Pen Names

Many members use pen or pseudo names (we call them “Alternate Authors” or “Alt-Authors” for short).

Without getting into a debate about whether it’s right or wrong to use a pen-name; Our position is that we give LESS credibility to articles under pen-names vs. real human names that we can determine.

Reasons why articles under pen-names are treated as 2nd class:

  • The majority of thin & crappy article vomit submissions come from members who are clearly using a pen-name.
  • Undesirable or high risk content topics (Casino/Poker/P Enlargement/Get Rich Quick/Name brand mentioners) are almost always under pen-names.
  • There is a lack of accountability that comes from hiding behind a pen name.
  • Often times pen names are rejected because they include related descriptors to the content topic that a person writes about. Ex: Star wars movie writer’s pen name “Jedi Walker.”
  • Pen-name submitted content is often ghost written. Yes, it’s that easy to tell. Ghost written articles are almost always 2nd class Sometimes people hire bad ghostwriters and it shows through in their content vs. original content written by a true genuine expert author (our ideal member profile.)

One of our QC team members (Kolin) said he does give more account weight when the real human author name owns the account vs. when an account is clearly owned by a pen name. If you want to build more credibility with us, use your REAL HUMAN NAME for your primary author name, even if you don’t publish articles under that name.

Yes, we do respect your right to use pen-names to protect your privacy. Know that your need for privacy or to not be accountable publicly may have a credibility or trust price tag… BUT, if you write outstanding high quality unique and original content, you have nothing to worry about.

Lastly, yes I know there are all kinds of examples of good people using pen names in non-evil ways. Unfortunately, they pay some of the trust or credibility price for the greater majority who use pen names to scam the system with thin content.


Jennifer writes:

I was hoping this is true.

Unfortunately, I guess I won’t be able to use “Brett Favre” for my P-enlargement articles. ;)

But it looks like C. Michael Knight can still talk about Knight Rider. It’s just not fair. :)

I doubt I’ll ever use another name to write under, but I do have a question.

Are you allowed to use the same picture with 2 different names just as long as it’s your real picture? Or… you can’t use a picture no matter what for the 2nd author name?

Comment provided October 3, 2008 at 10:25 AM




You are not allowed to use the same picture for 2 different names as this would be a credibility trust violation with our users.

Our site visitors are quick to catch this and point it out to us with the REPORT ARTICLE or REPORT AUTHOR feature.

You can use stock image photos for your alt-authors provided you licensed them to be used for this purpose… however, this is a slippery slope if you don’t have the exclusive rights to a particular human photo.

Fact: Val Kilmer is the voice behind KITT… and Val played which character in the movie, “Real Genius”?

Comment provided October 3, 2008 at 10:31 AM



Michelle L Devon is not my real name, never has been. ‘Devon’ is actually my son’s middle name. I did, however, get an EIN from the IRS as a business and named my business Michelle L Devon. As far as most people know on my bylines, it’s a real name, because it sounds like a real name.

I don’t use a pen name to write crappy content, but rather for two reasons – my ‘real’ first and last name were very common, and also very close to a celebrity who has a questionable… well, I’ll leave it at that, but the point was, for branding on the internet, Michelle Devon is much easier to brand than my real name. Then secondly, for privacy. I’m all over the internet, and I sure don’t need the weirdos hunting down me personally, in real life.

BUT, all that said, I did take the steps to make my pen name appear like a ‘real’ name, and I can legally use that pen name for tax purposes even, because I made that pen name a business name with an EIN, versus having to use a real name with a social security number.

I’m rambling now, but I think my point is, you can protect your real name and use a pen name, without being one of the ‘second-clasers’, as long as, like you said, you write quality content and your name at least attempts to sound human and not some silly name or internet-user type name.

Just my take on it.

Love and stuff,
Michy (Michy is my real nickname!)

Comment provided October 3, 2008 at 10:44 AM


Colleen Dick writes:

I have been using my maiden name for family and parenting type articles and my married name for technical stuff. I know it should have been the other way around but that’s how it started. Both names are actually real. I created a “pen-name” with my maiden name after reading an EzineArticles training email that suggested this for “differentiating your brand.” So should I use a different picture of myself for the alt name? or should I just edit all my alt name articles and change the author and resubmit them and delete the alt author altogether?

Comment provided October 3, 2008 at 10:46 AM


Jenn writes:

As someone who has ghostwritten a LOT of the “first class” content for people who are genuine experts, I really don’t appreciate bullet point #3.

I think you’d be surprised at some of your favorite experts who get their work ghostwritten…

I totally get your point that a lot of outsourced articles are crap, but I think you’re making a lot of assumptions about pen names in general.

For instance, I write under pen names often because I’m a woman with a young family.

The Internet = crazy people.

That doesn’t mean I am not trying to build my credability.

But, I do respect that it’s your directory and your opinion goes.

Comment provided October 3, 2008 at 10:48 AM


Dan Goodwin writes:

Chris, what about if you have genuine income streams in say 3 very different areas, and you don’t want to compromise your credibility in any of them by looking like a “Jack of all trades” rather than an expert in one?

I know of authors I come across on EzineArticles and other sites that have written articles in dozens of different topics and use one resource box for all. So there’ll be an article on how to exercise your dog, and the resource box will say “John Smith is an expert in Financial Management…”

Totally diminishes their credibility for me, in both dog walking AND financial management.

So what would you recommend this person do, if they were indeed an expert in both of these (unrelated) fields?

(I appreciate some people just enjoy writing and write about what ever topic is on their mind and don’t have a marketing/business plan behind it.)



Comment provided October 3, 2008 at 10:55 AM




You’ve done it right because you passed this test: If we can’t tell the difference between your pen name and your real name; then you’ve succeeded at writing high quality content…and associating that high quality content with your real nickname. :)


Authors With Multiple Brands – Secrets to Managing Multiple Topics When Writing Articles

Comment provided October 3, 2008 at 11:02 AM


Dan Goodwin writes:

Thanks Chris, very useful. Brand erosion, that’s the phrase I was looking for!

To do this you’d still just have one main EzineArticles account though and haven’t different Author names for different topic areas? You wouldn’t need to set up multiple accounts?



Comment provided October 3, 2008 at 11:24 AM


Jennifer writes:

Hi Michy,

You went beyond what I do. I just use my maiden name so I don’t get some internet crazy types stalking me.

Chris… hmmm, is it ICEMAN… or maybe BATMAN. It has to be something with “MAN” at the end?

I’m gonna have to watch Knight Rider again just to listen to Kitt/Val.

Ok, I have another question due to your answer to me… to satisfy my curiosity more than anything.

I could just use a different picture of myself then? Yes? No? I’d guess no since although it’s a different picture, it’s the same person in the picture.

Comment provided October 3, 2008 at 11:25 AM



Hi Chris!

I agree with you. I never use a pen name, I have no reason to do that. On the contrary, I want to show who I am, everything I know, be very clear in all points without hiding anything, etc., so that my readers may verify that they can trust me.

My readers’ confidence is indispensable because I deal with mental health. But I think that this is a general necessity. If someone doesn’t trust you, they will never buy anything from you!

If your readers know very well who you are, they feel safer. So, a real name, a real picture and a real biography are quite stronger than a false name, without any picture and any biographical details about the author.

Comment provided October 3, 2008 at 11:36 AM




Our TOS doesn’t allow multiple accounts; One account per human please.


Yes, a different pic is probably ok.


Comment provided October 3, 2008 at 11:43 AM


George Chernikov writes:


Can you please clarify the policies governing the use of images?

You say you don’t allow images of anyone but you for the author profile; however, since identical images across different pen names aren’t allowed either, I’m not certain how to proceed.


Comment provided October 3, 2008 at 2:33 PM



Yes, there is something really strange with this matter. First you tell us that ‚¬“You are not allowed to use the same picture for 2 different names as this would be a credibility trust violation with our users.‚¬ And now you tell us that a different picture (of the same person) is ok??

I think that the author with 2 names should be obliged to appear quite different in the second picture!

Perhaps, with a wig :)

Comment provided October 3, 2008 at 3:12 PM




This is a gray area.

I’d prefer if you were writing under a pen name that you don’t post any author photos.

That said, this issue is about user trust and avoiding complaints or the appearance of impropriety (such as a user seeing two very different authors who have the same author photo posted because they both bought the same photo stock image).

