For those unaccustomed to how blogging works: Wendy Harmer edition

This may be merely the first in an occasional series, as more public figures pop up on blogs to defend themselves from criticism. It would behoove them to be familiar with the technology before spitting out nasty accusations based on incorrect assumptions. As mostly a fan, it’s disappointing to see a clever person with media smarts fall into the trap of ASS+U+ME-ing her way into egg all over her face. A useful cautionary tale in general: if you use computers that other people are logged in to to leave comments on the internet then their default settings can make you look bad.

Wendy Harmer: You owe an apology for this accusation that a blogger maliciously changed your name on comments you left on her blog.

Hexy did nothing of the sort. Let me explain to you what really happened, and show you how to make sure that it doesn’t happen to you again. It was your own actions and omissions that led to that display-name showing up on the blog.

  • Firstly, your assumption: when you post a comment on on a blog hosted at, the blog-holder is not able to change your name as displayed to all readers. Google does not allow their Blogger account-holders to access the parts of the database that would allow them to do that (on some other websites (such as this one) a blog owner can do that). Blogger blog-holders can approve or delete comments, that’s it. Only the commentor controls what name appears, you just didn’t follow the instructions to do it correctly.
  • Secondly, your own actions: your comments were posted via an existing Google/Blogger account. You may not have meant to do this, but the computer you were using must have been already logged in to that account (were you using a computer belonging to a friend or a family member perhaps?). Here is the account-profile that anyone who clicks on the display-name for the comments you left on the blog can see:

  • Thirdly, your own omissions: Blogger provides a “Choose an Identity” option that you failed to change away from the default setting which uses the currently logged-in Blogger account.

None of this was under hexy’s control, it was all under your control at the computer you were using. I suggest that in future you only leave comments on the internet when logged into your own profile on your own computer, and also that you check carefully any options blocks in comments sections to ensure that you are not relying on default settings that are not appropriate for you personally.

More on that display-name: for your comment to be shown with that display-name, that display-name had to be the one already deliberately created by the user on that account. A Blogger user account is under the full control of the account owner, who can change the way that their name is displayed on all blogspot blogs by editing the account settings.

So, only the creator of the account is the culprit for that display-name. Now, if the account actually is yours and you wish to change the display name, you need to click on the Dashboard link over at the top right of the admin bar that shows at the top of every blog when one is logged on to one’s Blogger account:

That takes you to a screen like this, where you need to click on the Edit Profile link to change details in the user profile display:

Then change the text in the Identity field “Display Name” as below:

I suggest changing it to “Wendy Harmer apologises for unfounded accusations” for a few days.

Categories: media, technology

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21 replies

  1. A-mazing. Wendy has really showed her ignorance of the net on this one, not to mention her lack of understanding of feminist issues. Bad call, Wendy. And I’m a fan.
    M-H’s last blog post..How many years have I been knitting?

  2. Mmmm …. yes. I’m a little astonished that non-bloggers (as in, neither reading nor commenting nor writing) leap happily into the medium with all guns blazing. They seem to forget a basic rule of etiquette that applies almost anywhere, anytime – Look, listen and learn before joining in. I lurked for months before starting to comment, and then commented for years before starting to write myself. It just seems, well, polite.
    Great post, tt. I hope the headcold-morphing-bronchitis is clearing up.
    Deborah’s last blog post..Hard waste redux

  3. How very very strange.

  4. I can – onlyjustandonlywithalotofsquintingandbrowcreasing – understand how she might have assumed that you must have created the username, if she has never had a Blogger account herself. It must have seemed like the name came out of thin air if she was, as I’m suspecting, using someone else’s computer to post the comment.
    But even the fact that the holder of the Friendswiththedog Blogger account must have been logged into the associated GMail account (thus generating the default identity selection) wouldn’t have mattered if she’d actually read the Choose an identity section and chosen the appropriate option. She just didn’t read it, obviously.
    For her to then jump to intemperate conclusions after she couldn’t be bothered to read every instruction associated with making a comment and pull the “shan’t be back” routine is atrocious.

