Saturday, 29 October 2011


It’s easy for me to say, because not many people read my blog, and I don’t regularly read that many others.  But I can’t help but become aware that, even within my narrow range, some odd things seem to happen.  People apparently masquerade.  So-called ‘blogmeets’ are arranged and, sometimes, end in tears.  And there are creepy people who visit frequently (sometimes for hours) but never ever identify themselves or comment.  (I'm not counting casual passers-by or one-off search results; I'll even let googlebot off the hook, even though I'd rather it didn't exist.)

So here are some of the rules I play by:

·         I won’t instigate a ‘blogmeet’.  If anyone wants one, they can easily contact me, and I’ll take it at face value and consider my response.  But I’ve concluded (from just my one experience) that it’s a risky endeavour.  It’s very easy for false expectations to set in when the written word is the only medium of contact. 
·         I will never pretend to be someone I’m not.  I really don’t understand why anyone would do that  – leaving aside that they’re obviously sick, they’re going to get found out, aren’t they?  So if I see someone who I suspect might be false, I’ll find them out, believe me.
·         If I find a blog that interests me and I feel inclined to read more of it, I’ll consider ‘officially’ following it, so that the author knows who I am.  (It’s not nice to feel stalked.)  And I’ll post a quick comment, introducing myself, even just a ‘hello, like your blog’.  It does no harm – they can always tell me to blog off.
·         And if I post a comment, either on my own or someone else’s blog, which I later think is inappropriate, or offensive, or plain point-missing, I’ll delete it asap (possibly replacing it with a better one).

But within that framework, I will continue to fire off my rants, raves and trivia, like it says on the tin.  I think nearly everyone conforms to these simple norms of decency.


  1. Looks pretty sound to me Tim. There's some odd people out there....

  2. Hi Tim

    I did comment on your blog the other day, but I'm still a bit of a lurker. I've come to you via, well probably via Z, and I can't even remember now how I chanced upon her blog.

    I'm rather wary of blogmeets. I have this feeling that, rather like when you see a film made of your favourite book, the characters aren't quite as you'd imagined them. I have this fear that someone would have a ridiculously squeaky voice, or dress completely differently to what I'd imagined, or have some annoying mannerism, or, or, or....

    So I think it's better to keep virtual acquaintances that way. (I was going to say friends but then ....)

    And I have no idea what Google+ means, but when you find out can you tell me please. I've just had to sort out an elderly acquaintance who had inadvertently installed Google Chrome and then didn't like it.

  3. Rog - tell me about it! But odd people can be very charming, and I think, despite it all, exploration is better than timidity.

    AQ - Hello! I did see your comment, to be honest I can't remember what it was about or whether I responded (I usually try to). 'Friends' is OK. 'Chancing upon' is OK too. But wariness does seem to be a good marker.

  4. When I started to write a blog, I was quite sure that I would never want to meet anyone via the internet. But then a long-term blogger asked to meet me (she and her husband, that is) and we took them out to lunch, and got on really well. I've met quite a few internet friends since then and it's always been pleasant at least. I have no expectations, I don't presume that we'll want to meet again, so it's a bonus if we do - though even then, it won't be for months or years, I'm British after all, by Jove. I hope we will meet sometime, but I'm pretty relaxed about it!

    AQ, I can't remember either. You might have visited because of a comment I left somewhere else, or I might have visited you for the same reason. If someone comments on my blog, I always visit back (unless it's obviously a publicity thing) and leave a comment, and if I like the blog, I return.

  5. Yes, there appears to be a good deal of masquerading in blogland. I guess blogging is the ideal vehicle for someone wishing to reinvent themselves as a more interesting person than they truly are.

    A solid set of rules, Tim, and I can't say I've ever remotely considered a 'blogmeet'.

  6. What is genuinely peculiar, Martin, is when someone's false persona is less interesting than they truly are.

  7. I think a lot of people used pseudonyms on t'internet when it was less familiar than it is now as a means of protecting their identity. However, now that most of us are on Facebook there isn't much point in doing that anymore.

    Some people do use blogging as a means to be somebody else for a while and they aren't all psychopaths. Plenty of people blog as their pets (or even toy sheep, hmmmm). There are people in bloggy world that I know I wouldn't want to meet but I don't continue to read their blogs once I have decided they are not my kind of blogger.

