Since You Asked, I’ll Answer

I think in the history of my little blog I’ve written an “advice”-type post approximately, oh, never (reason? because I have very little wisdom to share), and I’m reluctant to start doing so now. But in light of the emails I’ve received since I put up the link to Shannon’s post about internet safety, I think maybe it’s time to throw my two cents in the bloggy opinion bank, if for no other reason than to answer the questions that some of y’all have asked.

So here we go. Questions are in bold.

I only recently started reading blogs. Is it wrong of me to “lurk”? Should I comment?

Listen. If lurking were against the law, I’d have been in jail five times over. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with lurking. And there’s certainly no rule that says you have to comment on every single post (or I’d be in jail a hundred times over).

But I will say this: sometimes it’s just nice to know who’s reading.

You certainly shouldn’t feel pressured to comment, and if you’re more comfortable hanging back and reading and not saying anything then, hey, by all means, do your thang

What in the sam hill is a stat counter?

A stat counter is a little technical doo-hickey that lets a blogger know who’s visiting when. It shows referrals, number of visitors, IP addresses of visitors, and, depending on the internet service provider, the city and state where the visitor’s computer is.

It does not reveal your name, your children’s names, your favorite food or what color shirt you wore to the Sadie Hawkins dance in 9th grade.

Stat counters typically only keep a record of the last 100 visits. So, if you have a lot of blog traffic, it’s nearly impossible to monitor who’s coming and going. However, a stat counter does let you know if someone arrives at your blog via a weird search engine query like Shannon mentioned yesterday, and for that reason alone, I don’t see how you can have a blog and live without one.

What do I do if I see a weird search engine query on my SiteMeter or StatCounter?

First of all, you can check what queries are leading people to your blog by clicking on “referrals” once you’ve logged in to your stat counter. If you see something odd, write down the IP address of the person who used that query to get to your blog. Then, if the query indicates that someone is looking for content that might be illegal, notify the person’s internet service provider – you’ll find that info by clicking on the number next to the reference in SiteMeter and by clicking on the magnifying glass in StatCounter. I would suggest taking a screen shot of the information, and you can include that as an attachment when you report the IP address.

Is it okay for me to look through blog archives if I’m not commenting? Would that make a blogger uncomfortable?

It’s always okay to look through blog archives. That’s what they’re there for. And when I find a new blog that I love, there’s nothing more fun than going back through all those old posts, getting up to speed on who’s who and what’s what, finding hilarious little treasures tucked away here and there.

That being said, it’s ALWAYS great to know who’s reading. ALWAYS. So if you’re uncomfortable leaving a comment that says, “Hey, just found your blog, enjoying looking through the archives” – then you can always send an email to the blogger. Or you can stay quiet. Totally up to you.

Should I take down all my pictures on my blog? Shannon’s post scared me a little bit.

I can’t speak for Shannon, but what I took from her post yesterday is that whether we post pictures of our kids or not, we should always, always THINK ABOUT what we’re putting out there. It’s especially easy in our little (mostly) Christian corner of blogland to assume that everyone who’s reading is a really nice person who loves the Lord. But that’s a pretty naive perspective.

And I’ll confess: after I read Shannon’s post yesterday, my very first reaction was to run back over here and take down the picture of A. in his little kah-rah-tay uniform. All I could think about were the FREAKS! FREAKY PEOPLE! who were trolling the interweb for perfectly innocent stuff so that they could turn around and make it bad.

I have absolutely no idea what that will mean for me from here on out. I’m a very, very trusting person…and I think that’s why Shannon’s post was such an eye-opener for me. Certainly this issue is going to be something that D. and I will talk about and pray about. I’ll keep you posted on how that goes.

And please, please understand this: if you’re thinking that what Shannon mentioned yesterday can’t possibly happen to you because you don’t have much blog traffic, you are wrong. No matter how small you may think your blog is, any search engine can reference it, any person can find it, and nothing is ever, ever deleted – even if you hit the delete button.

So if you can’t live with what you put on your blog being “out there” forever and ever, don’t post it. I can’t say that enough.

Is it okay if I use my real name on my blog?

