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A warning to travel bloggers…

I have debated again and again with myself whether or not I should write about what is to follow. I have obviously decided that a public statement is necessary at this stage, not only for my own peace of mind but as a warning to my fellow Lonely Planet Blogsherpas and any other bloggers out there who have contact with their readers.

I have been very humbled by the amount of emails, messages and comments I get from readers from all around the world, and even more delighted when they travel to the village and fall in love with the place that has become my home. I have met wonderful people travelling solo, with friends and with children who read my words and decided that Batukaras was a place they would love to visit… but there is a crack in the glass of this beautiful mirror into my world.

A few days ago a reader happened into my village and began looking for me, which is a sensible thing to do, you wont have to ask many people to be able to find me in this little place. However, I was not in town and somehow this reader became aware of personal information about me, my relationships and made grand assumptions about both. This reader then for some reason decided to take it upon herself to get involved in my personal life. After leaving the village yesterday this same reader posted comments on my blog that were both aggressive and defaming about me and my personal life – these comments have hence been removed from public viewing.

This poses a serious question for bloggers internationally. I am very careful what of my personal life I allow to be made public on my blog and I expect that what I keep personal is respected. Just as for anyone else, my life, my decisions and my choices are my own and I hate to think that a perfect stranger would assume any right to make judgements about me without ever meeting me in person or having a conversation with me.

I was shocked and extremely disheartened by the behaviour of this reader and feel it is necessary to warn my fellow bloggers of this kind of behaviour. I’m sure that others have come up against similar things, the internet has the potential of being a dangerous platform and that is why it is vital that the identity of friends and relatives needs to be protected. My own protective barrier was breached by this particular reader and although I won’t let it ruin the positive relationships that I build with my wonderful and varied readers, I will be much more wary in the future.

Barefoot breached and branded.

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Comments
11 Responses to “A warning to travel bloggers…”
  1. Rick Carter says:

    Thanks for sharing this very negative and painful experience. It’s shocking, but not surprising. There are people who are so woefully unhappy, disillusioned, and dis-empowered with their own life, they can’t stand someone who is living a happy and fulfilling life of their own choosing. To do anything other than what you are doing – staying positive – staying focused – would be to let them win, and allow them to destroy what they seek to destroy. You’re doing great!

  2. firsttimetravel says:

    I am glad you wrote about this. I am careful to put in any information about my family when I write, so I stick to the place and the experience. Thank you for sharing this with us.

  3. Wow, what a shock that must have been. I completely agree with you about the need to protect one’s personal information when blogging. I can only imagine how upsetting it must have been that in spite of your efforts someone violated your privacy in that way. Thanks for sharing this as a warning to others.

  4. gingerbeirut says:

    I’m sorry you went through this. I hope you have implemented some comment moderating to (partially) protect yourself from the inventive idiocy of other internet users. Not much else you can do about anonymity if you live in a small village or close-knit community. Keep on blogging, I really enjoy reading you.
    Georgia

  5. Thanks for sharing. My advice is to first of all make sure you can moderate all comments, and that when you approve someone’s comment, that person is not automatically allowed to post comments without further moderation. You can do this on wordpress, as I’ve done it myself. I had someone post insults on my site too, just because he was a native of a particular country and did not like what he read, though I must stress that my post was in no way insulting.

    Denise
    Fellow blogsherpa blogger
    http://www.travelwithdenden.wordpress.com

  6. Ragne says:

    Yes, when i started my blog, i learned very quickly that being able to moderate comments was the way to go. Mostly i use it as a spam filter, but every once in while i do have to dis-allow some very abusive comments with the sole intent to provoke and hurt. Like when i was blogging about Morocco, one person started sending comments in the lines of “you whore! you just went there to suck black *****! tell the truth!!”. One such comment is fine, but to know that there’s a person out there who keeps coming back to my site only to post day after day one more stupid message like that, it was somewhat creepy. Luckily i don’t comment about my home, so i don’t have to worry about anybody coming looking for me.

    I’m sorry that you had such an experience, just remember that the 99% of your readers are awesome people who enjoy what you write and would never harass you in that way. There’s bound to be one or two insane ones out there.

  7. Sadly, we live in a world with some strange and disturbed people! In addition to moderating comments, I think its important to have a free anti-spam widget on your blog.

    I’ve also created a number of Google Alerts – for each of my blog titles, my name and a couple of other items I like to follow. That way, any time those word strings are posted anywhere across the Internet I get a notice about it. So far it has always been mundane stuff, but it means that if someone is on a forum or other place I don’t know about and mention my name, I learn about it and can address it before it gets out of hand.

    Hopefully this is now a thing of the past for you.

  8. Renee King says:

    This is just another incident which leads me to believe that the mental health industry will be an explosive growth industry in the next decade. Unfortunately, there are a lot of disturbed malcontents who not only subscribe to, but pushes forward the idea, that misery loves company.

    I’m sorry that you were personally attacked. You have to remain being true to yourself and continue to write honestly. The person who spends all of their time trying to please everyone usually ends up pleasing no one, especially him/herself. I’ve set up google alerts, just like Gwen, and it has been helpful.

    Also, I don’t really like the idea of Foursquare….I don’t think it’s wise to broadcast where you are on a given day/moment. I joined Foursquare awhile ago and the more I thought about it, the less I liked it…which is why I’m not active there.

    Another fellow Blogsherpa blogger: http://aviewtoathrill.net

  9. Bob says:

    That’s a horrible story, some people are just really really weird. Why would someone do that? That’s really just sad for them.
    I’m so sorry it happened to you.
    I think the google alerts idea that Gwen posted is a great idea. I’m going to be setting a few of those immediately.

  10. AnnaI says:

    Wow, I can’t believe someone would do that. But then again, yeah, I can. I had my own crazed stalker story last year. The woman was even leaving comments on strangers’ blogs pretending to be me.
    I do write about my personal life, but now I moderate comments on both of my blogs. Also I think that experience made me a very infrequent commenter, even on blogs of my closest friends.

    But your story sure made me come out of lurkdom. There are a lot of crazies out there, and we need to be careful. Very careful.

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