Oh no, my dirty laundry! May 8, 2012 2:12 PM   Subscribe

Is there a way to nuke my profile/change usernames for the sake of posterity? What if people I'd like to keep out of my business find out my username and suddenly all my business is out in the open? Can MeFi help me with that? Yes, I lead a double life. FWIW you're the ones I don't lie to.

So, without planning to, I ended up feeling pretty comfortable here. I've written about a bunch of personal stuff on this site like sex, child abuse, atheism, depression, etc. The thing is, it was easy sharing these things when other people were also sharing in amazing threads, mostly because you are a bunch of internet people who might as well be my imaginary friends and even though I would like to one day have a beer with you, I doubt you will be in a judging position in my life (like a parent would, for example).

Now, were I to die before siblings and/or parents, I am pretty sure they could find out what my username is with just a little bit of effort, and I would not like this at all! My private business out for everyone to read for all eternity! Why yes, I have been enough of an idiot to tell family members about this website and how much I like it. I imagine them in a fit of nostalgia saying "Tarumba really liked this website, let me look for it!"

So, if a close and trusted friend were given the appropriate directions, like contacting the mods to let them know I kicked the bucket, could Meta Filter change my username to something completely unrelated to me, or at least delete every trace of my existence here? Would this also be possible if suddenly my privacy was compromised, like if someone at work found out I'm Tarumba?

I realize I should have thought about this before telling MeFites about things like a weird pimple on my thigh (one of my proudest moments), but it would make me really happy to know there's a way to fix this. Am I screwed?
posted by Tarumba to Feature Requests at 2:12 PM (134 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

There's no changing your username on well-established accounts, and we do not wipe account histories. They're massively disruptive things in terms of the shared continuity of the site, and we consider them total non-starters.

That said, if you have a couple of specific comments you'd want deleted or edited to remove a key bit of identifying info, or a question or two that need anonymizing, that's something we can accommodate as a one-off sort of thing if you want to send us a note at the contact form with the details.

My core advice beyond that is that, if you're realizing your assumptions in the past don't match your current needs about privacy or compartmentalization, you should consider letting your current account go idle and sign up for a new account that you don't associate with this one. Apply your new set of privacy-minded requirements to that new account and call it a clean break.
posted by cortex (staff) at 2:17 PM on May 8, 2012 [9 favorites]


I can't imagine caring who knows what once I'm dead. Is this an important thing I'm overlooking?! Shit, I thought I was worrying enough.
posted by heyho at 2:17 PM on May 8, 2012 [39 favorites]


So, if a close and trusted friend were given the appropriate directions, like contacting the mods to let them know I kicked the bucket, could Meta Filter change my username to something completely unrelated to me, or at least delete every trace of my existence here? Would this also be possible if suddenly my privacy was compromised, like if someone at work found out I'm Tarumba?

This is something we have literally never talked about in this specific context. But generally the answer to name change stuff across the board is no. We've had instances where people have been like "Oh shit I have a stalker" and we usually advise them to remove all personal information from the account and close the account, start up an anon one, not link them and then we'll work with them to go anonymize past stuff that is really problematic but if at all possible minimizing the effect that has on the rest of the site.

Large scale after the fact anonymization and deletion of content leave weird holes here and there. We'll do it if it's mission critically important, but we don't like to and that's a discussion we'd prefer to have people not in MetaTalk because it really depends on the situation. Often people have a short term "Delete all my stuff!" freakout and after a few days can calm down and figure out what they need removed realistically and we'll work with them to make that happen. But the "What if I died!" stuff is sort of a non-starter because it's so out in hypothetical left field we can't address it very directly.

Changing usernames is a non-starter because it's confusing to people and it's also impossible to do cleanly [if someone else refers to you by username we're absolutely not going to go back and edit comments by them, for example, but then the username change is tossed into stark relief]. However, no, you are not screwed but you should consider using a more sock-puppety account for stuff you really feel needs to not be linked to your main account and speak to us directly if there are other things you're concerned about.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 2:18 PM on May 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


I had a similar oh-shit-what-if feeling a couple years ago when I really started being active on the site. A little forethought would have gone a long way--my username is the same as the email address I've had since I was a kid. I "solved" this problem by posting all the goddamned time. It'll be pretty obvious that I'm me to anyone I know in real life who stumbles across my account*, but I've posted so much that the more sensitive stuff has pretty much gotten buried.

I also don't behave on the site in a way that I would be ashamed of in real life. I mean, sure, I've talked about my ladybits a few times, but I'm always nice about it.

*This prospect has become much more likely now that I'm dating a fellow mefite, and the specifics of the "how did you meet?" question can't be dodged forever.
posted by phunniemee at 2:46 PM on May 8, 2012 [7 favorites]


You don't seem to have any identifying information in your profile. Don't give your username out to anyone you know. Buy a sockpuppet account. Stop being paranoid. I have written a lot of stuff on this account and the Thought Police have never arrested moi. Mon Dieu! Live a little, take a risk, dude! Or dudette. The interwebs don't really think about you so much as they think of themselves. And if your family members and/or friends really want to stalk you, see above: get a sockpuppet account. Jaysus. My family is too self-absorbed to ever want to look me up on the internet and I use a fake name anyway. My husband doesn't even care about MetaFilter, it's just those weird internet people that I drag him to meet at a bar once or twice a year. No worries.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 3:05 PM on May 8, 2012


we do not wipe account histories. -- I know it was never the original intend, but in light of the "all posts are © their original authors" bit, couldn't someone who really wanted to be a pill could someday force you to?
posted by crunchland at 3:26 PM on May 8, 2012


It actually did happen that one time with that one guy, though I understand they prefer not to talk about the details openly.
posted by Gator at 3:49 PM on May 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


I know it was never the original intend, but in light of the "all posts are © their original authors" bit, couldn't someone who really wanted to be a pill could someday force you to?

Legally, they own their copyright which means someone has to ask if they reproduce it elsewhere. It has nothing to do with the right to publish, which is more of a terms of service thing (which we've drafted, batted around, but never deployed for all sorts of reasons and associated metatalk threads). When you hit the publish button and send your content to the MetaFilter server, there is an implied "yeah, I want this shown in public, which is why I hit the button marked post" and asking us to remove stuff is still asking (and doesn't directly relate to copyright since the original copy was uploaded when the person hit post).
posted by mathowie (staff) at 3:55 PM on May 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


you're the ones I don't lie to.

Uh huh. Sure.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:57 PM on May 8, 2012


If you have a user handle and don't include your location details in your profile (which is only viewable by MeFites who are signed in anyway), what is the likelihood of someone identifying you based on a disparate string of comments, questions and posts in a population of 500 million English speakers (this could be a low-ball figure) worldwide?