One thing I’d caution everyone against: Ripping off an image and or using a derivative of one you found off of a search engine for your fake pen name author photo. Be sure to PAY for the right license rights if you’re going to publicly post an author photo of someone other than yourself.

Comment provided October 3, 2008 at 3:27 PM


George Chernikov writes:


I understand where you’re coming from; however, as you know, you’re required to post an author photo if you want your name to appear in the Top Authors listing for the topic (if I’m wrong, please correct me).

For privacy reasons, I use my real photo on my pen profile; however, when I decide to diversity into another area, I will create another pen name, and hence, require another image.

Also, can you please clarify what kind of licence you’re referring to? Without getting into the legal side of things, are you looking for a PAID image that we have the right to use, or an image which we hold EXCLUSIVE usage rights to?

For example, I can go to IStockPhoto and get an image from there, but it won’t stop anyone else from purchasing that very same image for their own uses.

Is it acceptable, or do I need to hold exclusive usage rights for the image?


Comment provided October 3, 2008 at 3:56 PM



George, you need exclusivity; otherwise somebody else may pay for it too, and use the same picture.

However, if you have a false name and you use a false picture, you create a false personality. So, you are misleading your readers!

Once I saw an author’s bio at EzineArticles and he had an avatar. I thought that perhaps he didn’t want to frighten the public with his ugly face :) but now I understand that he could be hiding his real face because he was using a pen name.

This solution is much better. At least the author is not misleading his readers for creating a false personality.

Comment provided October 3, 2008 at 4:34 PM


Jamie writes:

I have to understand your points Chris… I know it must de a difficult workaround for you and it would be almost impossible to avoid blanket type rules on this..

But the ghostwriting views are VERY general and wishy washy.. some ghostwritten content is excellent.. like Jen’s above and various who do it professionally as full time ghostwriters..

Aside from this… it’s your site and I enjoy the benefits so it’s all good.


Comment provided October 3, 2008 at 8:07 PM


Chris writes:

EzineArticles should be ashamed of itself for publishing such nonsense. Ever heard of Mark Twain? I guess you think his writing was crap, too.

You should get back to ripping people off by charging them to approve their articles that you run Adsense on.

Comment provided October 4, 2008 at 12:27 AM


Mark Thompson writes:


There seems to be more and more reasons appearing why some of our articles aren’t being given less credibility.

I publish articles under my real name and also pen names for a number of reasons.

1. I don’t want people who follow me on twitter or read my blogs to find out every niche that I am in, not that I have anything to hide but I want to protect my livelyhood. I have several thousand readers of my blog every month if all of them searched for my name in EzineArticles and then copied all the niches I am in I could have a lot of competition

2. I may be contracted to write an ebook and set of articles for a client in that case it makes more sense to post the articles under the clients name (not to mention more honest)

3. Who’s to say that my main authors name is actually my real name? (It is!) But why should more credibility be given to someone who posts hundreds of short liightweights articles under a made up main authors name than someone who posts good quality informative articles under a pen name?

4. If they faciliity is available to us why shouldn’t we be able to use it without out credibility being questioned? If you think that people who use pen names are not as credible then remove the facility.

5 In a similar vein rather than treat users of pen names with less credibility why not just not just reject “The majority of thin & crappy article vomit submissions come from members who are clearly using a pen-name”

Anyway as ever keep up the good work and thanks for drawing this to our attention.

Comment provided October 4, 2008 at 3:40 AM


George Chernikov writes:

And let me just add one more thing – I used to have a blog on a domain registered under my real name and real mailing address (no private registration).

About two months into it, I started getting random SMS messages from people in Ghana, offering me to speak to a lady by the name of Ntaki.

I don’t want this to happen with my articles, especially when I’m working in the Relationship niche, where people are emotionally distraught and can behave in an unpredictable – and downright dangerous – manner.

No matter how good your advice is, there’s always a chance that it will not help them solve their marital problems; and in such cases, the last thing I need is a stalker waiting for me at the door to my house, having tracked me online using my real name.

The point is, using a pen name doesn’t just protect your business – in certain cases, it is often a very viable investment in protecting your privacy and, possibly, safety.

Comment provided October 4, 2008 at 3:57 AM


Dan writes:

I have to say I’m pretty disappointed in what I’ve just read. So I pay $97 a month (yes I’m a premium member) to have my articles written under a pen name classed as 2nd rate?

May I ask exactly HOW my articles are treated with less credibility and as 2nd class? I thought all articles were treated the same (although obviously not accepted if they’re not up to standard).

I write the vast majority of my articles under a pen name – many of the reasons have already been given above, but mainly to protect my business and my privacy. All the articles I write, whether under my own name or under a pen name are of the same quality.

I know people who pay up to $30 per article for quality articles to submit to EzineArticles, so I’m not surprised that there are ghostwriters who are extremely upset and insulted by your 5th point. Ghostwriters work is often of much better quality than some of the rubbish I’ve seen accepted on EzineArticles.

I think maybe you should check out this thread on WF

Comment provided October 4, 2008 at 4:54 AM



I think most of you are missing the point. I think what Chris is trying to say is, less credibility is given to those who ‘obviously’ are using a pen name. If you use real-sounding name, write quality articles, and try to make yourself appear a real person who is an authority on the topic in which you write, your credibility is fine.

Lots of people who claim to be niche writers or experts in their topics are using fake names and it’s pretty clear they are ‘user names’ and not ‘real names’ or pseudonyms, or who are using silly names that are meant to match a product or something, like ‘energy pills’ being written about by Lazy Q Bum, or something like that.

I’m not sure here, and I don’t presume to speak for Chris at all, but I think the point is, when you’re writing as someone other than who you really are, you need to make your readers believe that whomever you are writing as *is* who you really are, instead of making it obvious you are using a pen name. (Ghostwriters do this all the time!)

This gives more credibility to you as a writer/niche topic expert to your readers and gives more credibility to you when dealing with EzineArticles too.

If I never told you that Michelle L Devon was a pen name name and not my real name, you would never know that by reading me online. It IS my pen name, though.

And for those who use ghostwriters to write their articles on EzineArticles, I’m sorry, but my opinion is your credibility IS less than a niche topic expert who writes their own content, even if your content is really good. I’m an ‘expert’ in my area, and I know my readers would be absolutely devastated to learn I used a ghostwriter and didn’t write my own content (That’s why I don’t!). No matter how good the writing is, using a ghostwriter to write expeti niche topic articles DOES give you less credibility – so you should make absolutely certain there’s no way anyone can discover you do this, or it hurts you, and by default, if the articles are on EzineArticles, it hurts EzineArticles too.

Anyway, Chris isn’t saying not to use pen names. He’s saying that if you do, you should be certain there’s no way anyone KNOWS it’s a pen name, so you appear more authentic to your readers. If they get most of their ‘crappy’ stuff from fake pen names that are obvious, and they know that, don’t you think the readers know that too, and might just bypass a fake-sounding pen named article in favor of one that sounds more like a real person took the time to write it?

Comment provided October 4, 2008 at 7:14 AM




If you’re buying stock photos, we don’t require that you have the exclusive rights to the photo. I was pointing out that if you use the same photo that someone else uses that your credibility might be called into question by our site visitors who have this uncanny ability to match up and identify things that don’t make sense (such as two authors with the same author photo but radically different names).


Our acid test for whether ghostwritten content is excellent or not is if we can’t tell it’s ghostwritten content, then it’s excellent. If we can tell it’s ghostwritten content, then it’s not.


EzineArticles is FREE for all to use. We charge no one to use our core service.


I don’t know who you are, but we’ve terminated quite a few Premium members on the basis of not being an ideal member due to low value content submissions.

Premium membership gives ZERO editorial bias; so whether you’re a Premium member or not has no impact on how we view your content, only the speed at which we prioritize the decision.

Ghostwriters have no right to be upset by this thread unless they write very low quality derivative content.

If a ghostwriter writes high quality work, why should they be upset by this if we’ll never know their clients work was ghostwritten by them?



Everyone should go back up and re-read what Michy just wrote.


The voice I’m trying to represent here is that of our millions of site visitors. They are not represented in this discussion.

One of our primary missions is to ensure that visitors to EzineArticles have a positive user experience. Our success together with all of you depends and hinges on our ability to deliver a positive experience… This is only enhanced when credibility and authority as an expert source of content is perceived by our visitors.

