm not linking to the author's blog because I don't want to give him any more traffic. I don't think he deserves it.)


Anonymous said...

this blog is fun.

Dr. Virago said...

I *thought* that was you being quoted. I was pissed off for you, too, but mostly because you were uncited!

Ancrene Wiseass said...

I'm trying to resist getting pulled into this one, but Jeff Rice has really pissed me off, and his quoting you out of context is only making it worse.

I'm really starting to think that this guy is committing one of the cardinal sins of argumentation: manufacturing a position, reading all available evidence through the lens of that position, and regarding any evidence which clearly doesn't support said position as "outlyers."

Which is to say that I don't think he's read much of ANY of the blogs he's so dismissive about: his writing-off of the whole Tribble debate was especially galling. I think he's just embraced the Animal Farm-like doctrine "Real Name Good, Fake Name Bad" and dipped in and out of pseudonymous blogs only enough to misquote and mischaracterize them.

Alexandra said...

I like his taxonomy of pseudonyms: hip-hop, Hollywood, post-modern, and "serious". It's baffling, really, as if the post-modern persona can't be "serious" or the "hip-hop" pseudonym has nothing to do with "postmodern play" or whatever that phrase was. I don't know "Anonymous Professor"s blog, but did anyone else notice that other blogs he mentioned are mostly hosted by female personas? Anyway, the distinction between seriousness and experimentation is bewildering.

Miranda said...

De-lurking to say this blog is fun and informative. I am an aspiring academic and I've learned a lot about dealing with students and balancing the personal and the academic.

After scanning his main page, I find his material neither interesting nor informative. Linking his real name to his rather grating blog voice will not do him favors in the future, I imagine.

ScienceWoman said...

From Crazy's response to the ed in question: "I also think that it fails to take into account the way that a person who does not specialize in rhetoric and new media can get oneself into trouble for experimenting with this new writing form instead of doing her “real writing.”"

For me, your response really hits the nail on the head - especially for someone like me in the sciences.

And what everyone else here is saying is right too. Just because we aren't posting pictures or whatever he means by "experimentation" doesn't mean that we aren't experimenting everyday as writers. I try out new styles/topics all the time, and, hell, you experimented with moving spaces. He just doesn't seem to get it.

hmmm...he seems to have really gotten my goat up.

c-m said...

misscarlet, yes, I noticed (re: mostly hosted by female personas). I would argue that females are subjected to an entirely different set of standards than white males when it comes to "playing" virtually -- women are far more likely to be accused of *not* being serious if they dare to venture out of prescribed academic decorum. They are also far more likely to be stereotyped as "crazy." And I couldn't agree more with Dr. Crazy's entry here, particularly the part about "You just weren't invited to the game." To which I respond, thank you, thank you, thank you, Dr. Crazy. And this is coming from someone who was repeatedly censored by Mr. Rice several weeks ago in the process of trying to argue against his anti-pseudonymity position on his blog. Then when I tried to email him to ask why I was being censored and tried to explain my position -- it was a completely congenial, friendly email -- I was accused on his blog of "harassing" him -- no kidding. It was a completely friendly email, and he couldn't even respond to it, and then misrepresented it on his blog.

Here's some background: some of you might have missed the recent "comp mafia" (c-m) melodrama on Mr. Rice's blog, wherein comp mafia (me: female academic who has been in the profession longer than Mr. Rice), was accused of "bad behavior" -- yes, "bad behavior" -- for doing no more than arguing in favor of pseudonymity and pointing out the numerous consequences to not adopting anonymity while blogging. In essence, he "disciplined" me by censoring me. While he did not really participate in that debate, a buddy of his did, and I was cut off from responding -- the thread was shut down -- before I could post my next response to his buddy's arguments, which were akin to Mr. Rice's. And then he told me that I didn't need to post on his blog, and then began deleting my efforts to clarify my position, which he had misunderstood.

Well, initially assuming good faith on his part, I made the terrible mistake of disclosing my real identity to him. As it turns, I should have assumed bad faith, because I now believe that he began sharing my identity with others. Not only that, but I was mocked by another buddy of his. And then a post appeared on his GF's blog in which she stereotypically -- and quite seriously -- accused me of being literally crazy -- which I am not at all. This was a slanderous post, and it was taken down after I disputed it. So, even as Mr. Rice accuses some bloggers of being "too serious," women bloggers who dare to aggressively argue their positions or who dare to play online, can be *seriously* accused of being crazy and be *seriously* recommended for mental help. And these double standards appeared on Mr. Rice's own blog. He even patronizingly called me a "child" at one point, even as he himself is advocating ludic playfulness in his entry. It's okay for men to play around with multiple identities but if a woman does so -- or even if she doesn't and simply aggressively advocates in defense of pseudonymity -- she is seriously accused of being crazy.

Are there double standards for women bloggers? You bet there are. I learned that firsthand from Mr. Rice himself back in January. And even by posting this -- should he read this entry -- I also risk further retaliation from him and his buddies. That's a risk that I am taking right now at this moment because I want others to be aware that there is certain degree of hyprocrisy operating here, especially when I was wrongly labelled "crazy" for arguing on behalf of pseudonymity and for simply and politely contacting Mr. Rice via email to explain myself and requesting an explanation, as any colleague should be able to do.

Note: of course, this is not a new dynamic -- plenty of women psychoanalytic theorists such as Shoshanna Felman and Catherine Clement have been pointing out this dynamic for years. Women who "play" or who write "personally" risk being labelled "mad" -- literally ludic.

And, yes, I have a pseudonymous blog -- I now have two blogs, and I will be linking to Dr. Crazy's post from my pseudonymous blog later on.

Again, thank you because up until your response, they tried to make me out to be a freak. Which I am not at all. But that's how women who argue for the disadvantages and consequences of real names" get treated.

Ancrene Wiseass said...

Oh, holy hell, c-m. His pretentious little "oh-so-playful-yet-oh-so-serious" blog and the attitude that went with it was annoying enough, from what I saw of it, but your story puts it beyond all doubt: this guy is a real jerk.

It occurs to me that Mr. Rice takes himself even more seriously than most of us take our blogs.

Alexandra said...

c-m: WOW. Being a woman just on the cusp of the academic job market myself, I don't doubt you for a second, which is almost kind of depressing. You pinpointed the catch-22 that Rice's little made-up schema presents when you acknowledge the fact that both blogging and academia are inflected by larger gender imbalances: women academics writing outside their specialized fields are accused of being either not serious enough ("children", "crazy"), or too serious (not playful or postmodern). So his central term, "serious", is totally slippery. He's defined it in such a way that it's good when masculine (mature, sane) and bad when feminine (not experimental). Anyway, this is all a way of getting at the fact that I think there's no way of pleasing this guy - or apparently, of getting him to listen to you - because, to re-use Dr. Crazy's game metaphor, he's stacked the deck from the get-go. Ugh. missscarlet.

Demetri said...

would this be an instance where a letter to the editor would be in order?

Larry said...

I think Jeff Rice deserves better than the harsh treatment he's getting here. After all, a little over a year ago, he was on the verge of losing his job. Now he's not only doing his part to
help the working man, he's also someone who's neighbors can count on him for support even if it means risking his life. Whether he's inspiring young musicians or
hot rodders, Jeff Rice is the kind of American we can all be proud of!!!

Dr. Crazy said...

coyote librarian - I think there's more postmodern play (and giggles) in your comment than on Mr. Rice's blog. Teehee!

C-M How utterly horrible. I can entirely see this happening, and I'm glad that you stopped over here and told your story, as much as I know even that is a risk. Wow.

And re: is it time for a letter to the editor.... Hmm.... I did leave a comment over there, but maybe I should use this to make my own leap at stupid inside higher ed fame. Of course, I'm sure I would be disciplined by the commenters for whatever I'd say, so I'm not sure what good it might do.

New Kid on the Hallway said...

