20 June 2010

Got Some Safety Tips?

I am sad to see that two of the bloggers in my Favorite Blogs List have written posts lately about their bad experiences with blog stalkers.  Both of these ladies have put an end to their beautiful blogs for the safety of their families.  Understandable, but disappointing none the less. My own experiences blogging have been with you fantastically nice people and I'm thankful for all of you and your kind comments.  And I'd like to keep it that way!  So I'm looking to you for some tips...

I recently wrote that I'd like to add more personal stories in my posts, but now I'm thinking is that a smart thing to do?  I very much like sharing free information and the kiddos are my main models (I just have to pay them in candy).  I suppose using sewing-only photos would be the smart thing to do, but it would also be sterile and boring. 

 I don't use Facebook, I have a different last name than my kids, an unlisted phone and address, and from now on I will be using a PO Box address on my return address labels. I'd love to hear other suggestions if you have them?!

S. Dork

PS - I keep getting spammy comments, always from names with Chinese symbols that are just links to their porn websites... I don't want to put one of those anti-spam thingies on where the rest of you have to type a verification word just to leave a comment - any way to simply block people once they've left a porn-spam message?


Tracy said...

That's a wonderful idea on the PO box on your address labels!

I haven't really had any stalkers, but I don't have that many followers. My blog started out as completely personal stuff, to the extreme with personal stuff. But, I've only gotten a handful of rude comments (although, most of them were during a time of intense grief, so they were extremely hurtful.)

The one thing that several of my friends do is just refer to their kids by initial or by cutsie nicknames. I don't know if that keeps them safer or not.

CupCakeCutie said...

I will share that I live in VA, but not what town. I do have a facebook but the only one shared on my blog is the one or my business. And i share all kinda of pictures of my kids, but use nick names. Of course I only have 45 followers so.. that makes me feel safer as well.

Anonymous said...

How Awful!

I keep my own location (other than the state) to myself; my children's pages, facebook, etc. are not linked to my site. My children are older (college, high school and middle school), but I still monitor and patrol their facebook accounts, and keep them set to private.

I occasionally post pictures of my kids, but never refer to them by name. Oh, I also don't use my own name online! I visit everyone who signs up to follow me, and visit their links and friends as well, to sort of reassure myself that they are, uh, reasonably normal. If something looks fishy, I simply remove them from my list, and/or block them through my ISP.

The other thing I do is keep a separate email address and credit card that are ONLY used for online information and transactions. They have P.O. boxes for addresses. This makes tracking down fraud easier. I'm glad Hubby and I established this habit years ago, because that online credit card has been compromised TWICE, and each time it was easy for the bank to track down the perp and correct our credit.

There are a lot of super smart/creepy folks out there, and if someone really wanted to find us, they could in a matter of minutes. I am not going to live my life afraid, though, and will continue to use caution and PAY ATTENTION to how I navigate online.

Kate said...

I don't hide who we are, where we are, or really anything. I choose to believe that the majority of people are good. I realize that if someone started stalking us or stole photos of my son and posted them as their own I would probably feel differently and change some of my online behavior. As it is, I am so bad at keeping our blogs up to date that I'm pretty sure the only followers we have are family members and close friends.

For my dh's business we do have a PO Box, that helps with taxes (ie it is a business not a hobby) and also prevents checks sitting in our mailbox out on the road.

I know there are evil people in the world, but I refuse to let them run my life. I'm not careless-- I lock the doors, have very barky dogs, don't post that my dh will be gone during the week of xyz. To live in fear, to see danger at every turn-- for me that is not healthy and I choose to view life and people in a positive manner. For every jerk I've met online I've met at least a dozen good people.

Miss Sews-it-all said...

Wow, yeah, I've read a lot lately about scary, mean people leaving hurtful and antagonistic comments on blogs.

Personally, I haven't given it a lot of thought as far as my own blog is concerned, but reading these stories is giving me second thoughts. It's good to read what others' are doing to protect themselves!

So Bella said...

I keep getting those weird chinese comments with the links as well... I always wonder how the heck they found my blog, since I don't really write often and don't have many followers.

It's sad that people are doing harmful things to other bloggers. Good idea to use the PO Box, think I may have to try that as well.

Myrnie said...

I have an (admittedly) small blog, but here's what I've tried to do:
1) Everyone has fake names
2) I never say our city- only part of the country. If someone was following closely, they would realize which cities I live near, but that's it.
3) I never mention pertinent dates: birthdays, anniversaries, when we'll be out of town, etc.
4) I never mention proper nouns- schools, mall names, unique restaurants, etc. NOTHING that could say where we are.
5) I limit pictures of my kids, and when I link to photos from my Flickr stream, they are in a specific "set" that's public. All other photos are only viewable by friends and family. And obviously, my children are always fully dressed in the public photos.

One thing that's tempting to me sometimes is to vent, and tell personal stories, just because I know that people will listen to what I'm saying. But I hope I never do- much as I love you all, umm...yeah, we've never really met :)

Oh dear, I'm rambling on. I think everyone finds their own level of assurance of safety. My kids are young, so I'm doing all I can to keep our family anonymous, while still interacting with this amazing online community.

Cristina said...

I just would like to had that even if up put moderation on the comments the chinese porn will appear also, i have in my blog, the moderation, and still they buzz me. It looks like it is the same people. But since i have the moderation on, those comments don't get the chance of leaving my email, they just go straigth to the trash.

Carrie Penny said...

It is just me and my husband so if we get stalked at this point we just feel sorry for them, we are two of the dullest people EVER! But when I do business online, I use his business PO BOX to have things shipped back, I don't mind people even knowing the city we live in but I am not going to make it too easy to find out where... When you say you are from here it is really a large area that claims the city... My blog is personal and I keep an eye on people who are on there all of the time. I also stopped giving out my business cards recently because I work out of the house and only my students get that information...

I did have to use the word on my blog recently because I was getting spam and someone started reading my blog and posting strange comments (I was talking about selling a knitted bunny and they posted about their bunny dying so I shouldn't sell mine). I don't allow people to post without leaving their name or mail anymore either.

I figure the little things deter most people out there and after that it is pretty easy to figure out who is harassing you...

Melissa said...

Its a tough question. I find the blogs that I enjoy the most are the ones where I feel connected to the author and those tend to be more personal. However, I am very reluctant to put any information about myself and my family online. Its much less about worry for our physical safety (if you robbed my house, you wouldn't get much) than it is about my insecurities about opening up to strangers (or even friends) in such a "public" way.

Natural Mama said...

I've been hearing about this lately too- sad and sick people who steal blog pics and posts and pretend it is their family- how weird and scary!
Personally I dont use my kids name, our city. or my own name in blog posts.
I do put return address when i send out prizes though- i never even thought of using a PO box- very clever. I guess winners could be stalkers?? although i still like to think people are good.
Another thing i do is write my name on all images- someone could still cut the name off and use them, but it makes it a bit harder.