Blogging Risks: Personal Information

I have just worked out this morning that two days ago was my seventh Blogiversary! My first ever blog post was February 1999. It was great looking through my old life but one thought stayed with me after reviewing my old entries, how much should I have made public?

One of the weird things that started happening after I had been posting for a while was I would be contacted by people I had never met. At that time I called the site my journal, I don’t know if the word “blog” had been coined yet. I wasn’t really part of any blog scene so my visitors came from search engines and clicks on newsgroup and discussion list signatures.

I got some very weird messages. People would email me like they knew me, really over familiar. I would get people asking to meet up because they were coming to England. People would ask how my wife and daughter were. They would comment on my photographs. I think I shared too much now thinking about it, I even had details of our new house on there – we could have had visitors!

We tell people that to get people involved in your blog you need to put across personality, people need to feel connected. Can you do that while keeping a distance? How personal do you need to be to have personality?

If you look around at some of the top bloggers, they all vary in how much personal information they share. Scoble gives quite advance notice of his travel plans, he even has his contact details right on his blog. We know about his family life. Darren Rowse very explicitly says he does not like to share too much and is very selective about what he does divulge.

I think Darren has it right now I have thought about it. Scary thing is, even though Darren is ultra careful he still wound up with a stalker making a physical attack on his house!

Thankfully they do not feel threatened now it has been resolved but I think there is a lesson for all of us, be careful how much you share. It frightens me now to think of how much I have let slip over the years, how much information I have put out there for anyone to read.

Your blog is not worth risking your families safety for.

10 thoughts on “Blogging Risks: Personal Information

  1. Wayde, I am totally in agreement with you, I am new to blogging and I have also written about my daughter and never thought twice about this scenario! and yes I to want to write about daily life , I will be keeping seperate blog from now on too.

  2. It’s a cold cruel world. I’ve received death threats numerous times for things I’ve written from almost every major country on the planet.

    I tend to be more cautious by nature these days but a well-armed blogger (I hold a concealed weapons permit that’s valid in more than half of the United States) is a safer one.

    It’s also smart to work with authorities when you think a threat is credible.

  3. Is started to use BBS and Usenet in 1989 and I never had a bad experience. Well, times are changing and everybody has Internet today. I very often think it’s a question of how to react to offensive posts or comments. As Andy said sometimes it’s definitely better to sleep over and answer the next day in a polite and diplomate way.

  4. Congrats to you, Chris, for sticking with this new-fangled “blogging” thingee 😀 Persistence is important. And of course, with it comes those misguided people who are simply lonely but don’t know how to communicate with others. They feel like you touched them positively, and they think they know you.

  5. Darren’s post was eye opening indeed; I don’t consider myself naive, but it forced me to rethink my privacy and security strategy on the Net… it is amazing how careless many people are.

  6. I write a very personal dating blog that I share with the public about my relationships and more recently have started sharing very personal information about my relationship with my family. However, I consider the personal information shared no different than the info you’d find in a novel or memoir.

    Having been the victim of a stalker (many years ago before my blog), when I first started (venting) writing my blog a few years ago – I knew that I wanted to write under a pseudonym and never share private information (addresses, where I’ll be, pictures/names of myself, friends or family, etc).

    I actually find the private info that people share on blogs alarming and have often been shocked that there aren’t more Tabloid Television stories about the dangers of revealing private information shared via blogs.

  7. I think just passwording the posts is probably sufficient to keep the drive-by loonies out, anyone more determined can probably find the info anyway

  8. This is an important issue for me.

    What I decided to to do was to keep my business blogs business only, and create a family and friends blog which is password protected. I’m now trying to convince my family and friends to contribute

    I have a strong urge to write about daily life, particularly about my children, but I have no desire for anyone on the web, other than my friends and family, to read about it.

    Seperate blogs was the answer for me.

    Just so I’m sure – is password protecting my blog posts enough, or should I password protect the entire sub-domain?

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