When I scan the handful of members who have been reported by our site visitors, there is a CLEAR pattern that PEN NAME members cause the most complaints. This shouldn’t be a surprise, but I hope helps explain why this topic is an issue.

Comment provided October 4, 2008 at 8:38 AM


Jenn writes:


If you follow the link to the Warrior Forum you’ll also see it commented that many “autobiographies” written by politicians and other “experts” are ghostwritten.

They didn’t actually write it, but they are still credible because it’s their thoughts or outline. The actual writing is done by a professional.

You’d be surprised to learn how often this is done, and it’s done because it makes sense for everyone.

How does this make anyone less credible?

I don’t think some people have a clear idea of how ghostwriting works.

Some experts are not good writers and can’t express their thoughts. A ghostwriter will then get an outline from the expert, does additional research, and writes it so that it reads well and comes across professionally.

It’s doing everyone a service instead of expecting that every “expert” is able or willing to write their own content.

Comment provided October 4, 2008 at 8:42 AM


Jamie writes:


Thanks for being open about this and being prepared to discuss things… whilst I agree with most of your post, I do respect Ezine for what it is and not only for the benefits.. but your ghostwriter stance is what has upset myself and others


Comment provided October 4, 2008 at 8:45 AM


Jenn writes:

Then why don’t you change your comments from:

“Ghost written articles are almost always 2nd class”


“Sometimes people hire bad ghostwriters and it shows through in their content”

We’re upset because you are making huge generalizations and offending ghostwriters in a huge way.

Many of us ghostwriters also offer quality content to your directory under our own names – calling our writing crap with such generalizations is insulting and it certainly makes me hesitate .

Comment provided October 4, 2008 at 8:47 AM


Peter Coughlin writes:

I do appreciate you trying to improve the quality of your service Chris, but your reasoning strikes me as odd…

If there’s a trend for poor quality authors to use pen names, does that mean use of a pen name contributes to a low quality article? Of course not.

The issue of pen names is neither here nor there – the issue is low quality articles. Work on the low quality articles and don’t worry about the use of pen names – which is a perfectly acceptable practice.


Comment provided October 4, 2008 at 8:55 AM


Ben Pate writes:

Im glad to see that using my real name has payed off.

Comment provided October 4, 2008 at 8:56 AM


David Murray writes:

Hmmmmm !?!

I don’t use a pseudonym and therefore have no personal axe to grind, but it may be interesting to note that you’d have been demoting to second-class citizenship some of the greatest figures in literary history.

Comment provided October 4, 2008 at 8:57 AM



Jenn, ‘autobiographies’ are not written by ghostwriters. If a third party wrote it, they are biographies, even if written in first person. Now, having a person write their autobiography and then hiring someone to edit and perfect it, that’s different.

I am a ghostwriter, or at least, I was. I have ghostwritten several ebooks and print books. There is a very interesting book on business marketing that I ghostwrote in its entirety early on in my career as a writer, and I’m prohibited by contract from saying I wrote it – but trust me, the man who is selling that book is making good money off MY work and expertise. I know exactly how ghostwriting works.

My point is, if you have a person you admire, you have followed their career and you are hoping to emulate them in your own career… and then later on, you discover they haven’t been writing their own content, but instead, ghostwriters have, you can’t tell me you wouldn’t find yourself just a bit disappointed to discover that. Perhaps your ‘expert’ wouldn’t seem quite so much of an ‘expert’ to you anymore.

As such, I believe someone who uses a ghostwriter is less credible than someone who doesn’t, because the writing and research just might not be their own.

One of the reasons I stopped ghostwriting for other people was because I was sick and tired of these folks having the money, the name and the face – getting all the credit – when I was the person who had the real skill and knowledge and did all the work.

Instead of using ghostwriters, if you truly are an ‘expert’ in your topic, write the content, and then hire a good editor if writing is not your forte. The research, the knowledge, the information should come from the ‘expert’ not the ‘ghostwriter’, and as such, ghostwritten ‘expert’ opinions ARE less credible to me, even if the writing is flawless than a less-than-perfect expert-written article.

Comment provided October 4, 2008 at 8:57 AM


Jenn writes:

Hi Michy,
Well, that’s why I put the term in quotes :)

I understand your stance on the issue, but I’m surprised you don’t see where some of us are coming from considering your background.

You might consider someone less credible, but that doesn’t mean the writing is “2nd rate.”

I don’t see it as less credible because the thoughts/strategies/whatever are the same…just written better.

I think Chris worded things more harshly than he intended. (hopefully)

Comment provided October 4, 2008 at 9:11 AM



(nodding) I don’t begrudge a ghostwriting making a living, at all!

My issue isn’t with the ghostwriter, and I don’t think Chris’s comments were intended to be against the ghostwriters either.

See, you took his quote out of context above, when you said, ‚¬“Ghost written articles are almost always 2nd class”.

While it’s a direct quote, the REST of that line reads: “vs. original content written by a true genuine expert author (our ideal member profile.)”

He’s saying, given the two options, the preference is for expert-written content and not ghostwritten content. He’s not knocking ghostwriting itself, or even ghostwriters, but basically saying that between the two, expert-written content is preferred to ghostwritten content, and that well-written content by either is pretty well mandatory.

If he had JUST said your quote above, without the caveat of the ‘vs.’, I would probably be completely agreeing with you.

Comment provided October 4, 2008 at 9:17 AM


Jenn writes:

You’re awesome, and that puts it more clearly. Chris should hire you to be his PR ghostwriter :)

Thanks! I do feel better about the issue now.

Comment provided October 4, 2008 at 9:20 AM



Jenn, thanks! It’s great to actually discuss something with someone online and be professional about it! You’re awesome too!

Comment provided October 4, 2008 at 9:27 AM



I guess I’m a bit baffled by the whole hub-bub. Isn’t a quality article a quality article? And a lousy one a lousy one? Regardless of who’s name is on it.

Comment provided October 4, 2008 at 9:27 AM




Great suggestion!

Go look at the original post as I’ve updated it.


I understand some pen names have high quality articles associated with them. I was just sharing that statistically, it’s not true.

[read the comment by Paul Meyers]


You’re right… I didn’t intend to offend ‘good/great’ ghostwriters.

Comment provided October 4, 2008 at 9:35 AM


Jenn writes:

Good guy Chris :)

This is turning out much better and everything is more clarified now.

Comment provided October 4, 2008 at 9:44 AM



As I can see there are many authors that need to use a pen name indispensably.

What is the solution for the matter of the picture, Chris? Do you think that authors who have pen names should really use an avatar instead of a false picture as I suggested them?

Or would it be better for their image to use a false picture (with exclusivity), even though this way they create a false personality?

Comment provided October 4, 2008 at 10:24 AM




I’m not a fan of avatars for ‘expert author’ photos.

Whatever you do for a pen name, I’d recommend making sure it’s exclusive to you and your pen name. This prevents market confusion and keeps user trust in tact.

Comment provided October 4, 2008 at 11:15 AM


Colleen Dick writes:

Hey, yeah! what a novel idea. Just reject the vomit crap for the reason that it is vomit crap no matter if spongebob squarepants wrote it or if Theodore M. Credible did.

Dear Theodore M. Credible, Although you appear to be a very handsome bloke, after careful review of your article “How to make money without doing any work” we have determined that it is unsalvageable vomit crap. Please go back to the drawing board. You have five more chances. If you don’t submit something decent after five more tries, your account will be deleted.

Comment provided October 4, 2008 at 11:43 AM



As a matter of fact, the avatar provokes certain suspicion! It is not an ideal solution.

I’m glad I don’t have this problem because I always use my real own name. However, how could an author be honest, while having another pen name, instead of creating a false personality to present to the public?

I don’t like the idea of using someone else’s picture and giving a false name to their image. It looks like something illegal.

Comment provided October 4, 2008 at 11:46 AM


Alan writes:

Chris, you should have hired a ghostwriter to better express your thoughts in your post and you wouldn’t have offended all these people who have provided EzineArticles with quality content under their own name and as ghostwriters. :-)

I’m not a ghostwriter but I was also offended by the original post since I have used professional ghostwriters in the past and I paid for quality not quantity. So I took it as a bit of a slap in the face that you would label it “almost” all of them as 2nd rate. I’m glad you’ve updated your post.

Comment provided October 4, 2008 at 11:51 AM



Alan, Chris had another intention when he wrote his article. He admitted his fault, and this is really admirable.

