Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Tales from the Trenches: Blog Safety

After I e-mailed my mother-in-law my blog address the other day, she brought up the concern of blogs not being private. She brings up valid concerns, the concerns to which I believe that I have safeguarded against from the very beginning. I don't want to dismiss her concerns though, because the internet can be a scary place if you don't keep yourself safe.

1. Only my first name is disclosed. There is no mention of my last name. Both Hubs and K- are referred to as such and only will be. There are multiple reasons for this.
2. I've never disclosed the town we live in. I've only mentioned that we live in NE Ohio, which covers a fairly big area.
3. I've posted one full-on face photo of K- and Hubs, she was very young, it was family far away and a different situation. I figure if Hubs truly wants his face on the internet, that's his own thing. K-, however, runs into a different category. There are nasty people out there that lift photos of children from the internet and do even nastier things with them. In the recent months, wasn't there a lady in Florida that claimed that she had a missing child, had photos and everything only to find out later that those photos were an internet lift of someone else's kid? I worry about that. This is why my cute child's face will be kept anonymous.
4. I've never disclosed our places of employment. Y'all know that I work at a gallery and Hubs works at a park. 'Nuff info there.
5. You'll never find me referring to the full name of K-'s friends or posting their face photo on the blog either. Again, their parents can do that with their own kid if they want. It's not my place to do so.
6. If we are out of town, I don't post about it until we are back.

I try to do what I can to stay safe on the internet. Though my mother-in-law certainly brings up valid points, I'd like to hope that I have addressed it all along as though it shouldn't be an issue. I realize that I could tag the entire blog as private, but I don't believe that is necessary. I've been able to keep the comments open with a password. I haven't had to enable comment moderation, but know those who have. I've also known blogs that I once read that decided to go private because of not knowing who was popping in and out. Certainly, I understand that, too. I pretty much know who comes in and out, thanks to the blog patrol. I know where people are referred from, what things they read and if they went into comments. Works for Me Wednesday is the exception, but I've had genuinely kind folks stop in. I've been blessed, but who really cares what a mom from Ohio has to say, anyhow? :)

Speaking of, it brought me to thinking -- why do I have a blog? Originally, I started the blog to tack an internet store to it. I have art to sell, little girl things that I've made and I thought it would be another avenue to show and sell. I plan to do this, but I wanted to get the blog thing in full swing and know what I was doing there first. Also, I was a lurker for a few years, reading blogs, learning things and thought that perhaps we could touch someone with our story of adoption. Maybe there is someone out there that needs our help or an ear to listen to what they are going through with that. We've also experienced loss through stillbirth. Is there a mommy out there that needs another mommy's shoulder that has been there? It's a journal. I'm not a scrapbooker. Really, I'd rather poke my eye out with a pencil. (Sorry folks.) But, I'm able to chronicle things for K-, the good, bad and otherwise. I'm able to vent. I'm able to be myself and I write it for myself and my family. Folks have hobbies. My husband loves to shop for used CD's. K- loves Polly Pockets. I could do worse, eh?

That brings me to the question of the week-- how do you feel about internet safety and blogs? Have you had any issues? I'm curious.

Day 4: Love is thoughtful. How precious also are your thoughts to me . . . How vast is the sum of them! If I should count them, they would outnumber the sand. -- Psalm 139:17-18

Today's Dare: Contact your spouse sometime during the business of the day. Have no agenda other than asking how he or she is doing and if there is anything you could do for them.


ChupieandJ'smama said...

When I first started blogging I thought it was my on line diary. I didn't realize other people would want to read it. I used first names. After people started commenting, I corrected that. I also only use, Ohio, NE Ohio, the Cleveland area (Like I shop at the "Local natural food store"), I use my sitemeter to see who visited the blog and how they found me (if it's a google search for something nasty it will let you know). I post less and less pix. I still like to post them, just not as often.
It's important to keep these things in mind. Nothings fool proof, but it's important to be as careful as possible.

Rach said...

My blog was started as a place for me to chronicle the lives of the girls and for close family and friends to keep tabs on us. That was all. I never really gave internet safety much thought as I never expected anyone other than those family and friends to be interested in anything I had to say.

Then, well, you know what happened July 2007. My blog was actually suspended by Blogger because they thought I was a spam blog I started receiving so many hits.

I'm such a Pollyanna (not to mention naive, I guess), I guess I've never really worried about what I've put out there. I suppose I *could* go private, but the number of emails I know that would flood my in-box with people requesting permission to access my blog leaves me overwhelmed. So, for now, it is what it is.

Bailey's Leaf said...

But even with your blog being more open, you haven't really encountered issues other than needing to enable comment moderation after Hannah's death. You've had the occasional weird comment about child rearing, but you've addressed it in the blog. I know that I tend to be a bit more hyper-- part of that due to K- having been adopted and my husband being a public employee.

Wouldn't it be great it we didn't have to worry about any of that stuff, though?!

melanie said...

i have to admit that i have hardly taken any of the precautions you mentioned. i just don't believe that people are going to find my out of the millions of blogs out there. i keep intending to watermark my photos but i haven't gotten around to it. i know i am naive but i also don't want to live in fear.

Rach said...

Yes, it would. :sigh:

Jamie said...

I started an online journal in 2000, mainly to chronicle my pregnancy with Halen. Then I moved to a online diary community like blogger where other people read my journal, I made friends, etc. Sometimes I locked it so that I could bad mouth my family or really take my frustrations out by typing but for the most part it stayed open and I had around 10 regular readers. I used the trackers to check to see where people came from and I felt safe. I eventually decided to move to blogger because the other site was always crashing. It was then that I thought my life was thrown into a blender (when we moved to DC) and I knew I'd need a place to keep family & friends in the loop. It didn't turn out that way. My family has no interest in reading my blog. I know of two family members (out of 50 that were given the link) and a couple of my friends who read it. Everyone else is people I met via blogging. You can tell by my stats that I'm not popular by any means and I am TOTALLY OK with that. I don't want to have a blog that has 9000 visitors a day because then I'd feel the need the censor myself and limit my photo sharing.

I've had every intention of watermarking the pix of the girls, but I haven't done that. I don't feel concerned about people knowing that I live in the Burgh because it is a big city. I've never felt like my safety was compromised.

These safety reasons are the exact reason I do not use facebook or any other social networking site. I don't use my last name on the internet period. If a site requires me to use it for display reasons I don't sign up.