Let's be reasonable with one another, shall we?

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Blogger: how much is too much?

Category: Something that I have been thinking about and I want to know what others think.

No, I’m not going to talk about how much is too much TIME spent blogging (although that IS a good question…)
I am wondering about information.
How much is too much when it comes to the information that we share on Blogger?

For instance, when filling out the blogger profile, it wants to know your age, your sex, where you live, how much lint is in your belly button… . . Seriously, is it OK to tell the blogger world where you live? I entered Northwest Ohio because I didn’t think it was entirely safe to put my city. Why? I’m afraid someone might be able to steal my identity! Well, not really … wouldn’t they have to have my social security number? (Phew, I’m glad blogger didn’t ask me that!)

How much is too much?
Some bloggers, I think have thought about this question and taken the minimalist approach.
Others feel very comfortable sharing all about themselves and their family. (profiles used without permission)

How much is too much?
What about pictures of children … or even their names? If some blogger with a bent toward stalking knew your name, your city … couldn’t they look you up in the phone book, come to your house and call your child by name, then lure them away? If they have pictures of your beautiful children, could they be even more armed and driven to do such?

How much is too much?
What about personal information? I don’t just mean facts about you and your family, but personal things … feelings. I am a person that is much like an open book, I am not very hard to understand … I don’t think. (Maybe I should ask my husband about that.) I have been told by my mother all my life that I “wear my feelings on my sleeve.” Does this personality quirk make one “vulnerable” in the blogger universe? What could happen?

I'm really looking for input on this, seriously!


  • I think you should tell what you don't mind the whole world knowing. After all, the potential for the whole world is there.

    By Blogger Joe, at 10/15/2005 8:40 PM  

  • Hi Rose,

    As a rule of thumb, this is what I'd tell someone new at work: "Never share any personal information unless you're prepared to have it twisted and used against you one day."

    To draw this line in the blogosphere, you have to think a little like the serpent, but keep the heart of a dove, and ask some basic 'what if' questions. (Sounds like you're already been doing this.)

    Still, I think the best answer is to always talk so much about Jesus, so that we, ourselves, simply fade from the discussion.

    By Blogger loren, at 10/15/2005 8:41 PM  

  • Joe, so I shouldn't publish my height and weight?

    Loren, I can see how you would say that in regards to your beautiful blog (an honest compliment), but my blog is on many subjects and not as noble. Since I am a Christian, it will contain a lot about Jesus and will deal with spiritual subjects, but it is also my thoughts on other subjects. Thanks for the encouragement.

    ANYBODY ELSE who wants to comment (or either of you two if you come back): I really want to know what you think about the issue of family details that I brought up in the post. Thanks!!!!

    By Blogger Rose~, at 10/15/2005 9:46 PM  

  • Look at my picture, look at my name. Does that give you an idea how much I share personally about myself?

    I once had identity theft done to me. It changed my world. I used to have quite a presense with my real identity -- not so after that.

    Now I use pen names. To some of my friends and family that I know personally (wife, my kids, some people at work), I give my blog name, but I restrict giving out my identity.

    By Blogger Earl, at 10/15/2005 9:49 PM  

  • I believe Rose, that it is an indivuals preference and how they want to handle their blog. My husband and I have discussed my blog (he reads it also, and we feel I should take necessary precautions to protect ourselves and our family. He wants me to take out the town where we live, so I need to do that.

    There are delicate ways to write about things, express ones opinion without tearing anyone or anything down, yet get the point across......Most of the time my poetry and devos are about my own experiences, but I have to be careful and try not to expose other people's names and/or their families, including my own extended family, siblings, nieces, etc. in it. My husband's question to me was how would I feel if I came upon someones blog that had mentioned me or their experience with me and the whole world was reading it....I like to know when and if I am being mentioned in someones story....it is respectful and God honors that attitude. You can mention the experience without mentioning names and exposing yourself.

    On the other end of things, I am also careful what I allow in comments and pictures.....and I am not being a stuff shirt, I like to have fun and show a cheerful heart....but I am conscious of the readers that are visiting my site, the message that is being conveyed and the reflection it brings to our Father. I truly like to have fun, but not at the expense of anyone else.

    This is just my opinion and what I feel....I pray that people are visiting me because they see God in my life, not just me. I recently changed my entire blog and started over fresh...I had gotten off on the wrong foot with blogging.

    Did that help at all?

    By Blogger BHGA, at 10/16/2005 4:10 PM  

  • That all depends. What IS your height and weight?

    Family details? I'd use the same criteria. The world is watching. You have readers that you never know about.

    Feeliongs? I don't hold back my feelings very much. You may have noticed.

    By Blogger Joe, at 10/16/2005 4:55 PM  

  • Uh oh! You guys have got me paranoid now! A lot to think about. I'm glad John deleted one of my posts earlier on his site.

    By Blogger Bhedr, at 10/16/2005 5:28 PM  

  • Earl,
    Did your identity theft happen via blogging? Please answer this!

    Thank you for all your thoughts. You have a beautiful blog also. I am trying to be kinder than I have been in the past.

