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Old 09-18-2008, 07:15 PM   #1
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Default Making "My posts" section private... for privacy reasons.

Hi everyone,

I was thinking about internet safety today, and this came to my mind.

On your profile statistics page, and many other places, and member can see a list of the last 500 posts you have made. They can easily breeze through them, and if your replies are on the shorter side, they can see everything you wrote without even loading a new page.

Now, the thought crossed my mind of how easy it would be if someone was following you to quickly look through all of those posts, and get tons of information about you so very easily.

While we should all never give away personal information, I know sometimes we slip, and sometimes a detail we see as harmless ends up saying a lot about you.

Without these lists, it would be virtually impossible to find the last 500 posts a person has made, when the total post count on this whole board is over 8 million posts.

I would really like to see the option of making it so only you can look through your posts page. Internet safety seems to be a priority on this site, which is one of the reasons I love it here.


Here is a quote that was posted on another thread about internet safety. This is kind of what inspired this idea. It shows you that even though you might not be giving what most people consider "personal information" can still be harmful

Originally Posted by Bonsai
I didn't make the rules, so I'm not entirely certain, but I'll try to explain the reasoning as I understand it. Please note first though, that this post isn't intended to scare you or anything - just help you understand WHY the rules, and internet safety in general, are so important.


Sooo... Let's say, you mention in one of your posts that you live in Arizona. Totally innocent, and not really personally identifying, right?

Now in another post, when someone asks for homework help, you respond saying you can't help with the answer because you're only in 6th grade. Again, totally innocent, right?

A week goes by, you don't even remember making those first two posts. Now you're in the Daily Chat Thread, in Open Mike. The subject is "What's your favorite sport?" You post saying that your favorite sport of all time is soccer, and that you've played since 3rd grade, and last year, your team won the league tournament. Again, totally innocent, right?

....But anyone who looks at your last week worth of posts now knows that you are a 6th grader in Arizona, who plays on a girls 11-13 soccer team that won a league tournament in 2007.

Over the next month, you make more innocent posts. In one, you mention your hair color. In another, maybe a Guess The Number giveaway in the Contests section, you pick 42, innocently mentioning that it's your favorite number because it's the number of your school bus this year, and 42 has been your jersey number for the past 3 years.

Let's say that's all you ever post. Not too bad, right? Let's see... We only know that you're in 6th grade, live in Arizona, play on a girls soccer team that won a league tourney, wear jersey number 42, have blonde hair, and ride bus 42. Uht oh.


And now if a "bad guy" is tech savvy, he can upload a picture onto a webiste that he owns. Any picture. Maybe a rainbow. Maybe a kitten. Every time someone views that picture, he can see their IP address. So now all he has to do, is PM you with that picture included in the message. It can be a totally innocent PM. BUT even if you delete it, and don't respond, as long as you opened it, he now has your IP address.

So now he can decipher your IP address... do a reverse lookup, use an IP to location tool, and find out the exact town or city where you live - BumbleGumble, AZ. So now they just have to google the 11-13 y/o girls soccer teams in BumbleGumble, and find out which one won the tournament. There's probably a team picture archived somewhere on the internet, from the news story that was inevitably run when your team won. It probably includes your first and last name, too. Just look for number 42 with blonde hair. BINGO! Now he just has to go sit outside the local school for a day, and look for the girl from the picture who is getting onto bus 42...

Even imagine how much easier it would make it to find you if you'd signed your first name on a post on a friend's profile. Yikes!



5 or 6 "innocent" pieces of information, in 5 or 6 different posts, spread over a month or two long period. You don't even remember making half of them, but that's all it takes. So the rules are meant to keep you safe. They're meant to prevent you from posting ANY identifying information about yourself. It's VERY easy to let little bits slip here and there, and think nothing of it. I know I do it all the time, often times without even thinking about it. (I'm over 18, and have all my info out there from my social/political activities anyways, so I know I'm a little more careless than I probably ought to be.) So the mods don't want anyone posting their state, city, age, school year, team names, first names, last names, etc. Nothing that can be used to identify you. The rules are there to make sure that WI is one of the safest sites on the internet, and a site where parents feel comfortable letting their kids visit.
My thought is that if we made the My Posts as a private option, it would be hard to find these 5 or 6 pieces of information, that we think are innocent. It would be hard to do this if the option was marked as private, especially since a lot of people make hundreds of posts a week.

