Software

Is your online doppleganger a plus or a minus?

Many of us find others with our same name when we Google ourselves. Here are two instances of when the name confusion might not be such a bad thing.

Lately I've been writing a lot about online reputations and how they can affect your career. I've suggested that people Google themselves to see what prospective employers might see. Many people who did this reported finding others with their same name. This can be problematic if the person with your name happens to be, oh I don't know, in the porn industry or is on a Jersey-based reality show.

I kind of got lucky in that respect. My online doppelganger, who actually shows up before me in a Google search, is an Associate Professor of English at the University of Pennsylvania with a list of scholarly writings that is longer than my leg. One is called The Achievement of Scholarly Authority for Women: Trends in the Interpretation of Eighteenth-Century Fiction. (Compare that to one of my writings, Five signs that your layoff-spared job sucks, and I think you can see how I wouldn't object if anyone mixed us up.)

In preparation for this blog, I contacted the other Toni Bowers via email. You have to be careful with that kind of thing-I didn't want her to think I was some kind of stalking weirdo. But she was very gracious, as we Tonis tend to be, and responded to my email. We discussed the hardship of having a name that, particularly in the U.S., is associated mostly as a shortened version of Anthony (despite the "i" ending) and that we've both had to deal with being addressed as "Mister" because of this.

One of TechRepublic's long-time bloggers, Scott Lowe, had an experience with a same-name person that was a little more complicated. The other Scott Lowe was also a technical writer. Our Scott said he was a little concerned at first: "I try to 'manage' my online reputation pretty carefully, so having an unknown out there worried me a bit. I'm very lucky in that he's actually a brilliant, likeable guy so if a potential employer confuses us, I don't have anything to worry about."

He actually met his doppelganger in person at Gestalt IT's Tech Field Day in Boston last May, where the other Scott was one of the EMC presenters.

"All the way there on the bus, everyone was wondering if there would be a world-ending paradox. The first ten minutes of our presentation time were spent getting pictures taken and talking to people about the whole situation. It's pretty neat actually. Like I said, he's a heck of a nice guy, brilliant--and I mean that--and a good resource. So, it could be worse!"

About

Toni Bowers is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and is the award-winning blogger of the Career Management blog. She has edited newsletters, books, and web sites pertaining to software, IT career, and IT management issues.

135 comments
boostergold
boostergold

My doppleganger works as an accountant ! Not bad since he's making tons of money in vancouver. maybe i can trade lives.

Madsmaddad
Madsmaddad

Put your name into Amazon as an author. I seem to have written some fantasy novels, My son wrote two books on Electronics Engineering two years before he went to university to do Electronics Engineering. My brother who has written a book, cannot find it on Amazon.

AlexPC
AlexPC

I have two online dopplegangers; both live in another country. One is a professional soccer player, the other a professional clown. Since I'm trying to break (back) into software development after a several-year hiatus in a different career direction, I hope any potential employers don't assume either of those are me and wonder what good my prior experience would do me. Especially if they think I'm a clown... ;)

DvT-Hex
DvT-Hex

Searches in Google and Yahoo of the usual variations of my name give no results that have anything to do with me (on the 1st 10 pages of results, anyway). The only results that I have found for myself require an unusual variation of my name and those 3 entries (only 3 and the same 3 on both Google and Yahoo) all reference back to the 1970s. On the other hand, searching for my on-line nickname does yield numerous results. However, a prospective employer would not have that name available and even a current employer would have to go to some effort to determine it; like thinking to ask me or the right close co-workers about it. Facebook, MySpace, or Twitter? Not a chance. Never been to them, although I have been tempted to sign up under a false name just so I can get banned from them for violating their TOS. :)

minithumbs
minithumbs

Mum and Dad made up the spelling of her first name and the first 20+ pages googling her are actually her. oh and yes my tag has been porn sited not just a porn star the .com.and .net both are porn sites, but i had it first!

nytephenix
nytephenix

I do a search for my name and find a few plus's and a couple minus's, but if I click on the one about linked in profiles, I am on the first page of them...so I guess could be a good thing....

