A blog that I have enjoyed, The Dilbert Blog by Scott Adams, is being curtailed. He has posted regularly for two years, and today announced that he will be cutting back, for several very concrete reasons, which you can read here, if you're interested. What caught my eye is that he has come to the conclusion that having a blog is actually hurting his Dilbert sales. He says he gets a lot of email and comments saying that a long-time fan has read something disagreeable in the blog, and will therefore never read Dilbert again, not ever. He'd thought that blogging would drum up interest in Dilbert, but it seems like the folks who *already* like Dilbert read it, and then get offended and go away. Highly counterproductive.
After struggling a few minutes trying to figure out what prompted me to post this here, I have come to the conclusion that it's related to the reasons that some people make an effort to obscure their identity when posting op/ed to the internet. It's obvious that it can have a direct impact on "real life" earnings and so on, not only for academic folks.
I guess what is less obvious is that the efforts one makes can be perverted, and actually be detrimental to the goal. For instance, Adams was trying to drum up interest in his main businesses (he has several, and he mentioned them often in his blog), and he was trying to do some expressive/creative writing that isn't allowed in the confines of a widely syndicated comic strip. While he certainly did those things, he also has paid a price for it. I get the impression that his blog was fairly time-consuming for him, and that's another reason he's backing off it.
Adams hasn't been posting anonymously, of course. He's been posting as who his is: The creator of the wildly successful Dilbert comic franchise. The Dilbert comic wouldn't be what it is without Adams being how he is, but people don't really want to know, sometimes. Most people want to be liked for who they are; celebrities rely on being liked for who they appear to be. Journaling often tells people who you are, whether you mean it to, or no. The internet creates a strange pseudo-celebrity status for a lot of people, where they are sniffed & inspected by strangers, and then behave as though they know the person, and they engage in weirdly personal, even intimate conversations.
This may be the number one argument against writing internet op/ed in any professional context. Worse than that, the internet affords little true anonymity, which means that whatever you participate in, whatever you write, about whatever you think, can probably be made available to someone who is really interested. No matter how well intentioned you are, ultimately you are opening yourself to a raft of judgment and negative consequence that is essentially uncontrollable the moment you click the PUBLISH POST button. All of which is pretty ironic if you consider that what most people are looking for, most of the time, is approval in one form or another.