June 29th, 2005
Blogs and Stalkers

Tonight I did another talk at one of the local RWA chapters about blogging. It’s a very popular subject these days. Inevitably, someone always asks me about blogs and stalkers. I’m a careful person by nature. (ie paranoid) I do worry about these types of things occurring and try to take every precaution to maintain my privacy.

I know the odds are that something like this will not occur in your life. (Thank goodness!) I also know that if someone wants to find you, they will. That said, I thought I’d bring this subject to you all. Do you worry about stalkers? Have you ever experienced this abnormal behavior from anyone due to your blogging? If so, what did you do?

34 comments to “Blogs and Stalkers”

  1. I don’t worry about being stalked or general odd-ball behaviour from visitors, it would be very difficult for anybody to find where I live, and even if they did, as most of my visitors are American, I suspect they probably couldn’t be arsed paying the flight costs from USA to England (grin)

  2. Do I worry about stalkers?
    Not yet. But then, I’m just getting started.

    No, seriously–it’s not a common problem, but the potential is real. I hear that Linda Howard has had to hire a bodyguard for protection. 😮

    I don’t put much information about my personal life out there, and I use a pseudonym. The risk is small, I think, but why take chances?

  3. Do I worry about it? Oh yes. Especially since it is true – if someone wants to find you, they will. I’ve had two already in my relatively short life (Ok, some days it feels like I’m much, much older than I am). And this was before I started writing erotic romance. One was borderline violent and scary, the other simply a pesty goober. Now that I’m writing what I do and am out on the internet regularly, “privacy” and common sense are extremely important. So far, (knock on wood) no abnormal behavior from taking up blogging and surfing, but it is always a fear haunting the edges of my mind.

  4. Anyone can find ANYTHING about you on the net–I know I’ve done some finding in my day *g*

    Seriously, I don’t worry about it, but I do try to use common sense when I blog–IE a pseudonym, I don’t post the kids’ names, their school, etc.

    We had a cop come talk at a recent RWA meeting about cyber crimes (in the context of research–it was interesting). But one point he made was that even the most innocent information can lead a trail back to you. Granted this was in the frame of pedophiles and kids in chat rooms, but it still holds true for bloggin I think.

  5. Right now, stalkers don’t bother me, although I’m careful and don’t post pics of me in my website. Perhaps when I become famous, I’ll worry about them. That’s why I’m considering a pen name and a generic type of bio, etc.

  6. I don’t worry about them I guess because I don’t have much traffic on my site. If I were a bestselling author I might be more concerned.

    I did have a stalker when I was in 12th grade. I didn’t know he’d been stalking me until he started calling me and finally told me who he was. A totally unassuming guy, very quiet. The last guy on earth I would’ve suspected.

    He’d been watching me for three years and knew which guys I’d dated, how I’d had my hair, where I’d worked (he’d even watched me at work. I was a coat check girl and all the doors were all glass. I worked at night so he could see me but I couldn’t see him), and where I hung out. Very creepy experience.

  7. Hmm well I wouldn’t call it full fledged stalking, but enough weirdness anyway. There is a chick (complete nutjob) whom me and my critique partner and best buddy knew. She accused my crit partner of plagerizing her story and other off the wall stuff. She visits our collective blog daily, but she doesn’t want us to know she does. (If that makes any sense) She apparently believes that if she does not type in our direct URL that her info won’t be recorded on our stat tracker. Instead she does a google search for our site. She used to google my crit partners name but when we switched blogging platforms, just googling the blog name would work. So everyday we have this idiot who does a google search for Writeminded and clicks on the link brought up by the search engine.

  8. Karen, I think you’re right about England. That would be one determined stalker.

  9. Raine, I absolutely think it could become a problem when you get larger/more successful. I’ve heard of a couple of major NYT’s Bestsellers who’ve had this problem.

  10. Eve, If I’m understanding you correctly, you picked up your stalkers in ‘real’ like. They saw you and began to stalk you. So far, from what I can determine, that’s the most common type of stalker. I hope they’re long gone from your life. After those experiences, I can understand your concern.

  11. Cece, I’ve heard a private detective talk about something similar. I think that’s something people don’t realize. You’re more likely to get a pedophile visiting your site for pictures of your kids than someone out to stalk you. Scary, but true.

  12. Silma, Like others have said, most of this is common sense. You take precautions where you can, but you can’t worry about something you have no control over.

