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Friday, September 09, 2005

VT Soldier blog links disappearing from this site

After a day of email correspondence with Sarah, of Roger's Blog, my editors and I have decided to remove the hotlinks to her and her husband's site. Sarah has talked to reporters about the fact that she was fired from her job for blogging, but she would prefer that no one but friends and family members read the actual blog.

Why are we deleting the links? Sarah wrote an irate email asking that we remove them. Today is their 11 month anniversary, her husband is in Iraq, and she just lost her job. She is angry with me because she believes that I am endangering her husband by telling you about their blog.

I have no desire to make this a more difficult situation for their family. Still, the solution she has suggested, and we have adopted, is clearly inadequate. Other blogs still link to Roger's Blog. And the site will not disappear. It will apparently remain at its public, open-access address. Removing the links to it does not make it disappear from the public domain. The only way to keep it private is to restrict access to it. But if disabling the hotlinks will make Sarah feel better, we're willing to do it. I'm not sure this is an ethical decision, and I doubt this will solve anything, but given the circumstances, I feel I have no choice.

Anyone out there who is blogging intimate details of their private life should take notice of this case. If you want your information to remain private, you need to lock it up in a livejournal or on another restricted blogging platform. Otherwise, people can find it and will, and, no one needs your permission to link to your site.

Yes, we're taking down the links, but the lesson here is that ultimately, once you put something in the public domain, you are no longer the gatekeeper.

September 9, 2005 at 04:49 PM in Got blog? | Permalink


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Hmmm ..., not to make light of Sarah's plight at all or in any fashion, but when I was reading this blog post of yours Cathy and, then thinking about your end of things associated with today's events and as the blogger of this particular, it just seems to help bring to light how a blogger's work is never done -- especially for certain bloggers, huh?! :-) [smile]

By the way, in my opinion, it is a truly good, thoughtful post! Appreciate your sharing with us what you did within it.

Keep blogging on Cathy.

Speaking of which (i.e., blogging), are you going to blog up another one of your open thread posts anytime soon?

Am asking, because if you do, I would not mind being able to use such for shamelessly self-promoting my newest blog creation, which as it so happens will have an article published about it and its bloggers in Sunday's (9/11/2005) edition of both the Times Argus and Rutland Herald. Opps, there I go, what's wrong with me?! Sorry. ;-> [wink & grin]

Posted by: mwb | Sep 9, 2005 9:18:41 PM


A portion of the 1st paragraph was *meant* to read:

... and, then thinking about your end of things associated with today's events and as the blogger of this particular *blog*, ...

I'm just glad I proofed it so carefully prior to posting the comment, because I would hate to see what would result if I had not. :(

Posted by: mwb | Sep 9, 2005 9:24:21 PM

This happened to my wife and I awhile back. We were seeking out how to balance our two "jobs". My wife had an offer in another city - I told her to take it and we'd figure it out as we went along. She did, and wrote about the uncertainty and the possibility of us moving away from where I was employed and moving up the ladder.

In a bizarre event, the owner of the company I worked for decided to start blogging that night, and a mutual fried suggested that he check out my wife's blog... so not 20 minutes later I'm at the owner's house, explaining something we only just posted hours ago.

It worked out for us... and actually made the situation much stronger for the both of us - but the thing we learned is that if you put it out there - thats where it is. Sure - NOBODY reads MY blog - but it is on the internet - where theoretically anyone, from anywhere, with the right technology can read what I write. That's sort of the point, isn't it?

I'm sorry for the woman who lost her job, who is away from her husband under questionable political circumstances outside of her control. In the end her and her husband are blogging - putting their thoughts and emotions out there in the real world where real people can read them. Too bad the company she worked for isn't big enough to stand by and work through it. They should have taken it public - started their own blog on how they debated firing her but decided to start a program to help families with loved ones overseas. It could have been a PR coup.

We've accelerated history and communication with email and the blog. Instead of reading a dusty crumpled letter behind glass 100 years from now when touring an historic site I can read about it now, from my dining room - and if the author is dissing the general, he better assume that the general can read it too.

Posted by: mike | Sep 10, 2005 12:45:44 AM

Although many folks where I work do read my blog and even want their pictures on my blog (of shooting guns), I have always made it a point NEVER to post about where I work or about my family. It just makes life far less complicated. Having a "personal" type blog, which mine isn't, is always a risk if simply put up on the web with access for all.

Posted by: Jeff Soyer | Sep 10, 2005 12:02:51 PM

You did the right thing Cathy. It is ridiculous for someone to be angry about something that s/he willingly put on the internet. Locking a blog down isn't complicated. Blogging under an alias is completely acceptable.

I certainly can imagine that Sarah is upset about her job loss and her current situation, but getting angry about a VERY public blog (such as this) linking to her somewhat-less-public blog is stupid.

Posted by: Katy | Sep 10, 2005 3:04:07 PM

It took me maybe 10 minutes to do the following:

(1) Go through "Roger's Blog" and find where he'd posted his work email, which included a snippet of his surname
(2) Search that organization's website to find Roger's full name and verify that it's the same guy
(3) Verify from that same organization's website that Sarah uses his surname
(4) Use a search engine to see if there's anything published using Sarah's full name and the word "Vermont"
(5) Come across an article about a Vermont woman with Sarah's full name, detailing what she does for a Vermont firm, i.e., giving the firm's name and lots more

Now, there _may_ be another woman with Sarah's full name (there isn't in the phone book, but this other woman may use an unlisted number), but Chittenden County is so small that it's most likely the woman from that article and Sarah are one and the same.

The points:

- There was so much info on that blog that any 13-year-old could probably figure out who Sarah and Roger are and who Sarah's employer is.
- Sarah could not post personal details about her work in a freely accessible web site and expect word of it not to get to the boss.
- She wants a blog to be private? Fine. She should make it password protected, then give the password to the fam. Bada-bing.

...And I won't even go into issues of irony regarding Roger and Sarah's occupations. Suffice it to say, they both should have known better. Much better.

But I don't just want to just say nyah-nyah. I deeply sympathize with the awfulness in every sense of Roger's being in Iraq. I wish him safely home and reunited with Sarah ASAP.

Posted by: NMO | Sep 10, 2005 5:32:08 PM

I want to stress that I sympathize with Sarah and Roger. This is a difficult situation. But NMO pretty much hits the nail on the head.

Posted by: cresmer | Sep 11, 2005 11:14:15 AM

I also feel compelled to point out that Roger's Blog is the very first link to pop up on Google when you search for: roger sarah blog soldier. Like it or not, it is literally impossible to keep this link private the way it's published. Sorry, but that's just the way the Internet works.

Posted by: cresmer | Sep 11, 2005 11:17:17 AM

this story reminds me of another blog i read regularly called dooce. (www.dooce.com) it's pretty popular so i wouldn't be surprised if you already knew about it, however, the owner of this blog also got fired since her employer read her blog.
dooced means, per the urban dictionary, to lose one’s job because of one’s website.

Posted by: candace | Sep 15, 2005 3:04:55 PM

I tried the Google search "roger sarah blog soldier" and actually, 802 Online was the first link. LOL. The 2nd link appears to be their actual blog link, but when I try to access it, I get a 404 error. What a surprise.

Posted by: Brian Brown | Nov 1, 2005 2:33:27 PM

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