What you said about his necessity of using a ghostwriter sometimes is true, because he is not a writer, he is basically a marketer. Sometimes he is a little bit rude with all authors! This is his style! But he is basically very nice; and he certainly had no intention to offend anyone.

Comment provided October 4, 2008 at 12:04 PM


@reetaluthra writes:

Even though I use my real name, I was as surprised as most others reading the initial blog post. However, I eventually found the key message buried half-way down:

Chris says “If you want to build more credibility with us, use your REAL HUMAN NAME for your primary author name, even if you don’t publish articles under that name.”

So, unless I’m mistaken, the issue isn’t about the name you publish under, it’s about the name you register under.

On EZ, I do regularly come across poor quality, keyword saturated sales pitches trying to pass themselves off as articles. When people see stuff like that on there, they probably assume that it’s okay for them to write their own sales pitch too.

So, I think perhaps that in order to build credibility, the QC team should consider article content above the name of the accountholder…

Comment provided October 4, 2008 at 12:36 PM


Dr.Q writes:

I really believe that for non fiction a real name is a must. Imagine Bill clintons my life book under a pen name. It would not be.
pen names are fine with me for fiction but non fiction specially fact books need a real name.

Comment provided October 4, 2008 at 1:01 PM


Jennifer writes:


“…a little bit rude with ALL authors”

I think that is where Chris got in a little trouble himself, by making a sweeping generalization like that.

I’d say Chris is extremely busy and can’t spend too much time crafting his words perfectly. So I wouldn’t say he’s rude, just right to the point. He’s been anything BUT rude with me.

1 small example of many… I mentioned in passing on this blog that I didn’t receive a mug (my fault because they sent to my previous address and I didn’t update it) and I got an email within 20 minutes from Chris asking for my updated address… and now I have a mug and some extras.


Why nitpick what he says to death? I’m sure each of you got the gist of what he meant and agreed with it. If you’re a high quality writer, his minor misstatement should’ve went in 1 ear and out the other since it doesn’t apply to you.

Chris mentioned something about 250 word thin content authors about a month ago. It wasn’t very positive.

Well, I write a lot of articles in the 250-300 word range. But, what he said didn’t bother me because I knew it didn’t apply to me and IN GENERAL… I agree with what he said, even though plenty of 250 word articles have more meat than other articles that have 400+ words.

My observations… Chris is making changes that benefit the high quality authors and gradually weeding out the article MARKETERS that aren’t even experts on what they write. The changes are subtle, but I bet a year from now people will find a lot less crap here along with higher rankings for their articles.

Comment provided October 4, 2008 at 1:16 PM



Hi Jennifer!

I was defending Chris. He is sometimes rude with many authors, and this happens mainly because he leads with many authors that try to gamble the system.

I participate of most blog discussions and this is why I can tell you how his behavior is, but as I said before, I was defending him.

He cannot be a super kind guy, who easily accepts suggestions for example, because of his position.

With me sometimes he is somehow rude but I don’t care, the same way that you don’t care for his articles when they are not favorable to what you write, because I understand his position. He is our teacher, he organizes everything, he knows all the existent problems for the functionalism of EzineArticles, etc! so he is not that kind many times, even though other times he is very friendly, depending on the occasion.

Comment provided October 4, 2008 at 1:57 PM



I couldn’t finish my comment, because I had to do something else offline! and it was somehow urgent. Now that I’m back I want to explain that when someone is somehow rude, this means that he or she is not delicate.

A delicate person is the one who pays attention, so that they won’t hurt other people’s feelings. Chris is not delicate. But he cannot be a delicate guy because he deals with many authors that have bad intentions, he has to organize EzineArticles, etc. So, when he talked about the articles written by ghostwriters, he had in mind a specific problem that he wanted to point out.

He was not delicate at all, because he wanted to show us that we have to pay attention to several details concerning our credibility, and he didn’t pay attention to the fact that the way he expressed himself, he gave us the impression that he despises completely the work provided by good and even excellent ghostwriters.

On the other hand Chris is not a good writer. His articles are quite objective though, and he is a good teacher, besides being somehow rude sometimes. This is his style. Other teachers are more friendly, more one thing or more the other! Chris is not a delicate teacher, but he cares a lot about what he is doing. This is why the results of his work are excellent.

Comment provided October 4, 2008 at 3:26 PM


Colleen Dick writes:

Mug? Are we supposed to get a mug? I never got a mug. What do you have to do to get a mug?

Comment provided October 4, 2008 at 3:26 PM



You have to wait for your turn. I received a T-shirt, because I’m too far away and the mug was not a good idea for such distance. I received also a mouse pad and a beautiful sticker from EzineArticles and Chris, finally, because I was also wondering when my turn would arrive!

Be patient!

(By the way, thank you again, Chris!)

This was delicate. A delicate attitude and a delicate action!

Comment provided October 4, 2008 at 3:57 PM




There is no formal EzineArticles mug program, but we typically send them to USA-based Platinum authors about a month after your account is upgraded to Platinum.

Comment provided October 5, 2008 at 7:30 AM


Jamie writes:

You know you should be sending them to UK based platinum too Chris… my nationality no good for ya?


LOL.. just playin.. would love a mug tho…

Comment provided October 5, 2008 at 7:40 AM




Read Michy’s related blog entry:

Comment provided October 5, 2008 at 6:19 PM


Travis writes:

I see some of your points but I think “profiling” of pen names is a little excessive. Why not just judge content for content’s sake?

Either the article is “good” or it’s not. Why would you even care what the auther’s name is?

I doubt anyone pays any attention to author’s names anyway.


Comment provided October 5, 2008 at 8:20 PM


Mark Thompson writes:

I had an interesting thought about this last night whilst trying to get to sleep.

how many people who think pen names are a bad idea actually use their real names in forums?

Looking through the list of posters here there are only a few of us who has used out full names. That doesn’t mean that anyone else’s contribution is any less worthy does it?

I agree 100% with Travis, Judge the content for the contents sake. If it’s poor quality either reject it or add it to a secondary directory. If it’s good approve it. surely the quality should be the only factor involved in accepting an article.

Comment provided October 6, 2008 at 3:32 AM



I read Michy’s blog post. I agree with her concerning the identity of an author when he or she is a freelancer like her. An author can write using many pen names.

However, we are talking about expert authors who represent a business ‚¬€ they are not novel authors and they are not freelancers.

If an author uses a false name and a false picture, who knows if his or her business is not as false as everything else? I wouldn’t feel safe having any business relationship with someone ‚¬“inexistent‚¬ – because they wouldn’t have a real identity.

What if I lose my money for trusting this person? How am I going to recuperate it if this person doesn’t exist, a ghostwriter is writing their articles on their behalf, and their name is invented?

Comment provided October 6, 2008 at 10:45 AM



No opinions?

Well, now that I finished doing what I had to, I can give you mine:

The honest solution for all expert writers who use pen names is the absence of picture or the use of an avatar. Otherwise, they are misleading the public.

The use of False pictures with False names must be Forbidden.

Comment provided October 6, 2008 at 2:50 PM


Frederick Hinojosa writes:

I guess it’s refreshing because it’s rare,thus giving it the assumtion of value.Just my oppinion Fred Hinojosa

Comment provided October 6, 2008 at 2:59 PM


George Chernikov writes:


The problem with that approach is that by not having a having a picture for your alternative author profile, it is precluded from appearing in the Top Authors for Category list, which, to me, is an unfair distinction.

As stated before, articles should be judged solely on the value they create for readers; and, in my opinion, Top Author ranking should be no different.

Comment provided October 6, 2008 at 3:07 PM



We’ve determined that our users have more confidence and trust in members who have an author photo and extended bio uploaded vs. those who don’t.

The theme that I hope to continue reinforcing here is that this issue is all about user trust & ensuring that our users (site visitors) have a positive experience.

Lastly, for clarification, the top authors thing is not a top author ranking but rather a top volume ranking in terms of article count and author photo uploaded.

Comment provided October 6, 2008 at 3:15 PM



I understand your points of view.

If you are an honest author and you simply need another pen name, the use of someone else’s picture with your second pen name is not such a big deal, but I’m afraid that dishonest authors may take advantage of this possibility to mislead the public.

A false name and a false picture could be hiding many false businesses!

If everything is false, how can they be found?

