20 August, 2008

House Blogging and a Hello to My Neighbors

Although I've never posted our address on the blog, I guess it's easy enough, with a little digging, to figure out exactly where we are located. Shortly after I began to chronicle the misadventures of fixing up The Box House, I received an e-mail from a neighbor who lives up the road. She had actually recognized the photo of the house--or rather, she recognized the elm tree we have growing out front. That was kind of cool. But it got me wondering if anybody on my immediate block reads the blog. Would they tell me if they did? Maybe that's why one of the former residents, related to the previous owner, apologizes about the house every time she sees me working outside.

I check my blog statistics every once in a while, and I assume the regular readers from Green Bay, Racine, Kansas City, Phoenix, and (north of) Houston are our relatives. Hello family and friends! But every day there are scores--and sometimes hundreds--of people in the City and northern suburbs who tune into the blog. About half surf in on a keyword; the rest are bookmarking the site or follow a direct link in.

I know it's silly, but I'm perfectly fine with knowing that strangers in--let's say--Helsinki, Finland, are reading the blog. Hi, you! But it's kind of weird to think that somebody on the next block, whom I've never met, might also be reading it and maybe even recognizes me when I walk by their house. Certain aspects of our lives are out there for anyone to read about.

Hmm. Just things I never considered before I started getting large numbers of daily hits.

So, my fellow house bloggers--have any of you ever come face-to-face with one of your readers? I know a lot of you who are in my daily blog roll mention the name of your town in the blog, or in your profile, or have had articles written about your blogging adventures in local and national magazines--complete with full name, neighborhood, and URL. Do you ever edit what you're writing just in case your neighbors are reading?

And if any of my neighbors are reading, feel free to say hello next time you see me puttering in the garden and let me know.


StuccoHouse said...

I've had this same conversation in my head. I'll admit to getting a tiny bit paranoid going to my block party. It's kind of a funny situation....where people may not mention that they read.

I don't censor what I say on my blog, but I also don't give out much personal info. - just the house facts.

One day I was outside working and a guy was walking by with an older couple (his parents, I guess). I didn't pay much attention until they kind fo paused in front of my house and I heard him tell the older couple in a hushed tone, she's taking down the aluminum and going to strip the wood and paint.... Only a reader would have known that. It was kind of cool and a little wierd all at the same time.

Joanne said...

Wow...that would be weird to overhear.

We had our block party a few weeks ago, and I was pretty paranoid about it. There are definitely some things about The Box House I was not thrilled to discover after moving in, and I blogged (bitched) about them. I was waiting for someone to say something that indicated they knew what was happening inside our house. When someone did ask how our basement toilet was doing, I immediately suspected him of reading--but it turns out he knew about our 1920s artifact from personal experience. :-)

Jennifer said...

I've thought about this... I don't think anyone local DOES read, but I've purposely kept my blog as anonymous AND as non-offensive to neighbors and the community as possible. Just a personal choice!

It's not pure censorship... but I don't bitch about my neighbors on purpose. I do put in all facts about repairs and such, but I have left out a few incidents with neighbors. Also, I've always wanted to post a picture of the house next door, as it's an identical twin... but won't, since it is a rental and difficult to get permission from the owner and the resident!

Marilyn said...

Joanne, I believe you know the mistake I made in naming my old blog; it was only supposed to be for friends and family, but spread the way blogs do.

I thought it would be cool to tell our contractor about the blog, but big mistake - he distributed it to everyone he knew, and as our house progressed I found I couldn't write anything negative; my hands were tied.

There's definitely something better about a blog being a bit distant from the real thing, a safe distance. Just ask people who blog about their office mates!

John said...

Funny how it's easier to talk to strangers than neighbors.

Personally, I really don't give a damn for the most part. I know that at least one of our neighbors at least occassionally read our blog. I only know this because they called us after we posted about house being robbed of all its tools before we moved in. It turns out they'd run off the suspected robber earlier and had called the police. They were very supportive and helpful. As a general rule, I only specifically mention our neighbors in a good way. Fortunately, most are nice or at least keep to themselves.

However, there was one noteble exception where I pretty well told one neighbor to kiss my ass. Since our house is ruin, they had an issue with our house blighting the neigborhood. Instead of minding their own business, the wife started telling anyone who'd listen about how horrible we were, how we were exposing our toddler to lead paint, etc. None of it was true, but that wouldn't stop Child Services from coming out to the house if someone called.

My biggest concern with the blog is co-workers reading it. I've never told any of them about it, but I know at least two or three have read it: occassionally they'll ask me about something with the house I've never mentioned at work. I figure that is a dead give away. So, there are some things I don't mention because I don't want it circulating at the office. That would be some serious bad mojo.

So, no, I don't really edit for the neighbors, but I do for the office.

Amalie said...

I, too, have been having similar thoughts. I never paid any attention to our stats until recently. That's when I discovered one person in particular who works in town and checks it every morning at about 8am via direct link.

Same thing-- I've got no problems with all of you all over creation reading it. But when someone so close to home that I don't think I told reads it, it weirds me out juuuust a little.

I've got a few friends who read it, a few family members...But I've never told anyone in the office. As far as I know, they still don't know about it.

I guess it's still kinda neat that there's local readership, really. Just weird.

Jean Martha said...

I have this weird list...

I never put the name of my town, street, last name or any of my clients' names on the blog. That said, someone in my town reads it and comments occasionally. I have NO CLUE who they are. That's kinda awkward but I just go on about my bidness...

Joanne said...

Thanks for chiming in, y'all. As always, your perspective helps, as blogging is still somewhat new for me.

There are certain things I keep off limits--such as the tenants' personal lives. I'll discuss how we did "such and such" to the tenants' unit, or "they made us brownies--yum," but that's about it.

The lives of our neighbors are pretty much off limits, too, as are the details about our clients (except in very general terms).

I won't ever mention the names of the previous owners or details about their lives, but I will discuss things we uncover as we go along. Some things I'm delighted with, like finding the original kitchen doors and electric fireplaces among the junk left in the basement. Some things make me cranky--like the junk left in the basement. Those stories are fair game, in my opinion. :-)

SmilingJudy said...

Yeah, I freaked out a little when an unknown someone in da 'hood left me a comment. And when I had to give my email address to the traffic island beautification coordinator, I immediately went and changed my domain so that it did NOT forward to my blog.

- a reader in KC who is not related to you

Jen said...

I have never place the name of the town in my blog. But the address is evident and I too first started the blog for friends and family.

But still, I have seen an increased number of local hits. Which freaks me out a bit. oh well....