How to: Consolidate your internet presence
Recently I took a while to try and simplify and consolidate my online presence. I thought it was an appropriate time to do this, as I had just bought a domain name (rtwilson.com), where I was hosting my academic website (www.rtwilson.com/academic) and my blog (which is what you’re reading now!). I thought it’d be useful to document the steps I took:
Stage 1: Create a new, clean identity
I will assume here that you have a good, sensible email address that you are likely to keep for a long time. If you don’t, then I’d recommend buying a domain name and getting a sensible email. This will the email that you use for all web-based communications and accounts.
The tasks below basically involve setting up accounts on major cross-site platforms, and ensuring they have sensible details, images etc. You may want to find an appropriate photo of yourself, or some other photo that you don’t mind representing you on the internet.
1. Create a Gravatar account with that email, and give it a sensible photo. In case you don’t know, Gravatar is a system used by a number of websites, blogs etc. to provide an image to go with your account. It’s all linked through your email, and is very simple to set up – simply go to the Gravatar signup page and follow the instructions.
2. Create an OpenID account. You may already have one of these – check here to see what account you may already have that has an OpenID associated with it. If you don’t have one, either set one up through a dedicated provider like MyOpenID, or link one to your domain.
3. Clean up and configure your Google account. You probably want to update your Google Profile with a sensible image and some sensible information.
Stage 2: Remove old accounts/identities and link them to new ones
This is a little more difficult – but just because you have to remember where you have accounts. Some of these accounts you may wish to close (Bebo, MySpace etc), but some you’ll want to keep and associate with your new email address.
This may involve simply changing the email address of your account and updating details (photo, profile etc) or removing an account and creating a new one. You will find that a number of sites will now let you link your account through OpenID or to your Google Profile, and loads of sites will pick up your avatar from Gravatar. A list of sites you might want to check is below:
- StackExchange sites (StackOverflow, SuperUser etc)
- Blogging accounts
- Hacker News
Stage 3: Update as necessary
Last but not least – keep an eye on your profiles on these sites. Update them when they need updating – I found a site which still said I was at school – and make sure photos (if you are using them) are at least vaguely up-to-date.
(If you liked this, you might enjoy my other how-to’s and my book reviews)