I think the answer for this question, like the picture-posting deal, is different for everybody.

I would never, ever post our last name. If you have someone’s first name and last name and know what state they live in, you can find their address on a search engine in about five seconds. If you can find an address, you can find what school district that address would use. I don’t think I have to go much farther down that particular slippery slope to tell you how dangerous that information could be in the wrong hands.

There’s a fine line, you know? And how we navigate that line is going to be different for all of us.

Okay. I think I’ve bored you sufficiently for one morning. But, if you have a blog or if you’re thinking about starting one, you definitely need to think about this stuff. Your family deserves no less.

And we’ll get back to our regular, semi-humorous programming sometime later today.

Thanks, y’all, for reading.

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  1. since you asked…..and since I’m the first one to comment (*insert scary laugh here*), I read you everyday. I may have commented once upon a time, but when you’ve (usually) got 37 comments already I don’t bother….I could almost always say “you cracked me up” or, “Way to go, BooMama!”, but I figured 38 of those as opposed to 37 wouldn’t make much of a difference. But if it does, let me know! I just don’t want to bore you!


  2. Very very good points! This information really needs to be out there. I’m a little too trusting I think.

  3. I just wanted to say THANK YOU for the Beth Moore blog info. I about peed my pants when I read about it. I of course had to tell all my fellow “bethites” to go check out her site.

    Keep up the good work!

  4. Thank You (and in respect Beth Moore via Blog) for the security info. again. I got my site meter going and as soon as I am done with this comment will have my address & phone deleted from Blog profile. Why was it there in the first place – on moving out of the country, family kept asking and I kept saying “check the blog”. Well, they can send me an email if they want it that bad! Thank you for the education!!!!!

  5. I’m so glad you took some time to go over this stuff. I really made me nervous yesterday when I read Shannon’s blog. I was trying to think back on anything I had posted that could be used the wrong way. I was pretty worried about what could be done with pictures of my poor kids. I want to be careful in everything I do to protect my children and family!! Thanks for answering these questions for me!!

  6. This wasn’t boring at all, Boomama. You even make necessary info sound interesting! It’s a gift! Seriously though, I’ve been reading your blog since the middle of December. My aunt had your “Tour of Homes” button on her blog. I clicked on it (and absolutely LOVED it!) and have been hooked ever since! I have been thinking about starting my own blog but fear I have very little “interesting” stuff to say. Even though, I do have a mother-in-law from the south. My mom and MIL, as well as all of my aunts, got married in the 50’s. So, I have recognized many hilarious details you have elaborated on about your relatives. I think a lot of this stuff is from the era in which they grew up along with your southern touch. (The “stunt pillows” hit right at my mother’s and several of my aunt’s homes.) I don’t know if southern Ohio is considered “south” enough to qualify for southern, but I recognize an awful lot in your stories. Maybe it’s because it’s “family” stuff, which we all have. Your advice on any of this stuff, as well as Shannon’s, is extremely helpful to those of us new to the bloggy world. It’s all been very helpful to me. Love and prayers…..

  7. Ohhhhh, so that’s why your blog is more popular than mine. I have given too much advice. That’s just reason one. I like your encouragement to readers. I know that I have more readers than those who comment, but what especially surprises me is if I find my name on someone’s blogroll and they’ve never even said “hi” on my blog. It doesn’t bother me, but it’s hard for me to understand. I’ve come to the impression that I can’t keep my mouth (or fingers) shut.

  8. I am very grateful that you published Shannon’s link yesterday. I, the most uptight, worst-case-scenario-imagining mom I know NEVER considered what folks could do to pictures of my darlings.

    While I can’t ultimately control every which way my girls get digitized (class photos, dance recitals, being in public…) I am sifting through my blog now and removing pictures that are too easy to manipulate.

    I have a feeling there are a lot of profile and mood shots in my blog’s future. Kind of a shame, but such is the way of the world today.

  9. Great advice! Shannon’s post definitely has made a lot of people think, which is always a great thing. It’s cause my husband and I to contemplate a little more what I’m putting “out there.” There’s a careful balance between wanting distant family and friends to be able to keep up and see our family and yet not wanting the wackos to see the same stuff.

