Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Why We Don't Use Names

I've had a few friends ask through the comments what fears we had that led to our switch to this blog with no names. I decided to answer with a whole post because I do think it's an important discussion, though I'm not sure there's a substantial threat.

I had three main reasons for starting this secret identity blog.

1. Privacy

Kansas Dad is a professor at a local university. Now, if I were a student today, one of the first things I'd do is Google each of my professors. Though I doubt any of his students would seek us out to harm us, I thought it would be better for Kansas Dad if he was able to decide what was appropriate to share with his students, rather than everything I post be common knowledge on campus.

I also read a blog about current naming trends (an occupational hazard of the mother-still-in-childbearing-years). A recent post linked back to one from years ago that hit a nerve with me. Though I didn't read it until after I started the new blog, I think it's relevant. Basically, everything I've put on the blog is out there for the world to find. Maybe First Son doesn't want his high school girlfriend to be able to search for him online and find the blog of his baby years. I could delete it, of course, but if you know me (as most of you do), I wouldn't. It's all I have! The baby book is nothing compared to the record on the blog, especially for First Daughter who has so many more pictures and even videos of her first year than First Son did on the original blog. So by hiding the names, my children only have to share the address with those they want to read it...unless they ask me to send an email for them since the blog address is part of my signature.

2. Identity Theft

I'd like to think we protect our children well from identity thefts. We store their Social Security cards at the bank's lock box and shred just about everything with a name on it, but I know there are people out there more resourceful at finding what they want than I am at hiding it. If someone did manage to get a hold of pertinent information, the blog is a treasure trove of security question answers (mother's maiden name, pet names, etc.). Now, hiding their names on the blog doesn't protect us very well from the people who know us (where I think I read most of the threat lies), but at least I can protect them from being found online by people searching for them by name.

3. Local "Threats"

Now we get to the meat of the matter. All the above reasons were bouncing around in my head but I wasn't concerned enough to change anything. I thought it would be a hassle to switch to a new blog. I liked using our name in the blog name. I was dragging my feet because it didn't seem important enough to take the time.

Then my mother-in-law started to notice the same car hanging out at a local site of interest my children visited (with her) on a regular basis. He wasn't doing anything illegal, but she was unnerved, and so was I. Anyone who read our blog would quickly be able to discern our regular haunts and could easily stake us out, awaiting us each day. While I am flattered by those who come each day to read our blog (and sorry it's not always up to date for you, though I'm trying to be better), the potential for the same behavior in real life was unsettling. Suddenly, it seemed very possible for someone to become a little too interested in us from the blog and seek us out in real life.

My family switched our habits a bit and I haven't heard about this particular man recently. For all I know, he was an undercover officer who did me a great service by prompting my switch to a new blog. Most likely, he was a perfectly innocent person who just happened to be around for some reason unknown to us. With the new blog, I feel safer from this kind of potential threat. Though it was probably never a great threat, it's been a simple easy change I could make to protect my children. There are so many things I can't protect them from, it's nice to make a little effort when I can.

Lest you think I'm against meeting anyone in real life, I want to make sure a few of you know you'd always be welcome in my humble home. Please send an email if you'll be in Kansas and we'll work something out. Of course, this goes for all our friends and family from years and homes past, but it's also an invitation to those of you who have been so open on your own blogs, ones I visit daily and love: Danielle, Suzanne, Jennie, Rachel, and Brandy. I suppose it's unlikely any of them read this post, but just in case...

It has just struck me that this is a long serious post for April Fool's Day. Well, I'm not much on practical jokes (playing end or receiving end), so I guess it's ok for me to be serious today.

5 comments:

  1. Great post. I doubt I'll ever start my own blog, but these are all very good points!

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  2. I love having a blog. I love being able to go back and read about our daily lives. It always brings back wonderful memories (except the throwing up posts; those aren't so wonderful).

    Of course, with the time I put into pictures already, the blog hardly adds any. In fact, it's a lot quicker than having our own Web site, which is how I first started handling pictures when First Son was born.

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  3. Hey Jill,
    You can make your blog unsearchable on google and otherwise. I'm sure that you knew that and it wouldn't solve all of your fears, but just in case you wanted to do it with this latest one.

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  4. I have it set up so Blogger doesn't allow search engines to crawl the blog (supposedly making it unsearchable) and it's not listed on the Blogger homepage for anything, but I don't trust "protections" to keep up with technology. There's just too much out there. I'd rather take the extra precaution to go without names, especially since it's pretty easy.

    For those of you using Blogger, you can make the same changes to your blog. Just go to Settings, the scroll down to "Add your blog to our listings?" and "Let search engines find your blog?". I have them both set to No.

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  5. I agree with keeping a bit of yourself a secret. There are sites like http://www.archive.org/index.php that allow you to put a web site into the search engine and see what it used to look like - even if you've deleted it! Remember, once on the internet, always on the internet. Be safe!

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Comments make me happy; thanks for speaking up!