I saw the misquote, Dr. C, and thought he had no idea what he was talking about. I love your response here, and am horrified by comp-mafia's story. From the little I've seen of the blog in question, Rice has a real problem with pseudonymous bloggers, and I think he's just downright mean about it. I suspect that he gets so bent out of shape about anonymous blogging because he's so "serious" about his own blogging (which he is! I don't know what he's talking about about ludic playfulness and so on), that he's afraid us anonymous folk will make him look less legit or something. Without, of course, recognizing that we're not all writing about new media and don't all want to accomplish what he wants to accomplish. Grrr.

New Kid on the Hallway said...

Hey, wait a second... putting together something c-m said, and stuff on the blog: doesn't this mean that Rice cited his girlfriend's blog as one of the ones that fits his model of "non-seriousness"?? Does anyone else find that slightly cheesy?

Dr. Crazy said...

Cheesy, disgusting, you know, it seems like six of one and a half dozen of another.

undine said...

What New Kid & Dr. Crazy & all have said. I thought it was just the usual "come see my blog" post at IHE. You know the argument:
1. Here is what blogging is/should be.
2. Here is why everyone else is doing it wrong.
3. Here is why my blog stands alone in its brilliance, "ludic" qualities, etc.--and if you don't believe me, why , I'll devote an entire paragraph to praising myself and explaining to you why I'm right.

Dr. Crazy said...

Heya all - he just posted a really dismissive post about "all those crazy people in an uproar about what really was a minor point about anonymous or pseudonymous writing." I left a comment over there. Here's what I wrote:

"I'm not going to say that I've read all of the responses to your piece around the internet, though I've seen some. My sense from those I have read is that people were irked by the piece because it appeared that you didn't take seriously what some are trying to do with their pseudonymous blogs (a), that you didn't seem to really read them before judging them (b), and that they basically didn't buy the argument that you make about "seriousness" vs. what you deem to be "play." (c)

For my part, I was ticked off that you quoted me without identifying me as the author of the quote, that you took the quote out of context for your own ends, and that you didn't seem to have read the post from which the quote was taken. In fact, the post that you quoted from was about how I wasn't quitting blogging, but I suppose had you identified the quotation that you would have had to deal with the pesky problem that I had not decided to quit blogging because the weight of my pseudonymity was too much to bear.

At the end of the day, I'm over it, but I'm not sure that your dismissive tone regarding some legitimate criticisms about what you wrote does much to make your case stronger. For example, if you wanted to know who I am, I'd tell you. But I'm doing something different with my blog than what I do as a "public intellectual," and so it doesn't make sense to collect it under that particular "name of the author." My blog is not a professional document, though it is a document that relates to my profession. This makes perfect sense to me.

Finally, I agree that this question of access to writing (scholarly, creative, whatever) is an interesting one. I'm just not sure exactly why it relates to all bloggers who choose to do so under a pseudonym. Also, related to the comment above about the way that the novel caused anxiety as a genre similarly: Lots of women writers wrote novels under pseudonyms in the 19th century - did you ever consider that many of those who choose to write blogs under pseudonyms are also women and that there may be some correspondence between these moves, although they are 200 years or so apart from one another? Should we dismiss George Eliot because she didn't write as Mary Ann Evans? "

I wonder if it will stay up or whether it will mysteriously disappear. And yes, I know I'm an ass for fanning the flames of this, but I need a distraction from my primary distraction, which is the whole dating thing. Don't even ask about how much grading/writing I've got to do.

Dr. Crazy said...

turns out that IHE was the one who took the citation of me out, or so Rice says. Interesting.

He also seemed very defensive in response to my comment, which I hope I smoothed over. I mean, looking back now, it was a little bitchy, but that's because I thought he had intentionally not cited me and that he had used my words to say something that I didn't believe or want to say. Who wouldn't be a little bitchy in those circumstances?

New Kid on the Hallway said...

I'm going to go comment on his recent post when I have more time (class in 6 minutes!), but I still think he's missing the point. It's not just that we're all defensive because he's saying that anonymous blogs are bad (though honestly, I think he is saying that); he's saying anonymous blogs are bad because they don't allow authors to be positioned in a way that allows readers to evaluate what they right. Which ties right back into his "academic" and "professional" purposes for *his* blog. It feels like yet again he wants to fit all blogs into an "academic" model - that they're all following the same academic enterprise. And I just want to say again, THAT'S NOT WHAT I'M DOING. So therefore, I'm not worried about positioning myself as an author in the way he discusses. So his comments about access - well, access is an interesting and perennial issue with new media like blogs. But I don't think that writing under a pseudonym reveals some great terror on my part about access *to my professional work,* because YET AGAIN, this isn't my professional work.

(Sorry, not yelling at you, Crazy! 2 minutes to class so I better go even though I'm sure this comment doesn't make sense...)

New Kid on the Hallway said...

evaluate what they "write", I mean...sorry!

Jenny said...

"Doesn't this mean that Rice cited his girlfriend's blog as one of the ones that fits his model of "non-seriousness"?? Does anyone else find that slightly cheesy?"

"Cheesy, disgusting, you know, it seems like six of one and a half dozen of another."

I honestly have no statement to make about Jeff's article or the comments that have followed. I just wanted to point out, for the record, that I usually don't consider "girlfriend" as my first identity. I also happen to be an academic who blogs (like all of you). But, you know, who cares? The "cheesy" thing is that he mentioned her *only* because she's The Girlfriend.

Since we're talking about women's identities and cultural narratives, I just thought mention the one about the "girl" is only cited because she's slept with someone.

Disgusting, cheesy. You know, it seems like six of one and a half dozen of another to me, too.

Jenny said...

Sorry, left out a crucial word there: the girl *who* is only cited for her, ya know, the GF-status.

John Walter said...

Comp-Mafia's story is highly distorted. As one of Jeff's "buddies" who tried to engage Comp-Mafia in good faith, I came to believe that it was Comp-Mafia who was not acting in good faith during that discussion. Comp-Mafia will, of course, tell you that I wasn't acting in good faith myself. All sides left that discussion feeling wronged. That's worth noting.

And, yes, Comp-Mafia was mocked -- not by me, but by others. Comp-Mafia, however, fails to note, or maybe never realized, that mocking happens on Jeff's blog. Jeff is himself mocked there. In short, Comp-Mafia entered into a community whose practices Comp-Mafia didn't understand, Comp-Mafia missed the cues that were offered, and, from my perspective, Comp-Mafia inisted we adhere to Comp-Mafia's rules, and when we didn't, Comp-Mafia got increasingly spiteful.

While I'm willing to accept that the whole incident was a series of tragic misunderstandings that spiraled out of control, I've never been convinced that Comp-Mafia wasn't a troll looking for kicks. Comp-Mafia claims that's not the case, but, you know, a troll would make such a claim. What I do know is that while Jeff supposedly knows Comp-Mafia's real identity, Jeff has not revealed it despite the fact Comp-Mafia has repeatedly attacked in many forums in ways that could harm Jeff professionally. In other words, while Comp-Mafia seems more than happy to actively discredit Jeff whenever possible, Jeff has not acted to discredit Comp-Mafia professionally. By not revealing Comp-Mafia's true identity, Jeff has shown much more restraint than Comp-Mafia has. One has to ask, who is acting in good faith here? Who's being victimized? And who's doing the victimizing?

Because I've known Jeff for years, it may be that I have a much better sense of the perspective and context from which his argument emerges, but I have a hard time believing I've read the same piece as many of you. I might note that in his last paragraph, Jeff writes:

"Yellow Dog is not a model, but one effort to think about a new medium while actively working with that medium."

And he writes, "Serious bloggers might take heed of such writing and think about how their own sense of seriousness limits their interaction with the new medium of weblogging. As Roland Barthes famously noted, there is a pleasure of the text."

