This is part of the ‘Girly Girl’ Week here at Cheese-Wearing Theology.
What would happen if I made myself anonymous on my blog? That was the question I asked myself last fall.
Would people react differently, see read differently, interact differently with posts on Cheese-Wearing Theology if they didn’t know the owner and author was a female?
Everyone knows that there are no women on the internet, especially not ones that write about Star Trek, play World of Warcraft, study theology, and post quirky demotivational posters; so this should be easy.
And thus the Great Blog Experiment was born. For five months, my blog was anonymous. I took my name off the blog. I took my picture off my ‘about’ page. When I made comments at other blogs I chose something suitably anonymous like AMM, or cdntheologianscholar.
I didn’t change the content or topics that I wrote about. If I wanted to write about women in ministry, I wrote about it. If I wanted to write about the Buffy re-boot and how it’s a very bad idea, or about living in Caronport I wrote about it.
From October to February I was anonymous. And then in March I put my name back on my blog. When I commented at other blogs, I used Amanda.
Tracking the trends and numbers wasn’t as easy as just letting WordPress tell me my daily hit count and monthly average. I get quite a bit of ‘search engine’ hits because of my motivational posters. So I excluded those types of hits from my calculations. I also excluded the obviously spam-related hits.
And so after five months as anonymous, and five months as me, here’s what I have learned:
* People were more likely to click on my name in a comment at another blog to check out my blog if I was anonymous. This was especially true at one site in particular. In the five months of being me, the clicks on my name at this one particular blog to get to my blog went from 85 (as anonymous) to 2 (as me).
* Commenting on issues related to women in ministry or the comp/egal debate, as me led to more than one person suggesting that I was letting my emotions get in the way of seeing what Scripture truly says about submission and women in leadership. As anonymous, I didn’t get any comments like that.
* There was a definite shift in readership after I dropped anonymous and went to me. I lost several wordpress and email subscribers when I switched back to me. I have in the last few months, though, gained several new subscribers.
* From a comfort perspective, there were definitely times where it felt easier to contribute to conversations on other blogs by being anonymous; particularly when the conversation was dominated by male voices (and given that I frequent mostly theo/biblio blogs this was usually the case).
* Sometimes I fear that when I post a rant, or a struggle, my thoughts and concerns will be dismissed because I am a woman; that readers will think ‘oh it must be that time of the month’. I find myself being very aware of these fears, and more often than not, the rant/struggle posts are now the ones that I run by Chuck to see if they sound too whiny/bitchy/emotional etc before I post them for the world to see.
* On the other hand, after the experiment, I find myself more confident in posting. Yes, I am Amanda. Yes, I am a Star Trek loving, theology studying, World of Warcraft geek. I am the Cheese-Wearer. This is me. I write my blog because it is fun. If people don’t like it, they don’t have to read it. I don’t blog for profit, fame or cool points. I blog as a way to explore my world, to meet new people, to be creative, and to wrestle through what I’m learning in school. The moment I start writing what I think people want to read, or write what I think will generate the most blog hits, is the moment that I should shut down my blog.
So, after the Great Blog Experiment, all I have to say in conclusion is this:
My name is Amanda MacInnis.
I am a graduate student in theology, at Briercrest College and Seminary.
I have worked in church ministry for nearly a decade (worship, pastoring, preaching, vision planning, youth ministry).
I have been accused, and rightly so, of being both a Trekkie and a Whedonite.
Yes, I have attended Star Trek conventions. No, I do not dress as a “Red Shirt” or a Klingon (or a Ferengi, or a Borg, or a…)
I am Canadian.
I am a gamer.
I am me.