The Daily News

LFCA Latest Issue: Friday, September 25, 2009.

Latest Post on BlogHer: Parenting after Infertility.

My Status: Fed Josh's almonds to the squirrels. They needed them very badly.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Discussion Continued

Someone raised an interesting point via email and since we seem to be all over the board in terms of openness about our blogs, I turn the discussion to the topic of lurkers.

We have all of these de-lurking weeks and for me, the point is that they're fun. I find new people to read because they finally leave a comment on my blog (hint: I always click over when someone comments to see their blog). But I can't remember ever having someone from the face-to-face world confess to reading on one of those post.

I think there are a multitude of levels of lurking. There are those that I read via Google Reader and if I don't leave a comment, they logically can't know that I read. Which makes me a lurker. I have often given the caveat that if you're on the big blogroll, I read you from time to time even if I don't comment. How do you think we have such a mix each week with the Roundup? But that does make me a lurker if I never comment on a blog and I read it.

Sometimes I read a blog and can't think of anything to say. But neither the writer nor the reader know each other so it is an acceptable form of lurking in my book. I try not to do that, but sometimes it happens. I don't think there is anyone on Google Reader who has never received a comment from me but there are certainly people I read somewhat frequently, but I've never left a comment so they have no clue. Sometimes, if I don't have time to leave comments, I hope that including their news in LFCA stands in place of the recognition given via a comment.

And then there are the people who know you in the face-to-face world--they are not a random online stranger--who read without saying anything. I think it reveals more about their character if they are reading and not letting you know that they are reading (and I am talking about people who continuously check in and not someone who clicked over once and then politely left when they realized you had a play group together). They are the sort who would likely read your diary if you accidentally left it out on the bed and they thought they couldn't get caught. Am I wrong in this assessment? There is something inherently wrong in reading the thoughts of a person you know and not admitting to it. It crosses a line of trust.

My blog is open to the public, therefore, anyone in the world can read it and find it. And I welcome everyone I know in the face-to-face world to read it. To comment or even send me an email from time to time as my friend does that lets me know she is reading. It puts us on level ground when I know what she knows about me. I can also clarify, enlarge, fill-in-the-blanks. Tell more of the story. Because, we all obviously know that only part of the story is contained on the blog. The rest remains in our heads. We pick and choose what makes it to the screen.

So, to summarize my position,

Stranger not commenting = doesn't phase me.

Person in my face-to-face world not admitting to reading = creeps me out.

What is your position on this? Especially those who said even their spouse doesn't know? How would you feel if you discovered he had been reading your blog all along?

Just to clarify...The face-to-face person doesn't need to mention the blog constantly or the fact that they are reading more than once. I am just distinguishing between the people who I know are reading because they told me (or I have them the url) and the people who read continuously who do not step forward and let me know they found my blog.


TeamWinks said...

I agree with your assessment!

Kristin said...

You've about summed up my position.

I do know one IRL friend who reads my blog but doesn't comment and the only reason it doesn't phase me is because I personally gave her my blog url so I know she is reading.

Julia said...

A friend who is a mom of a kid in my daughter's class found me, accidentally, and immediately fessed up. Didn't phase me because a while ago I thought about what I would feel like if I was found, and I realized there is nothing on my blog that I wouldn't say face to face if I had to. It also helps that she found me after I had the Cub. Had she found me a year ago, I would be a little more freaked, since I didn't want to talk to most people through as much of my at the time future hypothetical pregnancy as possible.
Oh, and my husband totally knows. I told him like one week into starting the blog.

April said...

I think strangers reading the blog is fine. I think stranger lurkers are fine. I often will read a blog for awhile before I comment.

I think that lurkers that are friends IRL may be also classified as stalkers. I like to think that people who know me would have to look awhile to actually find my blog....but who really knows.

I started the blog to get some support from people who would actually *get* it. Most people who I know IRL don't, despite conversations we have had. I really don't want them reading, but since my blog is public I can't stop them.

luna said...

