I Am Too Googleable!

What a letdown.

I wanted to report on near completion of The Website Resurrection Project – but I had a mind-altering experience.

On the upside, I am not afraid of identity theft or surveillance anymore.

My dentist had to cancel an appointment the day before. I showed up some minutes before the appointed time. The practice was empty and dark, except for the assistants who told me:

We have eagerly been waiting for you!! We did not know how to reach you as we didn’t have your phone number!

Have you tried to find my phone number on the web? It’s on my business website!

Yes, we searched the internet – but there were so many search results coming up!!!! And we did not know which is your business page!

(Probably it was more like:
One of *these* pages is for business?!?).

You could have sent me an e-mail – I am usually very responsive! My e-mail address is on all my websites.

There was no e-mail address!

Uhm… sorry… I am very active on the internet … it is maybe difficult to sort all that out …

So it was all in vain.

I have a business page, three personal websites, this blog, and a German blog, and some weird older web projects. My usual response to an enthusiastic

I have checked out your website ! :-) !!


Which one?

And each and every of those sites has this overly correct legal information notice our online media law demands of me.

I even add the e-mail address though I might not need to.

As the Subversive Element I note on top of the legal information block:
Adding legal information to a site like this constitutes an act of subversion in its own right

Legal information needs to be accessible in a simple way, via a single click from any page. You then argue at court over the definition of simple and single click and if your visitors could or could not infer from a URL title such as contact that address information is to be found at this URL.

Most German wordpress.com bloggers have a legal info page longer than my most extensive posts. The About page of this blog is, at the time of writing, most likely illegal as the linked legal information is two clicks away from any post.

Tinkering with this was just a tiny part of The Website Resurrection Project – I have re-written loads of content, and didn’t leave any of the code or design untouched. All for the sake of clarity and serving the internet community well – and because I don’t have much other hobbies.

Using a browser I never use to logon to Google, a search for my name brings up a reasonable collection of results – my personal site being in the first place, legal info one click away.

Google has honored my efforts by recognizing my authorship for this website although I did not do take ownership in the Google-technical sense for any site – as my nerdy readers might have noticed on this blog. I wanted to save my pseudonym elkement and not trade it for the real name Google+ forces you to use.

I don’t think there should be any difficulty to spot my contact data. I am happy with the ranking – I am just worried about the subversive stuff is given less weight than the business-y. But that does not prevent clients who are my business social networking contacts from asking me for my contact data again – on Facebook!

So what’ the problem?


For German readers: Here is the law(s).

6 Comments Add yours

  1. Out of curiosity I thought that perhaps since you are in Europe and I am in North America things might be a little different. I searched against your name and found a page filled with relevant links. An image of both you and your husband — black and whites that looked like they came from a booth — was also featured; you probably know the ones I am talking about. I thought about it for a bit and then realized that perhaps some of this was driven by the fact that I am a frequent visitor to your blog, so, perhaps Google had saved some of this. I tried again, but this time from an incognito tab from chrome. Same result.
    I tried one more time, this time from Bing and got essentially the same result. As you might expect the topmost results were from linkedin, twitter, google+ and the like (Google plus was ranked high even on Bing). Yes, that is a little disconcerting.
    Just for fun I tried my own name.
    And started to laugh :-)
    I’m perfectly safe, thanks to a couple of famous guys ROTFLMAO :-)

    1. elkement says:

      Thanks for the research, Maurice :-)
      I have now tried with Tor Browser in order to use some weird IP address from another country – and I think I see similar results as you (I can only use Bing as Google thinks Tor is an automated bot):
      LinkedIn, Twitter, and Google+ are ranked highest, and the German business network (XING) is not listed on page 1. But my sites e-stangl.at, radices.net, and our business’ About page are still on results page one. Assuming people would focus on the top three – I should not visit a dentist in the US as they would not find my contact data on the social media profiles directly – two or three clicks required ;-)
      (The b/w images we have taken ourselves – it took hours :-) The only time we had turned our living room into a studio with tons of lamps, haha)

      Of course I searched for your name, too, now: :-D If I use the browser logged on to Google, I see some of your stuff on page one – but I think this is because you are in my circles. Using an anonymous browser and varying the IP (Tor ‘Identity’) I manage to get all kinds of other Maurice’s on page 1.

      Probably the dentist’s office is using Tor for security reasons ;-)

  2. M. Hatzel says:

    I enjoyed the inclusion of dialogue on this post–perhaps because it includes yet another thing, and subverts the monologue which dominates our blogging genres.

    I finally completed my twitter account last week, the delay being that I really have no news, events, or discoveries to report in my line of work, and thus have little use for it. But I did a quick search of some of my favourite bloggers to see how twitter was treating all of you–you seem VERY active over there indeed. Sorry I didn’t have time to browse the tweets, but on a quick glance they seemed a little too specialized for me to decode, and would probably require more time and maybe a physics textbook or two? :) Congratulations on boggling Google with your very active hobby.

    1. elkement says:

      Thanks ;-) Yes, as a Subversive Element I should subvert blogging from time to time :-)

      As for Twitter: I use it mainly to ‘pin’ things I read and found interesting – I often full-text search my own tweets – and I just make some public as other people might find some of this interesting, too. What I found surprising it that you can have meaningful conversations in 140 chars.

      But compared to some of really active Twitter friends (~ several tweets a day all the time) I am not that active. I don’t use it ‘strategically’, that is, prepare tweets in advance in case you have nothing to tweet about spontaneously.

  3. So, are you saying that internet law in Germany mandates contact and identity information on websites? Is this an EU thing or just German and does it apply to social media accounts like Twitter? Otherwise, maybe your dentist just came off the nitrous oxide :)

    1. elkement says:

      I can only say for sure for Austria and Germany – but about 80% of our national laws are derived from EU directives.
      Yes, it does also apply to social media like Twitter, no kidding. You find shortened URLs on German tweeps’ profiles to their legal info, and there are Facebook apps to add a compliant legal info to your page as the normal About is not enough.

      The ‘German LinkedIn’, XING, has added an additional field called Legal Notice so that you can add the required contact information to a profile that is a business card anyway (The point is that anonymous non-friend users on the internet would not be able to see it otherwise).
      It hinges on the ‘professional use’ but this is to be interpreted in the broadest sense. An employed lawyer who had not populated that field in his XING profile – under the reasonable assumption that he uses the network as an individual not on behalf of his employer – was sued over that by a colleague.

      The minimum information also for totally private websites is though: Full name and place of residence.

      (But the dentist did not complain about compliance ;-) – they were just desperate they could not contact me.)

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