Naming Names

30 Dec

There are quite a few idioms in our culture that involve identification.  Due to things like privacy, bias, and fear, we often want to talk about a characteristic of something without identifying what the something is.

In the case of my inspiration for this post, that something is a book.  A famous book even.  But I don’t know what that book is, because the person talking about it refused to name names.  I respect this person, a well-known blogger in the circles I frequent.  I have probably read this book.  I would love to know what book they are referring to, because I would love to hear their opinion on it.  But for some reason, they feel uncomfortable expressing a public opinion on the subject.

I wonder why.  You see this all over the place, and especially in writing circles.  And I honestly don’t see a concrete reason why it should be that way.  I have some guesses as to why in some cases, but there’s nothing that defines clear, deserved consequences for breaking this apparent social rule.

First, there’s probably a desire to avoid hurting someone’s feelings.  In this case, referring to a published book by a famous author, I don’t think they really need that amount of protection from hurt feelings.

Second, I often hear people worrying about getting black-balled by the industry.  Now the fame of the author might be relevant, but I don’t know of any serious cases where this has actually occurred.  So again I wonder at this omission.

Third, since there does seem to be a a set etiquette here, there’s the desire to appear to be playing by the rules and not being rude.  Which probably makes the most sense out of all the reasons I can think of.

There are probably a lot more reasons, major and minor, that I haven’t thought of.

Any thoughts?


Posted by on December 30, 2012 in Authors, Blogging, Books, Reviews


Tags: , , , , ,

5 responses to “Naming Names

  1. BigWords

    December 30, 2012 at 11:09 PM

    The only time I have heard of black-balling is newbie authors getting (unjustly) worried, and there really is only the “I don’t want to upset the barrel” excuse which plays for me. It is interesting that, twenty odd years after a pair of well-known authors indulged in petty mud-throwing through the letter columns of various magazines – to no perceivable ill-effect – that there would still be this concern.

    I’ll think on this though…

    • atsiko

      December 31, 2012 at 12:01 AM

      To me, if someone is a famous published author, they’ve probably heard worse than what a non-troll is going to post about their book on a blog. So why worry about it?

      When I wrote about Sanderson’s Laws on my blog, I was more critical than this blogger, and I back-linked to Sanderson’s posts, and nothing ever happened. He probably never even saw the trackback.

      Famous authors have way better things to do than be concerned about what some blogger posts about them, even one with a few thousand followers.

  2. Arlee Bird

    December 31, 2012 at 1:48 AM

    This is something that happens in more than just writing circles. My feelings are that if someone is going to bring something up then don’t be hinting around at it. If you’re being honest and not malicious then tell us what it is and name the names if you’ve alluded to them. If you’re part of an inner circle of knowledge and just what to show off in a sense then just keep it to yourself and don’t tease me with what I’m not being told straight out. If there is no lesson to teach me then don’t waste my time.

    You’re right. Big time bloggers and famous people probably don’t even notice most of the stuff that’s out there and if they do it’s probably not worth making a deal out of unless it’s something slanderous that will damage them in some way.

  3. Arlee Bird

    December 31, 2012 at 1:49 AM

    Looks like my first comment went into spam. I’ll leave this note with a different blog address. Word Press can be so damn annoying.

    • atsiko

      December 31, 2012 at 5:22 AM

      Your guess is correct. I do eventually read through all the spam before deleting it, but since it doesn’t trigger a notification from wordpress, it sometimes takes awhile.


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