I just wrote a treatise in the comments on the original post. lurkers I know in real life would freak me out too. oddly I don't think they'd tell me though, which creeps me out even more.

Aramelle said...

I completely agree with your outlook on this topic. I've just recently found this online community, and I've done a lot of "just" reading. I've started commenting more often, but sometimes I just don't know what to say.

I have made any attempt to hide my blog, but it's also not something I've put out there to anyone IRL. Well, hubby knows (it was actually his idea), but none of my other friends/family. I would really bothered to know that any of them was reading along and not telling me. Yes, I think there is a creepy factor. More, though, the idea of them reading some of my deepest thoughts about the greatest pain I've ever felt and not offering any way of acknowledgment/support is horrible, IMO.

gwinne said...

My blog is kept very separate from my real life identity by use of a pseudonym (though if someone who knew me happened to stumble upon the blog, it would probably be obvious it was mine). Gwinne is not me, but a constructed version of me I choose to put online. I've told a few friends about it, but they are people who already know the "content" of the blog. My assumption is that if people aren't commenting, they aren't reading. There might be lurkers, I don't know, but if they choose not to comment at all, they're not engaging the blog. And, honestly, given the nature of my blog I can't see why anyone would do that. I might be very naive! But, yes, if people I knew were reading who never 'fessed up...well, that would freak me out!

Guera! said...

Here's a similar take: Strangers pass each other in the store, on the street, in various public places and will look at other strangers and not say anything. They will notice something about you ...your hair, your beauty, your mismatched clothes, the pimple on your nose but go on their way without commenting. A friend would not sit across from you at lunch, listen to you talk, stare blankly and not say a word or even a mmm hmmm. So, friends lurking on your blog without letting you know one way or another is kind of like that.

barrenisthenewblack said...

I agree with the assessment of lurkers, readers, knowing people etc. above.
Personally, I've made express efforts to stay anonymous. I know a few other bloggers in person, but that's by choice, and I don't know how often/if they read me, but I read them. Honey Bee knows about it and one friend. I didn't think either read my blog, but my friend made one often she reads, I'm not sure. Funny, we don't talk about it. I don't want to edit because of who I think is reading. Since I'm new to all of this, I've started trying to comment more. I used to be a lurker.

Lollipop Goldstein said...

"More, though, the idea of them reading some of my deepest thoughts about the greatest pain I've ever felt and not offering any way of acknowledgment/support is horrible, IMO."

Aramelle--I think you touched on it exactly. It doesn't bother me if someone I don't know reads that I'm struggling and clicks away. It is quite another thing to be in the presence of someone who clearly knows that I am struggling and chooses not to reach out or comfort.

Kymberli said...

My blog is very open. I use my real name and it's easy to connect the dots of my online virtual footprint. Almost too easy. If any coworker or old friend wanted to randomly find out how I was doing and Googled me, it wouldn't be terribly difficult for them to find out. Only three coworkers know about my blog, my mom and sisters read. Frank knows I blog, but has no major interest in what I blog about. I don't have anything to hide and there's nothing I wouldn't talk about openly if someone had found my blog and asked me face-to-face questions about it. That said, the idea that someone IRL would knowingly read my blog without my knowledge, that freaks me out. Like, if my principal found my blog and knew about the inner workings of my uterus all while standing there talking to me about curriculum and school improvement and whatnot - skeevy.

Lollipop Goldstein said...

And Guera makes a good point too--while I have been known to stop and ask a stranger who is crying if I can help, more often than not, we walk by other people without comment (whether they seem happy or sad). On the other hand, I don't know what kind of friend I would be if I knew a friend was either celebrating or depressed and didn't acknowledge the news.

Anonymous said...

I agree completely.

What is freaking me out right now is that I "think" someone I know is reading, but they haven't admitted they are. It IS like she is reading my diary that I left out on the bed..... I would feel much better if she just let me know if she found and read my blog.

