Anonymous Writing Style
It is possible for a writer, who has taken all steps to be technologically anonymous, still to be identified by their writing style. For example, the UNABOMBER was identified from his writing.
The following is a guideline to writing anonymously. It incorporates some applicable guidelines from the Basic English grammar and Simplified Technical English writing rules. If thousands of people follow this guideline, then none of them will be identifiable by their writing style. This writing style may sound unnaturally formal when spoken, but it is good enough for any respectable written communications.
- [1 Guidelines]
- [1.1 Typographical Style]
- [1.2 Dialectical Style]
- [1.3 Spelling]
- [1.4 Punctuation]
- [1.5 Grammar]
- [2 Conclusion]
- [3 External links]
- Number lists according to the format in this document. Include the dot at the end of every item number. If this list is not read on a wiki, the format is “1. Item”.
- If the document’s author must be identified, write their name under the heading without the word ”by”, like in this document.
- Separate sentences by one SPACE. TWO spaces is a rather obvious, older, minority typing convention.
- Keep the length of noun clusters shorter than three words.
- Keep sentence length shorter than twenty words (procedural sentences) or twenty-five words (descriptive sentences).
- Separate paragraphs by one clear line with no indenting.
- Use short paragraphs, of no more than six sentences, to group related ideas together.
- Use the English forms of measures, numbers, money, days, months, years, clock time, and international words; e.g. Date/Time: 20 May 1972 at 21:00.
- If conditions are applicable, start the sentence with them.
- Do not use BIG WORDS, even when a few big words might actually shorten an otherwise long sentence that is made up of many small words. Fewer words are known by more people. Use the Basic English, Voice of America Special English or Simplified Technical English vocabulary and grammar as much as possible. (www.online-utility.org/servlet/english/BasicEnglishServlet)
- Use THE articles, “a”, “an” and “the”, wherever possible.
- Use simple verb tenses (past, present, and future).
- Do not use expressions or sayings that are used in any specific geographical region only. “Our proverbs lie too close to home”. Also, “one man’s proverb is another man’s confusion”.
- Do not use contractions, like “don’t”.
- Avoid slang and jargon.
- Do not use non-English words.
- Should rhetorical questions ever be necessary? DO NOT USE RHETORICAL QUESTIONS. Use only commands or statements instead. However, proper, non-rhetorical questions, to which the answers are not obvious or implied, may be asked.
- USING “-ing” participles or gerunds is strongly discouraged (unless as part of a technical name). Rather USE the root word.
- USE active voice. Passive voice MUST NOT BE USED.
- Do not begin sentences with “and”, “or” or “but”. HOWEVER, use “also” or “furthermore”, “alternatively”, and “however”, respectively. FURTHERMORE, never start a sentence with an abbreviation, e.g. “FOR EXAMPLE, start a sentence with the words ‘For example’ rather than with the capitalized abbreviation ‘E.g.’.” Alternatively, consider a different word order.
- When referring to an example, do not use the words “an example”, but rather something better, FOR EXAMPLE “e.g.” (“example given”).
- IN STEAD OF using “in place of”, use “in stead of” instead. (Note the spaces in “in stead of” as opposed to “instead”. Also note specifically the respective contexts within which each is used. “Instead” is never followed by “of”.)
- AS LONG AS the phrases “as long as” and “such that” are used SUCH THAT “so long as” and “so that” are replaced by them, then a greater degree of anonymity might be achieved and maintained.
- EveryONE will notice when someONE uses “anybody” in stead of “anyONE”. No-ONE will be able to identify anyONE by their writing style when everyONE uses “someONE” in stead of “somebody”, etc.
- “THEIR ‘theirs’ and ‘theres’ are not THEIRS to mix up THERE. THEY’RE all of ours, for unambiguous interpretation.” (“Their” indicates possession. “ThERE”, similar to “hERE”, is an answer to “whERE?”. “They’re” is a contraction of “they are”, which must not be used in any case.)
- IF a comparison is made between things, THEN it is better to use “than” THAN “then”.
- The minority-used “different than” and the majority-used “different from” differ FROM each other, and are therefore different in that the former reduces the anonymity offered by the latter.
- It must be remembered NOT TO SPLIT “two infinitives” by inserting another word. Rather use the applicable word before or after the infinitive, e.g. “It is possible for a writer STILL to be identified …” in stead of “… to still be identified …”.
- There is not ANY MORE time left to use “any more” as a reference to time, ANYMORE. Just like “anymore” has never been used as a reference to quantity, ever.
- ANY WAY a person might think of it, “anyway” must never be used in reference to different possibilities, just like “any way” is ANYWAY never used as an indication of general applicability.
- FURTHER, to extend these guidelines, ‘farther’ refers to an increase in physical distance. “Further” refers to an extension of abstract concept.
