Tuesday, 16 September 2014

A Website Visitor Searches for Photos of You Naked

The situation: your website statistics list the search term ‘[your name] naked’.

You feel: embarrassment; confusion; concern; fright.

Anybody who’s ever monitored the visitor statistics for their website will tell you how addictive it can become. Your statistics tell you your visitors’ country of origin, which browsers they use, how long they stay for and, most intriguingly, the search terms they use to arrive at your site.

This information can be extremely helpful. It tells you, for example, which of your books are the most searched for and the sort of keywords that draw traffic to your site. However, sometimes there can be such a thing as too much information.

You’re trawling through your statistics, looking at various misspellings of your name, and suddenly you see the terrifying words: ‘[your name] naked’.

You freeze. Why on earth did you call yourself ‘[your name]’? Beginning a forename with a square bracket is a disgrace, not to mention your lack of any capital letters.

You wonder who could possibly be looking for photographs of you naked? Are there naked photos of you online? Have you ever done anything to suggest that there might be naked photos of you online?

Relax. The internet is full of perverts. It is true that nowadays almost everybody uses the internet, but the perverts had a head start. Yes, when taken at face value these search terms seem alarming. However, in light of all the internet traffic out there and the number of search terms involving the words ‘naked’, ‘sexy’ and ‘drunk’ it would be statistically implausible for you to compulsively monitor your web stats without seeing the occasional alarming combination of keywords.

Anyway, there are many explanations besides a reader hoping to get a peek at your bits: perhaps the visitor misspelled ‘named’, perhaps the visitor was looking for photos of somebody else with the same name as you, perhaps the visitor felt that a character in one of your books laid herself bare…

Whatever you do, do not register this as a calling to publish nude selfies. If a reader searches for ‘Has [your name] written any short stories?’ then perhaps you may wish to take that visitor’s request into consideration. However, you must keep a discerning eye when it comes to responding to the requests of anonymous web users. We will return later to the subject of author integrity in relation to sexual content. For now, all you need to remember is this: clothes on; cameras off.

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