Pretty damn unlikely. You have a higher chance of someone eavesdropping on your cellphone conversations (or a future employer checking out your insurance records).

Nothing to worry about.
posted by KokuRyu at 5:02 PM on May 8, 2012


flapjax at midnite, I know you're trying to be funny, but I sure as hell didn't lie to you all about things like my childhood abuse. I'm sure you understand why I wouldn't want real life acquaintances or friends to know about it.
posted by Tarumba at 5:08 PM on May 8, 2012 [4 favorites]


couldn't someone who really wanted to be a pill could someday force you to?

Yes, but not like that. The copyright thing isn't the issue, it's just someone who decides to make a federal case about it with no regard for their continued membership and/or the effect it has on the site. And yes, please, if people want to ask us about "that one guy" do it over email and quit bringing it up here, starting now. Thanks.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 5:14 PM on May 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


flapjax at midnite: "you're the ones I don't lie to.

Uh huh. Sure.
"

If that is your name.
posted by Splunge at 5:20 PM on May 8, 2012


Pretty damn unlikely.

My opinion is that this actually isn't all too unlikely. I tried to articulate why here. If you look at the last few comments in that thread, I found a security blogger who in assessing the revelations from the HBGary hacking case appeared to agree with me about the feasibility of the sophisticated software tools for social network scraping and indexing that might eventually cause a problem.

So it seems like a possible future issue to me, but whether or not to be worried about that or just accept it is a different question.
posted by XMLicious at 5:31 PM on May 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


I've I have a big enough bribe can I nuke someone else's profile? I've got $5 burning a hole in my pocket!
posted by cjorgensen at 5:44 PM on May 8, 2012


Oi. As a family history buff, whose mother is a hard-core family history fanatic, the very thought of you doing this makes me want to weep. The very last people you need to protect your reputation with are the folks who outlive you. They're just curious and interested and generally quite sympathetic, really.

It's the credit bureaus and FBI and vengeful spouses in the midst of divorce proceedings that you ought to be worried about, and the only solution there is to have never gotten online in the first place.
posted by SMPA at 5:45 PM on May 8, 2012 [6 favorites]


Never publish anything online that you wouldn't want read out loud in an auditorium composed of every family member, employer, spiritual adviser, doctor, accountant, teacher, acquaintance or love interest you've ever had.

This is why Facebook and Twitter are instruments of The Devil.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 6:14 PM on May 8, 2012 [6 favorites]


I can't imagine caring who knows what once I'm dead.

Your surviving friends and family members thank you for the drama caused by your diary being suddenly opened.
posted by DU at 6:35 PM on May 8, 2012


Note to self: start writing a diary full of filthy lies. Filthy, filthy, glorious, amazing lies.
posted by O'Bama at 6:43 PM on May 8, 2012 [20 favorites]


The concern might be more about the people left behind reading old posts and learning things about *each other*. If that is the case, the solution might be retiring this account and starting up with a new username and no backstory.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 6:43 PM on May 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


I found a security blogger who in assessing the revelations from the HBGary hacking case appeared to agree with me about the feasibility of the sophisticated software tools for social network scraping and indexing that might eventually cause a problem.

John, everyone knows this.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:11 PM on May 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


A proposed update to the EU Data Protection directive would give users a right to be forgotten and have data erased..
posted by humanfont at 8:42 PM on May 8, 2012


I produce a gas that destroys information, for a fee.
posted by vrakatar at 8:46 PM on May 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


I own a company that buys that gas and deploys it at high school reunions. Well, I mean, I've got a Kickstarter.
posted by box at 8:53 PM on May 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


jessamyn: "Changing usernames is a non-starter because it's confusing to people and it's also impossible to do cleanly [if someone else refers to you by username we're absolutely not going to go back and edit comments by them, for example, but then the username change is tossed into stark relief]. "

I get how it would be a really shitty thing to do in general, but would be technically feasible. I know its a non-starter, but I have always of wanted to ask if it would be possible to edit all the various misspellings of my username, the various sub-sites have a combined error rate of somewhere north of 4%. There is even one thread where it is never spelled correctly, first as blaisdelb and then as blastdelb for the rest of the thread. Don't even get me started on the various testicle evoking ones.
posted by Blasdelb at 9:08 PM on May 8, 2012


Blazelbub, is a devilish problem.
posted by ActingTheGoat at 9:27 PM on May 8, 2012 [4 favorites]


that is, that is.
posted by ActingTheGoat at 9:27 PM on May 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


vrakatar: "I produce a gas that destroys information, for a fee"

I'll see that and raise you I'll do it for free if I just eat a bunch of roasted garlic.
posted by DoctorFedora at 9:27 PM on May 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


I lie roughly 15 percent of the time here, which is probably better than I manage in everyday life.

That last sentence was a lie.
posted by philip-random at 9:59 PM on May 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


DoctorFedora: "I'll see that and raise you I'll do it for free if I just eat a bunch of roasted garlic."

Whose responsibility is it to supply the garlic?
posted by wierdo at 10:00 PM on May 8, 2012


Ooooh, say it's Jamie Oliver. With the chicken and the new potatoes and the mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.
posted by maryr at 10:04 PM on May 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Blasdelb, we don't edit comments (except to fix html, or fix typos if the person has indicated an error), so that wouldn't be something we'd do, but this is something that happens with just about every user name that isn't dead simple. (I now lovingly call madamjujujive "vajuju" after someone once (totally innocently!) referred to her as madamvajujujive).
posted by taz (staff) at 10:29 PM on May 8, 2012 [6 favorites]


Does evening Googling your username find posts you've made here? It doesn't with mine.
posted by Brocktoon at 10:33 PM on May 8, 2012


Morning Googling, that's where I'm a Viking!
posted by From Bklyn at 11:25 PM on May 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


Does evening Googling your username find posts you've made here? It doesn't with mine.

Well, a few things come up.
posted by klausman at 11:31 PM on May 8, 2012


Now, were I to die before siblings and/or parents, I am pretty sure they could find out what my username is with just a little bit of effort, and I would not like this at all!

Despite how much your siblings and family love you, I very much doubt that they'll spend much time and energy scouring random websites in the prospect of scrutinizing every random comment that you ever made.

Life's too fucking short.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 12:09 AM on May 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


If you have a user handle and don't include your location details in your profile (which is only viewable by MeFites who are signed in anyway), what is the likelihood of someone identifying you based on a disparate string of comments, questions and posts in a population of 500 million English speakers (this could be a low-ball figure) worldwide?

If I died today I'd be logged-in to Metafilter on a couple of machines, and people know I use this site - so potentially they could see everything I've written. (Although those particular people know my user name anyway).