Comment provided October 6, 2008 at 4:01 PM


Allen Graves writes:

Hi Chris,

While your thoughts above may be accurate for YOUR visitors and author base, they are not necessarily valid for the author base of all other article directories out there.

I just wanted to maintain a little integrity for those who use pen names (and ghostwriters) that are honest-to-goodness hard working article marketers that use EzineArticles as well as other syndication avenues.

Allen Graves

Comment provided October 7, 2008 at 9:08 AM




I don’t speak for our competitors. I think it’s obvious that my remarks are biased to our experience here at EzineArticles.

Authors & ghostwriters or content producers who write with a pen name and have honest-to-goodness hard working ethics etc… are in the minority when compared to the volume of bad behavior seen in the market.

My comments here are to encourage members to be genuine, write original content, use your real name or not; hire a ghostwriter if you’d like but don’t trust them to submit original content even if you really like them because the responsibility is yours (meaning, our members) to ensure they delivered you unique, exclusive, and original quality content. That’s the battlecry if there was one.

ADDED: Too many of our members blindly trust ghostwriters who let them down. I see it daily. …yet I don’t blame the ghostwriter because the responsibility to submit original unique quality content that is exclusive to your name rests squarely on the shoulders of our members.

Comment provided October 7, 2008 at 9:33 AM


Allen Graves writes:

Thanks for the response, Chris.

I agree, I am just saying that there are already some AM communities out there that simply do not stand for these jackasses and subsequently do not currently experience these problems.

I wish this had never come up in the first place, but alas…there are always bad apples.


Comment provided October 7, 2008 at 9:41 AM


Lance Winslow writes:

I am sorry but you folks all need to know that it is Fraudulent to do BUZZ Marketing or write articles under a pen name and then steer people to a website to buy something. And using a fake picture for a pen name, well that is just about the most dishonest thing I’ve ever heard of. What so someone steals a picture off of Class Outrageous. All this online deception just pisses me off something terrible.

If you are embarrassed to write about a topic using your own name, then might I be so bold as to offer you some advice? Stop writing that crap. Further, if you are posting articles that are fiction fine use a pen name, its been done for generations.

But if you are writing articles for the purpose of selling stuff, it is CONSUMER FRAUD to use a fake name. If you are embarrassed for your family hertitage to sell sex toys and write articles about that, then stop selling that stuff.

You know this whole thing is a sick sign on the integrity levels of those who write on the Internet. I completely DO NOT Approve of this abuse, the lies or fake names. Pony up people, stand for something in your lives. Stop sneaking around like slime balls using fake names, selling junk trinkets on the Internet and scamming every sucker born every minute that you can find.

Okay, sorry about the tirade, but email me and I’ll tell you how I really feel about all this.

Comment provided October 8, 2008 at 7:57 AM



Lance, while you said it much more harshly than I would have (chuckle), I agree with you. I was floored to read people were using fake pictures. I assumed pen names were being used, but not to the extend I’m reading here, and multiple pen names along with fake pictures to try to sell to consumers?

That just bothered me.

I have no issues with pen names for fiction…

But for selling products online and trying to dupe your consumer into think you are an expert when you aren’t 1) writing your own articles 2) using your own name and standing behind your brand and 3) using your own image…

Wow. It definitely smacks of deceit to me. I have no issues with using variations of a name to brand niche topics, but to just outright have multiple pen names that are in no way traceable to each other and fake information – you’re right, it simple feels like fraud to me.

I wonder what consumer groups think of the practice. I wonder too if the websites in question where people are directed to purchase products – do they have privacy notices, mailing addresses and phone number contact information for consumers who have issues? Do they do best practices when selling products?

It scares me the gullibility of the buying public and angers me the people who take advantage of it.

Comment provided October 8, 2008 at 8:05 AM


Lance Winslow writes:

Be advised Ghostwriters;

If you write articles for the Financial Planning Industry for someone else and allow them to put their name on it, or you use a fake name. It is against SEC regulations. The person you write for will lose their license. Same with some life insurance licenses in some states, stock brokers, securities licensed financial professionals.

Be Advised this is against the law. You are violating the law, perpetuating fraud and you are a criminal and assisting others in defrauding investors.

And personally if you write “expert articles” for others to make them look like something they are not, you are an accessory to fraud. You are violating the spirit of the law, and in my opinion you are a criminal.

Comment provided October 8, 2008 at 8:16 AM


George Chernikov writes:

Lance, Michelle:

While I can see where you’re coming from, if you’re selling something online and using EzineArticles to drive traffic to your site by providing value to your readers, very often, you do NOT want your competitors spying on what you do.

The sad truth of Internet Marketing is that the bigger you are, the more copycats you attract. This is normal for all business – but it reaches dangerous levels in IM, where barriers to entry are so low.

When a big-name marketer suddenly starts working in a certain niche that not a lot of people are aware of, you can bet that within days thousands of marketers will appear doing the same thing and completely killing off the original marketer’s profit margins.

The reasoning is simple – if Mike Filsaime or John Reese starts working in a certain niche, everyone will flock to it simply because it has Mike Filsaime and John Reese in it. After all, they’re multi-millionaire, big-gun marketers – they wouldn’t be operating in that particular market if there was no money to be made, right?

This is less of a concern for established markets, such as Dating Advice or Weight Loss – but for narrower, less-known markets (the ones where you can REALLY make a lot of money if you play your cards right by catering to a niche), it is a very serious issue.

Comment provided October 8, 2008 at 8:22 AM


Lance Winslow writes:

Mr. Chernikov,

Last time I checked two wrongs did not make a right.

Besides, it is even mandatory to use a name? And anyone can see who links to your website and find these articles, so any competitor who really wants to know well, heck, they can determine this stuff in a few minutes and discover all your key words, meta tags and everything else by viewing the source code on the website, so, I am not buying this excuse to commit Fraud.

Comment provided October 8, 2008 at 8:30 AM



George, are you saying that others can’t see on the internet what links to what and notice the articles written here and where they link? The toolbar for Google gives you easy one-click access to all backlinks. I mean, what folks do on the internet isn’t exactly ‘private’, you know.

I see what you’re saying for programs or new opportunities, but not for branding yourself as an ‘expert’ by writing articles. Article marketing isn’t exactly new technology or breaking science here. It is, sort of, internet marketing 101. There really is no reason not to put your name behind your brand, product, or service if you believe in your brand, product or service – unless the intent IS to deceive.

PS: Chris, thanks for the blog link!

Comment provided October 8, 2008 at 8:38 AM



If Filsaime or Reese entered a market and let you know they entered that market; they have just communicated that they think they can make more money by selling you on the idea of entering that market than they could by operating in that niche themselves.


Your argument is that people should use pen names to avoid tipping their hand to the market? Sorry, that’s not really a great recommendation to help someone become a dominant player in any market, but probably good advice for the dabblers.

Comment provided October 8, 2008 at 8:44 AM


Jenn writes:

You’re not making sense! The books of Hillary Clinton, Barrack, McCain, many dieting and nutrition books, business and financial books, etc. etc. are all written by ghostwriters. These are books sold in the regular book market…meaning people are trying to sell them.

I understand your stance somewhat, but to make a blanket statement that all ghostwriting is fraud is just plain wrong. It’s been going on since books were written. Just because the writing is suddenly online does not make it wrong or illegal.

From the tone of your statements I know your mind is made up, but the record needs to be clear that ghostwriting has been an accepted practice for centuries, and it will continue to be. Yes, there are rules and regulations that people on both sides (writer and expert) need to look at. But spitting pure venom at ghostwriters in general is hurtful.

Comment provided October 8, 2008 at 9:16 AM


Mark Thompson writes:

This seems to getting to a whole new level of wierdness..everyone seems to be taking things to extremes.

There is a real risk that this thread is going to alienate a lot of people who currently post article to EzineArticles. So lets have a reality check.

Lance 99% of the people who post articles here Do NOT commit fraud or have any intention of doing it. If they are selling their own products they use their own names to build up a following.

If they are promoting affiliate products then they Are not commiting fraud as they aren’t selling anything.

Chris, Last christmas I completely dominated a niche by posting only 2 articles here and setting up a blog page. I used a pen name to protect the Niche . I sent over $250,000 worth of business to the retailer and made a hell of a lot of money. I can guarantee you that If I hadn’t used that pen name I wouldn’t have made a fraction of the income I did, and i wouldn’t have been in the position to make that income again this year.