- Avoid first, second and third person references as much as possible. Only use the first and third person plurals where it cannot be avoided: “we”, “us”, “our”, “ours” and “ourselves”; and “they”, “them”, “their”, “theirs” and “themselves”, respectively. Never use the second person singular or plural “you”, “your”, “yours” and “yourself” or “yourselves”. When a second person singular reference cannot be avoided, use “one”, “one’s” and “oneself” in stead of “you” etc. When referring to a general singular person, it is quite appropriate to refer to THEM in the third person plural in stead of referring to him/her by means of such duplicating male/female slash forms.
- Use words, such as “probably”, “possibly”, “maybe”, “perhaps”, “could”, “should” etc., that refer to possibilities only, as little as possible. State verifiable facts, referring to independent, authoritative, reputable source material. Avoid speculation or theorizing.
Use American English spelling, punctuation and grammar. More people use it.
- It is not enough TO write “too” without TWO “o”s. It is TOO little.
- More people favOR the spelling of “colOR”, “odOR”, “flavOR”, and other similar words, with the American “-OR” in stead of the British “-our”.
- Critically analyZE other people’s non-American “-SE” spelling of words such as “criticiZE” in order to help them increase their anonymity, as well as ours, by conforming to the American “-ZE” spelling.
- PRACTICE not to confuse the British verb (“practiSe”) with the American verb. (Both nouns end in “-CE”.)
- Use commas only when creating a list in a SENTENCE, OR at the end of a quote. (Also use commas before “BUT”, AND to separate clauses and PHRASES, ESPECIALLY if a SINGLE, LONGER sentence is required in order to reduce the repetitiveness of many shorter SENTENCES, LIKE in this case. Commas are also used when addressing a person by NAME, ANONYMOUS, E.G. “Anonymous, texts have been seen that were very difficult to read and interpret unambiguously without these further comma rules.” Consider carefully the significant change in meaning of this quoted sentence that the inclusion or exclusion of a comma can make. Do not use a comma before “and”, “or” OR “etc.” at the end of a list.)
- Do not include dots in abbreviations. This includes titles such as Mr, Dr, Mrs etc. An exception to this is at the end of a sentence. Furthermore, “etc.” gets a dot even in the middle of a sentence, as any American English spell checker will indicate. (Note the letter order: it is not “ect.”, “ec tetera”, but rather “etc.”, “et cetera”.)
- Quoting is done with double quotation marks, e.g. ”LIKE SO”. Notice that the period came after the end quote. When quoting in a sentence ”LIKE SO”, place the comma after the end quote. “…Unless when quoting DIRECT SPEECH,” said the editor, “as is done in this QUOTE.” Multiple, nested quotes must use alternating double and single quotation marks in order to keep track of the level of quotation, e.g. HE said, “SHE said, ‘IT said, “BLAH, blah, blah.”’”
- Do not use exclamation marks or smilies!
- Rather use a comma (,) in stead of parentheses ( “(” and “)” ), except when parentheses might actually help to clarify layout and/or meaning, e.g. linking to another site. The URL must be placed in parentheses like this: “(http://kpvz7ki2v5agwt35.onion/)” (without the quotation marks).
- Avoid DASHES, RATHER use commas. ALTERNATIVELY, start a new sentence. (Proper spelling and grammar require some HYPHEN-WORDS to be hyphenated.)
- Use date and time short format as follows: yyyy-mm-dd hh:mm:ss.dcm; consistently from general to specific, for ease of interpretation. Note the hyphens, the colons and the decimal point, for ease of reading. Use “BCE” and “CE” (“Before Common Era” and “Common Era”) after a date, in stead of “BC” and “AD”.
- Use a decimal point (“1.234”) in stead of a comma (“1,234”) to indicate decimal fractions.
- Use a comma to separate thousands for ease of reading (“1,234,567.890”: “one million, two hundred and thirty-four thousand, five hundred and sixty-seven, point eight nine zero”).
- There are SEVENTY-TWO words for the numbers from “TWENTY-ONE” to “NINETY-NINE”, that are not multiples of 10 , which must be written with hyphens.” (Use number words to count things, but number symbols to refer to specific numbers.)
- A “U”-WORD or acronym does not get an “an” before it when it is pronounced with the “y” consonant sound as opposed to being pronounced with the “oo” vowel sound (e.g. “A UCLA-student” vs “AN Ulema”).
- An acronym beginning with F, H, L, M, N, R, S or X, gets an “an” before it when the pronunciations of the names of all these consonant letters are used with the beginning vowel sound: “ef”, “aytch”, “el”, “em”, “en”, “ar”, “es” and “ex”.
This list contains only some of the most common spelling, punctuation, grammar and style errors on the Web.
It seems ironic that the established rules for proper spelling, punctuation, grammar and respectable style, which are often accused of “restricting freedom of expression”, now just exactly facilitate greater anonymity and freedom of speech. Lack of knowledge reveals identity by the same mistakes being made repeatedly in ignorance. If a set of rules could be made and applied to consistently make the same mistakes repeatedly without reason, then surely it must also be possible to apply the universally accepted rules, with all their exceptions, as consistently as what the mistakes have been made. Simply change the set of rules for consistently making the same mistakes to the set of rules for consistently keeping the universal rules. …