As I read it, Jeff is not trying to tell people what to do, and he's not trying to tell people how to blog. Nor do I read him as attacking those who do not blog as he does -- Hell, I don't blog as he does, which is something that I think many people seem to be reading into this piece. Nowhere do I see him write "Thou shalt blog as I do" and nowhere do I see him argue that there is only one way to blog. As I read it, he's offering a vision of what blogging can be, and he's suggesting that we might want to step back and think about the new options and the new potentials for writing that blogs offer us. If that vision isn't of interest to you, so be it? Blog how you want. It's your blog. Your text. Your pleasure.

New Kid on the Hallway said...

First, let me apologize to jenny for any implication that she's only cited because she's slept with someone. I realize that my comment definitely comes across that way and while that wasn't precisely what I meant, I'm sorry that I left that implication open. I didn't mean to suggest that your blog doesn't do what Rice suggests that it does (that is, that you don't merit being cited in such a context); I wouldn't know, I haven't seen it. I would suggest only that there's some conflict of interest in bringing up the blog of someone you're emotionally involved with. Obviously in academia this gets complicated - if two romantic partners are working in the exact same field/sub-field, yes, it's hard to avoid citing each other. I guess personally I'd prefer to avoid getting enmired in that, and it didn't seem strictly necessary in this case.

John - I'm not going to comment about the comp-mafia thing because obviously I don't have enough information. But I think it's important for Rice to realize that in writing his piece for IHE he's stepped out of his own community with its own practices, into another one, and whether or not he meant to say "Anonymous bloggers should blog more like me," I think the fact that many anonymous bloggers read it that way is inescapable, and can't be avoided by saying, "that's not what he meant." Well, he may not have meant it, and maybe anonymous bloggers are all simply way too defensive (serious!) and have to get over ourselves, but especially given the Tribble affair, his comments appear in a context that anonymous bloggers may see very differently from other bloggers. Just want to point out that this doesn't automatically make us wrong - we may have reasons for seeing things this way.

New Kid on the Hallway said...

Oh, quick addition: Rice may not be saying that there's only one way to blog; but he's certainly saying that there are ways NOT to blog, and he lumps anonmyous bloggers wholesale into that way NOT to blog.

c-m said...

First, thank you to missscarlet and to ancrene_wiseass. I couldn’t agree more with the “stacked the deck from the get-go” metaphor -- my similar phrase has always been “no win situation” -- you can’t win when they are controlling the terms of the debate and have positioned themselves as universal judge of eveyone else -- or as undine aptly put it, “Here is why everyone else is doing it wrong.” And it’s a constant no-win situation when women are judged both ways -- as either being “too serious” and needing to “lighten up” or -- on the other end of the spectrum -- if they dare to experiment with boundaries, as not being serious enough or being literally “crazy.” Like many academic women, I have found myself on both ends of that spectrum and rarely in the middle.

Dr. Crazy, I don’t think he would delete your posts like he did mine because this is now a very public exchange after his IHE editorial and it would be publicallly “bad behavior” (to borrow his own undeserved comments to me) on his part, especially when it was wrong not to attribute the quote back to you, whether that was the fault of the IHE editors, as he now says, or his own. He could get away with deleting my messages in January because he apparently assumed that his only audience at the time were his comrades. It was very much “us vs. you.” Nothing less than a bullying scenario -- one of his buddies who was mocking me rudely told me that I was “nobody really” after Rice apparently had revealed my identity to him. That’s nothing less than bullying and rankism. However, now he has a larger, more public audience -- as he himself has noted -- and so he is on his best behavior. Think Foucault’s panopticon. He’s not going to delete when he knows that he is being watched by outsiders and his audience has increased threefold.

By the way, I don’t think that your post was “bitchy” at all -- keep in mind, his blog commenting section is provocatively entitled, “You Wanna Start Something?” and he has celebrated his own grumpiness on that blog. And his comments have, indeed, been dismissive, as you rightly noted. So, again, a double standard is operating to the extent that women cannot respond in kind without being mistakenly perceived as “attacking” or engaging in “personal attacks.”

And if anyone thinks that my earlier comments here were “harsh” or were a “personal attack” -- and I would disagree on that point -- consider that I was, in fact, disrespectfully and undeservingly called a “child” on Rice’s blog by Rice himself and I was seriously represented as “crazy” by his girlfriend in a very slanderous, undeserved manner. That post was taken down after I disputed it. Both of those comments were undeserved personal criticisms -- indeed, personal criticisms that I was not even allowed to respond to and when I did try to respond to them, my civil posts were deleted. So, maybe -- just maybe -- Rice now knows what it feels like now to be in that position. And the only reason that I referred to her as “girlfriend” is that I don’t believe that any of this venom originated from her as much as it did from Rice -- and from John. I actually have a great deal of respect for her even as I think that she seriously misjudged and mischaracterized me. However, it is true that in that IHE editorial, he celebrated those blogs that were a part of his close network of preexisting ties, even as there are numerous other bloggers out there who engage in similar experimentation and could have likewise been acknowledged and credited. And I think it’s fair enough to talk about the issue of only being cited because one is a girlfriend -- that should be problematized, too, either as a sexist cultural narrative or as an active practice that excludes other women who are not girlfriends. Frankly, I do think that Jenny is much, much smarter in her own right, and deserves far more of a spotlight than Rice, if I were to be perfectly blunt. She does not deserve to be just a girlfriend by any means -- and that is not why I referred to her as GF. I referred to her as GF because I think she was drawn into this only by her boyfriend.

And I am now particularly concerned about John’s malicious comments here -- yes, malicious, if I may say so. Let me also note that it was “John” who is Jeff’s close buddy and who was the person who was actually attacking me and calling me “naive” during that lengthy exchange about pseudonymity that began on January 15th. Now, he is twisting things around, once again. What John doesn’t say is that he was arguing Jeff’s position thorughout that exchange. And his comment in this thread about believing that I was acting in “bad faith” are, frankly, disingenuous on his part, which should be obvious to anyone who followed that exchange and my comments thereafter. He knows very well that I am NOT a troll, and that I was seriously upset about Jeff’s censorship. He also knows that I have have NOT “attacked in many other forums.” That is an outright lie -- and slander, at that. In fact, if anyone reviews the threads and emails that I sent to Jeff, you will actually find that I was apologetic and trying to politely clarify the misunderstandings -- so this is onlytwisted venom from John, if I may say so. I was just as apologetic to Jeff as Dr. Crazy was in her post on Jeff’s blog today, and yet this is how John twists things around. And it wasn’t that I “entered into a community whose practices [I] didn’t understand,” as John patronizingly says -- it’s that I entered into a closed community wherein, to borrow the metaphor, the cards were stacked in John and Jeff’s favor and they controlled the terms of the debate and the terms of evaluation. They could close down the playground whenever they felt like it. And they could twist things around and make themselves look like the victims when really they had all of the power in the exchanges. And I don’t believe that Jeff hasn’t revealed my identity because someone posted a mocking comment that I was “nobody really.” And I also don’t believe that Jeff is offering any new “vision” of blogging -- rather he is criticizing those who are concerned about the risks of revealing real names, just as John was criticizing me during that exchange and kept trying to force his argument on me. And, yes, I got upset about him calling me “naive” -- who wouldn’t?

I would like to note this one example of polite treatment of comp mafia by a guest blogger on the yellow dog blog. I much appreciated this person’s comments, and obviously this person did not see me as a troll or in the manner that John characterizes me. This example stands in stark contrast to how I was treated a week later by the blog owner and his comrades in arms.

And, next, here is a link to the thread in which John kept trying to trump me (after calling me “naive” -- which I was not at all) and which was shut down when I was in the process of responding to John’s last two posts on a Saturday afternoon. And, yes, the blog owner most likely knew that I was in the midst of a response because he obviously tracks hits to his website, given his recent boasting about the hit rate tripling after his IHE editorial. Originally, I gave him the benefit of the doubt -- but, now, I am not so inclined to do so. Not after he rudely told me that I didn’t have to post there anymore when I simply inquired into why the thread was shut down when I was in the middle of a response. That is to say, I am less inclined to view it as a coincidence that the thread was shut down in the middle of writing it after he told me that I didn’t have to post there anymore.