Obviously, I don't want to come out and ask her.... as that would alert her to its existance. So, I'm just going quiet for a while. Or I may switch my blog back to blogger and change the URL yet again..... we'll see.

Strange that I don't mind strangers reading intensely personal posts.... but having a friend, co-worker etc makes it feel sort of a violation or voyeuristic.

Thanks for this post. It really helped me to clarify this issue in my own mind.


Another Dreamer said...

I agree with your conclusion. If someone in real life were reading my blog, and never mentioned it, I'd be royally creeped out!

JamieD said...

I agree - if a IRL person is reading my blog, it would be courteous of them to mention it. Now, don't go bringing it up every time we talk but let me know.

I also have several blogs I follow but don't comment. Others I comment religiously. Why? I'm not really sure. There are bloggers out there who are SO GOOD at writing and expressing their feeling I am literally in awe of them. Then I find it difficult to comment because I think I sound so silly. Then I get a comment from THEM on my blog and I fall out of my chair. Now ~this~ may sound creepy but it makes me so proud and all warm & fuzzy to get a comment from a blogger I really admire.

(Mel - you fall in this category, BTW!)

Anonymous said...

I think you hit it head on! I know that many of my family members read and never comment or acknowledge that they read and it is kinda creepy. I have often toyed with the idea of a seperate blog that family doesn't know about to maintain some level of privacy but haven't gotten around to it yet, maybe when the ttc journey starts back up again I'll do that.

Lori said...

My problem seems to be the opposite. My IRL friends/family have NO CLUE about blogging and WOULDN'T READ MY BLOG if I told them I'd kill a kitty if they didn't.

It's like they think they'll sink in quicksand if they open up any URL with "blogspot" in it.

Rarely I find out that someone I know has read. I am astoundingly flattered. They rarely (if ever?) comment, again because of the quicksand factor, I suppose.

So I would like a post about how to GET real life people to read and comment.

As for stranger delurking, I say it's time to have an ALI-wide DeLurk day. There's a great button up on

Sarah said...

I guess all my family members (except my sister) are lurkers on my blog, for the most part it is because they are not very technology savvy and they are just proud they can find the blog and read it. When I start reading a new blog it takes me a few posts before I comment. I haven't commented on your blog before and I think that has a lot to do with the fact that I am still trying to figure out how I fit in with the topics...Whole other story there. For the most part I agree with you. I think it is funny that people will send me emails about my blog but not leave me a comment. I like the idea about “DeLurk Day” :)

Anonymous said...

I think it must depend on how open you are on your blog, though maybe that's obvious. I made a conscious decision to be very open about my blog in my real life, and it would be trivial to figure out my full name, place of work, etc from my blog. I've told co-workers, friends and family about it, and I link to it from and post from it to my facebook account. I did it in part because it was my cowardly way of announcing our IF struggles to friends without having to actually talk about it. But I also wanted any friends in real life that ended up dealing with IF to know that they could talk to me if they needed to. I'm often surprised when it turns out that someone in real life has been reading my blog for a long time and never said anything, but it doesn't feel like stalking for me since I'm so open about it. It does temper what I write about, though, so it's not all good.

I do know, though, that it can be very upsetting if you are trying to keep real life and blog separate (happened to a friend of mine when someone - whom my friend did not know read her blog - outed her personal blog at a large professional conference, she was understandably horrified). In those cases, you have to wonder, was someone trying to find your blog.

PJ said...

What a wonderful and interesting conversation!

I feel pretty much the same as you do.

From my Google Reader details, I know that probably about a quarter of my readers actually comment, and I'm ok with that.

BTW, Google Reader, what a fantastic invention!!!

