Name: margalit
Location: Massachusetts, United States Professional writer, educational advocate, opinionated ultra liberal mother of 18 year old twins, living life in the slow lane due to hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, congestive heart failure, and diabetes.

email: margalitc at yahoo dot com

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Thursday, September 28, 2006

Naming names on your blog can haunt you later

There was a rather chilling article in the Boston Globe today regarding blogging that got me to thinking and worrying. All of us vent, and as bloggers, we use our blogs as a public forum for venting about people that annoy us. Some of the braver bloggers amongst us, and I don't count myself in that mix, name the names of those that annoy us. Oh, I tend to blather on about politics and I certainly use the name of political figures often here in Margalitaville, but I don't tend to name names of my coworkers or neighbors or other folks that I can bitch and moan about.

We're all familiar with the dooce phenomenon. Heather Armstrong, known as Dooce, was fired from her job when her employers found her blog and read all about themselves. Since then, being dooced has become a blogging term, and it's happened to countless people. Most of us have learned to be very careful when blogging about work, although I read one blog often that is all about a person's job. I'm just waiting for her to be dooced, because she's fairly transparent about herself and her coworkers. Not my problem.

However, according to the Globe article, people being hauled into court to testify about their venting rants on their blogs are finding their words are coming back to bite them in the ass. So far, I haven't had to appear in court to face printouts of my blog, but there have been certain posts where I could imagine such a scenario happening. That's making me very uncomfortable and I've found myself going back to look at what I've said. So far, everything has been anonymous to the majority of my readers, but not to the people I've been so stridently crucifying here. Had there been a law suit, I could see my words being used against me in some manner. Which scares the shit out of me.

What about you? When you're ranting, is it apparent to the people you bitch about that you're writing about them. Do you write things with easily identifiable descriptions about your neighbors or your kid's teachers? Have you bitched about something that could come back to bite you?

I'm planning to be more careful in the future.
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Blogger California Highway Guy - Daniel said...

Well, on my journal (cahwyguy.livejournal.com), I generally use LJ names to refer to people, as opposed to real-life names. I'm also a Genuinely Nice Guy(tm), so I tend not to talk nasty about others, and I certainly do not talk nasty about work. Politicians are another matter :-). Lastly, and one of the reasons I stay on LJ, is I use the custom friends list mechanism. Thus, if I'm going to talk nasty about someone, I'll use a custom friends list that will hide the article from them, as well as hiding the article from people that might be talking to them.

[This is one of the reasons I encourage those reading my journal, and hopefully commenting thereupon, to take advantage of LJ and register. Even if you never use your journal there, I can then put you on the right access control lists so you can read filtered posts.]

28/9/06 12:38 PM  
Blogger barbie2be said...

not only do i never use anyones name or ever blog about work... i also use a pseudonym. so i am pretty sure that i am ok, but one never really knows, do they?

28/9/06 12:40 PM  
Blogger Liz said...

Some bitching never gets posted because the one I would bitch about reads the blog. I did do a few posts where the person I wrote about would have recognized himself, but he doesn't read it and no one would tell him. I try to keep my posts unidentifiable. Not always easy to do.

28/9/06 3:35 PM  
Blogger Katili said...

None of my real bitching is availiable to the general public, and any mild bitching that is is ambiguous enough so that nobody in their right mind could really use it against me :D

28/9/06 8:20 PM  
Blogger Billy said...

i have said some insane shit. maybe i will pay or get paid.

28/9/06 11:32 PM  
Blogger panthergirl said...

I only did this once (except that I have posted my own real name which probably isn't so great either) and it DID come back to haunt me...thankfully not in a bad way.

I posted about an affair I *almost* had with a married man back in 1974. It was such a romantic story, and as I was telling it I think I put his name in it because I was sort of amazed that I remembered it. Also, because he lived in England, for some reason I didn't think he'd ever read my blog (if he was even still alive).

Well, his nephew who lives in the states Googled their last name, just to see if any others were in the US. Lo and behold... the story on my blog.

A few days later I get an email from him... THRILLED that I wrote the story and that I remembered him. Man, was I relieved! But I'll never do that again.

Here's the link:

29/9/06 6:47 PM  

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