Sometimes I wish my name were “Smith”!

As this blog has garnered more users over time, there have been a couple of comment threads which have degraded a bit.  Recently one was brought to my attention where a sole proprietor from one small company wrote some comments which were not well received by others.  He used his real name, which is somewhat uncommon – let’s call him “SmallGuy”.  Readers then replied back saying that SmallGuy was bad unreliable and a rip off.

Unfortunately for SmallGuy, this blog is more popular than his company’s web page.  Google picked up the whole conversation, and a search for “SmallGuy” now brings up above SmallGuy’s website, including “SmallGuy sucks” right in the snippet! 

Obviously, SmallGuy is not too happy about this; customers searching for references on him don’t see very good stuff.  And all of this is because he posted a comment using his real name on my blog, and he probably didn’t think enough about the possible long term effects of this comment before he wrote it.

Unfortunately, SmallGuy’s name is pretty unique.  If it weren’t so unique, Google wouldn’t show as a top result for his name.  Everyone should remember that data that goes up on the net goes up forever.  You can’t take it back once you press ‘post’ – ever.  Even if I deleted the comment, its still out there in untold numbers of RSS caches,, and other places.

Those of us with unique names need to be doubly careful.  On one hand, our uncommon surnames lead to better prominence on the net for those searching for us.  On the other, if you say anything bad, it’s permanent and undeniable. If your name is Smith, you don’t have to worry!

As for SmallGuy’s dilemma, I offered that if he can get the poster of the negative comment to send me an email to change the comment, I will do so.  That is, if he can solve his own customer issues, then he can mostly fix this.

3 thoughts on “Sometimes I wish my name were “Smith”!

  • January 18, 2008 at 11:08 am

    Well, I’m not sure changing the data is the answer. Maybe, “smallguy” will think about his service or product and fix the problem. Yea, damage has been done, but it is not like it can’t be repaired with better customer service.

    But I guess the important lession is that you have to be mindful of what you say or write. The difference now is that we do have a perminent record that will be with us long after we forget our comments or blog entries. Thinking about running for President one day? Don’t blog or comment on any blog cause someone will find it one day and use it against you!

  • January 20, 2008 at 12:22 am

    I know I have a very unique name and I’m not afraid to use it in public forums. I do think about the long-term impact of things that I say, though.


  • February 5, 2008 at 7:46 am

    Be careful what you wish for… My name is too common. It’s rare that I work for a company and not have someone with the exact same name hence similar email address working at the same company. At my previous company I used to get emails for the other Matt Smith quite often and he would get my emails quite often. When he quit, myself and my manager got an exit interview meeting request in outlook… kinda spooked me out… way to go HR…wrong Matt Smith… Anyhow, I sometimes wish I could search google for my name and find it. There are too many Matt Smith’s out there for that to be possible. Oh well.


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