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How to Blog Anonymously and Independently on the Cheap

February 26th, 2007 · 3 Comments

This blog is anonymous. You might want to know why, and more importantly, how.

I did have another blog which is way more popular, and older, and respected. I still blog there, but increasingly this is my “preferred blog”.

Anonymous Blogger
Photo Credit: Anonymous Blogger by zivpu

Fear of getting fired is not the only reason why someone would want to blog anonymously.
I wanted an anonymous blog because:

  1. Anonymity sets me free to write about whatever I want
  2. I don’t have to stop a thought in its tracks because of fear of blowing good relationships with other people – bloggers and people I know in real life. I can write however I want.
  3. My dad and a lot of relatives read my other blog
  4. My boss once brought up something I wrote on my other blog, and wanted me to delete it. So what you write on your blog affects work and I don’t like that
  5. I don’t want stuff I wrote in the past to turn up in google searches for my name – thus affecting future relationships and deals.

Now that we have the “why” out of the way, lets get into the details of how to blog anonymously, on the cheap. We ignore fee blog hosts like blogger and wordpress.com since you lose a little bit of your independence when you sign up for a hosted blog, and that is not acceptable to us ;)

There is a guide by the electronic frontier foundation about how to blog anonymously. In fact, that was the first guide I referred to when I was thinking of starting this new blog. It provides a list of tips on how to remain anonymous. It is worth a read. However, I was really disappointed in one thing – the link for registering a domain name anonymously does not work! The link points to https://www.onlinepolicy.org/forms/opg-domain-create.shtml which returns a “404: Not found” page. So much for an easy to follow guide. Earlier today, the subject of anonymous blogging came up again in conversation, and I decided to document how I made this blog anonymous.

After the EFF article, I searched and ended up at ask.metafilter.com. There were a couple of posts there, but none of the suggestions were cheap. So I did some more research and ended up with my perfect solution. Read on for details…

The perfect solution goes by the name of Nearly Free Speech. They offer domain registration with the option of protecting your privacy. From their site:

In conjunction with domain registration, we offer our specialized domain contact management service. If you use this service, we will register your domain using:

* Our private mailbox address in Houston, Texas, USA
* A special phone and fax number, and
* A custom email address (your.domain@respectmyprivacy.com)

Then, we will forward your email (and non-junk faxes and postal mail, if any) to you while protecting your privacy with all the zeal and fervor built into our standard Privacy Policy.

Their “respect my privacy” service is quite simple – they don’t display your name, email or phone/fax number on your domain registration whois page. So no one can find out your identity using a whois query(unlike say eff.org). You cannot find out who I am using a whois lookup on the domain name of the blog. The cost? nearlyfreespeech.net charges only $7.50 per year for domain registration and $0.01 per day, or $3.65 per year for the optional service of forwarding non-spam email and messages received for the domain owner.

The good news does not stop there. The billing system for hosting at nearlyfreespeech.net is awesome. You get billed by the cent, based on the disk space and bandwidth used. You only pay for what you use, down to the cent. Since a WordPress blog takes less than 30 MB of disk space, I have paid almost nothing (less than a quarter) for my hosting so far!!! I have about $20 deposited, but now I realize that was way too much. I still have a balance of more than $12 in my account – at this rate, it will be ages before I have to pay again.

The hosting package is awesome – you get to login via ssh, which is vital for me.

Compare nearlyfreespeech.net to:

  • katz global which charges $25 per month for anonymous hosting
  • ecomstudio which costs $15 per month
  • anonix which charges $10 per month for hosting and $20 per year for anonymous domain name registration
  • Dreamhost offers some kind of free privacy for domains, but their hosting costs $9.95 per month if you pay month to month, and $7.95 per month if you pre-pay for 2 years. (note: the links to dreamhost are referral links)
  • HavenCo which is at Sealand sounds more like a joke, so we won’t go check their prices.
  • If you only want to register a “private” domain, and get your hosting later, godaddy.com’s private registration – domains by proxy service costs $15.94 per year and their cheapest hosting plan costs $3.99 per month – oh, but a lot of people say godaddy sucks. Basically, I don’t trust them.

All things considered, nearlyfreespeech.net stands out as the cheap, trustworthy and clean choice. Which explains why this blog is hosted by them. Only godaddy comes close on the price-front, but really, I am glad I chose nearlyfreespeech.net – everything about their beliefs, and service, seems good. Also, unlike GoDaddy, they don’t suck.

In case you are wondering, I am not getting paid by NearlyFreeSpeech.net for this post.