Now before you criticise me for doing that, I can roughly estimate the income from those articles that you would have made via the adsense ads and it is considerable. There is still traffic coming from them to this day.

Michey you agree with Lance while earlier you admitted that you use a pen name.??

Comment provided October 8, 2008 at 9:25 AM


George Chernikov writes:

Mr. Winslow,

It’s not about what’s wrong or what’s write, it’s about whether you can still provide value for your visitors (and, of course, make money in the process) without fully exposing your real identity.

As has been stated throughout this discussion by other people (please refer to earlier comments), I believe the answer to be a definite “yes”.

Michele and Chris:

To clarify, it’s pretty standard practice in Internet Marketing not to reveal your market niches. In fact, go to any major marketing forum – I won’t post the links here as I’m not certain if I’m allowed to, but I’m sure you know which ones – and ask any person what niches they work in. In 99% of cases, I guarantee that they will either refuse to tell you outright or provide a very general description (e.g., “Relationships”).

If your name is even remotely well-known in these circles, you will be getting searched for and competitors will be spying on you. About the last thing you want is to have all your articles listed under the same author name, so that any of your competitors can immediately get a list of your niches.

Finally, please also keep the following in mind – if you kept all your articles under the same name, certain topic combinations could potentially undermine your credibility.

For example, if you happen to write both for Internet Marketing and Weight Loss markets, the last thing you want is someone checking your list of articles and immediately seeing that you work in both. To them, it would be a clear signal that, since you work in Internet Marketing, your article is really a veiled attempt to get them to your website to buy something.

I realize this is really what article marketing boils down to, but one of the fundamental rules of sales is that people don’t like feeling that they’re being sold to.

A salesperson who provides you with a wealth of valuable information and content is still, in the end, a salesperson – and will therefore be treated with a certain degree of reservation.

Comment provided October 8, 2008 at 9:28 AM




When I started being on the internet, I was a single mom with two kids at home – as prolific as I am, I am not putting my real name that is associated with things like my deed to my house (public record), my bills (phone number makes it easy to find out where I live), and then discover who my children are (I write about my son and ADHD stuff frequently). I selected a pen name for privacy and protection first and foremost.

However, I made my pen name associated to an EIN – so my pen name is officially and legall my business name, and that business is registered with my state and the federal government (FEIN) and THEY have my real name.

I use my real picture, and I am VERY open and upfront with everyone who reads my blogs or on my forum or whatever that I use a pen name and I tell them why I use it.

Please also note, I am not a product seller or a marketer – I am actually a fiction writer (pen names for fiction are very different) and a writer coach.

I do not have other pen names out there that I use to market products or services and try to prevent them from being associated with my Michelle L Devon ‘brand’. Everything I promote, I stand behind, and Mark, if you were to see me and meet me in person, and I shook your hand, I would introduce myself to you as Michelle Devon. It is who I am and who I have become. The ONLY thing that is different is for legal purposes, I sign a different last name.

Comment provided October 8, 2008 at 9:34 AM




Michy IS a pen name. She’s that good.


Comment provided October 8, 2008 at 9:35 AM



@Chris – You just made my day. I’m laughing out loud over here!

Comment provided October 8, 2008 at 9:37 AM



George, I understand that and I agree with you about the different topics. Chris did make a suggestion at one point about using variations of a real/pen name, and that’s a possible option so the articles aren’t all listed under one ‘name’, but then there’s no falsehood to it.

How to handle that best, I don’t know. I don’t have the answer to it. However, I am pretty certain the answer is NOT using a fake name, fake picture and hiring others to write the content without any means to link that back to the person who is truly supposed to be a niche ‘expert’.

Comment provided October 8, 2008 at 9:44 AM


Mark Thompson writes:

Michy, I knew all that from the other post I was just surprised that you agreed with Lance’s view that all uses of pen names are fraudulent.

I am still not sure what all the agitation is about. The facility is here to use pen names so why shouldn’t we use it?

The rules say don’t use photographs that aren’t you.. so I don’t, the only photo is on my main account.

I stick to the rules but the artilces that I write under pen names are given less credibility by the ediorial staff. it just doesn’t seem right some how. I am the same writer.

If you don’t want us to use pen names take away the facility and make people register with their social security number or passport number to ensure they are who they say they are.


Comment provided October 8, 2008 at 9:46 AM


George Chernikov writes:


Glad we’re able to agree on *something*! :-)

With that said, I must say, I still stand by the rather unpopular (here) view of using pen names as a way to avoid my real name from being associated with my works.

For reasons that I cannot explain in public (well, not without using a pen name – LOL), I’d rather avoid using my real name for certain activities. I’d be happy to e-mail you the reason privately, but I can’t state here for everyone to see.

I guess my view is simply, it doesn’t matter whether or not you have something to hide so long as you provide genuine value to your readers.

I know it’s not a very popular stance, but, to me, if my readers are better off having read my article, I don’t see how it matters to them whether my name is George Chernikov, George Smith or George Bloggs.

Comment provided October 8, 2008 at 9:54 AM



No, no, not ALL. I’ll never go so far as to say ALL, about anything, really. I do think intent is important here, and EzineArticles has absolutely zero way to determine intent, other than to see the obviously thin content, obviously ghostwritten content (such as the use of ‘I’ in an article when it clearly doesn’t refer back to the author, etc), and other means to determine when the article isn’t meant to provide any information.

I just feel like multiple accounts, with multiple names, with photos of someone other than the actual author smacks of fraud to me, or at the very least, it is deceitful.

When I started reading these comments here, it wasn’t that people used pen names that bothered me. I expected lots of people who are active online use pen names. It was the multiple use of them, the reasons for using them and the use of fake photos to try to lend ‘credibility’ to the ‘author’ that disturbed me.

Comment provided October 8, 2008 at 9:55 AM


George Chernikov writes:

By the way, on the subject of fake photos – I emailed IStockPhoto a few days ago and they confirmed that you are not allowed to use purchased photos in a way that would cause a reasonable person to associate the photo with the name.

In other words, you cannot legally use IStockPhotos for pen names. Illustrations are fine, though.

Comment provided October 8, 2008 at 10:01 AM



Fortunately, because if many authors have many pen names and many false pictures, they can mislead many people, steal their money and then disappear without leaving clues.

Comment provided October 8, 2008 at 12:03 PM


Mark Thompson writes:


So now people who use pen names are more likely to be thieves?? Did you really think that through before you posted it??

Where did this sudden connection come from pen names to stealing money?? It’s a pretty ridiculous statement.

How do they pay for their hosting and domain registration?? With credit cards probably so they can be traced.

If they were going to rip people off they would most likely use blackhat methods not bother to run an article marketing campaign.

I’ll repeat what i said earlier today ..most people who post to EzineArticles are promoting affiliate products or maybe use adsense as an income. These people cannot rip people off or steal their money.

Comment provided October 8, 2008 at 12:58 PM



Relax, Mark! I only said that if many authors who have a business use many different pen names and many different pictures they can mislead the public, steal their money without being noticed and later disappear.

I can give you many examples, but I’m busy now writing my ebook! In summary, I didn’t assume that all authors who use pen names or false pictures are thieves, of course not! I only said that if many authors have this possibility, nobody will know who is who, and in the chaos, they can do whatever they wish and disappear.

How can they be found, without read identity?

If author A has 5 names and 5 false pictures, how do you know who is the real author A?

Comment provided October 8, 2008 at 1:27 PM


Mark Thompson writes:


it’s easy to trace them, the links must point to a site which is hosted which they have to pay for. The same with domain names.

Internet fraud is not as wide spread as people think and even if it was pen names are such a small part of the issue that it doesn’t warrant thinking about.

Relating stealing peoples money to pen names is one hell of a red herring! I think I preferred it when you were speaking about the Bosa Nova!! :)

Comment provided October 8, 2008 at 1:34 PM


Frederick Hinojosa writes:

I never thought that it was fraud,because the first writer that comes to mind is Mark Twain and never for a minute would I consider him a fraud even though he would most likley disaggree.He would admit himself a fraud and be proud of it,so maybe we’re making top much of this ghostwriting thing.after all when something is well written and it has a fake name, maybe just maybe it gives you the feeling that your capable of writting something of that caliber.That’s what writting is all about ,bringing out your feelings making you feel good, right! Well just my opiniun Frederick Hinojosa

Comment provided October 8, 2008 at 2:25 PM



The truth is that I don’t know many things about the internet. But I know a lot about the sneaky human nature!