I modded a message board where one guy posted that he was going to run away from home and then his mother accessed his account and was posting under his name asking where he was. And another user's girlfriend did the same and started yelling at us for being a bad influence. So it can happen. Not randomly, but by people logging into one's PC.
posted by Infinite Jest at 12:23 AM on May 9, 2012


If I died today I'd be logged-in to Metafilter

The Dyin' on Metafilter Blues

If I died today, I'd be logged-in, don't you know, to Metafilter
said if I died today, I'd be logged-in, don't you know, to Metafilter
then everybody'd read my posts, and they might think I was a little... well, off-kilter

they'd wonder why I'was always goin' on 'bout snowflakes... and plates of beans
they'd wonder why I'was always goin' on 'bout snowflakes... and plates of beans
folks'd scratch their heads 'n say "you gotta wonder, gotta wonder what it means"

they'd read my comments by the thousands,
but they still wouldn't have the faintest clue
they'd read my comments by the thousands,
but they still wouldn't have a a goddam clue
but hey man, I'll be dead, so I won't care, and anyway... whachugonnado?
posted by flapjax at midnite at 2:16 AM on May 9, 2012 [12 favorites]


Oh crap! Now the Terminators are going to find me for sure.
posted by Brocktoon at 6:09 AM on May 9, 2012


And hey, there's a story on the BBC right now about who owns user posted content on Twitter.
posted by Brocktoon at 6:12 AM on May 9, 2012


This prospect has become much more likely now that I'm dating a fellow mefite, and the specifics of the "how did you meet?" question can't be dodged forever.

Bullshit - mr. desjardins and I met on bondage.com* and as far as everyone else knows, we met on Yahoo personals. (This was before OK Cupid.)

* Hi mom!
posted by desjardins at 6:23 AM on May 9, 2012 [9 favorites]


welp, i'm fucked.
posted by quonsar II: smock fishpants and the temple of foon at 6:24 AM on May 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


I think the key is keeping this identity separate from all others. I've inextricably linked this with my Twitter account and can't really abandon either without dissolving a network of people (many of whom are in my career field). This is my name online, for all intents and purposes. I find it much less stressful to just not give a shit. I've cleaned up my twitter feed a bit (I'm being followed by the Director of Maps at National Geographic, whoo, hey, no pressure) but I still am who I am.
posted by desjardins at 6:37 AM on May 9, 2012 [3 favorites]


I find it much less stressful to just not give a shit.

It is also simpler.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:44 AM on May 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


I find it much less stressful to just not give a shit.
Word.
posted by travelwithcats at 6:50 AM on May 9, 2012


couldn't someone who really wanted to be a pill could someday force you to?

Practically speaking, I'd think the most efficient way to be a pill is to hire a lawyer and have them send some cease-and-desist letter to stop publishing your comments. When it comes down to hiring your own lawyer to fight it our just have PB run some SQL deletes, well....
posted by smackfu at 6:54 AM on May 9, 2012


The Dyin' on Metafilter Blues

I can die happy now one of my comments has been used as the basis for a flapjax song.
posted by Infinite Jest at 7:02 AM on May 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


I can die happy now one of my comments has been used as the basis for a flapjax song.

Just be sure and stay logged in, Infinite Jest!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:20 AM on May 9, 2012


"vajuju" does not rime with Nambia...oh.
posted by clavdivs at 8:13 AM on May 9, 2012


ay, Tarumba!
posted by Eideteker at 8:19 AM on May 9, 2012 [3 favorites]


The way I see it: if I'm dead, I'm dead, and therefore no longer give two shits on a biscuit about what my family might see. I'm pretty much estranged from all of them except my dad, who has dementia and is computer-illiterate anyway.

Maybe if I loved and cared about my family I'd be less flip and detached. As it is, if they found out about my Facebook, LiveJournal and MeFi posts, I'll let the chips fall where they may, with, if there is an afterlife, malicious glee.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 9:35 AM on May 9, 2012


I've got nothing to be ashamed of. And what I am ashamed of, I encrypt.
posted by crunchland at 9:46 AM on May 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


You don't need to worry about people figuring out it is you; you just need it to be plausible that it isn't. So, as suggested above, set up another account, post to it occasionally (respectable stuff, of course) and let a few folks know that the account is "you".
posted by davejay at 9:48 AM on May 9, 2012


Just make sure you don't post to the old account because 1 user 1 account is the rule here with the exception of allowed sockpuppetry.
posted by Mitheral at 10:02 AM on May 9, 2012


This is long-standing policy, but a fairly bad one IMO. There is minimal social cost to mass-flipping old posts to anon when requested. Continuity is a weak goal given BND, the near-ban on bringing in information about users from other threads, and the huge userbase. The only real loss that I can think of is a tiny minority of askme questions and answers where that poster's other answers are very relevant to interpreting it.

Remember in old metas when someone would get all stalky and put together a very specific Mefi-dossier on someone? That those get don't get posted anymore doesn't mean they don't get made, just that we're ignoring it. Meticulously collecting a set of comments to delete to get rid of a very informative totality is possible, but a lot of work.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 10:09 AM on May 9, 2012


When you have good friends, your family doesn't need to find out, or sometimes you might have awesome family members who look out for you, too.

One friend of mine died last year and folks who knew cleared out the things his mom and sister didn't need to see. Hell, I've got my uncle's cache of 60s S&M paperbacks, which I quietly slipped from his basement at the funeral.
posted by frecklefaerie at 10:22 AM on May 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


There is minimal social cost to mass-flipping old posts to anon when requested.

People would be more snarky, flippant and aggressive if they knew they could later make such comments anonymous.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:34 AM on May 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


Without going through the OP's old comments, I wonder if the concern is more like this: someone posts that Dad abused Sister, and then when she dies all hell breaks loose when Dad denies it, Mom is floored, Sister feels violated that the secret came out, etc. etc.

Or: someone posts that she'd lied to her parents about using her savings to buy a house. She actually stole grandma's money, went on a cocaine spree in Las Vegas, and the house was foreclosed on. Even if she sobered up and paid grandma back later, her family would be rightfully pained.

I think these are perfectly valid reasons for wanting anonymity after death.
posted by desjardins at 10:36 AM on May 9, 2012


People would be more snarky, flippant and aggressive if they knew they could later make such comments anonymous.

People are already pretty terrible, I can't imagine this is holding anyone back.
posted by smackfu at 10:57 AM on May 9, 2012


People would be more snarky, flippant and aggressive if they knew they could later make such comments anonymous.

Mods already delete bad behavior 1) out of moderation 2) when requested. Give them a year and let them go; I'm envisioning this as an irreversible option on account closure. People who don't care aren't the issue, they act like jerks now and don't share that much. The only difference between this and BND is that it's harder to link that account to that person later (which we aren't supposed to do anyway).
posted by a robot made out of meat at 10:58 AM on May 9, 2012


I think that there is a real possibility (in fact, IMO nearly a certainty) of privacy problems in the future but I do not think that the mods should spend time working on changing user names.

