As mentioned in multiple posts previously, what happens online is easily verified, and can cross over and can cross over to the offline. Potential employers now Google your name before they give you a job, however have you considered how many details your online persona uses, and whether they can be linked to your real world.
Many people are members of many forums, and why not? Forums provide a wealth of information that is not available anywhere else, and also detailed feedback. The issue is that if you use the same username for all your forums, Google will find you, especially if you use a distinct user name that is not going to have a high search volume.
People are usually aware not to spread personal information on a forum, however little bits slip on every forum. The photography forum might know what city you live in (letting people know that you took photos around Sydney), while the Bored of Studies forum might know where you went to school (these forums keep their data for a while!). Combined with a description you put on a dating site (5 ft 11, green dreamy eyes, built like a fridge) and people might be able to work out who you are by your online profile. Doing a search for “donkeysandcows2787” will now bring up a bunch of results that you don’t want friends and family to see, let alone potential employers.
There are a few ways of dealing with this issue:
– Don’t put anything about yourself online. This can be tough, as with the community nature of forums, you often need to give out some personal information to get help, or illustrate your expertise.
– Have different online personas for each of the forums. In this way you can give out as much you want to, and there is very little chance of anyone linking your accounts. The only downside is that if you are a member of multiple forums in the same niche, it is harder to establish credibility, as you basically have to prove yourself every time.
Although the second option may be more of a pain to implement, it does allow you to be more liberal in what you say online.
As hard as it is to get something ranking in Google (without the help of a professional SEO company!), it is almost equally hard getting something deleted from the index. Popular tech forum Whirlpool makes a very stringent point of not removing posts from their board. Once these have been indexed, it’s tough to get the information out of the public forum.