    As for lurking, I would have been in federal prison, too, by now if there was a law against that! It wasn’t until I put up my SiteMeter and realized just how many people I didn’t know about were visiting my blog, that I realized how great it would be if they’d say they’d been there. Like you said, it’s always good to know who’s reading.

  10. Thanks for the info. I have been reading your blog for months and have never commented. Having lived in the west all my life, your “southern style” is sure to bring delight each time I read it. It surely is “good medicine”!

  11. Yes, thank you for the info.

    I am one of the many who read your blog everyday but doesn’t always comment b/c usually it would be to say the same thing many have already said.

    With the given info., I have decided to take down a few of the pics in the posts I made.

  12. Thank you for this information. I have just become interested in blogging through a little “through the looking glass” adventure I had a couple of nights ago while on the internet. Actually, I have been feeling guilty about lurking while trying to decide if this is really something I want to do. I’m finding that there is definitely more to it than decidng on a cute, catchy name (is there anything left!!!), and being bold enough to think you have something to share that someone else would want to spend their precious time reading! Hmm–I’ve never been accused of being timid when I have something to say. . . Now if I could just come up with that “perfect” name I would stop lurking and become one of the blogging sisters–I’m already a Sista!

  13. Thanks for this! All of it is excellent. You explained EXACTLY how I felt yesterday when I read Shannon’s post. I did take down my flickr link and then never did follow up and go make my flickr account private. Real clever, aren’t I? LOL!! It really is disconcerting, and although I try to be careful, I’m sure I’ve given enough info if the wrong person wanted to find me. I do try to be careful what type of pictures I post of my kids. But I just feel like it wouldn’t be much fun to blog without having pix of them to post every once in a while at least.

    Anyway, more than you wanted to know, but thanks for posting great answers to some very common questions.

  14. Hello, I just added you to my blog lines and have been reading for a few weeks. I am totally new to this blog thing and just started my own a couple months ago. Dont think I have had any visitors so come by and say hi sometime.

  15. Thanks BooMama for answering my questions! You’re the bomb! Be safe, but keep up the laughs! Karen says “hi”!!

  16. I don’t mind lurkers at all – I just did my ‘delurking’ post for fun and games. I agree with everything you are saying, and want my blog to be a safe place.

  17. I think most of us have pondered most of those questions at one or another and every time I post a picture of one of my children I wonder who is looking at it and what they are thinking. It’s scary and Shannons post or yours today serves as a reminder that although we might think that it’s only Christain ladies reading our blogs it probably isn’t and we need to use some caution.

  18. jessica T. says:

    I read you everyday, sometimes I even check on you twice. I not have my own blog, I’m a little “behind” technologicaly. I have an art print above my computer titled, “LOW TECH” with a picture of an old crusty inventor sitting on a spaceship made out of a flashlight and egg beaters. So thank you for the laughs and also the voice of reason dealing with blogging safety.

  19. Thank you for this eye-opening information. I needed this!

  20. Hi Boomama,

    I’ve been reading yours and other blogs for a long while now but have never commented. Just want you to know I love your writing! I hope it’s alright to continue to read without always commenting. I’m a little shy that way.

  21. I’m not sure if I’ve commented before or not, but I do read you all the time.

    I’m like you in terms of being trusting. Not sure what I’m going to change on my blog, if anything. But the “it only will happen to someone else” mentality is probably not so healthy.

  22. Hey BooMama-
    Thanks for addressing this. I think Shannon did an excellent job as well.

  23. There is a lurker jail? Horrors!

  24. I just read Shannon’s post and I’m really creeped out! Hmmm. I may have some major changes to make on my blog.

    And thank you for posting that bloggy information. I’ve never heard of a site meter or stat counter. I’ll have to check into that.

  25. Given your recent post I figured I’d better let you know I’ve been reading your blog for a few months now. I found you through Kevin and his blog at his new church in MS. We attend your church and my husband went to school with Kevin….so we’ve been following him in this new journey. Anyhow, I read a post on your blog and it had me cracking up the whole time, so I typically just come read your blog to get a good laugh. That’s all. I enjoy some good humor and that’s something you’ve got! I don’t have a blog myself, but figure I may start one soon….