Not only is it a non-trivial problem with user names being used all over the place in responses and other comments, frequently misspelled, but as SMPA points out it's quite futile because there are archives all over the place that won't get changed. (And if we're talking about changing an old user name to a new one rather than anonymizing everyone, it only takes a single thread or thread fragment saved somewhere to compare with the edited thread to see which original name changed to which new one.)
posted by XMLicious at 11:05 AM on May 9, 2012


'People who don't care aren't the issue, they act like jerks now and don't share that much.'
posted by a robot made out of meat at 10:58 AM on May 9 [+] [!]


Yeah, right. Thanks.
posted by travelwithcats at 11:13 AM on May 9, 2012


People are already pretty terrible, I can't imagine this is holding anyone back.

I can't really agree. Metafilter falls down a lot on people-being-decent compared to my ideal world's version of the place, but it's routinely non-terrible in ways that are pretty important and have in part to do with the sense of continuity of community here. I find the swiss-cheese feeling of the archives of sites that allow indiscriminate user account wiping really frustrating to deal with as a general rule, but much of the time when I'm encountering that stuff it's also in the vicinity of shitty behavior, and that does not seem like a coincidence.
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:27 AM on May 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


I knew I should have anonymized that question. *dies a little death each day at being laughed at*

If you have a user handle and don't include your location details in your profile (which is only viewable by MeFites who are signed in anyway), what is the likelihood of someone identifying you based on a disparate string of comments, questions and posts in a population of 500 million English speakers (this could be a low-ball figure) worldwide?

Pretty damn unlikely. You have a higher chance of someone eavesdropping on your cellphone conversations (or a future employer checking out your insurance records).

Nothing to worry about.


I disagree.
posted by infini at 12:17 PM on May 9, 2012


Tarumba is a pretty cool guy. Eh posts dirty laundry to MetaFilter and doesn't afraid of anything.
posted by Eideteker at 2:09 PM on May 9, 2012


There is minimal social cost to mass-flipping old posts to anon when requested. Continuity is a weak goal given BND, the near-ban on bringing in information about users from other threads, and the huge userbase.

I don't worry about thread to thread continuity so much as single thread continuity. Having dozens of users in the thread with handles like "Anonimized User 1285" "Anonimized User 135" would make it difficult to follow a back and forth. Especially when "Anonimized User 1285" refers to comments made by Mitheral who has been anonymized as "Anonimized User 135".

Add in that for someone actually looking this only works if you've never been quoted with your username. Otherwise a google search on the original username reveals comments where that user name is quoted and from there the new anonimized username is linked to the non anonymous user name. This is a problem that can not be overcome computationally and would require breaking one of the hard policies to fix manually (IE: editting comments).

However regarding thread to thread continuty; allowing anonmizing would damage the history of the site. We wouldn't want dhoyt or reklaw or Miguel or quonsar or cortex getting themselves anonymized or even worse disappeared. Big chunks of the site's history would become incoherent.
posted by Mitheral at 2:31 PM on May 9, 2012


If you have a user handle and don't include your location details in your profile (which is only viewable by MeFites who are signed in anyway), what is the likelihood of someone identifying you based on a disparate string of comments, questions and posts in a population of 500 million English speakers

Who was the user who compiled a few stalkerish user profiles just by a careful reading of comments? I remember they posted them to Metatalk.
posted by Mitheral at 2:39 PM on May 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


tamim did it a few times, here is one.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 2:52 PM on May 9, 2012


Mitheral: "Add in that for someone actually looking this only works if you've never been quoted with your username."

This is what would make it practically impossible to completely break the links in such a way that someone with some time, a curious bent and good searching skills couldn't re-join the links pretty easily. To completely sever any links, you would have to literally check every occurrence of the user name (and, perhaps, common miss-spellings) and manually change perhaps thousands of comments and you still wouldn't completely remove the traces. It would only take one missed reference to join all the rest together. Even if you went down the path of of nuking the whole site from orbit, as the kids say, the old rule holds true here just as much as anywhere else - once you put something on the Internet, it can never be truly deleted and anyone can read it.

This is a better example of tamim's work, I think (on the same user).
posted by dg at 3:19 PM on May 9, 2012

This is a better example of tamim's work, I think (on the same user).
Holy crud that comment is freaking me out. And you say this behavior isn't allowed anymore, right?
posted by SMPA at 3:44 PM on May 9, 2012


I don't know that it's explicitly 'not allowed', but I don't think it would go over quite as well today. When tamim was plying his trade, MeFi was pretty much a closed community, with sign-ups either closed or slowed to a tiny trickle. What was viewed as a somewhat scary but still admired skill back then would likely not be viewed in as positive a light in today's MeFi that has close to 10 times the number of users.
posted by dg at 3:53 PM on May 9, 2012


People are already pretty terrible, I can't imagine this is holding anyone back.

It adds a new way to do shitty things, while destroying a sense a community. You may like or dislike a particular user, but you know them, in sense, because they have a history. The ability to anonymize comments or change easily change user names would destroy that positive feature of the site.

Having the mods running around fixing stuff that should be a responsibility of the individual offers no upside. If you're worried about privacy, then deal with it, don't have others cleaning up what you perceive as mistakes.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:54 PM on May 9, 2012


And you say this behavior isn't allowed anymore, right?

It was a pretty weird/funny one-off kind of stunt even at the time; there was never a thing where people were doing that regularly, or there'd have probably been a firm policy pretty darned quickly on the subject. But as dg says, it was also early, small days on the site.

That sort of thing is pretty solidly in conflict with our general expectations of how people will respect each other's boundaries these days, especially with a larger and less tight-knit community and use of the internet increasingly a universal sort of experience where mefi's userbase isn't overwhelmingly web/blog nerds nerding each other in the nerds. If you want to write someone's unauthorized biography, we don't really want you to do it here because that's all kinds of tricky and weird and liable to make people, principals and bystanders alike, incredibly uncomfortable.
posted by cortex (staff) at 3:59 PM on May 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


This is my third account here, and I wish I could just get the previous too nuked to subatomic particles.

I asked the same question as the OP to a mod, and after a quick answer from them decided not to press the point.

My previous two usernames were found out by some people I don't want to talk about, and my past comments were used against me in real life. To get my usernames one time they used social engineering, the second time a technical solution.

These people could only get to me because a) I was working at a very conservative company, b) I really needed the support of some very conservative members of my family.

In order to stop the blackmail I just came clean at work and with my family. I lost a job, but got a better one, and things turned out OK with my family after a few months of pain. It could have gone really bad for me if I did not land a good almost immediately.

If they found my new username, they could mess up my life too bad, but they could add a layer of discomfort and conflict I don't really need right now.

