Nome De Nikon
September 8, 2008 4:06 PM   Subscribe

I Am An Academic. Should I Use My Real Name Or A Nom De Plume For My IStockPhoto Account?

I am a researcher that does photography semi-seriously on the side as a hobby. A friend recently suggested I join istockphoto. However, I cannot decide whether or not I should sign up for IStockPhoto under my real name or use a Nom De Plume to protect my identity.

I am in a very competitive academic department (and field for that matter) where anything more than the smallest hobbies are typically frowned upon. To only mildly exaggerate, my supervisors think anyone who works 12 hours and then does not go home to read journal articles for another 6 hours is slacking.

In this environment, I am not sure I want my coworkers to know I spend a large portion of my free time outside of work taking photographs.

Any suggestions from the Hivemind, especially from other academics, would be appreciated.
posted by Spurious to Work & Money (7 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
You've answered your own question. Go with a pseudonym; you can always reveal yourself later,
posted by orthogonality at 4:13 PM on September 8, 2008

You haven't specified whether there are benefits from using your real name on If there aren't, then use an alias. But if there are, then use your real name.

One thing I have learned in my time in academia is that it is a tremendous mistake to mold yourself in the image of other academics. Seriously. You will get far more joy out of fully participating in your photography hobby than you will get compensation or advancement out of hiding it.
posted by googly at 4:17 PM on September 8, 2008

Best way is to start with a nickname/username and then (if you choose) link your real name to it later. It is the only possible option if you feel you may need any potential (however small) reason to hide your activities from people or, more likely, share your hobby only with people you choose to share it with.

The internet has a very long memory and is easy to search. If you decide, after some time, that you really don't care if your peers see your hobby then you can choose to let them. If you start openly, that choice is taken from you.

The fact that you are an academic doesn't really have any bearing on it. Unless you are 100% sure you want to be totally and completely open with the entire world and feel you have no doubts you will be well received by all of them, then by all means obfuscate your identity.
posted by Brockles at 4:17 PM on September 8, 2008 [1 favorite]

I keep my hobby, which has an online presence, unlinked from my actual identity, because I don't want it to be perceived as anything other than a really small-scale hobby. I don't keep it a secret if it comes up in conversation though. Actually I keep even things like metafilter unlinked, or at least, it would take a little work to connect my academic profile to e.g. my metafilter one.

Personally I worry about this kind of thing much more w.r.t. job/tenure acquirement (see also); but if (as a previous question of yours indicates) you aren't going to stay in academia, this isn't really an issue. I think as long as it doesn't come up in a google search for your name, you will be fine until you finish grad school.

As googly said, I don't think you should try to mold yourself to the image of what your advisors want (it sounds like you have already decided this); this version of academia is simply not healthy, or reasonable. But it may be most practical to try to pretend to be close to what they want. (And at some point you may want to seriously evaluate whether you are using your hobby as a dissertation avoidance technique...because this will be noticed, even if the reason isn't. I had to stop my hobby cold turkey while finishing.)
posted by advil at 4:57 PM on September 8, 2008

I agree with majority above--start with a pseudonym, and link it to your real name later if you want to.

One thing I have learned in my time in academia is that it is a tremendous mistake to mold yourself in the image of other academics.

Just wanted to emphasize the truth in that. It's really a luxury until you have tenure, but some of the most successful academics I know got that way by breaking the mold.
posted by LooseFilter at 5:27 PM on September 8, 2008

I've been with iStockphoto for a very long time. Your user name has NO impact upon any aspect of working with the site but as you indicate, it may have an impact upon your "real world" life. Use a fake name. Don't worry about it!

Feel free to email me if you've got any other istock-specific questions!
posted by blaneyphoto at 5:33 PM on September 8, 2008

Use a pseud, but not a ridiculously silly pseud. Like, "spurious" is cool because it sounds like you have a good vocabulary, "coolguy72" is not. People are judgy about these things.
posted by bettafish at 8:26 AM on September 9, 2008

« Older No recuerdo nada!   |   Portfolio? No one said anything about a portfolio... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.