This is why I was afraid that the idea of having many authors with many pen names and many false pictures could help authors with bad intentions steal people’s money without leaving clues.

I had no intention to offend anyone, but to protect the public.

I even started thinking in general: what if many people from many sites are not real people, but only false images with false names?… Well, this is certainly true in many cases! In the internet we see only images.

When you said that ‚¬“it’s easy to trace them, the links must point to a site which is hosted which they have to pay for. The same with domain names‚¬, what did you mean? What if they don’t have a site, but only many blogs? What if they simply use a free email address and then they delete it, deleting also their several blogs? How are you going to find them? Based on what? They don’t have a real name, they don’t have a real picture, they don’t have a site and they don’t have any email address.

Now, about why would someone become an expert author and this way provoke confusion with his or her false names and pictures using EzineArticles, I have to say that the answer is very simple: in order to have a great image to present to the public, using EA’s respectful name exactly in order to mislead people like you, who think that a thief doesn’t need to care about such details because there are easier methods to steal people’s money!

A professional thief is an excellent actor, who pays attention to more details than the details that an inspector pays attention to, when trying to discover who stole everyone’s money!

Comment provided October 8, 2008 at 2:38 PM


Marc writes:

Why stop at pen name usage? We can be better protected from evil people by whittling down everything that makes our lives more convenient or interesting. So, no more pen name usage, no more autoresponders (makes email spamming easier), no more cars (facilitates bank robberies), no more Google Maps (easier to case out neighborhoods), amputate our arms and legs (makes assault much harder), what the hey, just lobotomize everyone and be done with it all. How do you protect the public from the zeal of xenophobes who need to protect us from evil people?

This trust factor thing with the editorial staff: Just read the freakin article! Isn’t that enough to tell you whether or not it’s article vomit? Using indirect “red flags” to determine trust is lazy and cheap. If the editorial staff need to resort to this rather than reading the content directly then it’s time to hire more staff. The red flag mentality is the basis for a lot of evil, ever heard of discrimination? Red flags are a way of short circuiting the use of our intelligence. Bugs survive without intelligence through the use of instinctual reaction mechanisms which can be thought of as knee jerk reactions to “red flags”.

Comment provided October 8, 2008 at 5:15 PM


Colleen Dick writes:

Amen Marc! Now here’s a thought, suppose I’m a world renowned Swiss German speaking expert in some branch of relationship psychology and I want to publish an ezine article. Suppose I rough it out in my broken English and hire an editor/ ghostwriter to clean it up for me and it’s so bad that they basically write it from scratch using my name.

I have an idea, why not feed each author one random old article to rate for each one they submit. The ratings could go all the way from vomit to excellent. Then the ones rated vomit could be routed to the staff to see if they should be deleted.

Comment provided October 8, 2008 at 8:09 PM


Mark Thompson writes:

To be completely honest (not that I am never anything but honest) I had no feelings one way or an other about the use of pen names before this thread started.

But having read the comments here I am firmly in favor of peoples right to be able to use them.

As Pastor Niemoller so eloquently said:

When the Nazis came for the Communists,
I remained silent;
I was not a Communist.

When they locked up the Social Democrats,
I remained silent;
I was not a Social Democrat.

When they came for the Trade Unionists,
I did not speak out;
I was not a Trade Unionist.

When they came for the Jews,
I remained silent;
I wasn’t a Jew.

When they came for me,
there was no one left to speak out.

Comment provided October 9, 2008 at 3:53 AM


Lance Winslow writes:

Well what happened to the Spirit of Transparency?

That’s the opposite of NAZI’ism?

You see folks, I have no problem with pen names as it goes, certainly no problem with fictional work.

It’s just when it comes to “Selling or Steering” Internet users to websites that sell something. Why all the trickery? Part of the problem on the internet is folks run around and flame others on BBS, forums, blogs, comments, etc. using fake identities. This whole concept of not using your real name is problematic.

Too there is a generational gap on this issue. Baby Boomers find this whole issue unethical, millennials don’t, it’s the way things are done now online, but that does not make it right, as it is fundamentally wrong, unethical and deceitful. No one can deny that, folks are hiding, for whatever reason they are dodging.

Fine, but if they do that and use these fake names who are supposedly “real experts” in the field, which they cannot be, because a fake person is not an expert it’s just an avatar or a screen name. Even if the person behind the mask is real, the mask is not, but in putting that into an article you are saying; “this is a real person, a real expert, trust their advice and click here” well, I just cannot see why anyone could condone such dishonesty.

And this Hitler comment is insanity.

Comment provided October 9, 2008 at 8:04 AM


George Chernikov writes:


I don’t think it’s somehow “fundamentally wrong” or “unethical”. As for your question on the reasons for this “trickery”, as you have put it, I think it’s already been discussed time and again in the previous 90+ replies to Chris’ post!

And as I said before, what does it matter whether the audience is interacting with the mask, as you have put it, so long as the mask provides useful information?

In both cases, the expert is helping people, and I, for one, do not see any pressing need to remove the mask and expose my identity for everyone to see.

If my articles help people and I make money doing it, everybody wins.

To me, it’s a bit like advertising. George Clooney doesn’t advertise Omega because he genuinely likes Omega; George Clooney advertises Omega because Omega is paying him. For all I know, he’s a Patek Philippe fan (and I wouldn’t be surprised, since PP is a step up from Omega). But the point is, people like the image, and they go for it, walking out of the store with the warm and fuzzy feeling that they now wear the same watch as one of Hollywood’s sex symbols.

Does he really wear it? Does it really matter? All that matters is the “feelgood” that your offerings provide to people. That’s the fundamental point of creating value for your customers, and, consequently, of making money.

Comment provided October 9, 2008 at 8:16 AM


Lance Winslow writes:

And personally you know it really does not matter to me if everyone on the Internet is not real and everyone uses a fake name or uses tactics that are questionable or engage in false and misleading marketing, buzz marketing under false identity or any other trickery online; why you ask?

Because I refuse to abuse the privilege of the greatest communication device ever given to humankind.

So, go ahead and do what you will, I hope you folks with the fake names doing article marketing and lying to the consumers or misleading them to draw them to your websites to sell them stuff and take their money are quite proud of yourselves.

Quite frankly, I am disgusted and appalled.

Comment provided October 9, 2008 at 8:17 AM


George Chernikov writes:

So we should stop arguing and go back to making money?

Sounds like a good proposition to me! :)

Comment provided October 9, 2008 at 8:19 AM




Our Editors are not aware when they initially review your articles whether the article was written with a pen name or a real name.

We discriminate daily against thin content, whether it was written by an author under his or her real name or whether it was written with a pen name.

We’re also very aware that many members who have alt-authors setup do so for other real human names and not pen names. Ex: I’m “Christopher Knight” but I could also have a alt-author name setup as “Chris Knight”… both being really me.

This thread has run its course. Thank you to everyone who participated and mostly for keeping the debate relatively on topic. :)

Comment provided October 9, 2008 at 1:48 PM


Marc writes:

What’s with this fixation on experts? What’s wrong with seeing the world through the eyes of the amateur? The internet is massively redundant when it comes to expressing the same information repeatedly. It’s exactly that redundancy which makes it such a wonderful place. Everyone has their own unique perspective. The endless ways that humanity adds value to the same information with their unique slant is what makes the internet so revolutionary. Google understands this.

Youtube owes it’s success to this phenomenon. The place is brimming over with restless and raw creativity in it’s treatment of some very tired topics. What a different place it would be if only experts could express themselves there.

Squidoo’s also very successful. They’ve got it right: everyone in their own way is an expert.

Even in the medical field, the voice of the amateur has it’s place. The idea of looking at one’s health in a holistic fashion didn’t get its start from an MD. It’s healthy that medical science be challenged in this way. It’s because of this that we’ve got the options that we have today. I remember asking a doctor (15 years ago) about the cardiovascular benefits of fish oil. That “expert” had nothing to say. The benefits of omega-3 fatty acids in fish are well known today.

I for one am not entirely trusting of experts. Their expert status shields them being challenged. This induces a lot of them to sit on their laurels and pontificate.