And I circumvented this by posting my lengthy response on -- though, I have since taken down all of the blog entries from January, except for the remaining one on January 31st. Though, I have no problems putting that response back up as a matter of demonstrating how John mischaracterizes my positions. In essence, I had argued that if John felt so “anxious,” as he alleged, in debating with pseudonymous folks, then he wouldn’t have continuously engaged in that exchange -- yet he did, at length, so he had obviously evaluated the risks and assumed relative security. He wouldn’t have kept engaging in it if he actually felt anxious, as he kept claiming. I also argued that he was in a more secure environment than I was since he was friends with the blog owner and had a history on that blog and a familiarity with the folks who frequented and lurked on the blog, whereas I was a newcomer and had far more at risk. I also argued that he should have been far more concerned with the anonymous lurkers on the blog than any pseudonymous folks such as myself who was putting my discursive cards on the table. After all, I was exposing myself to risk, unlike the lurkers.

And here is another thread from the 12th of January, in which I defend pseudonymity:

And for a little history, this is the beginning of the pseudonym “comp mafia” in October, at the stage in a thread when another pseudonymous respondent to the yellow dog blog had expressed concern about retaliation for disagreeing with the blog owner and his comrades. The pseudonym “comp mafia,” as I have stated ad nauseam at this stage, was spontaneously ironic in the sense that I do happen to believe that William was correct in his concerns and that his concerns were dismissed. I think that what happened to me demonstrates that William had every reason to be concerned about retaliation.

“But I fear that people who read these weblogs like you and even the person whose blog this is would retaliate against me if they had the chance. Let's just say that I'm in this field and that I probably gave too much away already by posting an email similiar to my own.
Needless to say, I read all of your blogs and am amazed at the arrogance and postmodern gibberish you all use and show”

And then note this mocking, critical post from December 30, 2005 that provoked the “comp mafia” exchange later in January. I didn’t discover this thread until January 8, 2005, when I discovered that someone else had been spoofing the comp mafia identity and then responded on January 8th. And what I was agreeing about there on that thread of December 30th was the fact that I tend not to agree with the occasional habit of some bloggers to complain about their students online. What I agreed with their was the notion of “griping about students” -- which I think should be off limits. I also disagree with what have been frequently called in composition “pedagogies of demystification.” So, it was the pedagogical issues raised in the post of December 30th that I agreed with, not the mocking -- not at all. I will never talk about any of my students online, as a matter of pedagogical principle.

After what happened in January, however, I think this post by yellow dog was unnecessarily harsh in its dismissal and an overdrawn caricature. And what upset me was the mocking of the pseudonymity and anonymity, as I argued in defense of pseudonymity later in January.

And here is yellow dog’s final post on what he calls the “saga of comp mafia,” in which he accuses me of threatening “them” -- i.e., him and his GF -- when I had done no such thing and the email was actually quite friendly and congenial. He knows this is true yet he wouldn’t take down the post (dated 1/28/2006). Actually, this post from the 28th is unequivocally slander in its misrepresentation of my emails -- which were very polite and apologetic. This was a total misinterpretation and overreaction on his part, even as my email had talked about the misunderstandings, even my own. And even as I had already been apologetic for any of my own misunderstandings in my last post on his blog (which I had to post from a different IP address because he was blocking the post, even as it was apologetic in nature.) And yet he wouldn’t apologize to me or even acknowledge his own misunderstandings in the exchange. Why is it always women who do the apologizing in academia? Note where he says, “You weren’t invited here.” And note where he disrespectfully calls me a “child.” This was all after I had apologized for any misunderstandings. And note that I had never once called them “bad people” -- that, too, is slander when I never said any such thing. NOR did I ever engage in “bad behavior” -- I would openly challenge him to provide evidence of such. That’s nothing but slander when I was constantly civil. And I think anyone would get upset if they were being censored when trying to civilly respond to a debate or clarify themselves, as I was trying to do. Again, I was repeatedly censoredwhen I tried to defend myself -- yes, *defend* myself against the slander. For example, I once wrote, “I am not playing games” when I was accused of playing games, and that post got deleted. So, I wasn’t even allowed to defend myself against the accusations. And what is wrong or bad about saying, “I am not playing games” when I meant “I am not playing games”??? Why wouldn’t they allow me to defend myself?

As I review that exchange, it’s pretty obvious that he was treating me as a threat -- even as I had said nothing threatenting whatsoever. But then aggressive, outspoken women get inexplicably treated as threats quite frequently in academia whereas men who engage in a similar form of aggressivity -- like John did during that exchange -- don’t get disciplined or accused of “bad behavior” at all. Instead, it was the woman -- me -- who was disciplined and wrongly accused of “bad behavior,” as if I were a little “child,” to use Jeff’s own word.

So, anyway, sorry for the very long, novel-length message. I didn’t have time to respond to this until late this evening. And I wouldn’t respond at such length if this wasn’t so upsetting to me -- particularly John’s message, which I find to be twisted -- and upsetting, at that. And I should also mention that my other blog -- my other pseudonymous identity -- is nearly the exact opposite connotation of “comp mafia” -- sort of like the pseudonym “Dr. Crazy,” my other pseudonymous identity/blog represents and engages a stereotype that is too often projected upon women.

Dr. Crazy said...

Wow. Well, first of all to Jenny, let me apologize in the same spirit that New Kid did.

To the others... well, feel free to hash out whatever here. I don't know what I think about all of this, but, as I said over at Rice's, I'm over this whole thing. At the end of the day, I'm happy with my blog, I know what I'm trying to do with it (and with my pseudonym) and it is serious and playful and real and not-real and thoughtful and sometimes stupid and mundane. It's an experiment for me, and it's playful and fun for me. So, at the end of the day, what Jeff Rice thinks is playful or serious or right or wrong doesn't really matter to me or to the people who read me, right? I do think that I get what he was trying to say about the medium of blogging, but I think that because of the way that he treats anonymous blogs (as he calls them) or pseudonymous blogs (as most people who write them call them) as something that's bad for the medium and dismisses them all out of hand without considering people's non-fear-driven reasons for having pseudonyms, I think he's created a community of people who are going to resist anything that he's trying to say about blogging generally because they feel specifically misunderstood or misrepresented. If anonymous or pseudonymous blogging wasn't germaine to his "real" point, I wonder why he brought that into it, you know?

At any rate, I've got a bunch of stuff I should be doing as well as much boy-craziness to which to attend, and, truthfully, that's a hell of a lot more important and interesting to me right now than this debate. That's not to say that I won't come back to the debate, but I think I'm taking the weekend off from it at least.

Dr. Crazy said...

Ok, just when I say I'm done with it, I did leave another comment over at Rice's. I had to chime in to support New Kid in her comment. If you get over there to read it, let me know whether you think I'm characterizing our (my?) side of the debate appropriately. I really feel like he just can't see the other side of this argument because he's so invested in his own position. The thing is, I DO see his side of the argument, but I think it's a highly problematic way to decide how all blogs should work because 1) I don't want to use my blog as a professional vehicle and 2) because I'm not a comp/rhet/new media person so i really can't justify using it as a professional vehicle. It's not that I'm "afraid" of being found out; it's that it's nobody's business that I keep this blog unless I want them to know about it because it's not part of my professional work.

I don't know. I'm babbling because I don't want to grade.

John Walter said...

About Jeff's citing Jenny's blog: Jenny received the first Kairos award Best Academic Weblog, presented at the 2004 Computers and Writing Conference (it was for Jenny's old blog, "Stupid Undergrounds") and Colin, the other person Jeff offers as an example, won the second Kairos Best Academic Weblog in 2005. So, in other words, Jeff wasn't just citing his friends. He was citing the two people our field has recognized for their blogging work. I don't expect you all to have known this, which is why I mention it now.

