giving up pseudonymity after collecting experiences with pseudonymous project development

Originally published on January 18, 2014 at Whonix blog. (Just now mirrored to forums.whonix.org to allow comments.)

You may have noticed that I, previously known only known under the pseudonym adrelanos, decided to give up my pseudonymity. It was an interesting experience to pseudonymously maintain a Linux distribution (Whonix). I’ve learned a lot during these ~ 2 years.

I didn’t have too bad luck in the lottery of life and are won a citizenship, which is at low risk compared to less lucky ones. Living in a country, where pseudonymity for this kind of activity isn’t crucial. Fortunately, according to latest press, neither the US nor Germany are killing their own citizen for criticizing “the system”. That is, the mass surveillance police state, the military industrial complex, the system of economy, that needs exponential growth to prevent imploding. And so it doesn’t become even worse, and better for the less lucky ones, it is important to speak out in public and to take action.

Staying pseudonymous for such a long time became more and more a burden. For me, it is not healthy for psychology. When pseudonymously working a a project, you cannot tell anyone about it and they’re wondering with what you never tell much. You need to constantly second guess every tiny action. Concentrate on not messing up. Also you’ll never know if you already messed up and if “they” already know who you are. You only need to mess up once, and you’re always linked to that project. Lucky me, I wasn’t forced to stay pseudonymous for ever.

I am looking forward to continue contributing to the awesome Free (as in freedom) Software community. Being no longer pseudonymous allows me to speak at conferences, to attend key singing parties, to meet up with other developers, to voice chat with other developers, to chat on IRC without fear of leaking too much information, to be less paranoid, sometimes even running searches in clearnet if that is more convenient, and so forth.


Still the same perception?

How did you feel limited to speak out while being anonymous? Not giving talks at conferences?

And about social attacks to relatives? Attacks on events not related to Whonix that ocurred in the past?

If you were still anonymous, would you give your anonymity now, knowing what you know, the influence Whonix has and even being integrated into Qubes, for high profile individuals (which isn’t me, just thinking in advance)? Wouldn’t it be easier to target project developers to reach the individuals by their software?

Or in the end the marginal gains of not being anonymous has resulted in a much better situation for the project and your mental health?

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