I’ve spent several hours this morning performing some long-overdue online identity maintenance. Like many of you, I’d imagine, I’ve accumulated a trail of neglected blogs, web sites, unused domain names and forgotten accounts. There’s still a lot to do to get things where I’d really like them to be, but it feels good to have at least tackled the worst of it.
Step 1. Taking inventory
The first thing I did this morning was put together an inventory (of sorts) in MindNode Pro. I put down every domain name, blog, site and service I could recall ever using into nodes on the tree. Having it all in one place made it much easier to see where most of the dead wood needed to be cut away.
Step 2. Fixing Broken DNS
I’ve started moving my domain names to a new registrar recently and, in the process, lost a decent amount of DNS configuration information. Broken URLs were at the top of my list, but I also took this time to set up a few forwards on some recently registered domain names.
Step 3. Giving Notice
The next step was to post an update to a couple of blogs I no longer use. I tried to say, in the nicest way possible, that while I was no longer posting there, I hadn’t disappeared of the face of the earth and if they’d like to see what I’m doing now, well that’d be swell. I could have deleted these accounts but there’s still content there I want to keep, and they still see traffic that could possible be redirected to more active pages. Eventually, I think I’ll want to consolidate at least the article content into a single site but I not in a huge rush and I’m also not entirely sure my current blog provider (Tumblr) is where I want call home for the long term.
Step 4. Moving Things Around
I keep a placeholder page at driscolldev.com that was previously hosted on Google AppEngine. This worked pretty well, but updating the site required having both the latest source and the AppEngine launcher installed. Moving the page over the GitHub pages took less than an hour and now I can update the site from anywhere I have Git and a text editor.
Step 5. Putting My Best Foot Forward
This is an ongoing battle when you have multiple accounts online to keep fresh. Bio’s, blurbs and profile pics sit forgotten and woefully out of date on services I rarely visit, and even on some I visit regularly. Gravatar helps a little, but because only a limited number of the services I use have integration, it mostly becomes one more thing to forget to update. It’s also hard to decide what services are worth having to update in the first place (does anyone use about.me?) and I struggle with the trade off between having more content about me online that I have some control over versus the cost of keep it current.
Keeping It Up
There’s still (and always) more work to do but it was worth losing a Sunday morning bringing the most visible aspects of my online identity up to date. You never know to whom you’re making a bad first impression online.