I just finished updating my occasionally referenced policy about the relationship between my anecdotes and “real life”, and I’ve posted it as a reference page (you can find all the reference pages in the right sidebar).
I’ll go ahead and post it here again though, because it’s important. In a country where people regularly mistake the personalities of characters for the personalities of actors, sometimes it’s worth noting where the grey areas really are.
Privacy is important to me. Not just my own privacy, but the privacy of others. As a result, some of the details and anecdotes in this blog are, at best, “creative non-fiction”.
- I will frequently write about things that I’ve talked about in real life here on the blog. Some of those things may have been sparked by a conversation I had with other people, or an action someone else took.
- I frequently take artistic license when talking about real life, usually to make an example more clear.
- I frequently obfuscate real-life details, even if I report an event completely accurately.
- I never violate privacy laws or ethical guidelines around privacy. If it appears that I am, it is a fictionalized account.
- If I’m reacting to a blog post, tweet, public seminar – anything that’s a broadcast medium – I will usually cite the person I’m talking about if I can and if it’s relevant.
- If it was prompted by a non-broadcast or limited broadcast medium – a private conversation, e-mail, anything on Facebook, forum post behind a password – then I will usually obfuscate the individual(s) in question.
- If I didn’t explicitly “out” you as the person I was talking to, there’s one of four reasons (the last two are the most common, by far):
- I didn’t want to for my own reasons.
- I didn’t ask you about it beforehand.
- I wasn’t talking about you
- I wasn’t just talking about you.
- If you choose to “out” yourself, please remember #3 above and realize how you might look silly.
- If you think I’m talking about you and I misunderstood your point, please remember #3 above and ask me. For example, I could say “a female writer I know who I spoke to about eBooks” and easily refer to fifty people or more.
(adapted and expanded from this post in 2010)