Now I live thousands of miles away, and I am very independent. I still am very careful with my username. I even obfuscate it with a little GreaseMonkey on the blue, grey and green.

There are two things I really miss. The first one is that I was at a couple of meetups, and there are pictures of me with my old username. I don't want to be the sore thumb with the no pictures policy at a meetup, so I just don't go. The second one is that I have experiences and stories I would like to share here, but they could very easily be matched to my old usernames, so I keep quiet. Thirdly (were you keeping count?) I lost my lower user number bragging rights.

If I start seeing the signs that the evil people from my past are stalking me again, my strategy would be to post more, post many many lies mixed with some truths, generate so much noise that they could not pick up the signal and use it against me. And that would suck.
posted by Ayn Rand and God at 4:02 PM on May 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


I don't want to be the sore thumb with the no pictures policy at a meetup

Just to speak to this, the "everyone gets their picture taken" thing is a lot more rare at meetups than it was even a few years ago. I go to a lot of meetups and I'd say one in every four or five there's someone there who would prefer that their picture not wind up on the internet and people have been fine with that.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 4:56 PM on May 9, 2012


dg writes "This is a better example of tamim's work, I think (on the same user)."

Another one here. Which lead to this comment from mathowie speculating on the $5 cover.

SMPA writes "Holy crud that comment is freaking me out. And you say this behavior isn't allowed anymore, right?"

The point is anyone who suspects a certain username is a particular IRL person can often mostly verify that by a careful reading of their comments. This isn't really shocking; it's essentially Google's (and many other companies) ad delivery metric on a personal rather than automated level.
posted by Mitheral at 6:09 PM on May 9, 2012


Yeah, I think it would be incredibly difficult in most cases to connect a known name with an unknown user name here. But if you had a name and a user name plus a reasonable knowledge of the person, I think it would be fairly easy to come to a conclusion that they are one and the same, even if you couldn't develop a 'beyond reasonable doubt' case for it. I think that's the case for pretty much everyone unless you have gone to extraordinary lengths to cover your tracks.
posted by dg at 7:12 PM on May 9, 2012


Add in that for someone actually looking this only works if you've never been quoted with your username. Otherwise a google search on the original username reveals comments where that user name is quoted and from there the new anonimized username is linked to the non anonymous user name.

I was envisioning that after the button gets pushed, they're all anon, that one freak from askme, instead of anon2056. You being quoted doesn't matter then. The flow of old threads would only be modestly disrupted, since we usually quote instead of @ person, except during tedious namecalling like a few threads down. Besides, do people much read mefi more than a year out? Askme yes, but personality matters less there.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 7:24 PM on May 9, 2012


They must; I still get favourites from years old comments.
posted by Mitheral at 7:37 PM on May 9, 2012


there'd have probably been a firm policy pretty darned quickly on the subject --- There's absolutely no way to prevent anyone from doing it. Even people who aren't logged in can pick through all user profiles and glean the kind of information that tamim did if they were so inclined.
posted by crunchland at 7:41 PM on May 9, 2012


There's absolutely no way to prevent anyone from doing it. Even people who aren't logged in can pick through all user profiles and glean the kind of information that tamim did if they were so inclined.

Well, yes, of course. The policy we can make is not "don't be a creeper", because that's not enforceable. A jerk is a jerk, and the most we can do about that is to show them the door if they're acting like a jerk in this context on Metafilter. Public stuff is public stuff, and that toothpaste generally doesn't go back into the tube even when you wish it would.

Our take is "we are not cool with you manifesting creeperness as a member of this community". In the unlikely case that someone decided to make a habit of publishing dossiers of members as some sort of weird gotcha thing, they'd get their comments deleted and if they didn't cut it out they'd get banned.

But it hasn't really been a thing ever; the closest we've had is having to tell one or two people who really didn't like some other user x to stop making that be such a goddam thing all the time. We can't make them not have a bad attitude, but we can tell them to cut it out on the site.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:55 PM on May 9, 2012


cortex: "In the unlikely case that someone decided to make a habit of publishing dossiers of members"

Not that they were publishing them, but I understand one former user had (has?) off-line dossiers on a significant number of members here, including material from MeFi and other places on the 'net and real life as well as such items as logs from #mefi. This sort of activity is probably the biggest risk to someone trying to hide their identity after the fact. The simple fact is that, as you say, once the toothpaste is out, it ain't going back in that tube.
posted by dg at 8:38 PM on May 9, 2012


I logged out and then looked at my profile. Just curious to know whether, now that the site has grown 10 fold, even being able to browse each profile's posts, questions, activity and tags should be made available for non members?
posted by infini at 10:51 PM on May 9, 2012


I'm pretty honest with friends, and, as much as possible, family. I'd rather not be unkind, so if certain people recognized certain posts, it might be unfortunate, but. My truth about someone else may not match up with their beliefs. So, I post that Lee is unduly dramatic and showing scary signs of serious mental disorder. Lee would likely believe it's about someone else, and feel smug, thinking I just outed Terry, who doesn't pay much heed to the Internet. Or, even more likely, no one notices any of my posting, ever.

I'd rather my employer not notice how much time I'm on MeFi during workdays, though they pay precious little attention to how much work gets done during evenings.

If you post about a subject that has serious implications, post anonymously, or get a 2nd account.

Now, in the event of my untimely passing, there are a few items in my sock drawer somebody should get rid of.
posted by theora55 at 11:11 PM on May 9, 2012


infini: "curious to know whether, now that the site has grown 10 fold, even being able to browse each profile's posts, questions, activity and tags should be made available for non members?"

I've wondered the same thing but figure that, given the low entry barrier to membership, anyone who really wanted to get the information could very easily do so. Apart from some personal and contact information, the information on profiles is available if you can gather it together - the profile just aggregates the information.
posted by dg at 11:36 PM on May 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


Now, in the event of my untimely passing, there are a few items in my sock drawer somebody should get rid of.

Oh God, I know what you mean. Some of my argyle ones are hideous. It's not even the dirty laundry, the clean stuff can be bad.
posted by XMLicious at 11:41 PM on May 9, 2012


I've wondered the same thing but figure that, given the low entry barrier to membership, anyone who really wanted to get the information could very easily do so.

Yeah, the phrase that I always think of with this stuff is "locks are to keep honest people out". With anything other than rigorously private information—that is, anything other than the stuff you literally never let out into even a semi-public space—the best we can do as a site is provide reasonable expectations about what boundaries other users need to respect. Which works pretty well for practical situations involving multiple users here, because people generally value their membership here more than they value getting up in someone's history.

Someone who really wants to go through your posting history, or see the stuff only logged-in members can see, has no real enforceable barriers that we can apply preemptively, which is the case for basically all sites with public discussion or semi-public user data. So there's no controlling for the stalker or the jerk. I wish there was, but it's not something that can be practically managed in a discursive space like this.

