Tobold's Blog
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Shut up they're talking

Just a short link to Virgin Worlds podcast Shut Up We're Talking #45, in which I'm mentioned as extreme end of a blogger privacy scale, the opposite of people who put their real life photo, name, and address on their blog, and then Twitter about that they are eating cornflakes now. Interesting discussion, but I think they missed a major point on why somebody would be interested in privacy. It isn't the fear that somebody doesn't like a blog post of mine and comes to my house to slaughter me with an axe.

Rather the problem is the reverse: What if somebody who only knows you in a professional context googles your name and finds your gaming blog instead of whatever professional info he was after? There have been reports of people getting fired for blogging. Or people not getting a job in the first place, because somebody from human resources found compromising pictures of them on Facebook. Now a gaming blog might not be quite as compromising as drunken nude pictures, but it does leave an impression which might be different from the one you are trying to convey, unless you work in the gaming industry. Is your employer or prospective employer really going to say "Wow, great writing skills, fine analysis, I must hire that guy"? Or will he dismiss you as somebody who spends far too much time with games, and not enough time working on "serious" things?
That was actually in my original notes on the topic, but in the hurly burly of a live recording I never got to that point on my pad. Certainly something to consider and one of the reasons I use a pseudonym and never use my last name on the blog. Google knows all.
that's why I try to keep mine fairly anonymous as well. Though not to your extent certainly.
WyldKard, of course you can find out my real name with various ways. That doesn't mean I want to have it posted all over my blog. As I said, this isn't about me hiding from the CIA or an axe murderer, this is about my name not showing up on Google.
My name's all over Google, but it's never me. There are professional athletes and other high-profile professionals with my name. They absolutely dominate Google results, so I don't have to worry about it.

Of course, if I ever do anything great, it also won't show up on Google. I neither live nor die by the sword.
"There have been reports of people getting fired for blogging"


Oops gotta go, my boss is walking around
Of course I'm sure you're familiar with Connor Riley and her recent Twitter: "Cisco just offered me a job! Now I have to weigh the utility of a fatty paycheck against the daily commute to San Jose and hating the work."

A Cisco rep was apparently quick to respond, also via Twitter, with "Who is the hiring manager. I’m sure they would love to know that you will hate the work. We here at Cisco are versed in the web."

The attorney prosecuting my sister in law's DUI used her Myspace pictures of her drinking as evidence against her saying she drank in excess often. I laughed so hard at her for doing that because I made a big stink about it a few years back telling all my friends that people would use that shit against them.
I'm with you on this Tobold. I like having paper walls between my gaming/blogging personality and my work personality. I have no illusions that I am really anonymous, I am sure that a few minutes of internet sleuthing would soon put a real name to my blog but that is not the point. Having a divide between my work persona and my leisure persona helps me to behave and be treated appropriately in each environment.
I'm a great fan of internet privacy. Nobody i know in my guild knows who am am IRL unless I knew them there first. I use different names and passwords on just about every account too. Why? Well it's just good security practice. There's very little that would allow someone to guess my bank details or email address from my WOW account (or vice versa). Of course it's unlikely that anyone would pick on me anyway, but I just sleep sounder with a few extra barriers.

Also, as I'm a roleplayer, I wouldn't want anyone to think my foul-tempered racist alcoholic warlock was me IRL.

Oh, and I'm not called Sven either...
Apologies for the second post but Nobs post just reminded me of another very important point. The internet is a public place and you don't post something illegal or embarrassing or libellous there regardless of whether you think you are anonymous or not. Posting drunken pictures of yourself on a website is a silly idea regardless of whether or not you use your real name. I guess that there is a particular folly of youngsters posting to Myspace or what have you who just haven't figured that out yet.
Generally I've had "keep internet stuff private" ingrained from the very beginning, so at the moment I have about 4-6 usernames or so I use in various location. I've actually gone the opposite way somewhat, in that I've linked the usernames together in a few places. (the walls are nice, though, since I've been kicked off a few places or otherwise have had social issues crop up in a few places, and it's nice to have a new username available to get a fresh start.)