I also did some research by looking up usernames on google, because many of you were saying that you can find a lot of someone's posts on there. I really only found 3 or 4 single posts on each person I looked up.

Last edited by -Lilypad; 09-30-2008 at 05:05 PM..
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Old 09-18-2008, 07:20 PM   #2
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Default Re: Making "My posts" section private... a big step toward more safety

That's a good thought.
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Old 09-18-2008, 07:37 PM   #3
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Default Re: Making "My posts" section private... a big step toward more safety

Good thinking. I know!! Also if you talked about someone and they saw it that would be really bad...
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Old 09-18-2008, 07:41 PM   #4
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Default Re: Making "My posts" section private... a big step toward more safety

wow! that is great thinking!!!!! reputation for you!
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Old 09-18-2008, 09:06 PM   #5
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Default Re: Making "My posts" section private... a big step toward more safety

You have a good point there! Hopefully, most members here will be able to follow the rules and not post personal info. Sadly though, I just saw someone post their grade on another thread. I can only hope that some sort of predator doesn't spot that.
Old 09-18-2008, 09:49 PM   #6
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Default Re: Making "My posts" section private... a big step toward more safety

I totally agree! we should! thank you lillypad!
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Old 09-18-2008, 10:17 PM   #7
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Default Re: Making "My posts" section private... a big step toward more safety

View Post Originally Posted by King Hoopla
You have a good point there! Hopefully, most members here will be able to follow the rules and not post personal info. Sadly though, I just saw someone post their grade on another thread. I can only hope that some sort of predator doesn't spot that.
Any time you see someone posting personal info, please flag their post so a mod can edit it. only takes a few seconds to flag a post and help keep our younger members safe. (Just leave a short note for the mod so they know WHY you flagged it.)
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Old 09-18-2008, 10:22 PM   #8
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Default Re: Making "My posts" section private... a big step toward more safety

Hi Lilypad!

I remember seeing a post by Bonsai (sorry about spelling) reguarding this topic. It was very interesting to see how your eye, hair, etc color and simple school stuff like bus # or just replying to a pm from someone whom you don't know. Sorry I can't find this post for you, I don't remember where I saw it.

Thanks for bringing this up, next time I see a grade or age I'll red flag.
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Old 09-18-2008, 10:30 PM   #9
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Default Re: Making "My posts" section private... a big step toward more safety

Good idea.
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Old 09-18-2008, 10:33 PM   #10
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Default Re: Making "My posts" section private... a big step toward more safety

I don't know... I'm kind of torn. It's sometimes really useful, ESPECIALLY when trading, to be able to see other people's recent posts. Sometimes in the GE, people line jump or otherwise break the rules, and without being able to view their recent posts, we would never find out. (Speaking from personal experience. I had someone ignore my pending offer, and then go offer the same item to 3 other people while our trade was pending. He only had one of the item, and was offering it to 4 people at the same time. No one ever would have found out, and we wouldn't have even thought to report the behavior, if we hadn't been able to view the person's other posts.)

I use the "find more posts by User" feature to find answers to questions for people sometimes too. If I remember that a certain user had posted a great answer, but can't find the post using the search feature, I just browse through their recent posts to find it.

I'm sure there are other legitimate uses as well.


However.. I'm pretty sure that you'd seen the hypothetical situation I'd presented a few weeks ago detailing how someone could be tracked by seemingly innocent information they'd posted over a number of weeks/months. Disabling the "more posts by user" feature wouldn't solve that though. Everything is still available via both the WI search feature, AND Google. The best bet is to make sure no identifiable info ever gets posted. If everyone follows the rules, there isn't a problem.

Younger and/or new members need to be educated about internet safety, and those of us who know better should keep an eye out for those who don't. That means flagging every piece of personal info, from names to school grades, whenever we see them posted. And I usually (nicely) remind people not to post personal info if I see them teetering in the grey areas.


I kind of wish WI had an internet safety section that everyone was made to read prior to their first post. The rules are there, but kids don't always read them - and they don't always obey them if they don't understand the reasons that they exist.

Last edited by Bonsai; 09-18-2008 at 10:40 PM..
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