On Anonymous Bloggers

Since last week I have been following closely the intense debate among expats in Indonesia about anonymous blogger, an issue raised by Fatih when he awarded Rob Baiton as the blogger of the week and praised Rob as one of the few Western bloggers who reveals his own true identity.

Fatih actually has written a lot of postings about what he calls ghost bloggers – 7 actually including the Rob Baiton’s posting – but this time he has successfully attracted many comments and ripostes, perhaps because he specifically targets foreign expatriates who blog on Indonesia under the pseudonymous.

Unspun reacted at the same day, and clipped Fatih’s post on his blog and said that he thoroughly agrees with Fatih. John Orford, Jakartass, and Treespotter contributed their thoughts on this issue on their own blogs as well as left passionate comments on each other’s respectively.

Oigal was the first one to react at Unspun’s, saying that he “will declare my real name and KTP the moment you can guarantee a expat (or anyone else) for that matter could receive a fair and just hearing in any court of justice in Indonesia“, which was rather quite funny because obviously Oigal thinks what he says actually matters and will be taken seriously by the authority (come on, our yours truly don’t even know how to switch on their expensive laptops, let alone understand what a blog is). But later he quickly changed (or forgot) his argument and moved on to accuse that bloggers who reveal their true identities suffer from “look at me syndrome”.

Further HF inane demands for pictures and CV;s border on..no cross the border into the absurd. Although I suspect this has more to do with the cultural need to pigeon hole someone into a particular strata and class of society than complete ignorance of the standards of the rule of law in Indonesia.

You will see examples of the pigeon hole effect looking at the grand houses of the elite and corrupt in Jakarta (elite and corrupt..mmm redundant phrasing?). These tastless monuments to indifference complete with grandiose columns of marble in the front, join the Nokia Communicator telephones, as the “must have” accessory to their unprincipled and rarely challenged lifesytles. All time these parasites of society are taking every opportunity to silently scream “look at me, I’m really important”.

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Oigal seemed pretty pissed off and started calling Fatih a little insecure blogger and ended up with the HF initial, although he’s careful enough to not put Fatih’s name (only a link to his blog) on his post. I totally resent this name calling and it rather destroys my joy of reading his funny, satire and cynical article.

Along the way Patung‘s site was also mentioned, which is confusing because I wouldn’t categorize Indonesia Matters as a blog, but I get the sense that Fatih detests those who participate in the discussion forum since most of them are anonymous and can go to the extreme from left to right and top to bottom thanks to people like Achmad Sudarsono who manages to insult pretty much everybody, every religion, and every country (although Achmad keeps trying to assure people that he’s a lover not a fighter, an ukulele player and has a killer move, better than Inul’s).

Jakartass said it’s a petty issue and doesn’t deserve to get his attention, although he left a lengthy comment on Fatih’s.

Before I could jump into this issue, Treespotter already said what I have had in mind.

One thing I love about the expat bloggers community is that they take themselves seriously. Frequently, they make for an entertaining discussion, occasionally meaningful, although sadly, most times, they lack the substance to go with the enthusiasm. I’ve long maintained that this has to do with their miserability.

The latest thing was something that had been coming and going for as long as the history of blogging. Fatih poked on people blogging anonymously – in a somewhat accusative manner singling out the expat blogs – and they responded. Greenstump, Unspun, Patung and John Orford all came up with passionate responses.

I personally don’t care whether you use your real name or not. Most times, I’m not even curious.

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Then just like any other issues, everybody has moved on. They have already posted other issues.

Just like that.

So what is it all about again?

Further reading: On Anonymous Bloggers (2)


  1. Carl Parkes says:

    Hello from San Francisco,

    Thanks for sending along the link to Bugil’s story about searching for Obama’s house. I tried to find the link, but failed, so thanks. And I put it in there since it’s more of a curiosity piece but still interesting, at least to Americans such as myself who know something about Indonesia.

  2. I saw that posting too and even John Orford had made a blog post as a response of this whole ‘expats blogging anonymously’ thing.

    Too bad I can’t open Indonesiamatters.com though.

    Tried many times but kept getting the ‘problem loading page’ on my browser.


  3. I don’t see any problem in being anonymous blogger though, we like then because of their thoughts and writing not because of who they are.

    I believe there is no fixed rule in blogging, let them be anonymous but they must be responsible for their writing.

    Just my two cents.

    Who won the football last night? Hope you’ll get better.

  4. I think some us bloggers just prefer a bit of mystery and anonymity and let their readers to gain more clues about them through all their posts. Like the Barong dance in Bali, for example, I don’t think the performance will look just as good if they take the masks off their face.

  5. Finally Woken says:

    @Elyani, that’s not what Oigal said about his reason of being anonymous, first he said that Indonesia doesn’t provide fair justice system to protect its citizenship should something happen to the writer (something that Unspun disagree), later he said those who do reveal their true identities suffer from ‘look at me syndrome’. The other argue that even without name, it doesn’t mean one posting is less credible (something that Fatih raised, that you shouldn’t criticize Islam, for example, without telling where you stand).

  6. Anita.
    What Fatih and Unspun don’t seem to realise is that few expat bloggers write in order to be read by anyone other than friends and family ‘back home’.

    That’s how/why you started, isn’t it?

    It’s also a way of trying to understand a foreign culture, so, in essence, we are promoting our ‘new home’.

    Tree is wrong to suggest that we take ourselves seriously. What we take seriously is having someone criticise our anonymity rather than what we actually write. It’s damned insulting.

    Supposedly there are c.150,000 Indonesian blogs to choose from, so why should Fatih single out those he objects to? He doesn’t have to read them/us.

    That he harps on about how he’s been mentioned in Tempo indicates that he suffers from a severe dose of selebrititis. This is something that also afflicts Unspun, but then he is in the P.R. business.

  7. Rob Baiton says:

    I am a little ragu2 to put my two bobs worth in and prolong an argument / debate that is already on the wane but may spark up again at any time.

    But seeing it was my selection as blogger of the week that got this ball rolling in the first place, why not?

    It does not really matter whether you are anonymous or known. I read people’s blogs to be entertained or informed or insulted or offended, but whatever the reason it is my choice to read.

    This was the point that many of the postings alluded to most bloggers write for themselves and their families or friends. It is not necessarily about having a moment of fame or making money.

    I do not write my blog to make money…the amazon ads are more for letting my family and friends what is missing from my library and if they cannot think of a good present then a law book is always a good choice :) (if you are reading this Ma my birthday’s coming up)!

    I do not write to be famous but I do hope that along the way people find my blog and enjoy the read.

    I am not anonymous not so that I can claim the higher moral ground or some extra degree of credibility but rather if any one wants to challenge me on what I write then at least they can see what they are going after!

    For all my friends out there in cyber world, whether you be anonymous or otherwise, keep blogging away as I enjoy reading you all!

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