(Someone could probably figure out a bunch of personal information if they were looking hard enough, but it would be quite difficult, as googling my real name doesn't show much, and the different usernames are either not directly connected maybe once or twice, or connected by anecdotes or occasional pieces of information that would be hard to spot, and I only have 2 pictures up at most as well.)
SUWT is on my to listen to list, but in reference to leaving a blog private, we had an employee that blogged in private, but mainly because he would use his blog to gripe about the boss man every single day and not in a very flattering way. Course, after he left, apparently he let some personal information get on to the site, because that is how I eventually found out about the blog.

I do have several people that have moved away from an Avatar or nickname for their blogs and use their own actual names, even when posting comments...apparently, they have no fear. Still, I'm uncertain why people would even us "Anonymous" as a handle to leave comments when they can create a fictitious nickname, unless their fictitious nickname ends up being an identity unto it's self, like say Tobold? Strange?
It's weird to assume that someone who is trying to stay anonymous on the internet is trying to hide something. People usually don't run around on the streets with T-Shirts with their names and address printed on either, not only the criminals ;)
Yeah, I think I actually have more respect for bloggers who don't post about every detail in their private lives. I don't need to know that you're having cornflakes for breakfast right now or that your dog just pooped on the carpet. As communication has gotten easier and cheaper, we've ended up communicating way too much useless crap anyway.

I killed my facebook account for various reasons. I didn't like my friends linking publicly available pictures of me to my profile. I didn't want to know the intimate details of what every person on my 70+ friends list was doing at any given time. I don't need to tell everybody I know that I'm stressed about work tomorrow, feeling slightly nauseous or overslept today and I don't want to know the same stuff about everyone else. (The moronic application spam/invites on Facebook was another issue as well. Most of my friends for some reason seem incapable of sending me an actual message, but they'll send me 500 links a day to jokes or cute apps that let you grow an egg or something.)

We each have our own lives, we don't need to share absolutely everything.

The scenario of employers finding out stuff... well I don't think I have anything to hide from my employer. I work in the games industry. If I wasn't reading and commenting on game blogs I'd probably be considered unfit for the job.

Still, while I don't have anything to hide, I guess it just comes down to privacy in the end.
Most cases of blogging getting people fired is because they are found out, and they were blogging about their job, and name calling, or they were wearing they're uniform in a slightly provocative manner.

But sometimes I HOPE the people who do this stuff get fired, like the guy who posted videos of himself on youtube of making subs and Dominos and putting ingredients into his nose first etc etc.

Just don't talk about your job, don't blog at work, and don't post stupid pictures of yourself online.
In that podcast John brings up a good point. The potential exposure is unequal, depending on your real name. A "Steve Williams" may as well be "anyguy188". It's virtually anonymous unless more info is given since there are so many with that name. It takes no "cajones" to go Real Name in that case.

Like John, my last name is very rare. Probably more rare than his -- a search at one of the many "find a person" websites, given my first and last name, nails me exactly. That's for the entire U.S. Add my middle initial and odds are I'm unique world-wide. Certainly if my middle name is spelled out. One of those search engines listed my past three residences, phone numbers, car license number, and more. For free.

I can understand people using their real names if it's a way of promoting themselves. e.g. they're in the industry for the forum/blog wherein they post, they have some kind of consulting service or product to hype, they're an academic in the topic field, etc. And I can understand using a real name if it's virtually anonymous -- it gets you "cajone points" and people tend to pay more attention to your words (warranted or not). But for people like me and John? There are only the "cajone points" to offset the negatives of being completely stripped of privacy, instantly. It's not at all worth it. People can just judge my words on their own merits.
So are you saying that no one at work knows you are The Tobold?
Does anyone every mention your blog, and you have to act all nonchalant about it?
Is it like being Clark Kent? :-)
Does your guild know? :)
Does your guild know?

They do. But I have a deal with them not to mention the guild name, server name, or any character names either.
Hm, my blog does have a rl photo (albeit a rather old and fuzzy one) but not my real name. I wouldnt mind if people from my workplace knew i was behind the blog, although i wouldnt advertize it either: the subject matter (horrormovies, books, mags etc including the more 'extreme' variants) may not be their cup of tea. Of course i wouldnt dream of linking the strictly leisure time blog to my professional entries in LinkedIn etc: those worlds need to be kept seperate i think.
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