Online Identities

It seems almost every website wants you to register some details about yourself these days. I used to distrust sites that asked for my email; now I'm absurdly grateful when that's all they want. You mean I don't have to pick a username (which you'll no doubt tell me is already taken) and pick yet another password? And then open my email address to double-opt-in? And then check in to the site and configure my details to ensure you're not going to send me a hundred emails a day?

I now have accounts with: Blogger, LiveJournal, StatCounter, TypeKey, Haloscan, my registrar, my hosting company, IROSF, the Rumor Mill, Feedburner, SETI@Home,, the FastCheck forums, the WordPress forums, Amazon, Sanity, Dell,, and probably half a dozen other forums and miscellaneous features sites which I've forgotten along the way, to name a handful. And a scarce handful of mailing lists I actually legitimately signed up to all by myself.

I also have accounts with several recruitment agencies. I don't want these accounts; I didn't ask for these accounts. They were very lovingly created for me when I applied for a job said agency happened to be advertising. They very lovingly send me emails, some as often as monthly, some only once a year or so. One keeps prompting me to update my resume, but their site (which I visited, oh, sometime during my university years) offers no login I can find. And I wouldn't know my username and password if I could find the login screen anyway.

Harvesting details is an established tradition, I know. But in real life it's easier, isn't it? Name, date of birth, current address, ream of phone numbers. (I always feel rather inconsequential, giving them one number when there's prompts for four.) And email address, but it's on paper and I can leave that blank if I want to. That's it. I don't have to pick a username, I don't have to pick a password (unless I'm applying for a new ATM card), I'm not confronted with bland little dialogue boxes telling me I really can't sign up without a valid email address, I don't have to supply one or more personal question + answer in case I forget my carefully double-typed (not cut-n-pasted) password, I don't have to bookmark the "my account" page so I know where to go should I need to change anything.

More importantly, I don't have to remember and track all these accounts.

This bemused observation brought to you by yet another loving job agency, and the weary damselfly.

3 thoughts on “Online Identities

  1. I knoooooooooow. You know how I changed my email address at the beginning of the year? Only now has a spambot found my address. It was heartbreaking to open my inbox and find five penis enlargement ads. Five. My old account gets a couple of hundred a day.

  2. The ones that really amaze me are all the newspaper sites. It's hilarious because they actually want to claim to their advertisers that they get valid information. Thank The Horned God for Bugmenot.

    At one point, kept doing this thing where they'd want to know your age and sex and area before they let you read something. To this day they probably still think they get regular visits from a 120 year old woman from Nome, Alaska, with a strong interest in the Diamondbacks…

  3. Tess: I've had to leave a couple of spam-riddled email addresses in my wake already. It's more than just wrong, it's enough to earn disemboweling with a spoon.

    Greg: Amen. I've noticed a tendency from legitimate but new to the web corporations who think it's like real life, and they can demand details from their users. And they seem to expect said users to answer honestly. And web-savvy users tend to be toward the distrusting end of the spectrum: why do you want to know that? They'll go to various lengths to avoid giving information: fake email addies,, etc. And heaven forfend if someone on the net should be wanting money for their product, when there's freeware versions floating around…

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