We’re sat in a coffee shop and I was thinking about putting something online. It’s not really suited for this weblog here, which is supposed to be more about tech, politics etc than my personal life (despite the recent holiday entry!). The only place that it would really fit would be an old personal site that I used to run — it had some stuff about myself and my friends, an archive of the fiction I’d written (some of which was published IRL) and all the other stuff that you found on old-style personal sites, short of cat photos.

So why aren’t I posting it there rather than talking about it here? Because I can no longer access that website with editing privileges. I signed up for it years ago and have long forgotten the password. Surely I can get them to email me my forgotten password? Well, of course I can. Unfortunately I no longer even remember which it was registered with and I strongly suspect it is one of the ones I have left as carrion for the spam vultures.

Before I wised up to the problems of spam (arguably some of my earliest email addresses were gained before it became a real problem) I used to give out my email address quite happily. So of course all my original accounts and a few others after I wised up (since the companies who shall remain nameless sell their customers’ email for profit) filled with spam to the extent that I abandoned them. Most free email account providers offer no way to delete an email address or terminate your account. Some do the honours for you if you fail to log in for a while, but there is no way of deciding yourself.

So now, I have an old defunct website, a number of old & defunct email accounts, none of which I can easily access and no way of proving to an online service that in the real world I am who I say I am and the owner of these various things. For most I didn’t have to prove a real world identity in the first place.

All the safeguards the companies put into place to allow me to retrieve access if I was dumb enough to forget passwords are broken, by spam driving me to abandon not only the original account but the backup too. With email addresses even more impermanent than home addresses and no extra incentive such as a voter’s roll to get me to connect my real world self with my online self, this is no surprise. But it is amusing to think of all the spambots unintentionally turning email accounts into either fortresses or carrion. They can swarm all they like over my old email addresses — I don’t go there anymore.

PS Just noticed that the previous person’s ticket password to get onto the pay-as-you-go internet here in the coffee shop was 76-BRAN-COPS. It made me chuckle 😉