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On Being Anonymous

When I was in the fifth grade I was in love with my math teacher. She was young, vibrant, wore a mini-skirt and sat on top of her desk. I sat on the front row and gazed up at her every day. I was completely head over heels. One day she put a box on her desk and told the class that it was a suggestion box. That we should drop notes in it on how to make her a better teacher, or how to make the class more engaging, or even tell her problems we’re having in her class. She promised to address each and every suggestion. She even said we could make the suggestions anonymously—we didn’t have to sign our names on the suggestions.

Suggestions Box

I stayed up all night writing my suggestion. I slipped it in the box the next day and waited impatiently for her to find it.

Here’s what my note said:

I love you. I love your mini-skirts. You have pretty legs. You have a pretty face. I love math. Yours truly, Miscellaneous.

She didn’t read the note aloud in class. And it was not until several years later that I realized I had mistakenly written miscellaneous instead of anonymous.

Which brings me to the point of this story. Since I didn’t have to sign my name to my note, it freed me to write something I would not have written otherwise. This isn’t always a bad thing. But sometimes it is.

Sometimes… Anonymity is a cloak for evil.

Think of the KKK. They covered their clothes and their faces. They did not want to be recognized for the evil deeds they committed. Hiding under a sheet was the only way they could lynch and burn. They took great pains to not be recognized.

This also brings me to the idea of reviewers on Amazon. Some are also known as trolls.


Some also have many anonymous names – known as sock puppets.

sock puppet

There are some nasty, nasty reviews out there. And what do most of them have in common? They are done anonymously. They are done hiding behind a fake name. Or in some cases, names. I am not equating a nasty review with the KKK, but the principle is the same. They are doing something they know is wrong and have to hide under a sheet to do it.

The next time you read a nasty review check and see if the commenter had the guts to leave their own name.

I am not advocating for all reviews to be positive or glowing. I am advocating for a modicum of kindness. Is it so hard to be kind? To write what you truly think in a review without being cruel or personal?

You want to see examples of cruelty? Read any comments on any article written about Hillary Clinton or Amy Schumer. Boy, do the nasties come out of the woodwork when a strong woman is mentioned. And, most of them, are written anonymously.

If you can’t sign your name next to something you write, then perhaps you should NOT be writing it?

be kind

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Comments on: "On Being Anonymous" (13)

  1. Hi Layce. I’m glad you wrote this today. I do not write reviews very often, because I’m not sure what to say. I like your books and have quite a few. I do NOT use Kindle unlimited because I think a book worth reading is a book I will buy. I want authors to be able to continue to write and you definitely deserve to be paid. Linda

    • Thank you, Linda! just fyi, we do get paid for KU. In fact, I make more off KU than selling books. But, having said that, I sure am glad you bought and enjoyed our work. Thank you soooo much!

  2. Great post!

  3. I have an anonymous name in Amazon for reviews, but that is only because I fear if I put my author name there, Amazon won’t let the review go through. I only leave positive reviews and it isn’t too hard to sleuth out which ones are mine because I copy and paste them to Goodreads where I am not anonymous because Goodreads accepts all reviews and won’t take down my positive words because they think I “know” the author. On occasion, there are good reasons to be anonymous because Amazon is full of a bunch of Asshats. Oh there, I said it…and this comment is not anonymous! I will totally own it!

  4. Jessica said:

    Hi Layce, I rarely write a review for things, even when it’s something I enjoy as much as your books. If I did write a review I wouldn’t do it anonymously, nor would it be a negative review. It is my belief that if you didn’t enjoy something, then move on. There is no need to be rude and inconsiderate towards another person. Having said that, I am one of those people who can’t help but jump on an ignorant, inconsiderate, uneducated, negative review. I have had my back and forths with those who feel the need to be inconsiderate and rude, in the end, a nasty negative person will be just that, nasty and negative. I haven’t taken the time to read your reviews, (I’m to busy reading your amazing books), to get into it with any of your nasty reviewers, but now I feel I will be on the look out for them. Your work is amazing, and as I do read them on kindle unlimited first, I then buy them to guarantee I will always have them.

    • I am so glad you read our work and enjoy it! Bad reviews do not bother me. People have a right to them. Nastiness does bother me. I am so glad you are out there! Thank you!

  5. Was it Thumper who said “if you don’t have something nice to say, then don’t say anything at all”? Regardless, that’s my rule of thumb when it comes to reviewing books. I (and I’m sure most others too) don’t enjoy every book I read but I DO appreciate them.

    For that reason, and the simple fact that I don’t see the need to add unnecessary negativity into the universe or make someone feel badly about something they enjoyed creating- If I don’t have something nice to say in a review, I don’t say it at all.

    Besides, kindness matters. Art is subjective. I’m not a fan of surrealism, but there’s an entire Salvador Dali museum in Florida. The important thing is that books and art remain accessible forms of free expression.

    …Now, if only I could keep this in mind when I make the mistake of scanning the comments section of a Fox News article. (Always, always avoid the comments section)

  6. Sorry to say that I review books all the time with a fake name! I have told many of the authors that I follow what my real name is (I post as “the old one”) so I don’t really care if they know who I am. The reason I use a fake name for reviews is —- wait! I don’t really know. Guess it was because when I first started posting reviews all I saw were fake names. I could change it, I suppose, but I really like my review name better than my real one! I have only posted good reviews—never a bad one. I try to review every book I read because if a writer takes the time to write a book, then by golly I need to take the time to review it. Yes, I have read many, many of you ladies books and have loved every one I read. No fake reviews from me. Another reason I may use a fake name is because I really am what my review name says ( I just turned 74) and because of that I figure I can get by with most anything. Anyway just want to say keep writing because at my age you never know how long you have left on this earth and I love les/fic even if I am a straight, married woman of 53 years to the same man, mother of 2 and grandmother of 4.

    • Remember that part in the wizard of oz where the soldiers in a line all chant “we all love the old one?” Well, we do love you! Thank you so much for reading and reviewing. You make it all worthwhile!

  7. Excellent blog! I see too many threads that are diverted into flame wars when a troll asks a not-so-innocent question (“What was the purpose of the women’s march?”) and pounces on the first person who answers. And I’ve seen really nasty review. I saw one just two days ago that said a Lambda Literary Award Winner (one I read twice because it was so good) was “utter trash.” Give me a break.

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