    I went to a Blogmeet at Z's house earlier this year and a thoroughly splendid afternoon it was too. I'm not scared of meeting people via the internet; afterall, I met my husband via a quiz website and he's relatively normal.

  8. I think there's a distinction here between anonymity (which I agree has been eroded by FB, G+ etc - although this is largely consensual, and I'm sure one could hide one's identity on those sites too) and masquerading. Blogging under a pseudonym is understandable, but the blogger is nevertheless writing as themselves, from their own experience and personality. Whereas the masquerader (?) is deliberately inventing a false persona, generally (I imagine) for nefarious purposes.

  9. I've become Z! I never used to call people darling all the time, let alone dear heart.

  10. I started out using the pseudonym 'Curry Queen' because my children swore they would do me physical harm if I identified myself and, by extension, them. The Shah was none too keen for his business acquaintances to find out he is constantly harangued and belittled by his harpy of a wife either! However, I am honest and straightforward in my dealings with other bloggers and I expect the same of them. I don't understand why anyone would be otherwise...

  11. A good set of blog rules Tim.

    To some extent we all have our blog personnas. But whether or not you blog anonymously, I think a further blog rule would be that once you start e-mailing each other, it's time for real names and some honesty.
    Oh and another rule would be to watch anyone visiting your blog more than nineteen times in one day...

  12. Macy, I completely agree about the cutover to email, as regards identity, that is. But I learnt to my cost that even that's not necessarily enough. Only a face-to-face will do the trick - and even then, honesty can be faked. Enough.
    Nineteen? I rarely get over twenty-five max, and most of those are my brother...

  13. I've been to two blogmeets now. One at Z's (the one Liz mentions), and one with Four Dinners- who seems to have dropped off the screen lately) and I must say that the fellow bloggers I have met seem to be very much as they have prtrayed themselves. The one exception to this is Four Dinners, who is, in fact a rather nicer character than he seems on blog.

  14. I've met several people through blogging and through Flickr and without exception it's been delightful. On the other hand, there have been one or two people I wouldn't care to meet and no longer visit their blogs.

    I never check my blog stats any more so I've no idea if anyone lurks on mine. I do quite often start reading blogs and then move on to another and another and suddenly realise my back has set hard and needs to be taken away from the computer immediately - too knackered to go back and comment where I started. I expect I've spent an occasional half hour or so reading your blog Tim without leaving a comment! Sorry.
    Blogging has always felt to me to be like peering into a brightly lit room full of interesting people talking to each other; scary, exciting and to be approached with caution. And then every so often someone invites me in which is really nice.

  15. MIG, I didn't mean to suggest that I expect everyone to comment on everything I post, every time! I just think it's polite to do so occasionally.
    I only read my Sitemeter stats out of curiosity really, but I have noticed a few of those 'passive' regular visitors. I just find it a bit odd that they're interested enough to read but not to engage. I don't really mind though.
    The only reason I'm wary of blogmeets is because of my one personal experience. I'm sure they're generally interesting and fun.

  16. Don't know if I am sufficiently identified; I'm really a blog lazy, rather old person from New Zealand who enjoys the wit and conversation here, [having begun mine as an illustration game].

  17. Eliz, you're sufficiently identified! (As you know!)

  18. This is a really interesting discussion. I visited Second Life once(virtual world) out of interest, chose a sexy-looking avatar (not me at all!) and some other characters came up to me on screen and said they were going to rape me! Creepy!

    I also used to follow Bete du Jour - a journo who convinced lots of people he was a someone he wasn't and wrote a book about it, upsetting followers who had become emotionally involved in his (invented) traumas and trusted him.

    But as many bloggers are also writers it wouldn't surprise me if many of them were invented - it's 'new media' again blurring the lines between what is acceptable and what isn't, and it's all very much down to how individuals engage with it as bloggers and followers. A minefield!

    (I've never had a blog meet btw, so none of us can be certain I am 'real.')

  19. Well, I know I'm me, BB, and I blog according to that. (That's why there are so many misfires in here...!) I like to think that I can tell the fakes from the real ones, more often than not. The real ones shine through. And if you sometimes get it wrong, WTF, it's only words. No sticks and stones.