And, finally, I'll give my two-cents worth on the issue of blogging anonymously or publicly. For the record, I have three blogs, two on which I blog under my name and one on which I blog under a pseudonym.

When you start critiquing by name other academics and their work on your blog, you blog becomes academic work whether you want it too or not. That's the nature of academic critique.

I only see this as a problem when one critiques a known identity while using a pseudonym. It's not, I want to suggest, ethical. If I feel like ranting about something on my pseudonymous blog, I do so in highly vague terms and I don't name names or identify specific texts. I do so because I don't think it's ethical to do otherwise.

And this thread is a perfect case in point. There are a host of ad homonym attacks against Jeff Rice made by academics whose identities are unknown. You are, in effect, engaging in a smear campaign from the shadows.

Whether you like it or not, by publicaly critiquing an academic's work on your blog, you make your blog part of your academic work. It's something worth thinking about.

John Walter said...

Hello Comp-Mafia. I see that in your summary of our exchange, you still insist on ignoring my argument and that you continue to persist in mischaracterizing it.

Let me just address two brief issues here. You write: "He also knows that I have have NOT “attacked in many other forums.” That is an outright lie -- and slander, at that."

Excuse me, but you attacked Jeff on my blog (I deleted that, which I know you know, and yet, I've never been accused of censorship), on Alex's blog, on Jenny’s blog, on your own blog, and here. That’s five places that I know of. And you've continued to do so long after everyone else went stopped talking about the issue (here, for instance). If I'm slandering you, please sue me. You do know where to find me.

My point stands, however. Jeff has treated you with much more respect and restraint than you have treated him.

But should it be a surprise that the Comp-Mafia would do anything other than use the pseudonym as a bully pulpit? The pseudonym quite openly expresses your intentions. You're a troll. You're a cyberthug.

Your pseudonym says it all.

Dr. Crazy said...

Thanks for your comment re: who he cited, though I will say that in choosing the pseudonymous blogs that he chose to cite he didn't seem to use similar criteria (there are pseudonymous blogs that have been award-winning or award-nominated). I think this actually gets to a point I'm really interested in. I see what you're saying about it being potentially unethical to talk about a named academic when one is unnamed. For example, if I were to say that Jeff had plagiarized or were a bad teacher or something (which I'm not saying - I'm just doing a for instance) - something related directly to his identity as a professional. The thing that is interesting to me, is that I'm not sure that in his blogspace he's clearly performing AS a professional. Yes, his professional name is on the blog document BUT I would suspect that he doesn't expect the blog to "count" in the same way that he would expect a book to, and I suspect that he doesn't put his blog posts through the same kind of revision. I'll go further: I would expect that the inside higher ed piece didn't receive the same kind of care as does his "real" professional work. If that is the case, I am not convinced that his "Jeff Rice" identity in Blogistan is any more sacred than mine as Dr. Crazy. Basically, I might contend (though I'm just working through this idea here so I'm not sure here) that the "Jeff Rice" of the blog, while bearing a relationship to the "real" Jeff Rice or the "professor" Jeff Rice, is its own separate thing.

And here's the thing: If he misrepresents "Dr. Crazy" in a post or article or whatever, is the fact that "Dr. Crazy" is an online identity something that means she can't set the record straight? Just because she doesn't have a name that he acknowledges as "real" or an identity that can be authenticated with a curriculum vita? To about 500 or so readers a day, "Dr. Crazy" IS my identity. I'm not entirely sure why that counts less than the identity "Jeff Rice" or why that identity doesn't have the right to name names about somebody else's blog.

At any rate, I'm thinking about all of this, and I think it's interesting.

New Kid on the Hallway said...

Dr. Crazy, I completely agree with your last comment. Yes, Jeff Rice is named and I'm not, in the professional sense. But when he writes about blogging, he's writing about a community in which my pseudonym contributes and has some meaning, cultural capital? - it's how people know me and refer to me. It's built up a reputation of whatever kind. So in that context I feel perfectly comfortable commenting on other people's comments on the subject. (And pseudonymous/named regularly mix and mingle in discussions of the blogosphere and characterizations of what blogging is like, about, etc.) I do not comment on research in my field under my pseudonym; I suppose where the divide may lie here is that blogging etc. is much more connected to Jeff Rice's actual area of research than it is to mine. But I agree with Crazy that his posts/comments about blogging are doubtless not playing the role that a book or peer-reviewed publication would in his tenure reviews. So in that sense I don't see this as "smear" campaign because I don't see it as commenting on his livelihood, so to speak. I don't see it as "academic discourse" in the same way as materials that people submit for tenure - I see it more as the conversations that go on in hallways, offices, sometimes conference sessions. I realize, now, that Rice may see it differently, which would explain the different perspectives - I just wanted to clarify my own perspective, so readers can perhaps understand why I responded the way I did.

Nels P. Highberg said...

This has been illuminating. I just want to add that I said on New Kid's blog that a blogger had been outed over at Jeff's blog. I meant C-M. I now have read her say that she revealed her identity to him rather than, as I understood it at the time, he finding out her identity and revealing it. Just wanted to be clearer about what I said what I said over there.

Also, Collin just posted a response that I personally find helpful in this discussion.

Dr. Crazy said...

I thought Collin's response was awesome, but I tried to comment over there and it wouldn't let me because it said the comment I left had "questionable content." I'm couldn't figure out what was questionable, so I gave up. I suppose I can paraphrase here, though, that I think that IHE may actually be to blame for all of what we're talking about here. One of the things about "access" related to IHE is that I've never noticed a substantial change in my readership based on being linked to from IHE. There is a spike for that particular post, and then the people are gone again (for the most part). If that's the case, then people don't get a sense of my blog at all or of the community of bloggers of which I am a part. They only get the piece of me that IHE finds tittilating or controversial enough to like to. (For example, I've noticed that I get a lot fewer links from them now that I'm in my new blogspace, now that the voice is less "hardcore.")

Anyway, Collin's post is really nuanced, and while I'm not sure I agree with everything that he says, I also think that any and all interested in this conversation should check it out.

c-m said...

Excuse me, but you attacked Jeff on my blog (I deleted that, which I know you know, and yet, I've never been accused of censorship), on Alex's blog, on Jenny’s blog, on your own blog, and here. That’s five places that I know of. And you've continued to do so long after everyone else went stopped talking about the issue (here, for instance). If I'm slandering you, please sue me. You do know where to find me.

My point stands, however. Jeff has treated you with much more respect and restraint than you have treated him.

But should it be a surprise that the Comp-Mafia would do anything other than use the pseudonym as a bully pulpit? The pseudonym quite openly expresses your intentions. You're a troll. You're a cyberthug.

Your pseudonym says it all.


I am NOT a "cyberthug" at all. That is mean-spirited, especially when I have been very sensitive and apologetic throughout the earlier exchange. As I have repeatedly pointed out, the entire moniker "comp mafia" was spontaneously ironic -- this only proves my point about how women cannot afford to be humorous and are not allowed to alternate between humor and seriousness. And many of the comments that I have posted as comp mafia have been VERY SERIOUS, and yet they haven't been taken seriously. My pseudonym does NOT "say it all," and you know that very well. Just got to, which was originally set up by me so as to authenticate comments when the "comp mafia" identity was being spoofed by someone else. Reading "comp mafia" as a literal identity is no different than assuming that the moniker "Dr. Crazy" is literally crazy and insane. And you already know this because you were involved in that exchange -- you know that I am not a cyberthug and you know that your comment here is meanspirited.

You know that I have repeatedly said that this moniker was spontaneously ironic. That does NOT make me into a troll, and I resent that characterization. The moniker was originally humorous but then you impose literalness on it -- the moniker was originally an implicit comment on the behavior of others. Why would anyone come out and call themselves the "comp mafia" if it was not in humor? A real "mafia" or power network does not identify themselves as such and won't even acknowledge the power that they wield.