I comment about 90 percent from the posts I actually read, even from my Google Reader. That might be why I typically have around 100 unread posts, and sometimes just cut my losses and clear them out. It also lets me know which ones I am really, really interested in. Those tend to either be stories that are similar to mine, or bloggers whom I've found an affinity with, and sometimes it's just those who make me laugh. Naturally,I have my favorites and others that I just can't get into.

And yes, sometimes I just don't know what to say also. I don't want to just comment for the sake of commenting, ya know?

MLO said...

I actually have a sort of different view on this. Of course, I have been accused of being a contrarian. Honestly, I would rather NOT know that someone I hadn't expressly given my blog information to - even though the public blog is pretty innocuous - to mention it.

On the other hand, I can't get some family members and friends who do have computers to understand why I gave them access to the private blog. I don't want to have to call them with news one way or the other. It is much less painful for me to put it on the private blog than to have to make all those phone calls. I come from a big, nosey, Appalachian family. They volunteered certain things that DH and I are just unwilling to do.

Perhaps my experiences of having been online since "medieval times" (DH has been online since "ancient times") internet-wise gives me a somewhat different perspective.

Anonymous said...

There are blogs I never comment on because what's the point, there are so many commenters (i.e. Dooce) and others that I only read in Bloglines and often I'm too lazy to click over and leave a "hi!" comment. Sad but true.

What I've found bizarre is that there are a few blogs that have me in their blogroll but have never commented on my blog, I don't get that at all.

I have family members that read my blog but don't comment because they're "not into that whole blog thing" and only read because it's me, I think they think that if they create a Blogger account to comment they'll get sucked in. :)

A few times I have found myself in the position of being on the phone with someone and starting a story and then asking "wait, did you already read about this on my blog?" and having them say "uh, no, I haven't checked it in a month" or "you still write on that thing?" How embarrassing!

LJ said...

I started to write a post from my phone and got all discombobulated. Anyhow - I have a few opinions on this (shocking). When my dad found out about my blog, I was horrified, not because he found it, but in the way he announced that he found it to me.

I also remember a scare when I thought an old co-worker friend was reading. Turns out it was someone else who worked at the same place, but having the potential of him reading and NOT telling me just really skeeved me the frick out.

I'd hope that whomever is reading and not telling you would just kindly and respectfully mention it. It would need to be done with tact and maturity, but it could be just a quiet "hey, just want you to know" kind of thing.

I don't know if I made any sense, but I totally do get it.

Melanie said...

I'm not phased by who reads my blog (or who comments or not), whether it be someone I know or not. That said, I'm only sharing one part of my life...infertility. I don't talk about work or friends or other very personal topics...I guess for the reason that I don't want to share too much because I have a lot of IRL folks who know about my blog. At times, I wish I could share more, but only if complete anonymity was assured, which it's not.

Caro said...

I agree with you, but have to confess to quite often just reading in bloglines and not clicking through to comment.

Cassandra said...

I would definitely be creeped out by an offline person lurking, but here's a little twist on lurking.

When I first started reading ALI blogs, I came across a blog written by someone with a very unusual name -- the only other person who I've met with this name is the best friend of a good friend of mine. That woman and I have met only once, but we have strong connections to that mutual friend. Reading her blog, it looked more and more like it was the same person -- same state of residence, similar interests, same job... it occurred to me to ask her if she was the same person, until I realized that would out me. There's no way she wouldn't tell our mutual friend (who knows about my IF but not about blogging) who happens to be a bit of a blabbermouth. So I kept reading and even commenting without mentioning that we might have met before IRL. Which doesn't seem creepy or stalkerish at all, when the shoe is on the other foot.

BTW it turned out not to be her, which I deduced thanks to some subsequent information that she blogged about.

mlr said...

I guess I haven't even worried about whether anyone i know IRL has read it. As far as strangers, that doesn't really phase me. I am on babymed too so i've gotten so used to talking about BD'ing and CM that it seems strange to even bother censoring myself or being creeped out.

