Friday, February 24, 2006

Uninvited Guests

If you are reading this as a blogger, you may well appreciate that with the release, satisfaction, hours of entertainment and friendship blogging offers, there is a degree to vulnerability about it. You let the world know your highs and lows, the details of your exciting life (or, more tellingly, lack of) and in doing so essentially leave yourself wide open. Fortunately you are afforded a degree of control of just how much you can reveal. What you can’t control is exactly who reads it.

Having someone unwanted finding and reading your blog is so unsettling, especially when done in an intrusive and insistent manner. When my ex reappeared on my stat counter a couple of months ago, I shrugged, assuming it was a one time offence; that he was just passing by to see what was happening or to annoy me. But now that he’s back as a frequent visitor, I feel kind of violated. This coming especially from someone who – the last time I asked him not to do this – imparted the classic assessment that I was "freaking weird and [should] get on with [my] life already." There’s no real reason for me to feel so irked, as there’s nothing contained upon my humble pages which he could really take offence to or I would be mortified for him to know. Nonetheless…

Inevitably, it’s got me thinking about the whole anonymity issue a bit. There are certain people I just wouldn’t want to read this. And again, not because all my secrets would be exposed, but because I sort of see this as a dialogue between me and some friends, some old and some newly acquired (and all precious). Ex’s are, I suppose, a given, and doubtless it is the same for you too. I think there’s little risk of my parents knowing what a blog is, let alone finding mine, but either way, they are also on the “unwanted reader” list. Not that there is anything here that is too controversial that would cause an angry phone call or anything, but it goes back to my previous point of just wanting some privacy. Not total privacy: just privacy from certain people. There are also people who know me at work, or people who knew me at college and high school who, although I have no actual gripes or problems with, I just wouldn’t want to be able to read this stuff. Yes, I understand that one could use the argument of “well, then don’t put it on such a public forum like the INTERNET”…but still. When I transitioned from my Livejournal to this blog, I sent an invitation for some lurkers to email me and I would send them the new link. I further explained that I would be emailing the link to ONLY those I wanted reading my blog. Clearly, my plan to have only wanted readers failed.

Then there’s the subsection of ‘mystery readers’ (although in my case, those that try to remain a mystery are fooling themselves). Again, my stat counter thing makes it pretty clear that some of Huw’s friends read, and some of them comment and some of them do not (indeed, as he often rages, I have ‘stolen’ some of his readership). Another quick glance at the bookmarker’s IPs indicate there’s a good few couple of readers here who I don’t know (either really, or blogwise) who for some reason feel compelled to return. Not that I mind or anything - this is a lurk friendly zone and if people don’t want to out themselves that is fine - but still, the thought of someone somewhere sat at computer a thousand miles away, going to the trouble of pressing a load of buttons and then spending a few minutes reading about me? And not just once, but on a weekly basis or so? Well, I find it kind of… bizarre.

The Weekend Question. Who reads your blog that you’d rather didn’t; which lurker IPs have you scratching your head most; and who is your nightmare-scenario reader? Discuss.

Insignificance Conveyed @ 9:17 AM   20 GabbyGabbers

20 "Sure was sweet of you to drop in":

At 1:01 PM, Blogger OldHorsetailSnake "told me"

I wish Dick Cheney would quit reading my b**g. He makes me nervous, on accounta I don't have a shotgun to defend myself with.

At 1:24 PM, Blogger Huw "told me"

Amongst my various silent subscribers, I account someone who works in a US Government building, someone from Argentina, and someone studying at Keble College, Oxford. Whatever possesses them, goodness only knows.

At 1:40 PM, Anonymous Anonymous "told me"

I can attribute most of my readers to the knit blogging community, but there is one guy who is a friend of a friend who reads my blog and kinda creeps me out. (Not so much for the lurking, more the slimy car salesman vibe he exudes) To make matters more awkward, he's in my class this semester, and will bring up things that I've blogged about.

At 1:55 PM, Blogger Leslie "told me"

Hmmm...I think I might be considered one of your lurkers, but I at least try to leave comments.

I was thinking about this matter a day or two ago, and I decided I don't really care who reads my blog. When I was 16 or 18 or so I wouldn't have been able to write my own blog (if they existed then) without obsessing over every single sentence and its level of coolness. Now I can say that I don't care. And that's nice and grown-up, I think.

At 2:11 PM, Blogger Chris "told me"

Not having the HTML installed to check, nor the readership, I'm currently fairly oblivious to who might be reading. Consequently I'm never sure exactly how to write on these things. Its being eternally drawn between the confessional (and risky) and the careful (but insincere). I'd like to think that most people I know could read it without me coming out in a cold sweat but there are a few who would make me feel a bit violated if they knew..
An old colleague who told me that he discovered his son's (very public blog) by accident and began casually reading it, not realising what a big faux pax it was. His son shut it down shortly afterwards. They don't talk about it.

At 7:58 PM, Blogger Cleavers "told me"

A while back, my ex was lurking on my blog. A lot. It kind of freaked me out. But at the same time, I was kind of pleased. He could see that despite what he did to me, he hadn't ruined my life as I once thought he had.

As for lurkers, I pretty much know most of the people who read my blog as a) I don't have that many and b) I'm not that fussy about who reads my blog. This now causes me a bit of inner turmoil as I feel I have to censor myself somewhat - so much so that I'm thinking of starting a totally separate one that I won't tell anyone about, will be just for me. It's not that I wouldn't tell people the things that I write, it's just that I would rather they didn't read it before I had a chance to tell them in person.

I too get people telling me what I've done before I have a chance to tell them myself. Uber weird.

