When I was younger, and much more naive about teh interwebz and my career, I made a massive mistake.
It was my first week in a very difficult PhD program. I had moved across the country. I was surrounded by big fish who all had their Masters' degrees - and there I was, a girl with a Texan accent, the first in my family to graduate college, having come to this prestigious east coast university PhD program with nothing but a Bachelor's degree to my name.
For my first seminar, my professor was my hero. This particular professor was the reason I came to this university and he/she was known all over in my field for their work. There were stars in my eyes, I swear.
And then I spent my first week trying to understand who the fuck this Foucault dude was, and what the hell he was saying. The night before my second meeting of that particular seminar class, all alone in my tiny shoebox apartment, I drank myself into a complete stupor out of pure frustration and fear that I had made a huge mistake, and was in over my head. I was supposed to have read this entire Foucault book, and though I had tried, I had no idea what this crazy French guy was talking about. I mean c'mon. Have you READ Foucault?
The next day in class, I was very hungover and sick. It took everything in me not to burst into tears. I thought I was smart; I'd been top of my class in my little podunk program at home. But these people were brilliant, and I had no idea what they were talking about.
Back in those days, I was a big fan of Livejournal. And I went to some random Livejournal community for new graduate students, and tried to make light of my situation by venting. I joked that I had shown up drunk for my very first seminar class of my PhD program (which, as I mentioned previously, wasn't actually true). It made me laugh to think I could be that careless, and when I want to share a funny story, I always use artistic license and exagerrate a bit, if you hadn't noticed. Making a joke out of the whole thing made Foucault look a little less terrifying to me. It helped me to downplay the severity of the situation in which I found myself by making it all into a big joke. And since I knew absolutely no one, and had no friends, I turned to this internet forum.
And for some stupid reason that I will never understand, I posted with my real name.
Within two hours, a 7th year PhD student had contacted me and asked who my professor was, and the specifics on the class. She recognized my name because she knew who the new students in the program were that year. This person did not find my story funny, and of course did not realize how much I exagerrated the situation, or that I was really quite frightened and lost. This student cared about the reputation of her program, and I had just made a complete fool out of myself in a community for graduate students on the internet. For some reason I will never know (maybe a divine blessing of luck and pity from the PhD gods), I do not think she personally contacted my professor (who, by the way, was supposed to be my advisor) and tell him/her about my alleged irresponsible behavior.
I promptly went back and deleted my post, set all my internet profiles to private, and tried to erase any scrap of my name. One semester later, I withdrew from this PhD program (not just because of this incident mind you), but I learned a very valuable lesson.
One day, if all the stars align properly, maybe I will have the opportunity to publish my thesis. Maybe I will get the chance to research with some of my role models. I learned to veil the Texan accent at conferences. I learned how to read Foucault. I learned how to behave properly in an Academic environment.
Here, at my blog, I don't have to worry about that - because I don't release my name. I'm sure someone could find it if they chose to do so. However, I do not want to make it easy for others to find out who I am, and associate the name under which I hope to publish really smart stuff with a blog in which I talked ad nauseam about bubbles and Devout Mantles. Being a WoW gamer is not exactly a mark of prestige in my field. It would not be a hobby that worked in my favor, but in fact, more than likely the opposite. Yes, it might be stupid that this perception exists, but it is what it is, and I have accepted that.
The people who work at Blizzard don't have to worry about their future employers knowing how much time they spent on the WoW forums. So while it may be a nice thought that Nethaera (whom I adore) and Bashiok and Zarhym and all the others are also willing to post their Real Names, my future career is not likely going to be in the gaming industry.
I really did want to be a Priestly version of Lissanna, who is very well known on the Druid forums for her contributions to the Druid community at large. I wanted to post guides and stickies and suggestions for Priests on our forum. For awhile there, I was doing just that, and just hadn't done it for awhile.
But, I'm sorry, I cannot risk my future career on a hobby. It is, after all, supposed to be a Role Playing Game. I'm sorry that I will not be able to contribute to the official WoW community on the forums come Cataclysm. If Blizz wants to add more accountability to forum posters, then I would be perfectly happy to pick an alias under which every single forum post I made could be associated. I would be happy to have it be an alias under which people could contact me in-game. If I'm rude, you can confront me in game. But I will not let a game potentially ruin my real life.