More to the point, that is an outright lie that I attacked Jeff on your blog. I never attacked Jeff on your blog. And, yes, I commented on Alex's blog after he responded to the debate on Jeff's blog and lent theoretical support to my argument -- and that was a professional comment on Alex's blog. I even thanked Alex for his comments. Alex has been very kind to me. I also recently made a minor comment on Alex's blog about the censorship in response to the IHE editorial -- and commenting on the censorship is not "attacking" Jeff. If I cannot respond on Jeff's blog, then you bet I am going to respond on other blogs. It's as if you would prefer that I not respond at all and that I not note the contradictions at play here. It would appear that you and Jeff would like to silence me altogether. However, if you censor someone, then that person has every right -- it's called "free speech" -- to tell others that that person was censored. Or would you prefer that I not tell people that I was being censored and bullied? I don't understand how informing others that my congenial posts were deleted constitutes a "personal attack"? That's what I meant by you twisting everything around. Exactly why do you think that I cannot go onto another blog and note that my posts were being censored? And how is that a "personal attack" on Jeff?

And the great irony here is that it was actually me who was being bullied -- because I was being very sensitive and apologetic, apologizing for any misunderstandings --and I am, by nature, a very sensitive person. Jeff knows that my emails were sensitive. See, this is the double standard operating here -- just because I adopted the identity "comp mafia" in good humor, I am not being allowed that humor. And I am also being treated as threat because I have called attention to the censorship and bullying that transpired.

Again, I ask why is any response to Jeff twisted into a "personal attack"? Why cannot someone talk about implicit gender assumptions without that being characterized as "personal attack" or as "unscholarly"? For many feminist theorist, these issues are part of our scholarship. It is NOT unscholarly from the standpoint of a feminist theorist to note that many of the pseudonymous bloggers who were "criticized" were, in fact, female. It is not unscholarly to note that Jeff cited his own girlfriend as an exemplar and yet not other women were cited as examples. Rather, these are perfectly normal observations from the standpoint of cultural studies and feminism. And they were not intended as "personal attacks" on Jeff but rather observations about an apparent gender dynamic perpetuated by both the IHE editorial and by the censorship of my posts.

And I haven't read Collin's blog yet today -- but I do know what is happening here, and that this appears to be ganging-up on me by a group of friends, i.e., the same close network that was cited on Jeff's blog as exemplars of blogging. Those folks are long-time friends, and this would appear to be retaliation for me calling attention to that fact and to the fact of censorship. I NEVER engaged in any "bad behavior" whatsoever, and that was grossly unfair.

Also to note, when I revealed my identity to Jeff, I explicitly asked that he not disclose it to anybody. So, I did not "out" myself. Rather, it was an act of good faith while trying to privately clarify misunderstandings. In other words, I trusted Jeff, which I now feel that I shouldn't have done. I was also far more apologetic to Jeff than he was ever to me.

And I haven't read all of the comments on this thread yet because I stopped at John calling me a "cyberthug." Just go to, and you will see that I am not -- not at all. And if you knew the name of my other pseudonymous blog -- as a couple folks following this do know -- you would know that it is the least threatening blog name imaginable. I have had that blog since October of 2004.

c-m said...

I have now quickly read Collin's blog, and I do agree with most of it, even as I don't have the time for a full response. When I initially saw the link, I has presumed that it was in the nature of John's comments here. But it is NOT at all, and I respect Collin for that. I think that folks like Collin and Alex have treated me very respectfully throughout all of this, and I appreciate that. However, I do not view John's comments in that manner -- he knows that I was very genuine in that exchange and that I haven't been allowed to defend myself.

John Walter said...

Regarding blogging as academic captial: This is, to some extent, a disciplinary issue. In our field [the field that Jeff and I share], blogging does carry with it academic capital. (More on this in a moment.) But, the truth is, blogging and other online activities carry academic capital in most, if not all disciplines.

We all know about Ivan Tribble. We all know about the search committees that google candidates names. We all know the stories of how blogging and other online activities might jeopardize one's chances at tenure. My pseudonymous bloggers, some of you included, cite these as real issues to be concerned about. This stuff works both ways, both positively and negatively. Like it or not, it's academic capital.

In our field (call it computers and writing, digital English studies, new media, digital rhetoric and composition), blogging under our own names does gain (and cost) us real academic captial, captial which can and does manifest itself in things like requests to speak publicly, in getting published, in getting jobs, and even in tenure. And this is the case even when we set aside the fact that we blog to get feedback on our ideas from our peers, the fact that we blog as research, and the fact that we blog as part of our pedagogical practice.

When we blog under our academic identities, when we write letters to the editor of a newspaper identifying ourselves as an academic, when we put up personal web pages that contain our syllabi and our academic work, when we speak publicly at a local school or before a state legislature or at a conference, we write a guest piece for a trade publication (which is what IHE is), we are engaging in academic work. Whether or not there is a direct relationship between such work and tenure isn't the point. Academic capital is about reputation.

And inn our field, at least, we can draw direct connections between invites to speak on other campuses and publications and even requests to apply for open positions based entirely on the public work we've done in online forums such as blogs. I'm a perfect example of this. As a graduate student with as of yet no substantial publications in the field of computers and composition, I've been paid by other departments and by conference organizers to speak about digital issues, I was appointed by the executive director of the National Council of Teachers of English to a nine member national committee (the CCCC Committee on Computers in Composition and Communication), and I've been appointed to the editorial board of Kairos, one of our field's major journals. All of this happened because of my online activities, activities which may or may not "count" directly in my getting a job or, later, getting tenure. While a hiring committee probably won't read the email archives of discussion lists to see what I've done, they'll take notice of the honors I've listed above, and there's a direct connection between those honors and my online activities. It's all academic work. It's all academic capital.

So, consider, too, that people who have not read Jeff's piece have been willing to attack Jeff here and elsewhere based not on the substance of what he wrote, but on what has been written here. This discussion is getting linked to by other academic blogs, and people here are posting attacks on other academic blogs. All of that, rightly or wrongly, equates to negative academic capital for Jeff. Some people who have not read Jeff's piece (to say nothing of people who have misunderstood Jeff's argument (I may be wrong, but it seems that while anonymous bloggers see it as an attack on anonymous blogging, non-anonymous bloggers see it as arguing something very different -- clearly the piece is problematic in this regard) but have read this and other threads attacking Jeff have join in these attacks. And, like a game of telephone, mischaracterizations are being made, which are being taken by others as truth.

These attacks, because they're being made against a person who is using his real name, carry negative academic captial. When they're justified, fine. When they're not, that's, at best, unfair. And when these attacks are being made by people who's own academic identities are safely protected behind a pseudonym, this becomes much more problematic. Intentionally or not, you're having an effect on someone else's academic capital while at the same time assuming no risk towards your own academic capital. Hence the reason I see it as unethical.

I'm not arguing or suggesting this is anyone's intent. For the most part, I don't think it is. But whether or not it's intended, the consequences are real. We're all trying to figure out blogging and what it means to blog as an academic regardless of whether or not we consider our blogs part of our academic lives. What I am suggesting is that in an economy that is driven, at least in part, on reputation or personal value (on "face" to use the traditional anthropological/sociological term), whether you intend to or not, you're taking an active role in that economy when your words or actions carry with them the potential of effecting someone's reputation.

And that's why I think that if you're going to engage in critique of an active academic, if you're going name names and address specific texts, whether or not you do so using a pseudonym or your real name becomes an ethical issue.

Dr. Crazy said...

