Friday, September 26, 2008

Confessions of An Internet Stalker (Who is nice at heart)

I'm having a doo dah day. You know, when your kids are all asleep, and your husband is reading "I Hated, Hated, Hated This Movie" by Ebert and you could finish the dishes, but you won't.

I just spent an hour trying to figure out what country a blogger lives in. She would never say, for security reasons. This really bugged me. Who is so secretive that they can't even tell you what country they live in? C'mon. So I found out anyway. Basically I'm your worst nightmare stalker - except I'm really nice in person, and I don't want to kill or kidnap your children. I don't even want to call you up and say that I know what you did last Summer because you blogged about it. I just want to know what freakin' country you live in (see how frustrated I was? I even used fake swear words, and I never do that).

So now that I know (it was Turkey, by the way, but I won't tell you who this was, because I am sort of trying to respect her privacy), I feel kind of bad. It's actually really easy to find things about people on the Internet if you want to (and they link to people who visit them, and make a slideshow with the title "Turkey" in it.), but I'm not trying to be invasive. And she's a public blogger, she even write an advice blog meant for people who don't know her. So she wants people to read her.

Now I'm trying to justify myself to the computer screen. This is pretty sad.

So I'm curious. How vague are all of you on your blogs? What's your opinion of Internet privacy and what is and isn't acceptable in people knowing about you (your name, pictures).

I clearly am pretty out there; my real everything is up here. I figure that people can look me in a phone book, or an online yellow pages, if they want to. And there is more actual location info on there than here. (I mean anyone who meets me in real life and knows my name is Thora anyway).

Have any of you been Internet stalked, as in unwanted somebody bothers you? What exactly did they do? Did it extend to real life stalking, or was it mainly things like unwanted emails? Would you be upset if I figured out what country you lived in because I'm obsessive about things sometimes and it bugged me not to know?

Along that line, do you read blogs of people that you don't know? Do you think that this is a violation of some sort of privacy? I don't mean blogs like mine, where I wish I had a "This is a safe delurking" sign like Cjane does, I mean random blogs. What exactly does private mean when it's a publically searchable web page? (Unless your blog is private, and then clearly you mean that only those you gave permission to).

These aren't rheatorical questions, people. I want some answers and discussion, pronto! (or acshav (bad Hebrew transliteration), dilwa'ti (bad Arabic translation), now!


  1. I don't know you, but I like you (I really like your title; I got my degree in French.) I avoid having my last name anywhere, because my husband has a job that could create literal stalkers, and I certainly don't want that. But I'm sure someone could find us if they wanted to. I'm not too worried though. I want friends, and blog stalkers, in a nice way of course.

  2. I practically give our ADDRESS, on top of country and city. And I use all real names. I try not to use our last name too much anymore.

    I've never had any bad stalker experiences. Well, a few days ago someone in Provo followed a link to my blog from my sister's blog, and spent over an hour looking at 16 pages. I REALLY want to know who that was, and if it's someone I know. Those are the only kind of "bad" stalker experiences I have. But I have very few visitors, so things are mostly cozy and comfortable.

    I love visiting random blog and sometimes commenting. That's what a blog is. You have to expect that strangers may/will read it.

    Can't wait to come back here and see what other people have to say.

  3. I find that I am rather easy to find out about but part of that is that I am a pretty public person. You can find pictures of me at my work, you can find my articles that I write for the Newspaper. You can probably even guess where my house is based on pictures taken from it. I don't mind if people want to know where I live or what not. If they decide to come knocking I know that both myself and heather are proficient enough in fencing to make them think twice about doing anything. Also it's a small town remote town so not to many people out there can really get here.

    If you want to blog anonymously you have to create a blog persona. A person who you pretend to be like a pen name. Even then you have to be careful. Blog about topics that are not quite personal if they are personal just use different names. Sure you can put pictures but avoid huge numbers from the same places.

    My thought though is this do you really want to blog anonymously? Do we really want to hide that much?

  4. Yeah, I find I don't read super super anonymous blogs, because they bore me. They're like, Me and my nameless kids went somewhere in our some state and some town and did something with someone. The End.

    Of course, if they are really funny, or insightful, or mainly about their thoughts and not about their life, I might still read them.

    I remember having a lesson in young womens about keeping a journal, and making sure to write everyone's first and last name. I write a blog to keep a history, but then how do I keep a good history if I'm too vague? And yet at the same time I know others don't like their real names on the Internet. I still don't know what to do for this one.

  5. I am so darn open. I joke to my sister that I call her kids nicknames to protect their identity (while plastering pictures of them all over) but, really, I just don't like what she named them (o:

    My name is there, my work is there, I talk about myself quite freely and it's good. I hate when everyone's name is just a letter or some weird code name you can't remember. It drives me nuts.

    However, a couple weeks ago a boy I'd met once was creepily stalking me. He'd IM/e-mail me from different accounts knowing more than he should from my blog and being scary about it. It was not cool, not cool at all. However, if people I don't know start commenting or iming me, I'm more than willing to make friends.

    I guess the lesson is, don't be weird. (o:

    And how come your blog started doing that thing on Google Reader where it just shows a few lines and not the whole post?

