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I'm citing several podcasts in an MLA 8 bibliography for a PhD student.

Many have authors/hosts with names such as "FriedPapita and Myte" (2 authors), or just "Jaime" (first name only).

I've done my research (checking their accounts for more information, listening to the introduction to the shows, etc.) and emailed those who just go by a first name (such as Jaime), but am unsure 1) what to do if they don't answer and I have only the first name, and 2) how to list those who just use a pseudonym on all online fronts.

I don't want to compromise anyone's anonymity, but I do want the bibliography to be accurate and professional.

I think it looks a bit ridiculous to have their handles as their author names in an official bibliography (citing "The Kid Mero" seems far too informal).

And a follow-up question: When the pseudonym is two names, such as "Desus Nice", would it still be appropriate to format it as "Nice, Desus"? It's not clear to me that one of these is a surname.

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I am a PhD and former professor. The purpose of the citation is to allow the reader to access the source material and read it for themselves.

I have noticed some academic papers cite blogs and even anonymous authors.

I don't know of a style guide that includes Internet sources. Most publisher's of academic articles have their own style guides. SO, if the article is going to be published, referring to their style guide is the thing to do, if it mentions this then follow it.

If it does not, or it is not going to be published, return to the original goal of citation, and be clear on where to find it: I would treat handles like article titles, and put them in quotes as the author; "Desus Nice", or "Jaime", i.e. always quote whether they are a single word or multiple words. The citation should include a URL that would allow the reader (of the article) to find the original comment on the Internet. Of course that may disappear, but the same is true of some citations appearing on academic papers fifty years old.

As for "informality", disregard it. The name attached to an insight is the name you cite. There is a distribution in Statistics widely used and very important, called the "Student's T-Distribution", because the originator (William Sealy Gosset) published it under the single word pseudonym "Student", if I wanted to cite that paper I would cite Student.

The only exception I can imagine is somebody intentionally using profanity or politically incorrect dynamite; but even that should be left to the editor to make the final decision. I suppose if such an insight was unavoidable, I might unilaterally attribute profane names to [anonymous], since the original author clearly wished to remain anonymous. But if there is no reason to think the name is intentionally offensive, use it.


Added Belatedly, I should probably have looked this up before. Here is the MLA Style Guide, they have a section on Electronic sources. Scroll down to the section A Listserv, Discussion Group, or Blog Posting: [emphasis mine]

Cite web postings as you would a standard web entry. Provide the author of the work, the title of the posting in quotation marks, the web site name in italics, the publisher, and the posting date. Follow with the date of access. *Include screen names as author names when author name is not known. If both names are known, place the author’s name in brackets.

Example: Salmar1515 [Sal Hernandez]. “Re: Best Strategy: Fenced Pastures vs. Max Number of Rooms?” BoardGameGeek, 29 Sept. 2008, boardgamegeek.com/thread/343929/best-strategy-fenced-pastures-vs-max-number-rooms. Accessed 5 Apr. 2009.

  • This is incredibly helpful; I wasn't able to find anything on it in the commonly asked MLA questions on their own site (Purdue Owl is always so much better with specifics)! Thank you for the help and the lengthy answer. – Morgan Meredith Feb 5 '18 at 15:28

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