Ok, I can see what you're getting at here John, but I would then say that perhaps it would make sense for people who blog with the understanding that it has very real professional consequences not to "link" - whether in the form of quotation or referencing - to those who might retaliate. I'm not blaming the victim here - I freely admit to (and apologize for) saying some petty and stupid things in response to the use that was made of my writing in that article that Jeff wrote. But I'm sorry - if you call Dr. Crazy out, Dr. Crazy is going to talk back. If that's a problem for a person, then it would make sense for the person not to call out somebody with a pseudonym. I know that's not all of what you're discussing here, but I thought I'd state for the record that I feel like my gripe with the IHE piece was completely legitimate, and I think that to say that I've got to shut up because I have pseudonym as my online identity is ridiculous.

John Walter said...

Yes, comp-mafia, I'm out to get you. I used my amazing powers of mind control to get you to post here in a forum you to be hostile to Jeff.


My problem with you is that you continually insist on being the victim and refuse to acknowledge that there are two sides to this story. I've acknowledged, even here, that you felt wronged. But I felt wronged by you as well.

I noted that you were mocked. I noted that I'm a long time friend of Jeff. And I explained the situation to everyone here (including, I was hoping, you), that from my perspective, you entered into a community, demanded we conform to your practices, and got hostile when we did not.

The fact remains, you wouldn't find yourself needing to deal with me if you hadn't engaged in what is clearly an ongoing smear campaign against us here.

Finally, you claim that your email wasn't threatening. I read the email on your web site, and what I read was that you planned to write a scholarly article about the exchange, an exchange, I do not believe you really understand. Hell, I know that I don't understand who you are or what role you think you were playing in it, but I do know that you're characterizations of me and my motives have been as off base as you claim my characterizations and motives of you are.

So, others and I find you threatening to tell your story in an academic journal under the guise of a case study. From my perspective, from my understanding of how you want to characterize the event, and how you have been characterizing the event here and elsewhere, I can only assume any treatment of the subject will resemble what you've written here, which is to say, seriously flawed.

And yes, you posted a comment to my blog, and I considered it an attack on Jeff, so I deleted it. You can characterize it as you want, but I read it as a comment made with the intent of trying to curry sympathy from me and disdain for Jeff. In fact, if I recall correctly, you were upset over the "metacommentary" you saw on Jeff's blog when he was trying to discuss the issue in objective terms without using names. What I found highly ironic at the time was that you had been engaging in vicious "metacommentary" about me at your blog for days. To date, I have not blogged about you except in direct response to comments you have made. You, on the other hand, we're publicly attacking me -- mischaracterizing me and my arguments -- on your blog.

If Jeff really wanted to censor you, he would have deleted the threads to which you and others have linked. He hasn't. So, maybe, just maybe, he started deleting your posts because you had worn out your welcome. (Just speculation on my part, I've never asked. I do know that I deleted your one post on my blog because I had no desire to let you continue your attacks in my space. One should also note that I never attacked you on your blog, nor did I ask you to stop attacking me there either. Your blog, your space.)

So yes, I regard you as a cyberthug and a troll. You, after all, brought all this up here when there was no reason to do so. You chose to publicly attack an individual's reputation while hiding behind your own shield of anonymity. My problem isn't with your anonymity; it's with the way you unethically attempt to cause harm to others while hiding behind your anonymity. At one point, I believed you just didn't understand the issue, but over time, I've been forced to believe that you know exactly what you're doing.

Whether or not you consider yourself a troll, your motives are malicious in nature. What about my motives, you ask? Yes, I'm attacking you. I'm being malicious.

The difference between us, between you and I, is that until now, until you posted here in this forum, I haven't engaged you other than on Jeff's blog. You, on the other hand, seem to have no problem attacking others where ever you think you might find a sympathetic ear.

And, you're right, troll isn't the right word for you. But cyberthug is. You may have created comp-mafia as a joke, but you've done a good job adopting the ethical practices of your chosen identity.

John Walter said...

Dr. Crazy writes: "I know that's not all of what you're discussing here, but I thought I'd state for the record that I feel like my gripe with the IHE piece was completely legitimate, and I think that to say that I've got to shut up because I have pseudonym as my online identity is ridiculous."

Oh, I do believe you have a legitimate reason to take issue with the IHE piece. Maybe you and Jeff, or maybe you should ask Jeff, to consider adding a correction to the piece. As you know, Jeff has admitted to the mistake.

And as for the opinion that because you use a pseudonym you need to keep silent, I'm not saying that and I don't read Jeff as having said that (I know there's disagreement over how to interpret Jeff's piece). My point is that the use of pseudonyms brings in a whole new level of concern for all of us when we engage the academic. We need to figure it out and it's something we need to be aware of. Speaking publicly, either while using our real identities or a pseudonymous one, has consequences and we need to think about those.

What I'm not saying is that anyone here is intentionally trying to act unethically, but rather, that there are ethical issues we need to consider, and we need to make sure that when we adopt the freedom of pseudonymity (and I do mean we because I have a pseudonymous blog as well as two non-pseudonymous ones), we aren't unintentionally ignoring these ethical issues. We need to figure out how we can all engage each other in productive ways that perserves both pseudonymity for those who want it and academic capital for those who want that.

I must thank you all for this discussion. These are the issues I was trying to get at with Comp-Mafia back in the middle of Jan. when everything went to hell. I wasn't yet able to articulate it nearly as well as I am now (and I'm not sure I'm yet articulating it as well as it should be).

New Kid on the Hallway said...

John, thanks for your comments about academic capital - I understand the distinction you're drawing here. I think you're right that I underestimated that, because of the what blogging means to me and the disciplinary differences that you point out. I do think that choosing to write in the public sphere of a trade journal like IHE opens one up to precisely these kinds of problems, but I get what you're saying.

Collin said...

Real quickly, I wanted to apologize to anyone who's tried to post at my site. I'm having trouble with whatever filter is stopping "questionable content"--it just stopped me from posting something?! If you want to me to post a comment manually there, just email it to me, and I'll be happy to do so.

I'm not fishing for comments or anything, but neither do I want to keep anyone from contributing to the discussion.


cbd said...

If IHE is going to correct any mistakes or make clarifications, they should also restored the deleted citations. (Why the hell did they DO that, anyway? Don't they know that academics, even pseudonymous ones, like citations?)

c-m said...

My problem isn't with your anonymity; it's with the way you unethically attempt to cause harm to others while hiding behind your anonymity. At one point, I believed you just didn't understand the issue, but over time, I've been forced to believe that you know exactly what you're doing.

Whether or not you consider yourself a troll, your motives are malicious in nature. What about my motives, you ask? Yes, I'm attacking you. I'm being malicious.


Again, the only maliciousness here is on your part -- not mine because the only reason that I started posting here was because I feel very strongly that there are gender assumptions -- however unconciously and undeliberately held -- implicitly underwriting who gets criticized for adopting pseudonymity. And I still feel that way -- and, by the way, it is not "unscholarly," by my assessment, to talk about human feelings, and in way, that is what is so wonderful about blogging in the sense that legitimate feelings that are normally censored in academia can be openly explored online. Maybe, in a way, that is also what is threatening about blogging, to some. Otherwise, most of the time, the mind/body dichotomy is strictly enforced, and I believe that that same mind/body dichotomy is underwriting the issues here. If I may temporarily essentialize, women bloggers seem far more likely to venture into the realm of human feelings and experience -- and thus far more likely to risk harsh judgment for doing so. Indeed, I have recently been contemplating posting an entry about Jane Tompkins' final chapter, "Fighting Words" from her 1992 work, West of Everything because I think Tompkins' essay perfectly characterizes the problems with many online exchanges and why folks opt for pseudonymity as a matter of protecting themselves from unfair and harsh judgments -- such as those that you are unfairly delivering against me right now. And this is the same stuff as I was saying back in January, in case folks have forgotten that exchange.