Obfuscating posting histories would be a disservice to the active, good-faith members of this site and interested readers but would be no impediment to the dedicated stalker/creeper/jerk. If it's viewable, it's scrapable; if it's scrapable, it's thoroughly creepable. Nothing short of non-participation from the get-go can fundamentally prevent that.
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:20 AM on May 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


While I can think of valid reasons to provide easy access to everything we've written, the choicest of them all -- trawling people's posts to find discrepancies in their positions -- is considered verboten. And scraping the whole site to glean stalker info would be a bit of an undertaking, whereas clicking a link on a person's profile is incredibly easy. Though I imagine google would make it easy for a creep to find all the posts and comments just as easily as links on the user pages.

I guess the ultimate lesson is, don't post anything you wouldn't want your kids/wife/priest/teacher/boss/stalker to read.
posted by crunchland at 6:37 AM on May 10, 2012


I'm teaching my 11yr old my philosophy that we should never send anything out over the internet (including email) that we wouldn't want published on the front page of the Toronto Star.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 6:51 AM on May 10, 2012


Works for me, no one I know reads the Toronto Star.
posted by desjardins at 7:25 AM on May 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


I don't know. I loved the honest conversation I could have here and I would hate to have to edit myself because it could cause a lot of pain or discomfort if this were conected to my real name.

Maybe I'm being a bit paranoid, but I don't think it's unlikely to happen at all.
posted by Tarumba at 8:21 AM on May 10, 2012


And scraping the whole site to glean stalker info would be a bit of an undertaking, whereas clicking a link on a person's profile is incredibly easy.

Well, again, a bit of an undertaking for whom? Someone who doesn't have ill intent isn't going to get up to anything elaborate with your profile in the first place; at worst it'll be a flash of Bad Idea, some snarky comment about "yeah well what about when you said X, hmm?!" and some people telling them to cut that shit out.

Someone who is actually gonna be a creeper can set up a scraper and grab the entire site pretty trivially even if their scrape routine is naive. There is seriously no real impediment to this sort of thing; all the site content we're talking about is public to begin with, and a bot that grabs a few threads every unit of time is pretty much web coding's Hello World.

I mean, it's something I've thought about a lot, because it'd be nice if there was an easy fix for this stuff. It's something that I've contemplated regarding the Infodump especially, and talked about in Metatalk before on a number of occasions, since it's one of those things where it's easy to look at data and think "what could happen here?" But that's why the Infodump only has already public data in it. It's all stuff that's already out there, it's stuff that honest folks aren't going to do anything lousy with, and the dedicated creep is more willing, by far, to get up to a bit of an undertaking than the random honest person having a bad impulse.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:31 AM on May 10, 2012


In the event of my untimely passing, would somebody please feed my cat?
posted by maryr at 9:11 AM on May 10, 2012 [4 favorites]


Not that they were publishing them, but I understand one former user had (has?) off-line dossiers on a significant number of members here, including material from MeFi and other places on the 'net and real life as well as such items as logs from #mefi.

Did this really happen? Who was doing it?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:13 AM on May 10, 2012


I don't remember who was doing it. This was back when deleted MeFi content was actually memory-holed and not just "invisible but available at the original URL" and the issue had a lot more to do with making #mefi transcripts available than anything else. I don't recall dossiers as much is it was just one [or a few] users who liked to drag out old bad situations involving other users and get nasty about that sort of thing in MetaTalk. That is, actually, one of the reasons we have the guidelines against dragging up people's old posting history or other offsite activities. It's also one of the reasons that MeTa isn't a place where we never delete anything. As much as we'd like to have a place where people can speak whatever's on their mind, realistically people cross the line into "Hey that's never okay on MetaFilter" territory and we've had to be a little more strategic about that.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:17 AM on May 10, 2012


memory-holed

I assume this means deleted forever?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:42 AM on May 10, 2012


Well there's "gone from easy view" and "gone from view" and there's "gone from the database" I'm pretty sure old deleted MeTa posts were gone from the database. Current deleted MeTa posts are gone from view and current deleted MeFi posts are gone from easy view [i.e. still available at the URL not not in the front page].
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:45 AM on May 10, 2012


Yeah, back when the site started, deletions were deletions. If you look through the Infodump files there's a lot of rowid gaps in most of them at the start when Matt was doing initial testing and deleting chaff comments and posts (hence the cat-scan post being thread-id 19 even though it's the first real thread on the site).

But that continues to be the case for varying amounts of time from subsite to subsite even after things were properly launched, because initially deletions just removed rows from the db and so actual moderation-oriented deletions nuked stuff as well.

This got changed to the current "in the db but marked as 'hidden'" process at different times for different subsites; Metatalk was I think the last one to see that happen, some time in 2007.

So much of the weirdest drama of the early days is just gone for real, or at least practically so. It's possible, from the admin side, to partially reconstruct a deleted metatalk post because the comments themselves weren't nuked when the post itself was, but that's not something that's publicly viewable in any case the way a modern deleted thread is.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:53 AM on May 10, 2012


Well there's "gone from easy view" and "gone from view" and there's "gone from the database" I'm pretty sure old deleted MeTa posts were gone from the database.

Ha, before cortex's response made it clearer for me, I was going to repeat the question, and ask that I not be banned for week, because it was an honest question.

It was so funny in my head, all ya'll should have been there.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:05 AM on May 10, 2012


And scraping the whole site to glean stalker info would be a bit of an undertaking, whereas clicking a link on a person's profile is incredibly easy.

Well, again, a bit of an undertaking for whom? Someone who doesn't have ill intent isn't going to get up to anything elaborate with your profile in the first place;


I'm feeling hypersensitive because I sent a thread of interest to my interest and my commenting will make my username obvious to someone who knows me IRL and what if he looks and finds that Askme of mine? *cringes*
posted by infini at 10:37 AM on May 10, 2012


For which you totally have my sympathies but compartmentalization is something that needs to be handled on a personal basis, not by seriously undermining basic long-standing functionality of the site.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:45 AM on May 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


i hear you and i understand (stifles sob and stiffens lip, upper )
posted by infini at 11:14 AM on May 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


> I don't want to be the sore thumb with the no pictures policy at a meetup, so I just don't go

As jessamyn said, this shouldn't be an issue. I've been at meetups where people have asked not to have their photo taken and it really isn't a big deal, and one meetup where someone didn't want her username mentioned on the Meta or the photos. One guy had said I could take his photo then changed his mind, so I deleted it; it didn't feel awkward at all, as many people want to be anonymous. So don't let fear of photos stop you, if you want to go to meetups.
posted by The corpse in the library at 1:00 PM on May 10, 2012


This is a better example of tamim's work, I think (on the same user).

