An Anonymous Blogger Tells All

The unknown waiter behind the blog Waiter Rant shares tips on how to keep your identity a secret online

As blogging continues to grow, so does the number of people disciplined or even fired from their jobs for posting candid comments about the workplace. But is it possible to remain anonymous while blogging?

One blog that succeeds is Waiter Rant, written by a Manhattan waiter who shares colorful anecdotes about his customers and co-workers in the eatery where he works. He writes about everyday occurrences in the establishment—and sometimes serves up biting commentaries about his patrons.

In one posting, he reveals his dismay upon earning a mere 10 percent tip after saving a choking customer’s life by performing the Heimlich maneuver: The “jerk was a doctor. 10 percent! Next time I let him die!”

No one has been able to figure out the identity of Waiter Rant. How does he do it?

“I sometimes wait days or even weeks after an incident to write about it on the off chance the person involved might read the blog.”

First of all, he avoids posting comments that would give away his work location, he says. “That occasionally sucks because there are some funny stories I could write, but if I did people could zero in on my bistro in a minute.”

Several Web sites offer suggestions on how to mask one’s identity online, such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation. Many tips include writing style: One should never give write about personal details such as job location, co-workers names or any details that can link a blogger to his or her Web site.

As Waiter Rant says, “I sometimes wait days or even weeks after an incident to write about it on the off chance the person involved might read the blog.” He also will sometimes slightly alter the characters in his stories in order to protect their privacy.

Waiter Rant even takes precautions when agreeing to do interviews. He says he usually grants interviews only to legitimate media sources, such as major newspapers. He also gives an occasional interview to a blogger who he believes has journalistic integrity.

Another tip that the EEF offers is to never blog at work. Internet activity can be traced on a local network by one’s boss and IT services. Several companies offer anonymous blog hosting services.

Waiter Rant hosts his blog on Blogger, which is owned by Google, and he does not bother with trying to hide his IP address. The way he sees it, it is not worth the trouble for someone to try to track him down through technology.

“It would take a lot of legal wrangling and money for a non-governmental entity to get these companies to cough up that info.” Since he doesn’t print names or write stories of celebrity behavior, he believes that he is safe.

“Of course, if Homeland Security wants to find me—I’m toast.”

His blog is becoming increasingly popular; he’s even overheard customers talking about it while at work. If Waiter Rant’s identity is revealed, keeping his job is not a concern, he says, since his boss is one of his biggest fans. His main concern is about customers “pulling sh—“ in an attempt to get mentioned on his blog.


A webzine produced by the Digital Journalism class at New York University in Spring 2005. Instructor: Patrick Phillips, editor & founder of I Want Media.

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