  13. Trace, Profilers will tell you it’s always the ones who seem perfectly harmless or normal or unremarkable that you have to watch. They tend to be the stalkers and sociopaths. Your experience sounds terrifying.

  14. Sharon, That’s just plain weird. You are the second woman I’ve heard who’s being stalked by a woman. I think we assume a stalker will be a man (sexist of us;), but that’s not always the case.

  15. I try to be reasonably careful in terms of not mentioning the specific town I live in, or my family’s specific names (I generally refer to them as “husband” or my “twelve-year-old” etc. But I do write under my real name and I’m savvy to those risks no matter how careful I am online. I also try to not make a big deal out of paranoia so that I can enjoy my career and my blog. Basically, I do what I can do, try to be careful, and keep going on with my life. I haven’t had a stalking incident per se, but in the past I’ve had other types of incidents related to being a writer, so I realize the possibilities but try to not let fear control my life.

  16. Suzanne, I think that’s all we can do. You cannot let fear control you or the ‘creepos’ win.

  17. Great topic, Jordan. I’m more cautious than some I think. For the longest time I did not want my picture on the internet at all. But I’m careful about what I say. I never mention specifics that would make it easy for someone to find me. Oh and I use the free email addy’s. Not one where I’ve actually had to give person information.

  18. I’ve always been cautious about this–and once I received an e-mail from someone with my (very unusual) maiden name, claimed to be married to someone with my uncle’s name, claimed to live on the same street as my cousin, said she’d read all my books and loved them. The weirdest thing was she claimed her “uncle” owned the marina one of my book’s was set at–a real life marina my own father had managed for 30 years. I had never heard of her “uncle” and her entire story freaked me out–while I was flattered I had to consider the “crazy stalker” possibility. So I was very cautious with my replies, almost cold I think. Well I later learned all her claims were true–just a wild bunch of coincidences. I was safe, but I’d lost a reader.

  19. Thanks Jordan. I hope they’re long gone too. It’s been awhile, but sometimes they still pop up. Just last year one emailed my sister trying to get in touch with me. I’ve moved around a lot, so that’s helped I’m sure. But I agree with everyone on the live your life the best and safest you can. Absolutely.

  20. Nope, no stalkers here. Somehow, I can’t get a visual of anyone stalking me. BUT interesting you would bring this up. I was surfing around on one of the major romance sites and looked at the “authors” section. There in alphabetical order were the authors, a pic, their bio, and personal comments, etc. made by them. ACK! If someone WAS a little off this seems like too much information. I wonder if authors are expected to do this or if it is optional?

  21. I’m lucky in that I had a seasoned author to warn me about such things. And sure enough, I had some weird experiences with someone emailing me and supposedly showing up at my local signings. It was a weird experience, but it went away. I do feel more secure by making sure that I’m with someone, coming and going, from events. Also, I write under a pen name, and although I mention a lot that I live in St. Louis, I feel secure because where I live is well populated and complete with security entrances and security attendants. I still watch my back though and try to stay on my toes at all times. This author told me that having published books brings out weirdos and people that you normally wouldn’t give the time of day.

  22. Just last week I had a really weird experience with this. Someone emailed me and mentioned that they submitted something to EC (my publisher) and was waiting for a response. This person mentioned that it was so strange having another Romantica writer so close to them. They mentioned that they lived in the city and that I was appx 1.5 hours. I thought that was strange because I never give out my addy. I wrote back and said something polite, like good luck with EC and they wrote back listing all the towns around me, inclucing my town, telling me I had them curious and they wanted to know exactly where I lived. I never replied. It really freaked me out. I’m even too paranoid to post my picture on my website.

  23. Maili, That is horrible. I can’t imagine what your family has been through. ((hugs))

  24. Teresa, That’s all you can do.

  25. CJ, Most of the time authors ARE expected to do stuff like that, whether it’s for a site or a publishing house.

  26. Cherlyn, Unfortunately, we’re obsessed with celebrity in this country. You always think movie stars when the term celebrity comes up, but it actually encompasses anyone who builds a ‘name’ for themselves.

  27. Robin, I don’t think you had a choice in that situation. I would’ve been suspicious too.

  28. Wow Cathy! That is creepy. I wouldn’t have written back either. :-/

  29. Yikes, scary stuff!!!

  30. I don’t worry about stalkers at all. Of course, now that I say that, some nut will start stalking me…

  31. Jill, You’re right. It is scary.

  32. LOL Larissa!

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