Holy crud that comment is freaking me out. And you say this behavior isn't allowed anymore, right?
posted by SMPA at 3:44 PM on May 9 [+] [!]



I find it amusing how meticulous and detailed tamim was.
How do we know it’s not thomcatspike posing as tamim? Or the other way round?

Even if you have all that info for one user together in one place there are tons of people who fit that description (if you don't put your name/address in your profile). It’s less creepy than most people's f***book imho.
posted by travelwithcats at 1:18 PM on May 10, 2012


I'm feeling hypersensitive because I sent a thread of interest to my interest and my commenting will make my username obvious to someone who knows me IRL and what if he looks and finds that Askme of mine? *cringes*
posted by infini at 10:37 AM on May 10 [+] [!]


Joke?
So what, if he checks your profile and finds your AskMe? Who wants a relationship where certain topics are off limits? Even in cross-cultural relationships. And something like bodily functions, yawn, so non-exciting. Why should it bother anyone if I fart, am infertile or have a brain tumor? If it does, well we’re not a good pairing it would appear.
I am saying this with respect, why would you cringe at something that roughly 50 % of humanity goes through? (Or maybe even 100%?)

As for AskMe, people want real advice, from real people who had the same/a comparable experience but can’t go the same anonymous route (other than sockpuppet)....so I find it a little unbalanced when some anonymous person asks about (to use the top 3 tags) relationships, sex, or work, is embarrassed by it but expects others who give answers to be totally open and cool about it.

This is not about you infini, I just don't get why people freak out about regular stuff like most of this. So thinking about what happens with my comments when I die.....cray cray.
But yeah, that’s just me.
posted by travelwithcats at 1:38 PM on May 10, 2012


Ask any celebrity who is regularly featured in the tabloids why they don't want every single detail of their lives open-access, and what possible negative consequences this can have well before you die.
posted by XMLicious at 1:54 PM on May 10, 2012


I would, but there are restraining orders.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:12 PM on May 10, 2012


Stalker humor not really so funny here.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 2:17 PM on May 10, 2012 [4 favorites]


infini: "what if he looks and finds that Askme of mine? *cringes*"

He'll almost certainly think it's touching that you liked him so much you were prepared to bare your heart to a bunch of strangers on the Internet to try and make sure the two of you got together. That's what I'd think, anyway.
posted by dg at 2:50 PM on May 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


I hate having my picture taken. I love meetups. My personal compromise is my profile picture. Prior to that, though, I asked people not to take my picture, and then they didn't. The rare one or two that caught me in the background were deleted or taken offline. I didn't ask them to do that, they just did. So, yeah, as a system, it's super effective.
posted by Errant at 6:44 PM on May 10, 2012


Very interesting, Errant (and others who were just talking about the pictures at meetups issue). The only time I have ever gone to an internet meetup (though this was was Meetup.com, not MeFi), I was on the receiving end of the most intense, awkward, and rude peer pressure I've ever experienced as an adult, around the taking-pictures issue. That scared me off of ever going to meetups again. But if this is true, hmm...

(What I experienced was so bizarre that I didn't know if it was normal internet meetup behavior or not. People were snapping pictures pretty much the entire time and seemed way more interested in taking photos for the internet than doing anything else. Everyone was called to gather for a group photo at least every 20 minutes, as different people came and went. I stayed out of the frame in the first one, and when they noticed, I had to say "No thanks," "I'd rather not, thanks," "No, please take it without me" at least 4 times, after which they started CHANTING my name. After they gave up and took the picture some of them tried to get me to explain why in great detail. Then tried to convince me of why I was wrong. So... that experience was a fluke, I'm gathering?)
posted by cairdeas at 9:00 PM on May 10, 2012


So... that experience was a fluke, I'm gathering?

I can't speak to any other experiences but MeFi ones. I'm not saying this is a human nature thing, per se, I'm saying at MeFi Meetups people are usually totally fine with people who do not want to be photographed, period.

There was some weird static surrounding the actual taking of pictures at one anniversary Meetup with people dug in on both sides and fussing on MetaTalk but I know a few longtime members who both attend a lot of meetups and never allow their photos to be taken so I've grown to think it's a normal-thing people are okay with at meetups.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:04 PM on May 10, 2012


Then there's trotsky, the reverse case - he originally was in all the early meetup photos of his own accord, but now has disappeared from them, as have all his posts and comments.
posted by XMLicious at 9:12 PM on May 10, 2012


That's what I'd think, anyway.
posted by dg


*gives dg a hug*

Well, he's certainly figured me out but let me know in a manner that's plausibly deniable that the information will selfdestruct within 30 secs. I can live with that.

The interesting thing is that one does not know how much one would not like to share about Metafilter and one's participation/presence there until push comes to shove. There's so many couples here and it always looks so cute when they mention each other and people who met via the site etc And this site isn't that kind of general interest that anyone in your life would even be worthy of knowing of its existence. So when I realized he was a beanplating proto-Mefite I shared the site with no mention of my participating. It was a recent thread where we both know the other is interested that threw a light on this and also made me realize that no, I don't want to share my Metafilter with him. Nor do I want him to know who I am.

Odd that.
posted by infini at 10:55 PM on May 10, 2012


Not that odd, I don't think. We've discussed the issue here before of how much or little people share MeFi with the part of their world that is Out There. It surprised me at the time just how many people don't talk to people about MeFi and how many people shared my view that this is where I come to get away from those people.
posted by dg at 11:22 PM on May 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


Re: last two comments.
That saddens me. I wasn't aware of that fact. I sincerely hope that great people will enter your lives soon! Hugs.
posted by travelwithcats at 6:32 AM on May 11, 2012


So, if a close and trusted friend were given the appropriate directions

Why not instruct the friend to keep on posting / commenting for a year or two under the same user name? That would be enough to throw most family members off the track.

"I thought that Tarumba was XXX but I can't be, because they keep on posting months after Tarumba's gone."

Maybe I could set up a service...
posted by chavenet at 9:28 AM on May 11, 2012


Ahh, sort of like jesuspets. Only without the jesus and the pets.
posted by heyho at 9:34 AM on May 11, 2012


chavenet, that is such a GREAT idea! I am totally doing that...THANK YOU.
posted by Tarumba at 11:48 AM on May 11, 2012


We would actually very much prefer you not hand off an account to someone else. I get the appeal of having someone cover your tracks with their own from your specific perspective on this, but for everyone else on the site it's a totally rug-pull switcheroo if they're trying to help "you" out with future questions and it's someone completely different using the account.
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:17 PM on May 11, 2012


Hand me down sock(puppet)s ?
posted by travelwithcats at 12:48 PM on May 11, 2012


Metafilter: you're realizing your assumptions in the past don't match your current needs about privacy or compartmentalization.
posted by herbplarfegan at 1:19 PM on May 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


I don't want to share my Metafilter with him. Nor do I want him to know who I am.

posted by infini


It surprised me at the time just how many people don't talk to people about MeFi and how many people shared my view that this is where I come to get away from those people.

posted by dg


That saddens me. I wasn't aware of that fact. I sincerely hope that great people will enter your lives soon! Hugs.

posted by travelwithcats


I don't know about the other two posters, travelwithcats but I do have a number of great people in my life. And an f-ton of not great people, but not horrible people, and a few horrible people, and the rest of the world.