  6. (oh, as an aside, for the more detailed parts of my life, i have a private blog with about 15 of my closest friends on it where i'll put first and last names and things that aren't appropriate for strangers to read. it works for me, but not everyone likes multiple blogs)

  7. Mine is public but anonymous. I want to protect my kids' and wife's privacy.

    I'm also in healthcare, where it's best to not take any chances that one of my patients might read about themself on my blog. Less risk of a lawsuit.

    Not that it matters, though, since my readership is basically people who know me anyway or know members of my family.

  8. I don't know. I do try to avoid talkign about something that can be link to any password I have or anything connected with real trivia - like people's last name, birthday, anniversary, - I try to make password I know only steve and I know. Inside jokes. I think its creepy that people can find tough so easily and break the ever so hard password i made up plus have to memorized. So i like numbers. Because really there is no real reason. Except for some probility involved.

    I woudln't mind making my blog - invite only, but then, maybe someone I know will find my blog and think i'm super funny. Which will make my day.

    so that's my thought on phishing for info. on the web. 'phishing' is a real word you know.

    interesting topic, nontheless

  9. Since I've married I'm almost certainly un-google-able because my first name (Sarah) is really popular and my last name (Reed) is very common. Despite that, I try to mask my and other people's identit(y)ies. You could easily piece together my name and many of my family's names from my blog, but it would require reading and analyzing my blog (imagine that!).

    If a person has an on-line name/persona that they strictly adhere too (for example, Hans-Juergen), I try to remember to use that name instead of their real name. Also, if the person has an online presence that correlates with their real-world signifier, I'll use that instead of making up a nickname or something.

    As odd as it may sound, I try to be un-google-able. In part because it's a fun exercise to give people/places/things different names that hopefully the reader can figure out. Mostly because I try to keep my professional life separate from my personal. And also because then all those people looking for good Indian food are treat to a badger wearing lederhosen.

  10. well I have had stalkers of exes on my blog. which bothered me when one of them asked where exactly i was in west valley by email... anyways i dont like the idea of people wanting to know my exact address.. well unless they want to send me presents! :) I use real names though, although my maiden name is not anywhere on my blog so people that knew me once apon a single time have to google my maiden name which brings up the parents old blog and stallicks and then they can sift through there until they find my married name and/or link to my blog and then they can stalk me ( this is how marks wife started stalking me... kind of weird i tell ya!) anywho I dont see why we cant say what country we are it.. what is her husband in the secret service or something?? I mean seriously i think you can still bej anonymous with a country of origin!

    wow i am not coherint i think.. its been a long day. Enjoyed womens conference. Wish my favorite sister Thora was there! ( oh by the way with that name Thora you have got to be really easy to find online, how many Thoras could there be in the US??)

    ya.. i shoudl call you sometime. maybe i will try tomorrow evening. afterall sundays are family days right?

    ps you put my blogging to shame!

    pps... I am giving your blog address to anna burton, she wanted to see!( it was winslows wedding last night and it was really like a big ol 5th ward reunion you would have loved it)

    hmm verry random comment...I need more sleep

  11. I'm really easy going about it myself. I figure if someone really wants to know they can figure it out. Really, all you need is a stat counter to figure out where the people coming to your blog are from. Also, I'm in this for the glory, so using my real name works for me. I dream of publishing my first novel and having someone walk by it at a bookstore and say, hey, I read her blog!

    I have a strict no lurking policy though. I don't read any blog that I don't regularly comment at. I understand (sort of) why people do, but for me the friendshipping is as important as the ego boosting and the writing skills improvement.

  12. I feel, for me, I look at the intent of my blog. Right now, my poetry blog is intended for anyone. I decided to be fairly anonymous on the blog, because, hey, the poetry frequently is not trying to tell anyone about my life. I just had a thought about something and wanted to word it in a creative way. Hence, it is largely irrelevant if people knew about me at all. I wouldn't care if a person found out.

    I don't have a problem with total strangers reading about me and my life, either. It is what a person does with that information that bothers me. I, too, show a certain amount of restraint in regards to information that may give a clue to possible passwords or pertinent information for security questions (and I never do the simple security question of mothers maiden name). I am all too aware of the possibility of identity theft and the consequences of such. So, I am not totally open (frequently I will answer questions personally asked with a personal email), but share fairly openly with those that show genuine interest and common decency of privacy.

    A good example of this is I recently had someone add me as a friend who I didn't know at all. We had the same last name, and he wrote in a foreign language. I emailed him, and told him I was not from his country, and that he may have emailed me by mistake. I appreciated the friend invite, but wanted to make sure he had wanted to add me as a friend.

    He wrote back in English (pretty good English, actually), and said he was adding people with the same last name to meet more people, and possibly family. He was happy to find someone from America, and was grateful to have someone correct his English, so he could learn to speak and write better. I hope to put him in contact with my dad, so my dad can practice the foreign language that he once spoke. Total stranger, fairly open with him, now he's a friend.

    Care should be used without sacrificing being genuine. And if you have flags going off when you think if you should write something, pay attention to the flags.