Do I need to be protected from the occasional snake oil salesman? Answer: No. I’m a big boy now. I’m all grown up. My parents did their job and I don’t need any surrogate parents thank you.

Comment provided October 9, 2008 at 2:26 PM


Nat Franklin writes:

After reading through all of this, I have to say that while I understand why Chris wants to filter what winds up on his site, and think he has every right to do so, a lot of people seem to be associating pen names with some pretty outrageous stuff.

There are plenty of people who will take your money using their real name, so I don’t think that’s a logical conclusion from people using pen names.

There are lots of so-called experts who publish “vomit” under their real names, and in a lot more prominent and “trustworthy” places than EzineArticles. Just scan through any non-fiction section in your local library or bookstore and you’ll find plenty of examples.

Being an expert is in the eye of the beholder anyway. If I know how to do something that you don’t and you want me to teach you, does that make me an expert? And does it revoke my expert status when you find out that there are people who know more about it than I do?

I agree with Mark – filter the articles on the basis of their content, not some vague list of “red flags” that indicate the author is somehow less reliable than the next guy just because he’s using a pen name.

Comment provided October 9, 2008 at 3:34 PM


Wil Langford writes:

I write under several pen names as well as my own (legal) name. I don’t see a problem with pen names and don’t really care who steers me toward a product. I research the product and the manufacturer, not the salesperson. I would have no problem with having the word, “psuedonym” placed after my byline in articles that I have written under a pen name. I don’t think it would diminish the effectiveness of the articles.

I think Mark Twain, Mr. Clean, Betty Crocker, Richard Bachman (Stepehn King) and a host of others both fictional and real are just part of the advertising, entertainment world and adults understand that.

All this righteous indignation over people using a pen name to steer you toward a product is rediculous and it’s not fraud as long as the claims they make about the product are truthful and they do not say, that the pen name is their legal name. I’ve never read an article at EZ in which the author made that claim.

Comment provided October 14, 2008 at 4:41 PM


Lance Winslow writes:


It is deceptive to lie to someone about who you are, then send them to buy something. The really are “Buzz Marketing” laws and there have been some huge lawsuits by the FTC over this including several Fortune 500 companies. Additionally, if someone has information on their website that they claim to write, writes articles, sends email newsletters, and is in the securities industry it is illegal and the SEC is after folks that do. So, it’s not just me who thinks this.

No, matter how you justify deception or how much money you make through tricking people to your website or someone else’s does not make it any more legitimate. Although this is a gray area of law, it’s still deceptive. It’s not ridiculous at all.

The point of making a claim is irrelevant to Buzz Marketing rules, and even if no claim is made, if you discuss or buzz some industry, product or need using a fake name, you are being deceptive.

And why not use your real name? I sure have never read a legitimate answer to that. This concept of protecting your family is silly. Think of all the “Real” professionals and experts out there in every single industry in the real world do any of them pass out business cards with Fake Names on them? Well, do they? If you go to a chamber of commerce meeting in your city, how many people are using fake names? If they are, you need to ask WHY?

This Samuel Clemens argument is fine, but not when you are engaging and promoting products and services on the internet or in real life?

Do folks in trade journals using informational marketing by writing articles use their real names? Of course they do. Since when is the exact same activity on the Internet under different rules or different ethical standards. Fact is its not. But some people want it to be? Convenient indeed. I ask WHY? Why is it okay to lie and decieve on the Internet, but not in person?

Because you can. Now, “That is ridiculous” Wil.

Comment provided October 14, 2008 at 8:30 PM


Wil Langford writes:

It is only illegal to make fraudulent claims about a product. In the United States you can call yourself by any name as long as you don’t do it to defraud someone. There have been some high profile cases about this that went to the supreme court.

For instance, if I say I am John Doe and I like this hair re-growth product and think it’s great! I haven’t commited a crime.

However, if I say I am john doe and this hair re-growth product re grew my hair (and it didn’t) that is fraud. It isn’t fraud to use a different name unless by using that name you convince someone to spend money that they wouldn’t have spent if they knew your real name.

I worked with one of the largest law firms in the Northeast of the US and this is one of the things that came up with one of my corporations. They researched it for me and cited cases. It cost me a lot of money. There has to be fraud and fraud would mean that the name itself caused a person to buy a product or claims were made for the product that were un-true.

I am a behavioral therapist and author but also work in other fields that are quite diverse. My personna in the other field is well known but I purposely do not mix them because behavioral work is based on conviction phenomena and therefore, I keep them separate.

I don’t make any unsubstantiated claims for any product I endorse and the companies offer complete money back guarantees.

You can call it lying if you like, it is still a free country. Others who see the world in many shades and understand human nature (P.T. Barnum comes to mind) do not see it that way. In a court of law it would have to be proven that the name itself caused the person to buy the product. Just using a pen name is not fraud.

We all get to have an opinion, that’s mine and the supreme courts. Of course, that could change if a case is brought before them and they make a different ruling.

As for Michy operating under the name of a corporation, good luck if you ever go to court with that one. People who operate under a corporate name as their own name have pierced the veil by doing so and therefore would have no protection.

I think Chris is right, we’ve spent enough time on this. We all have opinions, and apparently some of us are quite adament about this issue. I respectfully agree to disagree and wish all of you well.

Comment provided October 15, 2008 at 6:41 AM


Lance Winslow writes:

It is fraudulent to use a fake name to steer someone to a website to buy something, especially when that buyer believes they are going there based on information that a real person gave them.

Further, the consumer has the right to know your association with the site that you send them to. The consumer has a right to know that you have a vested interest in where you are sending them.

It is false a misleading advertising to use a fake name to sell someone something.

It may not be against the law to send someone to an Adsense site, but it’s still a gray area, one “I” find appalling.

The SEC does not allow licensed broker dealers, stock brokers, etc. to use something that someone else wrote and claim that they wrote it, putting their name on it.

Regarding my other points, there are Buzz Marketing Laws and yes, high profile cases and in those cases the FTC won them. The consumer has a right to know if you are promoting something and are being paid, bribed with free products or have a vested financial interest in “Buzzing” a product, procedure, service or any number of other things.

Personally, regardless of what the “letter of the law” states, it’s still unethical in my book. If you are selling anything on the Internet and promoting it through PR, publicity or online article writing, the consumer has a right to know. If you deny the consumer that right, you are not a very ethical person. Thus, I am glad not to be in anyway associated with anyone who would conduct themselves in that fashion. YUK, it takes all kinds.

Comment provided October 15, 2008 at 7:12 AM



You said: “As for Michy operating under the name of a corporation, good luck if you ever go to court with that one. People who operate under a corporate name as their own name have pierced the veil by doing so and therefore would have no protection.”


I had an attorney review this course of action. It was done to legally be able to cash checks without having to give my legal last name to folks online.. I’m totally upfront about it with everyone, and when I file taxes, it’s done under the EIN for that business and business name.

I’m not the only fiction author I know who has done this

What’s the problem you have with it?

Comment provided October 15, 2008 at 7:28 AM



PS: It’s not a corporation My business is a sole proprietorship.

Comment provided October 15, 2008 at 7:29 AM


Jan writes:

it would have been nice to see an objective post about the pros and cons of using pen names. Perhaps you need to see it from the other side.

I am a psychologist with a busy practice. I enjoy doing some internet marketing as hobby and it earns me a little extra as well. It’s challenging, enjoyable and I get to use my knowledge to set up sites that have accurate & up to date self help information.

Now I have already experience what it is like to have clients make threats against me, have angry, mentally ill husbands try and track down where I am. It’s much more common than you know unless you work in the industry.

The last thing I need is to have my name and photograph showing up all over the internet so some nutcase can decide to harrass me, either online or in real life.

I’ve done a lot of freelance work for clients ( some large health organisations) who post these articles under pen names. Believe me they are top quality, expensive articles, not $2 – $3 rubbish.

so people use pen names for lots of very legitimate and sensible reasons that have nothing to do with writing rubbish or trying to be dishonest. I for one am glad to see a lot of the junk go from this site, but please don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.

Comment provided January 5, 2012 at 1:10 PM


Jan –

Thanks for the feedback, you raise a lot of good points. We’ve addressed the topic of alternate author names in a much more recent blog post. You may want to check it out:

– Marc


website writes:

Hi, I log on to your blogs on a regular basis. Your story-telling style is witty, keep it up!

Comment provided June 20, 2018 at 8:30 AM


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