    I think you're right about family details, that is why I don't list the names of my kids on my profile and John took them off of his. I don't think I should put photos of them either because of all the sickos! But they're so cute!!! Still, I don't know if I have been cautious enough. I really need to know the answer to my question to earl. Also, I just can't hide the real me (thoughts and feelings) or I think I would just have to close the blog. (maybe you would all be relieved)

    Hi Brian! I'm honored.

    By Blogger Rose~, at 10/16/2005 7:50 PM  

  • One more practical comment. I've noticed that a lot of people put their location as 'USA' or 'California' or something else that is very broad, that would make it very tough to ever locate them. If they don't know where to find you, the rest is pretty much irrelevant.

    But if you do this, you also have to be careful what you link. For instance, I know a young girl whose locations says 'not telling', but she also has a link to her church's web site, which would tell you that information anyway.

    For myself, I'm not afraid to give my city, my last name, any of that stuff. But then again, we don't have any kids. So I can see where you'd want the protection of some anonymity.

    By Blogger loren, at 10/16/2005 9:11 PM  

  • I think paranoia is good. After the identity theft I went through, seeing a person’s reputation destroyed in vicious office politics using that person’s email, and in various other situations – there is much to be concerned about in online information and in online publishing. For instance, routine employment background checks now include Internet searches. I also think women have more to be concerned about because there are more predatory men.

    I have seen enough happen through online information that I am wary of putting any personal information online. I do have a family newsletter, but that is password protected and the account information is given only to close family and personal friends. But even there I have concerns.

    By Blogger Earl, at 10/17/2005 8:28 AM  

  • Rose,

    Sorry that I didn't answer your question. I don't know how the identity theft happened. This was a few years ago. I wasn't blogging then, but I did have a personal webpage, and I participated in yahoogroups (theology, philosphy, science) with my real name.

    I was extremely fortunate in that some federal laws were violated by the perp, and I was able to convince a federal officer to pursue the case. They caught the guy, he's in jail now. In most identity theft cases, the crime goes unsolved.

    The perp who went to jail in my case was not the orignal source of my id information -- or so the case officer thinks. From what I understand, in most cases id theft results from dishonest employees in stores passing check or credit card info on, or dishonest employees in credit card companies passing on huge blocks of information for a price to "middle men" who sell the information to individual perps.

    In my case, when the perp was caught, he had hundered of fraudulant credit cards. It was his first arrest.

    So, to make a long story short, probably my on-line publishing activity was not involved in the id theft. But the case officier suggested in the future I take a much lower profile on the Web. I have followed that advice since.

    By Blogger Earl, at 10/17/2005 9:52 AM  

  • Loren,
    Good observations. I have thought about that too (linking to your church etc...)

    Thank you for sharing. I now feel more comfortable about putting my whole name on the blog. I maintain caution. Thanks for sharing your story. It must have been just terrible. I am glad no one can steal our identity in Christ!

    Does anybody else have a word for me on this? any THEOLOGIANS?

    By Blogger Rose~, at 10/17/2005 12:08 PM  

  • You have asked a difficult question.

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at 10/17/2005 3:55 PM  

  • I've been told to comment over here.
    Well, if you believe in the basic goodness of mankind like me, share everything! After all there is a little spark of God in all of us, right?
    If someone wants to find you, they'll find you. There's really nothing that can be done about that, short of faking your own death. I talk about my kids and wife in my blog at times, but I didn't really put any info about them in my profile.
    I think I agree with Joe. Your opening yourself up to a whole new pool of suspects, so just write what you would be comfortable telling a stranger.

    By Blogger Jeremy Weaver, at 10/17/2005 9:02 PM  

  • Thank you, Jeremy. No spark of God!!! ... just the true light that lighteth every man that comes into the world...

    I wanted to know your thoughts because your profile is so vague in regards to family and your brothers' is very explicit.

    Then again, we could just make up a person, make up a name, and go around reeking havok without any fear of retribution, right? ;~)

    By Blogger Rose~, at 10/17/2005 9:42 PM  

  • About the family details: you really shouldn't put up truly identifiable information about anyone else (family or not) without their permission to do so. In the case of minor children, I would think as long as you haven't given enough details about yourself to make it readily available where you live, a first name and a few pictures would be OK. In the case of fairly well known people, though, those rules have to be significantly tightened. For instance, I read Michelle Malkin quite frequently; she has posted pictures of her daughter before, but with the girl's face obscured, and I can't remember her publishing the girl's name.

    By Blogger Jeff H, at 10/17/2005 11:50 PM  

  • this is a hard one and important. I am trying not to say my kids names. I wouldn't put the state or city myself, but since there are only a few Shawn Lynes in America they could find me....

    By Blogger Shawn L, at 10/18/2005 11:36 PM  

  • And who else do you know named Doxoblogist or Joe?

    By Blogger Jeremy Weaver, at 10/19/2005 8:33 AM  

  • Jeff,
    I'm glad I am not well known. Thanks for your input. Hope your concert was a great one for you!

    I remember someone once commenting to reformer on his blog long time ago that you shouldn't put photos of your children on the internet (he had that family photo in his profile at that time). Then he changed the picture, and I just was looking to see if anyone could verify that concern. Thanks for commenting. They're coming to get me!

    There is only ONE doxoblogist. (praises!) ("doxoblogist" ... say that three times real fast).

    By Blogger Rose~, at 10/19/2005 9:00 AM  

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