In Which My False Sense of Anonymity is Shattered

It could have happened a few weeks ago, when I taught several classes how to look critically at websites. Given that I’m a cheapskate who hides bits and pieces for this site in the domain that I run for my students, there were plenty of trails of Smarties to follow that would lead them back here. Once I’d provided them with the know-how, I was expecting a few students to pop up here and discover my feline alias, but if any of them did they lurked rather quietly and didn’t let on.

I was saved by the fact that I also taught the students about WHOIS data and how to find it. They took endless satisfaction in looking up the details for my maths site. They nudged each other and pointed at my address. They demonstrated WHOIS data to their mates at lunchtime. They nudged each other and pointed at my address. Oh yes, WHOIS data proved to most fascinating.

They may know where I live, but at least none of them have come round to visit. No unexpected students dropping in for a nice cup of tea. Not yet anyway.

As in real life, so it was here on the t’Inter, no students turned up on my online doorstep either. My not-very-cunningly constructed Internet alias had somehow survived.

Of course my sense of false anonymity false sense of anonymity was living on borrowed time, so it shouldn’t have surprised me when it decided to clear off rather suddenly. But you know me, TLC the Very Easily Surprised. I was surprised.

There I was, minding my own business, walking through reception, when it happened.


“Er have I?” I replied, feigning innocence, as my sense of false anonymity false sense of anonymity nipped out through the open door and made a mad dash for freedom.


Excellent. I’m sure that was loud enough for the entire school to hear.

It’s entirely my own fault. I normally use a different email for everything TLC related, but apparently in a moment of mental aberration, I signed up to Twitter with my ‘real’ email. The one that the kids all know. Oops.

So now one of my students has started reading my tweets. Well they are public – but it still leads me into an entirely grey area of netiquette. I’ll get back to you on that one. Maybe you guys can explain it to me.

Anyhoo. It’s only a matter of time before she appears here, if she hasn’t done so already, so I’d better be on my best behaviour ;0)

5 comments to In Which My False Sense of Anonymity is Shattered

  • Z

    It’s these automatic form fillers, isn’t it? I left a comment on someone’s blog once and didn’t notice, when I put in Z, that my full name appeared. because of that, if you google search my name, you find my blog. It doesn’t matter but it isn’t my choice.

  • Yorkshire Pudding

    I think we teachers need to be really careful. The internet leaves a trail of clues behind. A few years ago I edited a book of stories from northern Sheffield. All of a sudden I have got some Y10 kids trying to track the book down. I guess they have searched for me in Google. They may have seen plenty of other private things from my out of work world – like reviews of hotels or angry comments about politics and education or restaurant reviews etc.. I just don’t like it. Why should I have to be “on guard” in my private life?

  • Ooops. But why don’t you just use the unlisted option in whois?

    I cannot believe the number of bloggers who are otherwise anonymous who have their full details, including home and mobile phone number, listed on whois, just because they forgot to tick the correct ‘exclude detials from public listing’ box.

  • three-legged-cat

    On my addresses, I do use unlisted. On the .com it wasn’t available when I bought it, I have now opted in to a service provided by the company that I bought the domains from, but the wonders of caching mean my details are still rather widely available.

    Actually I find that less disturbing than having to change my phone number after some colleagues gave out a faxed worksheet that I sent in when ill, without removing the header. Doh!

    And I’m definitely uncomfortable with being ‘tweeted’ by chatty students. I have firmly bolted the stable door by changing my contact email, but sadly the horse is already off and running away…

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