to wonder about "outing yourself"

(29 Posts)

Does anyone ever think "I know soandso in real life"? I read everyone's post and often reply to individuals, but I wouldn't remember that the person with 3 kids on one thread, is the same one who's husband had an affair on another. That 3 weeks ago, she posted that her MIL had broken down and borrowed the car and so on and on, and then put all pieces together to think "oh, that's my neighbour down the road". Are some people just paranoid about being "outed" or do I just not spend enough time pay enough attention on here?

I dont recognise anyone and if someone wanted to out me it would be very easy. Well I did have pictures of my son up.

I do think that one of the judgey threads will be about me one day though grin

whatshallwedo Sat 20-Jul-13 09:25:45

I tend to worry that I out myself when I start a thread as all of the details I give are so obviously about me. But I need to get my head around the fact that it is obvious to me because I am the one writing it iyswim grin .

I don't follow posters and very rarely do I read the posters name in a thread unless they have said something I want to reply directly to.

JumpingJackSprat Sat 20-Jul-13 09:29:48

I always chuckle to myself when people say "totally outing myself here" when theyre posting something really banal/generic.

I've never thought it about anyone yet, though I know at least one person who does post here.

<nervy eyes>

That said, I don't post personal stuff here.

MrsRajeshKoothrappali Sat 20-Jul-13 09:39:19

I started a thread once about an uber cheeky friend who felt that because I wasn't working (off sick after breakdown) I should be her childminder.

Thread had just started to swing with MNers posting in outrage on my behalf when my phone rang and it was her...

shock

..talking about something else! Phew! Think I got away with it!

grin

Also gave away a lot of details when I first went of sick after poor treatment from work. Anyone who knew the situation would've spotted me immediately.

Didn't care at the time though. I was desperate for support and didn't say anything which wasn't true.

Sometimes someone will post something very specific - like a particular conversation they have had in real life that day - which means that anyone else who was there might well think "gosh that could only be Susie". They might think nothing more of it except that the next thread they read has the selfsame poster talking about her husband's previous affair, or something equally "generic", but because the username sticks out it then logs in the mind that Susie's husband is a bad'un.

For example, on one food thread someone posted that her 2yo child had had something exotic and unusual for lunch at nursery. The rest of the comment happened to mention her older DC and her bump ... so I immediately knew who she must be, because it was just too much of a coincidence that her child and my child had had exactly the same unusual lunch on the same day. Anyway I PMed her in a friendly way and it all turned out fine.

But it is weird to know things about people from online sharing that you don't know from your RL relationship. It's like lawyers' Chinese Walls, where you have to be quite strict about pretending you don't know things.

I think most of us could easily be outed by a stalker, but more often the coincidences go unnoticed.

Worriedmind Sat 20-Jul-13 09:47:03

Justforlaughs I had a pm on Facebook yesterday to inform me someone had easily guessed who I was on here I case ex figured it out.

I name change regulary because I deal with rubbish situations from exh and school and post personal stuff.

Maybe I shouldn't post personal stuff so much but since fleeing exh I don't have contact with many people in RL I could ask.

sparkle9 Sat 20-Jul-13 09:52:08

I'm a teacher and once identified a parent complaining about something at my school. Outsiders wouldn't have been able to recognise the school but something about the post just told me it was that school and that parent. I searched for posts by the username and it came up with a post about baby names in which the parent mentioned a quite unusual name of their child.

I've never searched for them again - seems unfair. Plus the parent is nice and the complaint was about something very small that was easily fixed!

FriskyHenderson Sat 20-Jul-13 09:53:37

I recognised someone as local from the description she gave of our park, then saw the name somewhere else and thought Oohh... I've seen someone complain about a new stupid uniform rule the new NT had imposed and recognised the school from more info in the thread.II've also found a parent from school who posted in Local with a nickname close to her real name, with DC exactly the same age as hers who moved to the same area at the same time. Oh, and another one who posted about a specific operation her DD was having; another who recommended the nursery her DC went to. And someone from another forum who I've met who posts with a similar name on that forum.

It's a small world, basically grin

500internalerror Sat 20-Jul-13 10:03:04

Sparkle9, post like yours always make me paranoid! I'm hoping it wasn't me - and I'm trying to remember what I might have complained about....

