How not to appear on Fan History

April 28th, 2008 by Laura Leave a reply »

This is copy and pasted from Fan History’s Privacy help page. It is worth repeating in this blog as many people are not aware of the extent to which the information they put out there in fandom is accessible to others.

Fan History’s advice to those in fandom who want privacy, want to avoid the possibility of ever being mentioned on Fan History or want to never have people link to their work outside their control:

1. Always assume that anything you post on the Internet may become public and respond accordingly. Assume some one may screencap it or discuss it elsewhere, even if the message board, fan fiction archive, mailing list is private and requires a password to access the content. Do not assume that any standards in fandom will keep people from revealing what you share. Always assume that your loved ones, friends, employers, potential employers, the media or academics might be linked to any thing you published on the Internet.

2. Never share your real name in anyway that can connect back to your fan name. Do not do it behind locked posts. Do not share it on private communities. Do not allow your real name and fan name to be connected at conventions. Do not assume that people will respect your desire to keep your real name out of fandom.

3. Do not assume that rules regarding Internet privacy do not apply to fandom, or that, because of fandom, you have increased privacy as fans realize the importance of privacy. Cultural expectations for that differ from site to site, archive to archive, community to community, person to person. Do not assume that because it is fandom that web companies will honor what you see as cultural norms regarding fandom privacy. Fandom needs are frequently not the same as business needs. Fandom does not share universal rules regarding privacy. If you make that assumption and behave accordingly, you risk being burned and burned badly.

4. Do not join any social networking services. This includes MySpace, FaceBook, Bebo, Orkut, LiveJournal, InsaneJournal, LiveSpace, etc. Information on social networking is increasingly shared. Making the information on those sites more searchable and more accessible across sites is increasingly part of business plans for new web enterprises. The profiles on those sites also contain a fair amount of historical information about your experience in fandom. This includes groups you belong to, your interests, universities and colleges you attend, your age and other personal information. If the profile is publicly accessible, people can link to it. Any other information that is public on the site can be linked to by anyone, including complete strangers who you know nothing about.

5. Do not join any message boards. Many message boards create profiles. The profiles on many message board contain a fair amount of historical information about your experience in fandom. This includes when you joined, threads you were participated, any contact information you include, etc. If the profile is publicly accessible, people can link to it. You might not like who could link to this information.

6. Do not publish on any fan fiction archives that are publicly accessible. If it is publicly accessible, people can link to it and discuss it outside of your control.

7. Always make sure that you have robots.txt files which deny all robots from indexing the fan fiction archive you belong to, your personal site, blog, index, mailing list archive or any other site which you belong to. Most robots honor robot.txt files and won’t violate them. If they don’t, many robots, like Google and the Internet Archive, consider it okay to copy everything posted to their own servers. The site is the one telling them they can do that and not much you can do about it.

8. Check the robots.txt file of any site you publish on. If you do not like the robot.txt information, do not publish anything on the site. If you do, you could be giving companies like Google and the Internet Archive permission, whether you intend to or not, to copy your work and store it on their servers, way out of your control.

9. Do not allow RSS feeds on sites where you post that might export your content to news aggregators and rss search engines. Some of these aggregtors will, depending on the type of RSS feed you have, post the full content of your submission. This is the case for a site like LiveJournal and for scripts like WordPress. Some sites, such as archives using efiction, have rss feeds which announce new story submissions. You cannot generally control where these RSS feeds show up, nor always follow who is watching them. They might be included in obscure RSS search engines that you’ve never heard of. If you allow them or on a site that uses them in relation to your content, then you’re taking control away from where your information and content is being shared.

10. Keep contact in fandom to a minimum. If you interact with people, it increases the chances that you will share information with people that could be made public. If you interact with people, you risk annoying people who might then hold grudges against you. If you interact with people, you risk people saying nice things about you and wanting to share how nice you are with others. You cannot trust that people will not share anything you shared with others, even if you think that the person is your BFF in fandom. To avoid such sharing, avoid contact.

11. If you are going to be involved in fandom, avoid wank at all costs. Wank will get you attention. Wank will motivate people to share, break FLock and password community expectations. Wank will motivate people to share private e-mails and personal communications with others. Wank will draw increased attention to you and your actions.

12. Find out about who you are interacting with in fandom to determine if they might be some one who might share with others things you have done and avoid people who might share information at all costs. Check Fan History and Fandom Wank. Search on various search engines including Google, message board search engines, Usenet search engines and more. Ask around about people. Find out the history of that individual in fandom and out. Ask their fandom friends about the history of their behavior. Make sure you know who you are dealing with and if you want to risk dealing with them. If you do not want to deal with the, avoid and avoid their social network.

13. Always read privacy statements. Understand what they say. Realize what information that you could be sharing and who could be looking at it.

14. Realize that your every keystroke is likely being tracked. Google keeps records of every search you make. With services like gmail and adsense, a program picks up keywords from your content to give you contextualized ads. Companies like Hitwise get data from ISPs that is used to market to people. Most websites keep logs of every visitor that visits their site based on IP address and can tell which pages you visited and for how long you stayed. There are counters like ljtoys.org.uk, SiteMeter, GoogleAnalytics, Quantcast and StatCounter which allow blog maintainers and web site maintainers to track that information. The best way to avoid being tracked is to not visit any site which concerns you.

15. Regularly check sites like LjSEEK.com and Google to make sure your information is not included and take steps to remove that material as you spot it. Consider subscribing to a service like Trackur or Google Alerts to monitor where you are mentioned. You have to be proactive in protecting your privacy as industry trends, upon which the backbone of some fandom activities are built, are about sharing information and making things more accessible across sites. This can be great for fandom but if you’re genuinely concerned about your privacy and the ability to control where and how people talk about you or the content you create, this is not good. Given that, it is up to you to maintain your privacy and where people link to you.

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