Why a nym

Objection, your honor.

Yesterday, when lecturing me on how I should put up with the bullying she and her friends dish out every day, “Skep tickle” replied to my objection that it’s easy for her because she hides behind a nym.

Some people on both “sides” of “the rift” do know my RL name and where I live, for what that’s worth.  I maintain semi-anonymity because of my job, as do many atheists, including (presumably) some of your regular commenters.

That implies that she hides behind a nym because she’s an atheist. That’s not true. She’s on the board of an atheist group under her own name.

So why does she hide behind a nym then? Well it’s obvious, isn’t it. She hides her identity when she’s engaging in harassment and bullying, and she does that because she doesn’t want people to know what a vicious hobby she has. She’s ashamed of it, or if she’s not ashamed of it, she at least realizes that other people would think what she does is shameful. I know that’s what I think.


  1. says

    She said what?!

    As someone on the board of an atheist organization, yeah, no. That isn’t something you do unless you’re ready for everyone in town to know you’re an atheist. Not only that, but you don’t do interviews under your own name about serving on that board or lend your name to high-profile atheist activism. All of these, of course, are things “Skep tickle” has done. She just hasn’t done them under the same name she uses while hanging out at the slime pit and donating to send Vacula on little vacations.

    So the atheism is fine. It’s being an upstanding pitizen that she’s concerned might put off her (female) clients.

  2. says


    And here we are protecting her secret for her. That’s nice of us, don’t you think? We’re protecting her ability to talk shit about us without consequences. Does she thank us for it? No she does not. Does she stop talking shit about us? Don’t be silly.

    She had the fucking gall to compare herself to my good friend the Jesus and Mo cartoonist in an email this morning. Yeah no – he doesn’t use a nym to enable him to bully and harass noisy feminists, Ms Tickle. He has a rather better purpose than that.

  3. Jackie, Ms. Paper if ya nasty says

    I’d say it isn’t at all that she doesn’t want people to know she’s atheist. It is that she doesn’t want the organisation she’s on the board of to know about her behavior online. She probably doesn’t want them to know about her friend who writes for AVfM either.

  4. says

    Yes that could be. I was thinking more of work and family&friends, but it could also be that org. Or not. We’ve been learning that not all atheist organizations are good on this stuff. American Atheists is, but not all are.

  5. frogmistress says

    Some organizations might be better at the local level than they appear to be at the national level. :)

    And, hopefully, we’ll see some change on the national level soon!

  6. says

    She’s on a board and acts like this? I’m so done with this shit. I will not be donating to or supporting any atheist organization from this point on.

  7. maddog1129 says

    Well, it’s not exactly true that one does things in one’s own name and therefore it must be not true that being an atheist is a real reason to use a ‘nym for semi-anonymity on the internet. I have been involved in some local groups as myself, but still function primarily under a ‘nym on the ‘net. I do hide behind a ‘nym because I am afraid of backlash.

  8. Anthony K says

    I have been involved in some local groups as myself, but still function primarily under a ‘nym on the ‘net. I do hide behind a ‘nym because I am afraid of backlash.

    I also used to write under a nym because I was afraid of backlash. But in the near decade I’d been doing so, the only people to try to connect my real name to my nym in order to try to intimidate me into silence were atheists, not theists.

    So, there’s that.

  9. says

    I don’t understand that. How could backlash online be a bigger worry than backlash in real life?

    Also, being involved in is one thing, being on the board of is another. “Skep tickle” isn’t just involved in; she’s on the board.

  10. says

    And yet if someone doxed “Skep tickle” (as her brother-in-online-douchery Justin “pay for my trollidays” Vacula doxed Surly Amy) we’d never hear the end of it. Ironic how Skep’s enemies have enough respect to not out her to her organisation.

    But who knows – with the state of the leadership of some orgs these days they might laugh it off anyway. “Ah, it’s just a bit of harmless poking. It’s only the internet, which is not made of people!

  11. theobromine says

    I have been delighted to meet in person Ophelia and several others who hang out here. As the (volunteer) branch leader of CFI Ottawa, I am locally (and sometimes nationally) visible to the public. However, I am pseudonymous in most online discussions. Here are a few reasons why I choose to do this:
    * If I am applying for a job, my prospective employer might google my name (a somewhat uncommon one). If they find that I am in a responsible position in an organization (even an atheist one), this is not automatically a bad thing (the way it might be if I were in Ottawa, Kansas instead of Ottawa, Canada). However, if they find comments I have made as part of a complex (and possibly nuanced and/or sarcastic and/or parody) discussion, it could easily lead to misunderstandings.
    * Again because of the complexity of online discussions, I do not want to risk having my personal opinions automatically associated with official statements of CFI Canada.
    * I posted rather freely on Usenet with my real name in the 1990s. It was a bit awkward when google made the Usenet archive available right about the time when my kids became adolescents. My pseudonym doesn’t offer strong protection from anyone determined to dig, but does provide some deterrence to casual investigations.

  12. says

    And you don’t abuse it in order to torment people. Therefore there is no issue! Nyms are fine when not abused. ST seems to use hers solely to protect her harassment activities.

  13. says

    I don’t understand that. How could backlash online be a bigger worry than backlash in real life?

    that depends on your life situation. For me, backlash online would be a MUCH bigger consequence than meatspace backlash (because in my world, the internet is part of “real life”). Backlash online could theoretically cost me my income, because my income comes from the internet.

    Plus, the internet is everywhere and preserves information for nearly forever; meatspace only does that if you’re Dick Cheney or Angelina Jolie.

    So, depending on what you’re doing on the net/in meatspace, being internet-out can have worse consequences than being meatspace-out. I don’t know shit about skep tickle so I don’t know if any of this applies to her; but in theory that’s how it works sometimes.

  14. Parse says

    I don’t understand that. How could backlash online be a bigger worry than backlash in real life?

    I’m out in meatspace to people I trust, people that won’t freak out about it and won’t spread the word to people that would. (Generally, because they’re in the same position as I am).
    If I’m out online, it means I lose the ability to control who in meatspace I’m out to.
    Then again, I don’t use my anonymity as a tool for abuse; I figure eventually it’ll be connected with my real name, so I’d rather people only freak out about my atheism, not about my actions.


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