LemonBreeland Sat 20-Jul-13 10:10:52

I rarely look st usernames, so wouldn't know info from one thread to the next about someone.

I hage recognised someone on here before, as she was asking a question about somethig she had spoken about in real life. Icalso answered another thread she started without realising it was her until after I had posted, because I really never take notice of usernames.

Trills Sat 20-Jul-13 10:22:00

The polite thing to do is:
1 - namechange to a totally new name
2 - PM them from the new name saying "someone from real life has recognised you, if you want to be anonymous maybe you should namechange"
3 - go back to your normal name and not mention it again

That way you haven't outed your MN name, and they get to decide if they care or not.

CrapBag Sat 20-Jul-13 10:43:35

I worry about this a lot. Some of the things I post are very specific and if someone did put my user name in, it would be very apparent that its me.

I don't think I know anyone in RL who is on here but sometimes I vent about stuff that I wouldn't say in RL and some of the situations are very identifiable and it would cause a shit storm. Which is why I had a recent thread deleted. I put in far too much info that meant it was me. I do need to be more careful because MN is my venting place most of the time.

I don't take any notice of user names either though and it is reassuring to know that lots don't either. Although there are always the posters who recognise each other from posting style and stuff. I just don't get that as I would never link people from posts and posting style.

I did worry that if I went into a lot of detail about an incident recently that anyone who really knew me would spot me immediately, but I just left out the details. There's only name that I really remember Worra, but I don't think I know her, think I'd like her if I did though grin

But WHY is the anonymity so important?

For me, it only matters if I'm moaning about someone, who might get upset. It's nice to be able to vent sometimes.

xylem8 Sat 20-Jul-13 19:59:23

If I am posting anything sensitive, I change a few details which don't affect the meaning of the thread , but just enough to obscure my identity

coffeeinbed Sat 20-Jul-13 19:59:32

Melanie,
have you ever come across the "my fanjo keeps itching"
"MIL has been a real bitch today" treads
and so on...
reason enough! [grin}

Bluestocking Sat 20-Jul-13 20:02:03

I work at a university and read a thread where a poster outed her son - he's the only student doing the particular thing she mentioned at the university I work at! I don't think it mattered though, she didn't say anything revealing about him.

wigglesrock Sat 20-Jul-13 20:06:53

I don't really bother about it, I have mentioned my childrens names, country I live in. It wouldn't take a genius to have a search and get all the details in one place but I don't say anything on MN I wouldn't say in real life.

MammaTJ Sat 20-Jul-13 20:15:13

I'm not worried about it myself! I have given enough info and there are pics on my profile that would make me recognisable if anyone I know spotted me.

I do not come on here with 'my friend had done so and so and I don't know how to deal with it' so that is not an issue. Even my latest thread about my neighbour isn't a problem, she already hates me, so spotting that will not be an issue!

TrulyMadlySleeply Sat 20-Jul-13 20:24:08

I've been wanting to post about something for over a year but I'm too worried that the others involved are on MN and will recognise me. Every time I've started to type a post I've tried to change a few details to keep it more 'incognito' but it seems to alter the main essence of the problem which would skew any advice I'd be given. So I press delete. I keep doing searches for similar threads to try and get some perspective but none of the situations are close enough to my own. Ho hum.

LittleprincessinGOLDrocks Sat 20-Jul-13 20:30:36

I do sometimes think I put too much identifiable info in my posts. But then there could be hundreds out there in a similar situation. I did however have some posts removed that I think could have only come from me, about a specific event with MIL. Had she seen it all hell would have broken loose.

I did read a few posts by a fellow poster and thought I had found my ex-stepmother on here, but I left it well alone. Then read a post about a month later that proved it could not be her. Glad I didn't say anything, she would have thought I was a bit odd... she would be correct though grin.

CuppaTeaForTheBigFella Sat 20-Jul-13 20:39:17

I thought I recognised a friend of mine on here once. I know she has 'liked' this site on Facebook, and there was a unique post in chat that matched her Facebook status practically word for word.
I did look at previous posts of hers and they didn't match up with her life so I'm pretty sure it isn't her. I would have told her otherwise though in case she posted something private.
Generally though, as a pp said, I don't tend to read poster's names when I'm reading a thread.

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