Anonymous Comments Might Not Be So Anonymous

Could also be titled, “Dear FEMA, Is this what our tax dollars pay for?”

I was checking my email yesterday (which I do about 12 million times a day) and in one of my accounts was a fresh new “restaurant review”. Always excited for more content and feedback, I opened the email to find this:

A new comment on the post #17 “A Pocket Full of Rye” is waiting for your approval
…/a-pocket-full-of-rye

Author : Joe Blow (IP: 71.252.64.50 , unassigned.fema.gov)
E-mail : joeblow@yahoo.com
URL : http://joeblows.com
Whois : http://ws.arin.net/cgi-bin/whois.pl?queryinput=71.252.64.50
Comment: does not exist. No such place! Phone number disconnected. This guide is totally lame!

*sigh* Needless to say I was disappointed and mildly irritated.

I actually do get *polite* email from locals periodically letting me know when a restaurant has closed or opened or changed management, etc. I don’t have a problem with being told I have some no longer correct data; things change all the time and I just can’t keep up with every single little change the instant it happens. I rely on tips and info from the user base to keep things current — and I appreciate the help.

What bothers me about this are a couple things.

  1. Instead of emailing me privately, he elected to submit a bogus review hoping to have it appear publicly to embarrass me. Um ok… that’s mature.
  2. Instead of leaving his email address and name so I could respond back with a “thanks for letting me know” or “thanks to Bob Smith for the tip” acknowledgment, he chose to leave a fake name and a fake email… probably because he knew he was being a Jerkface McMeaniehead but doesn’t have the cajones to own his own jerkface-osity.
  3. Why do employees of a government agency that is already not known for having the best PR in the universe go around leaving “anonymous” snotty messages on blogs? Don’t they have better or more constructive things to do with their time — their paid-for-by-MY-tax-money time?

Since I can’t email directly back to this guy, I shall take advantage of my little soap box here to issue my response… and then I’ll print out my reply and snail mail it to the FEMA office in Indianapolis to the attention of whomever is listed as being in charge of said office, just so that the Federal Emergency Management Agency in Indiana is aware of how their tax-payer-funded resources are being used. Maybe if I’m feeling particularly snarky, I’ll cc the Washington DC office (and maybe the Colbert Report since way more people pay attention to Colbert anyway).

My response

Dear Mr. Blow,

I’m terribly sorry you encountered an outdated listing in my Dining Guide. Unfortunately, I am just one person and sometimes restaurants close quietly and I don’t realize they aren’t there anymore; however, I think it is rather harsh to say that the entire guide is useless.

(Not to mention just plain rude — especially when you don’t have the cajones to leave your real name or email address)

I do state several times on the Dining Guide that if any new information is available about any of the restaurants listed, or if there are any other comments or feedback, to please feel free to send us email. Submitting bogus reviews is not the proper means of alerting of us of new information.

In the future, you can send updates and corrections to updates@lafayette-online.com.

Thanks again for letting us know about the outdated information, and thanks in advance for your cooperation in the future.

In Summary…

The moral of the story is that unless you’re using proxy services like HideMyAss.com or something along those lines, you’re probably leaving enough clues behind so that anyone who cares to can trace it back to you. Maybe not ALL the way to you specifically, but far enough to cause problems…

But Carolyn… what if I’m not leaving any snotty comments or otherwise being a delinquent? What if I’m just doing research for my business?

Yes, what if you are just doing research for your business… on a competitor’s website? Hrm? You think they won’t notice? You think they won’t *mind* that you’re snooping? They might not… but then again they might. Do you really want to take that chance?

Also, the secondary moral of the story is don’t be a Jerkface McMeaniehead. Being a pecker just because is not only pointless, it is unproductive and makes people like me do things like send certified letters to your boss. So there.