I do agree on not commenting. Sometimes I don't know what to say or I don't want to sound completely cliche. Other times I'm so impressed by the writer/specific blog and I don't want to sound like a moron :-).

musicmakermomma said...

I agree with your assessment, but no one IRL knows about my blog. I suppose my DH *could* know, I write it while he is RIGHT next to me, but he hasn't ever read it or expressed any interest in it. My BFF who knows more than anyone else about my whole experience knows I blog but has never wanted to read it. That is ok with me, though, I think I am more open than I might be if I knew people could come up to me on the street and tell me what a selfish pitiful fool I was being! And I *do* feel like I know some of the women in this network better than my IRL friends.

Rachel said...

I agree with you. I also agree with what April said, I usually read a blog awhile before I comment too.

The only IRL person who knows about my blog is my husband. He reads, but doesn't tell me when he does just so that I don't censor things on his account. If one of my friends or aquaintances read and didn't tell me, it would freak me out, a lot!

Merlot said...

I don't always comment when I read. Usually because I just don't have anything to say. My blog wasn't a secret until we started using a donor. Then the mother of a friend found the blog and that really wigged me out. It's not a secret, but I felt really uncomfortable discussing it knowing the mother was reading. That led me to eliminating the old blog and starting a new one under a pseudonym.

Kim said...

I agree with you, also. It's also the reason why I went private. I knew damn well that *certain* people 'in real life' were reading but would never *admit* to reading. Well, one did ultimately admit to reading.. and that she found my blog by pasting a blurb from an e-mail that I sent her into google (word to the wise: don't be lazy and copy/paste updates or stories that you blog to family and friends). I'm not sure which was more creepy, that she had actually DONE that with the intention of LOOKING for me, or that she had been reading for a long time and never TOLD ME.. OR, that not only did she SEARCH for me, FIND me, and READ me.. but she even blogged on HER blog (that I knew not of) ABOUT certain things. Um yeah.. that's when you go private. And private sucks. I lost the majority of my readers and get few comments when I need support most. But what else can ya do, ya know?

This all being said, there are some blogs that I read and do not comment on.. none of whom I know 'in real life'. But not commenting doesn't mean that I'm not quietly supporting them, mourning for them, praying for them, or cheering them on. While this is based on nothing factual, I would say that for every avid reader/commenter you have, there's ten more in lurkdom. This number obviously increases for certain uber popular blogs ;o).

Ms.Once said...

Ha! You guilted me into posting a comment, even though I'm usually a lurker on my Bloglines feeds.

I'm actually _less_ likely to comment on a blog of a friend I know in real life, although I am open that I'm reading along the way when we talk in person.

Maybe part of this is because most of the blogs I read outside of (in)fertility/mothering blogs are by writers conscious of themselves as writers, so that they enjoy (and hope for, even) considering a wider audience than might present itself in comments.

I blog anonymously for many reasons, but I'm also pretty clear that not much on the web is truly untraceable to real life. I'm wondering as I write this how I'd feel if I found out in a roundabout way that a student was reading, and deciphered me through the persona of Ms. Once. It's difficult issue-- no doubt. I suppose that writing in public, at root, really is about being in public to some unstoppable degree, and that words out in the open, if we're lucky, gain us the most improbable of audiences.

Robert said...

I disagree. A blog is a public document, much the same as a newspaper or an open access Facebook page. No one has an obligation to sign the guest register. That's the nature of the Web.

Anonymous said...

I think it wrong to expect someone to leave a comment just because they know you. You are choosing to blog and put your life out there and there is no disclosure asking for comments. You can't expect something you don't ask for it.

Lori said...

Au contraire, Anon.

It's an unstated fact that bloggers request comments from frequent readers. It's implied, if not expressed.

To keep reading and not tell is like peering through windows at an Open House.

Plus, this blog, like others, frequently DO ask for lurkers to delurk. So it HAS been expressed.

So I think *you* are wrong to expect to be able to take and not give.