  26. i, too, am here almost everyday and I love your sense of humour. (that’s the canadian word for humor.) thanks for helping me remember to laugh.

  27. Fabulous information!

    And, yes, I’ve been a lurker in your blog for awhile, and I just wanted to say HI and introduce myself.

    Love your humor, btw… it’s been a loooong time since I snorted out soda laughing at your blog (by mistake, of course!)

  28. Hey Boomama… just wanted to say hi. I lurk on your site and others all the time, but my life, at this point, is not quite exciting enough nor is my writing eloquent enough to merit a whole space on blogland! At some point when I am married and have entertaining children I am sure I will have much more to share with the blogging community. I do enjoy reading your blog and must admit, that it is my favorite past time when taking “breaks” at work! Have a great day and thanks for not making us lurkers out there feel totally creepy!

  29. Thank you for your insight. I was wondering what your thoughts were on this subject. I got all worried yesterday after reading Shannon’s post. My husband and I are going to pray about how I will proceed with my blog.

  30. Okay,okay, since we are all confessing here… I too have been lurking since Amanda at LPM, posted the info about the “lovely web wonder”.
    I admire folks who have the gift of observation and the ability to express it with such humor. Most of the stuff you write about happens to me in some form but I never think to make it sound so funny! Thanks for the laughs.

  31. You’re a fixture on the blog-reading circuit for me and my wife. Keep up the good work!

  32. Well, I only discovered you a couple of weeks ago and find you hil-AR-ious…and I still think we should make you write a book…we could call it “Tales from the BooMama…” and it could be your blogs…**sniff**sniff** I smell a best seller here!!

  33. Boomama,
    I must confess, I am a lurker to the nth degree. I read your blog at work, but the ‘net filter they use prohibits me from commenting and by the time I get home and dial up the ‘net, it’s time to cook dinner and bathe boogs and fold laudry and keep my house from becoming a pigsty. So, know that I am not a crazy person, but I love your witty and refreshing humor and how you make the most mudane things into a funny escape for others going through similar stuff.

  34. Hi BooMama – I have been stalking (um..reading) you since I got a link to the Tour of Homes. I love, love, love you and every post you write! My 14 year old daughter is also a huge fan of yours(and of Big Mama of course!). My inlaws actually live in your area and whenever I am there I always wonder if I am passing by you! Just for refernce I will be there this weekend and I will frequent Jim and Nicks by the Galleria and that cute little scrapbook store in those shops behind the Galleria. As a visual, I will be dragging with me 3 blond girls, one husband and a HUGE sweet tea from Milo’s. After all that I am pretty sure I am one of those FREAKS! FREAKY PEOPLE!

  35. Thanks for this! I am super paranoid and what to do what is best for my family. I appreciate you for taking the time to address this. I appreciate your advice.


  36. Thanks for your humorous approach to life. I am so new to blogs that I had to read the definition! I found your blog via the Living Proof website…the same day I discovered their blog. I have been back daily (and then some) since reading the account of ‘stunt pillows’. You had me hooked. Now I just have to be careful not to spend too much time on the computer between your site and BigMamas. My children are almost grown…two are out of the house, two in high school and one in middle school…your blog reminds me of the joys and trials of the growing up years. You have been given the gift of encouragement. Continue to use it for His glory!

  37. Mom of family4Him says:

    Hi BooMama! I guess I am what you call a “lurker.” I come here just to read and to laugh. Like the first person to comment today, I don’t usually comment, although I may have once or twice. I first came to your blog back during the summer when you did the Bloggy Tour of Homes. I linked to it through a friend’s blog. One reason I love your blog is how you write about your southern culture. I am from the deep south originally (I currently live in what is geographically still considered the south, it is just not quite as deep) and find your stories about everyday life in the south just hysterical. I can just picture some of my family members when I read about yours. I especially loved the recent post about all of the throw pillows on your mama’s beds. (Sounds just like my mama’s beds). I also relate to you on some other levels — I think we are around the same age and I am also a Christian (Baptist pastor’s wife.) Well, I just wrote all of that to “identify myself” and I will probably go back to “lurking” (just reading!) now that you know who I am. Thanks for letting me hang around.