Maybe I'm just a kitten playing peekaboo, hiding from the rest of the world in a paper sack who certainly knows where the hell I actually am, but I don't want to know that.

Sometimes what keeps something special is that the circle is, by choice, limited. Whether that means to me and three other people, or to me, myself, and I. Doesn't mean I'm not missing something, but rather, I think, that I like to have things in a certain way, for whatever f-ed up reason that is.

I could broaden my circle of friends out of here to here. But do I want to? I did that with a few other sites, and it got to the point where it was prisoner's jokes all day long. "Did you hear about the spiral purple ..." "Yep, saw it on slashdot." So some of us said we'd pick a site and stick to it, and share from there. So we all have our core "aggregation" and communication sites. Some lurk, some participate, and we interact in a third party place that certainly didn't exist outside of meatspace when MetaFilter first started (or wasn't open - hell, I was here lurking in spurts* before the advent of FaceBook and now I feel old). But we find our little places or big places where we get our bean flag on, and we share with folks, but we also don't need all of the thems in our lives to be in all our spaces the whole time.

I know this started as a response to you, travelwithcats, but it's just an observation at this point of MF and me, at least, overall. I guess it might be moving into picking on you territory, and I don't mean to; it's a variation on a theme I've heard my whole life. Sometimes you want a cozy place to filter all the metas.

I don't think I'm sad, or lacking in great people in my life. I'm not cordoning off all parts of my lives from everyone I know, but I don't feel a lack for not bringing them here. Not keeping them away "don't ever go to MetaFilter" or "MetaFilter? Never heard of it." but just existing with thoughts and interactions that I enjoy and if we happen to bump into each other, okay, we'll figure out how/if to deal with it.

==There are many ways to plate beans, but this way is mine.==

*lurking in spurts - band name!
posted by tilde at 1:50 PM on May 11, 2012


tilde

It's always interesting how different people read the same book, poem, text.
The words that were most striking to me were:

'anyone in your life would even be worthy of knowing of its existence.'
posted by infini at 10:55 PM on May 10 [+] [!]

'that this is where I come to get away from those people.'
posted by dg at 11:22 PM on May 10 [2 favorites +] [!]


Everybody needs a sanctuary, if this is yours, may you come here often. Peace.
posted by travelwithcats at 2:50 PM on May 11, 2012


I did BND on my own when I discovered that my old user name brought up my IRL name and Metafilter comments as the first few hits on Google. I hadn't made very many embarrassing comments with that account but I felt compromised and limited as to what I would be able to say in the future.

I only use this user name here, have never tied my real name to it and a search for "double block and bleed" brings up zillions of hits on Google for the industrial valve of the same name. This has freed me to talk much more openly about things.

It would be dirt simple for someone who knows me and has my user name to figure out who I really am. I'm mostly just worried about a non-rigorous search by a future potential employer.
posted by double block and bleed at 3:46 PM on May 11, 2012


Dwc I think I projected way too much out on/around you. Sorry.
posted by tilde at 3:52 PM on May 11, 2012


BTW, I think it's a good idea to have a personal email account and another, more professional sounding email account that forwards everything to your real account. first_name.last_name@gmail.com sound better than WooHoo2736@example.com and unlinks your real email from your IRL identity. Just be careful not to reply from the personal account.

Of course, this is all security through obscurity. If the NSA or the FBI has taken an interest in you, your best bet is to keep all of your secrets in your head.
posted by double block and bleed at 3:56 PM on May 11, 2012


The only time I have ever gone to an internet meetup (though this was was Meetup.com, not MeFi), I was on the receiving end of the most intense, awkward, and rude peer pressure I've ever experienced as an adult, around the taking-pictures issue.

Oh, don't get me wrong, most other people are absolute assholes about that sort of thing. I have to tell my friends not to take my picture all the time, but lots of them are actors or musicians and they can't imagine not wanting to be on film. Generally, though, MeFites are pretty down with the idea that lots of different people exist in the world and it's not worth making a fuss over. They're also pretty down with the idea of internet privacy. So I imagine most meetups are a giant pain in the ass, but I haven't found MeFi ones to be so thus far.
posted by Errant at 6:14 PM on May 11, 2012


tilde: "Dwc I think I projected way too much out on/around you. Sorry."

I also had a prickly "it's not about a lack of good people in one's life, it's about having a place that's not known to one's day-to-day bozos" reaction, so you're not the only one, FWIW.
posted by Lexica at 8:40 PM on May 11, 2012


If the possibility of picture taking is something that is making the IRL site less useful for folks who don't want to deal with the possibility of those kinds of expectations, then maybe we could put a blurb about respecting the picture preferences of folks somewhere? Perhaps below the "Note: You're going to see these people in real life." blurb under the comment box.
posted by Blasdelb at 8:49 PM on May 11, 2012


*pokes head out of mom's basement to see what's up*
posted by infini at 9:21 PM on May 11, 2012


If the possibility of picture taking is something that is making the IRL site less useful for folks who don't want to deal with the possibility of those kinds of expectations, then maybe

I think there are a few people who have expressed this concern and as much as I am totally on board with "You can ask for people to not take/upload your picture and they should respect that" it's not something that we're going to enforce at a site level. People are encouraged to discuss these preferences with people at or before their meetups. People should be respectful of other people generally but there have been some cases in the past where people wanted us to use site sanctions to enforce non-jerky behavior at meetups and that's way outside of what we feel we should be doing.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:20 AM on May 12, 2012


Yeah, this is mostly just a real world gathering thing that can come up in the context of IRL/meetup stuff rather than an IRL-specific thing. To the extent that it's an issue (and my feeling is that it's not much of an issue at metafilter meetups in general, maybe less so than at random parties/meetups in general), it's something that it makes a lot of sense to mediate in the context of the actual meetup rather than to treat like something that needs to be a site awareness or meetup policy thing.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:34 AM on May 12, 2012


I wasn't really thinking of a site policy change kind of thing, which would be impossibly awkward, but more of a setting a clear cultural expectation kind of thing. It hadn't occurred to me that folks might see a blurb as policy and expect you guys to enforce it somehow.
posted by Blasdelb at 10:25 AM on May 12, 2012


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