  5. This is a very useful post, tigtog. LE and I are in the middle of a ‘defo for dummies’ post that will go up in due course. Now blogging has become so big (ie ‘everyone’s doing it’), both technological and legal issues that have been on the backburner for some time will now need to be addressed.
    skepticlawyer’s last blog post..No condoms please, we’re Catholic…

  6. My daddy had a favourite corollary based in Occam’s. ‘Never attribute to malice what can be more easily explained by stupidity.’

  7. @ weez:
    Always a good guide, weez. Just a wee bit confused: in this case, is it Google/Blogger that’s meant to be stupid for not making it more obvious what Harmer’s display name was defaulting to?

  8. I took weez’s comment to mean that we may think Wendy’s being malicious but she’s…. not. She’s the other. (About this, anyway)
    M-H’s last blog post..Oh Lord, it’s hard to be humble…

  9. I got confused because Wendy’s accusation was that Hexy acted maliciously, in a situation where Hexy actually did nothing (and couldn’t do anything of the sort). So it didn’t seem to fit.
    I don’t think Harmer’s being malicious. She just carried on like a pork chop.

  10. I’m guessing Wendy’s silence is indicative of deep embarrassment.

  11. “She just carried on like a pork chop.”
    Is that a tigtog-ism or an Australian turn of phrase? I’m rather taken with it.

  12. @ Anna:
    It’s fairly widely used around Australia, as far as I know. I have no idea of its derivation, because on the face of it it’s absurd, since pork chops tend to be of a taciturn and stationary disposition.

  13. I just googled the phrase out of interest, and it would seem that it’s usage is much wider than I thought. There was a poster from the UK who uses the term but doesn’t know where it comes from, and someone from the ABC suggesting that it is originally American in origin. Very interesting. But they all agree on the meaning.

  14. Just a wee bit confused: in this case, is it Google/Blogger that’s meant to be stupid for not making it more obvious what Harmer’s display name was defaulting to?

    Harmer should not have blamed a malicious blog owner before she blamed her own inability to operate the interface.

  15. Thanks for the clarification, weez! I figured you meant something along those lines but couldn’t quite tease it out.

  16. “Carried on like a pork chop” might be related to a phrase my mother used to use – “carried on like a pork pie in a synagogue”. In which case, the original analogy might have been “causing more carry-on than eating a pork chop in a synagogue”.
    Yes, it’s anti-Semitic.

  17. I just googled as well, ABC radio ‘word watch’ said:
    According to the Macquarie Dictionary it means “behaving in a silly manner”. But, why? Well, there are two slang uses of the expression pork chop – both American in origin. From the 1940s in the US pork chop was a nickname for a full-time union official. It was a contemptuous expression. It implied that such union officials were self-interested – in the job for what they could get out of it. Port chop is also recorded from the 1970s as black American slang for an African American who still has the subservient ideology of the Old South. Of those two I suspect that “carrying on like a pork chop” derives from the union official – with the added implication of being useless and a waste of space.

  18. Rebekka: I saw another derivation, quite probably a post hoc one, that related to the racket pork chops make on a hot BBQ.

  19. So, last night I popped into my favourite bookstore, where they often have author appearances. They’re miked, so you can hear the author’s presentation all over the store. Whilst browsing, I got to hear all about all the different ways that women nag, and also a bonus pole-dancing-for-husband’s-amusement gag. Our guest star turns out to be … Wendy Harmer! As an added touch of irony, the bookstore places the podium right next to the women’s studies area, so I kind of gave up on the bookstore for the night …

  20. Leaving a comment on a months’ old entry – I know, it’s bad form. But I just had to add that I heard WH on the radio this morning (ABC702 Sydney) talking about the Canberra email clusterfuck. To my utter amazement I heard her say that she wished she had a fake email address so that she could leave anonymous comments on blogs. Speechless, I was rendered.

  21. Hahahahahahaha.
    Dear Wendy, if you’re reading? try, or for the easiest and most “respectable” pseudonymous email accounts currently available. Spoilt for choice, honestly.

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