When I started posting here, I was initially responding to comments posted before my comments on this thread because those earlier comments in this thread resonated -- yes,resonated -- with my own lived experiences. And as Jane Tompkins has also noted elsewhere -- see her essay "The Way We Live Now" -- too often we are expected to repress our lived experiences and make them conform to institutional norms. So, following along those lines, I felt that the earlier posters' comments in this thread were true to my own experiences on Jeff's blog back in January, and I should have the right to say that. That is NOT a "personal attack" on Jeff -- rather, I read the comments on this thread and I experientially identified with those comments because they were true to my own experience and then I shared my experience insofar as it resonated with those comments. Remember "experience" and "experiment" share same the root (see J.L. Austin's From Ritual to Theatre on that point) -- part of experimentation, by my definition, includes putting abstract or theoretical ideas within the context of lived experience and seeing how they play out in relationship to the realities of daily experience.

And as many others have pointed out, women are far more likely to adopt pseudonyms for the reason that they are subjected to different standards of judgement within the academy (and without), particularly when they opt to write about personal issues or when they engage in criticism. As we all know, aggressive woman are far more likely to be judged as "bitches" than equally aggressive men. And what is so wrong with me saying that? And how is that observation an "attack on Jeff" when the real issue here is how some pseudonymous bloggers opt to protect themselves from such unfair and harsh judgments? Even the harsh, unfair judgments that you are currently passing on my motives right here -- especially when I was repeatedly apologetic for any misunderstandings and repeatedly tried to clarify myself back in January, yet my efforts at clarification kept getting censored. I think that that would frustrate anybody.

Moreover, you and Jeff know very well that I was politely apologetic for any misunderstandings on my part. However, Jeff refused to even acknowledge those apologies or even issue his own apology when he, too, misunderstood and misinterpreted.

This is all that I have time for posting right now. John, I feel like you are engaging in what Tompkins describes -- repeatedly trying to "go in for the kill" with me and destroy me with unfair accusations. I feel like you won't be happy until you "annihilate" me, so to speak. In that earlier thread back in January, you kept dissecting my arguments ad infinitum to a length at which I could never find the time to respond. And that's precisely what Tompkins is talking about. And this is really about the limits of time -- when you keep dissecting until you annihilate me, you ultimately win because folks like myself do not have the time to keep defending against the unfair judgements, i.e., "maliciousness." It should be obvious to anyone who reads the start of these comments that my initial posting here was based upon identification, not any maliciousness towards Jeff. Not when I had repeatedly apologized for any misunderstandings. I wouldn't have kept apologizing if I intended anyone any harm -- and anyone who knows me knows that (as an artist & poet) I am very sensitive. Indeed, as I observed at the end of that exchange, what is really going on here is the perspective of a scholar (yourself) versus perspective of an artist who is prone to experimentation -- which is kindred to the mind/body dichotomy with scholars relying upon the intellect and artists upon the performative & experiential body and feelings.

John Walter said...

New Kid writes: "I do think that choosing to write in the public sphere of a trade journal like IHE opens one up to precisely these kinds of problems, but I get what you're saying."

Oh, I agree. While I'm just as guilty of not doing this as anyone else, we ought to think about reading such pieces generously ("with the grain") as well as reading them aggressively ("against the grain"). Even most "bad" pieces offer something of value.

Likewise we ought to keep in mind that both IHE and The Chronicle change titles, remove citations, and edit pieces for their own editorial purposes. Why they do this, I don't know (The Chronicle, one could imagine, might need to fiddle with the length of a piece or it's title for space reasons, but IHE presumably has no such constraints). I've heard this complaint for a few different people now, so it's something we might want to keep in mind as well when we read such pieces.

John Walter said...


No, I'm not out to destroy you.

If I were out to destroy you, I would have posted entries about you on my blog like the posts you've made about Jeff and me on your blog.

If I were out to destroy you, I would have posted attacks on you on other people's blogs, as you've done here.

If I were out to destroy you, I would have challenged the attacks and mischaracterization of me made on your blog.

If I were out to destroy you, I'd be challenging and attacking your comments on other people's blogs.

I only challenged you in this thread because your post here was designed to fan the flames of anger. You were acting as a provocateur, and I called you on it.

My first post was not overly hostile. In fact, I acknowledged that you were not treated nicely and that you had legitimate reasons for feeling upset, but that your characterization and understanding of what took place is very one-sided and not accurate from my perspective, just, as I'm sure, my characterization and understanding is one-sided and inaccurate from your perspective). You chose to get nasty.

You're the one seeking to destroy others, Comp-Mafia. You're the one engaging in the smear campaign against me and my friends. Usually, I just let it slide.

But not this time. In trying to fan the flames here, you went too far, and I called you on it.

c-m said...


You didn't "call me" on anything. Once again, as usual, you completely misinterpreted my intentions and my purposes in posting on Dr. Crazy's blog, and when I argue against your mischaracterizations, you refuse to even acknowledge or consider them.

John, you are the one unfairly demonizing me here, e.g., that lovely "cyberthug" characterization. I never chose to get "nasty" -- I am entitled to my emotional reaction to what transpired on Jeff's blog, and I am entitled to share that reaction with others, if I so choose. It would appear that if you guys had your way, you would put a muffle on my face.

And if my characterization is so "one-sided," well, you and Jeff could have responded to that characterization instead of shutting down dialogue altogether by censorship. And it's not like I have not occasionally conceded points, as I did several times with Jeff. There are several points on which I agree with Jeff, and I have told him such. However, you won't concede anything whatsoever, even misinterpretations on your own part.

Again, I never posted "attacks" on anyone on anyone else's blog -- please stop spinning my words. Rather, I engaged with the issues about pseudonymity and now about censorship and gender issues in blogging. You haven't provided one example of an "attack." It would appear that I cannot even discuss or defend pseudonymity without being wrongly accused of "attacking." And heaven forbid that one would dare say that Jeff or you have never attacked folks on Jeff's blog. I don't think you should be throwing stones in this instance.

And here's the deal: I have now heard your strident arguments against pseudonymity in the academic arena nearly 10 times over. You keep saying that it is "unethical" and places a burden on those of you who use your "real names" -- even as those "real names" are no less performances than pseudonyms are. Even with a real name, you are constructing an online identity. As Dr. Crazy has just pointed out -- and I totally agree with this - identity is never a given just because it is linked to a "real name." Please see my reference to Allucquere Rosanne Stone on my blog. And as James Sosnoski points out in *Token Professionals*, all academic identities are learned, constructed performances -- there is nothing "essential" about them in the sense that they are always being constructed in relationship to professional templates that prescribe normal academic decorum. Yet, as Sosnoski also points out, those norms can become restrictive and unhealthy for folks when they fail to take into consideration the contradictions and unnegotiated burdens (e.g., substandard wages) of academic life. Sometimes blogging is about examining the restrictive nature of those norms and the only way to do so, without retaliation, is by adopting a pseudonym.

Of course, those invested in the norms -- those who have stakes in maintaining the norms -- are always going to charge that the pseudonymous folks are "unethical" in their criticism because they are allegedly hiding behind a pseudonym and not "accountable" for their criticism. That appears to be your argument, as I keep hearing it. Yet the question remains, who gets to judge here? Who gets to hold who accountable to what? Institutions are not fail-proof -- not by any means. As I noted in my last message, women are far more likely to be unfairly judged for critical remarks than aggressive men are. And why do you think that you are entitled to keep judging me when you really don't even know me in the first place? You keep claiming that you know my motives -- but you don't, not at all. And when I directly state my motives, you won't even acknowledge what I have stated. Is it too much for you to simply say that you cannot judge because you do not really know?

Let me say this one last time: I did NOT post here to provoke anything. I posted here because the earlier comments on this thread resonated with my felt experiences, and I am entitled to those felt experiences.

And, you know what? If you knew the name of my regular pseudonymous blog, you would realize how terribly ironic your comments truly are. Again, it is the least threatening name imaginable. I am sorry that you lack a sense of irony with the "comp mafia" pseudonym.

And I really do not care to continue this any further because it always seems like you want to have the last word -- or the last judgment. So, judge away. You're right -- I'm wrong. Whatever.