I think the best thing is to just try and write as if you are writing for yourself. After all, that's why most of us start these things, isn't it?

Don't let him put you off Lanette. You do a lovely job x

At 8:22 PM, Blogger Lauren "told me"

I've been thinking about this topic lately, too, Twinny! (Well DUH--we're twins.) And I've noticed some oft-returning readers on my blog, as well. Many I recognize, but there are those I don't and wonder, "what is so interesting about my blog that draws you back week after week?" The IP tracker is QUITE entertaining. Puts a whole new spin on things when you can actually see who's reading what you write.

Speaking of parents, my dad reads my blog and I honestly haven't ever minded that. And, being a youth minister and having the capability of connecting with my kids online, there's always the chance that they could stumble upon my blog, too. So I always keep that in mind. . .working in the church kinda leaves one in a "fishbowl" so-to-speak for life. :)

At 6:33 AM, Blogger Jona "told me"

I have a very regular reader who never says hello. They arrived last October, through my profile and visit five nights a week (never on sat or sun). When they first showed I noticed them becuase of the astounding number of page views and time spent at my place. I wondered if it could be someone from RL, but they're on the other side of the world and access my site through their Uni computer (probably young?) - but does makes me wonder if I'm some sort of class project (ie: See how long it takes the daft housewife to go insane ;o))

Wish they would at least say HI.

As for my most dreaded reader. It already happened, the BH found my site! Lucky I like him so much ;o)
More seriously, I don't want folks from RL visiting me. Any. At all. And I wish blogger would introduce a ban IP system!!

At 8:14 AM, Anonymous Cheri "told me"

Since I have loads of mystery hits to my site, I thought I'd leave my first comment :) You must see my IP come from Huw's page from time to time. I hope it wasn't too frustrating.

And Huw, I think that govt IP comes from a friend of mine, I sent him to your site :)

At 1:29 PM, Blogger Thomas "told me"

As an almost lawyer, I can advise you on some legal ways to have this lurker disappear. Like forever.

At 3:21 PM, Blogger Becky "told me"

There's not much for me to do in this great town that I live in because there is a large retirement community that is almost taking over...therefore making it hard to meet people my age. Blogging was a way to get things off my chest because there really aren't that many people around to spill my guts to. But now it's to the point where a little release can make it's way all over the world. Which, yes is my fault for doing so, but at the same time, why would someone that I don't know what to read what I have to say...and not just once but whenever they're on line.

I don't know. The internet is just one of those things that everyone has and therefore apparently has the right to look at or read whatever they want. Anyways...hope your uneasiness settles a bit.

At 2:56 AM, Blogger Simon Swinbank "told me"

Not something I have too much of a problem with I gotta say.

Have you ever gotten comments off people trying to get you to join something that's clearly a scam? The ones that say visit my blog and I give you a 1000 dollars or something like that?

As for unwanted readers, only my on/off mate slave to work with his sometimes patronizing comments or the person from my old job at garlands who refused to tell me who he/she was.

At 5:44 PM, Blogger Afe "told me"

Satan has been reading my blog and it kind of freaks me out. We had a bit of a 'thing' a while ago but it didn't work out. Occasionally flames and molten rock spew forth from unexpected places, but it's under control.

At 12:22 PM, Blogger Rob West "told me"

I don't knwo who reads my blog. As far as I know, only a handful of poeple know about it. And I'm not really bothered by anyone reading it. You may have noticed that, while I try to keep it entertaining, I never get very personal.

At 2:37 PM, Blogger Rob West "told me"

I'm back, by the way

At 4:10 PM, Blogger Tim-tambolini "told me"

I don't have the computer knowledge to track who reads my blog. I'm always astounded as to the neat things that many of you people do on your blogs, creativity wise with pictures and the like. I have no idea.

I have two blogs. The one that is linked here is one I don't mind anyone reading. I'd let my mother read it I think?! The other blog is one I've abandoned, but lately feel like returning to. It shouldn't be read by anyone I know personally. It should NEVER be read by my family. And I would cringe to think that any of the many people who do business with me would read that old blog. It's vile, and personal, with lots of 'unloading' of the negative kind.

I hope you don't mind that I've started reading your blog.

At 8:10 AM, Anonymous Anonymous "told me"

Just wanted to drop in and say hi. I'm a lurker and you don't know me. :) I found your blog through "An American in London" and then through "My Thoughts Exactly," except neither of them know me. If it makes you feel better, I'm Laurie, a 23-year-old female, living in Austin and currently in law school. I have a xanga blog and always feel weird and a little creeped out that people I don't know make comments sometimes. Guess this makes me a hypocrite.

At 4:07 PM, Blogger Me Over Here "told me"

Well, thanks Laurie! I appreciate you revealing yourself. I'd love to read your xanga blog if you ever feel like having more readers!

At 4:11 PM, Blogger Huw "told me"

Stealing my readership. AGAIN! <fumes>

At 8:55 PM, Blogger babyboyg "told me"

Hey. Just wanted to introduce myself and maybe ease your mind about another mystery reader. My name is Laura. I went to college with Trish and Lauren. I was reading a friend's blog that referenced another friend from college. I snooped at her blog, then found Trish and then found Lauren...and then found...YOU. I return because you make me laugh, and your life with Huw intrigues me. We just moved, I left all my friends back in Texas, we sold our TV and don't plan to buy a new one, you have replaced my daily soap opera in terms of cute relationshipiness. Also, I am a stay-at-home mom right now, so I have that kind of time :-)
Feel free to stop by my little site and oogle at my adorable baby anytime you'd like. And I apologize for any creepy lurker feelings that I may have made you feel. I'm not creepy. I promise!


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