So why do we wear ninja masks?


Here at We Love Local Government Towers we are a friendly lot.  We share ideas and opinions freely, disagreeing often but with ideas and not individuals, which means no matter what is said we are rarely if ever offended by each other.

However, the WLLG Towers are a fictional building; we in fact inhabit far less light-hearted environments and are spread around various public sector organisations at a variety of levels.  In these organisations fear, mistrust and intrigue abound, and often we are not as free to express our real thoughts and opinions for fear of vilification, discrimination and possible retribution.

These, and a few others, are the reason that we set up this anonymous blog in the first place, and we wanted to take a minute to look at our decision to stay anonymous in a little detail.

I would like to say that there was an extensive period of planning after the need for this blog was identified: that we wrote plans, formulated policies, established and benchmarked procedures and formed steering groups to guide us on our blogging journey.  Suffice to say, we didn’t.  In fact, we threw away our learning from our years of service and went a bit crazy by just coming up with an idea in a corridor and within fifteen minutes getting it done.

There was no grand plan, no strategy as to the long term success or otherwise to our adventure.  In fact, in those early days posts were few and far between, with two or three a week feeling quite busy.  We got ourselves into the swing of just writing things down, learning how to do it as we went, and just talked about things which amused us.  We had a readership of less than five, two of which were writing the posts, and nearly threw a party the first time one of our posts was seen by someone we didn’t know.

As we enjoyed ourselves so much we encouraged others to take part, and they did so regularly with some even joining our blogging team properly.  However, all of this was done under the demands of anonymity, something we feel we have to maintain at all costs.  This is both in terms of the people writing, as well as the organisations being discussed.

But why, I hear you ask?  Why must you shroud yourselves in mystery and never reveal your true identities, nor those of the (often amusing) organisations for which you work?

Well, if we did it runs the risk of getting personal.  We have no axe to grind with local government; in fact we are amongst its staunchest defenders.  It is local government who provide services to those most in need, who have to understand and deliver on the broadest of agendas and who bear the brunt of the rage and ire of people all over the country.  Local government is the easiest of targets, and is so under-appreciated it is frankly scary.

That being said, it has its foibles.  Much of what is done could be improved upon, and some of it is truly ridiculous.  We like to think of ourselves as a critical friend, a Jiminy Cricket sitting on the shoulder of our organisations asking “but why do you do it like that?!”.  If in the process of doing so we give someone a smile or provoke a discussion all the better, and should we ever make someone change how they do things then we shall all retire happy in the knowledge that we made a difference, no matter how small.

The moment we reveal our own real names much of this becomes impossible.  Our opinions will be picked up by our colleagues and line managers and called into question, and people will clam up around us for fear of online questioning or ridicule (not that we are nasty that is, unless it’s well deserved).  We also open ourselves up to the kind of attacks that #Baskers unwittingly and undeservedly was subjected to, which would very quickly take the smile from our eyes and this blog from the internet.

On the other point, that of organisational anonymity, we will also not be moved.  Revealing the names of our organisations will achieve no good and potentially a lot of bad.  Yes, those who work in these places might recognise people events or places no matter how hard we try to make sure they don’t, but the joy of keeping names out of it is that everyone can identify with what we write about.

For example, I know that a recent post we made on the Guardian website about radical chief execs was read by colleagues in seven different boroughs, each of which insisted we had written it about them.  In truth we had cobbled together rumours, comments and conversations from all over the place, but each person saw just enough of their own place of work to know where we were coming from (which if you read that post is perhaps not a good thing!).

We also don’t want to open our employers up to public ridicule or undue scrutiny.  As was said above, each of our organisations makes some baffling decisions and some funny mistakes, but none of them stand out as particularly inept or unable to deliver services.  By naming and shaming we aren’t going to achieve real change for them in a positive sense, merely heap pressure on an over-pressured organisation at the worst of times.

So, should you see your team, service, project or organisation mentioned by us, smile and enjoy it, but please don’t reveal yourself too publicly.  Share the posts if you want to, comment if you can but keep in the spirit of what this blog is all about.  We want to keep enjoying writing, and are always interested to host guest posts from others who have something interesting, relevant and/or funny to say, so get in touch at welovelocalgovernment@gmail.com

And the final reason we like to stay anonymous?  Well, having a secret can be pretty fun at times.  Just ask Clarke Kent.

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8 Comments on “So why do we wear ninja masks?”

  1. localgov Says:

    I have to say, a part of me is sad that we can’t be more open about who we and our employers are – it’s not exactly helping with transparency in local government – but I’d rather be a ninja than unemployed!


  2. A very timely and eloquent post… I guess from my point of view there has to be a very good reason for secrecy: after all in general it is a bad thing. That being said in this case I think there is that good argument…

    Do other people diagree?


  3. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Shirley Ayres, WeLoveLocalGov and WeLoveLocalGov, PublicSectorBloggers. PublicSectorBloggers said: So why do we wear ninja masks?: Here at We Love Local Government Towers we are a friendly lot.  We share ideas a… http://bit.ly/hbInaP [...]

  4. Performance Officer Says:

    I agree with the anonymity – for all the reasons above. But especially the one about provoking discussion.

    If you don’t name an organisation, everyone thinks of whether it’s them and recognises the related problems in their organisation. If you name them, then it becomes ‘lets all laugh at borough/team X’ without ever realising it applies as much to ourselves…

  5. citizenr Says:

    I was thinking of coming out from behind the mask but then there was Baskers-gate and I scuttled back in. Great post.


  6. [...] send something in, just in case you get in trouble, we just want to point you in the direction of our recent blog post on anonymity and reassure you that this counts for everything we put onto the site, wherever it comes from.  We [...]


  7. [...] there are stories from our Local Authorities which we choose not to write. There are many reasons for this; we don’t want to embarrass our employers or give the impression that we don’t both [...]


  8. [...] 5) All of us realised that writing an anonymous blog is more difficult than it seems; simply because keeping it anonymous is tough work. Many people would say that we should simply take our mask off and stop being anonymous. We’ve talked about this a lot and rather than simply taking the easy option we decided to justify our anonymity. [...]


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