  38. I have been lurking around your site too. Since I have a son your age, I can totally relate to most of what you say. You crack me up everyday!! I always look forward to what you have to say.

  39. What? Your real name isn’t Boomama? Just kidding, Prunella ;)

    You are never boring. Never. Not once in your whole life, I’m pretty sure. Even your emails make me laugh.

  40. Angela in Abilene says:

    Thanks so much for all the info! I would have never thought of all the dangers. It never entered my mind that precious photos could be used in such a way.

    Angela in Abilene

  41. I’m very new to blogging!! I just found out what a blog is – but I’m hooked. I’ve spent time looking through your archives. I’ll read one, and it’s so funny that I want more!! It is such good clean fun. I now like to start my mornings with Rick and Bubba and BooMomma! Thanks for the laughs – your “not so scary” lurker in Vestavia.

  42. I’m another lurker. As a lifelong Midwestern, I love reading about Southern life. I also have a little boy a few months older than yours.


  43. You didn’t bore me at all! I appreciated your very good advice. : )

  44. You mean your real name isn’t BooMama?

  45. Elizabeth says:

    Hi-I am one of those “lurking” on your web site. There are very few that I visit but I often wonder if I did comment if you would even read. After reading your post today I will say hello more often. I love you blog and visit frequently. You crack me up! I am in the same hometown as Lots of Scotts and Ivey Sirmans so I got into blogging by check up on those folks and then ran into yours and many others. Blogging scares me simply because of what you (and Shannon) have been blogging about-but I needed the inspiration! Thanks!

  46. I read daily but like Bonnie said there would not be an original comment for me to leave that hadn’t already been said. I am a southern girl and I love to hear about your visits to Steinmarts and Walmarts.

    Take Care.

  47. Thought I would come out of lurkdom and say hello too. I enjoy reading blogs but rarely comment for a couple of reasons – 1) usually someone has already said (more eloquently) what I was thinking and 2) I don’t have a blog to click back to that introduces me. Sometimes I have the urge to comment, but I feel like I’d have to write “100 things about me” in order for the comment to make any sense. So usually, I’ll just wimp out and pass on commenting. I have often thought of creating a blog, but I know that it’s not “God’s best” for me in this season of my life. So in the meantime, I hope to continue to lurk – to read, laugh, cry and pray with you frequently – but I also will try not to be such a stranger and to comment more often.

  48. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the matter and point to Shannon’s post. Very good advice that I will link to in order to spread the word!


  49. I’m so glad you and Shannon are talking about this. There’s just no such thing as being too careful. We DO tend to view this whole blogging thing as a small little corner of cyberspace. And of course it’s not. This has been running around in my head for several weeks. At the beginning of the year I did a little house cleaning on my own blog just to feel a little more sure that I wasn’t putting too many clues out there. Scary stuff but much, much safer if we all exercise a little common sense.

  50. Thanks for pointing me to Shannon’s post, somehow I missed that one! And it was a good, thought-provoking one.

    I agree whole-heartedly with everything you’ve said! :)

  51. Catherine says:

    Hi, Thanks for the information. I had read Shannon’s post also and it was an eye opener. I usually lurk too, simply because there are so many good blogs that I like to read but I couldn’t possibly comment on every one.
    I enjoy coming to your blog. :)

  52. My blog is an extension of my professional writing. As such, I use my real name, since people mostly find me through my books. I also don’t use full face pictures of my daughter for reasons mentioned.

  53. BooMama, I have been reading your blog for a couple of weeks and found you through LPM. My daughter is an “M” in South Asia and she also encouraged me to read your blog. You are hilarous and I am sure I would love to have you as a friend.

    You have made me laugh out loud every time I read a post. Thanks for sharing your life, sense of humor, and love for the Lord.

    If it is okay, I plan to continue to lurk (or as my daughter’s friends call it – blog stalking).

    Love you sista,