Wolvenmoon
Wolvenmoon

Pick a unique online moniker, keep it clean, keep it consistent, and associate your real name with it on a push-basis ( So people who only know your online name can't find your real one easily ) So when an employer goes through my social networking stuff and finds a link to my stuff and the 10,000+ hits Wolvenmoon generates, most of them me, I'll be able to say that "Yeah, most of it is me. Look for the logo." Having a personal logo helps too, as you can keep that controlled and issue DMCA takedown notices to anyone who tries to run off with it.

bdbauer
bdbauer

My name is rather unusual (particularly my first name), but someone with the same first & last name was arrested in Tennessee for having illegal guns in his tow truck! Fortunately it shows up very low on the searches.

sms2
sms2

My doppleganger, plus or minus? Hmmm can be both. Being mistaken for a past Australian Prime Minister has its ups and downs. :-) Johh Howard Sydney, Australia

Datacommguy
Datacommguy

My name is the same as my Dad's (different middle name). Not long ago I got a mass mailng from my bank telling me that at age 97 I was a prime candidate for a reverse mortgage. Sure enough various peoplefinder sites show me living here - at that age with a much younger wife... I thought it was hilarous, and so did the folks at the bank who had purchased targeted mailing lists. I suppose some of that could be traced back to my continuing subscriptions to various magazines Dad subscribed to and changing the address to my home after he passed away. And some mornings, it feels like they may be right after all...

rjohnson12
rjohnson12

Mine is definitely a plus because the first 2 pages of a Google search for mine is the NHL player. The minus is he plays for my favourite team's nemesis! It makes watching a Canucks/Flames game pretty fun though. I'd also just like say that there are plenty of technical blogs on this site that I really appreciate, but these 'less techie' ones are definitely some of the more enjoyable ones to follow and post in (i.e. "Worst Comic Book Movies"). Thanks!

rroberto18
rroberto18

I have many dopplegangers (a word curiously not in the MS spelling dictionary) across the Atlantic. These areEuropeans who use their middle name matching my first name (common) and share my last name (which is extremely rare in the U.S.) Even googling (again, not in MS dictionary) my full name with quotes around it brings these folks up too. Although I can't find the Google profile I created for myself that used to appear. Hmmm.. Most of my dopplegangers are professors and doctors too. But I'd still like to know what happened to my own Google profile. Any help out there for this plight?

AviLoc
AviLoc

One of the the most idiotic, stupid blogs I've read in a long time. If being mistaken for a man despit the i in toni (and idiotic spelling) is the worst that happens to her, she got off scott free. And what an idiot for thinking porn actors actually use real names. Didn't she ever watch Seinfeld. Overall, she deserves a horrible online rep for her sheer stupidity

ByteBin-20472379147970077837000261110898
ByteBin-20472379147970077837000261110898

I met my doppleganger when I was searching my name. Turned out to be she was on MySpace (which I no longer use) and FaceBook. So now she's my FB Friend! She's not a really a minus either, which is a good thing. So it's all good. But it sure is funny to see the updates on FB from two people with the same name! LOL!

PMPsicle
PMPsicle

Even if one is a misspelling of his name ... think Cade's county and over 100 entries in his filmography (only one under his real name). The other one is a black activist writer (journalist etc) ... My name? Glen Ford. Unfortunately, I've never corresponded or spoke with either.

Zwort
Zwort

In spite of having a relatively uncommon name there are one or two people with my name. This made things difficult when I unwittingly acquired an online obsessive follower. I occasionally run a grep to see if he's still harassing them, and discovered one of them has a Xtian name that was incorporated into a domain I once had, being also my father's middle name. It's been a few years since my obsessive follower has shown any interest in me; after some 10 years of being followed around by this leg humper I became, to all intents and purposes, dormant and my follower, to all intents and purposes, went into extinction. Prior to that he assumed that I was any or all of my namesakes. I was variously an alcoholic, a director, and a few interesting others. He would frequently try to have various of their accounts closed, and threatened them with legal action, as he did a number of his other targets. Thus I have a nick which is a neologism, try to uses different writing styles, and am rarely visible in fora that represent my interests. All of my 'doppelgangers' are pluses, because they are all me, but I am never to be seen, Spartacus. ;-)

silverhawk
silverhawk

I'm rather fortunate in that respect due to the fact that my last name is also the plural or possessive of the woman's name Linda. So Googleing my name returns tons of entries like Lindas nail parlor, Lindas cat grooming and Lindas asparagus cupcake recipe. Plus or minus? I don't know.

jemorris
jemorris

I haven't taken the time to search "myself" in a couple of years but last time I did I came up with an email that had been posted as a solution in a support forum from way back in '94, that was quite surprising. Besides using the major search engines whose results will most likely be similar try using some of the lesser known or used ones. There are many that are targeted towards general areas of interest like music, IT, sports, etc... that's where you'll find the interesting stuff!

charlie
charlie

I've created a society of persons with my name on Facebook. We are an interesting group.

Epodair
Epodair

Luckily I have a rare name but I do have a friend who has the same name as a famous "adult entertainer".

E Chill
E Chill

With a name of Smith, I have too many doppelgangers to really matter at all. But the 2 main ones are a NFL player and ... a Serial Killer. What are you gonna do about it anyways?

marktoor
marktoor

Toni: Per Wikipedia your definition of a doppleganger is not what you are talking about: In fiction, folklore, and popular culture, a doppelg?nger ( pronunciation (help?info)) is a tangible double of a living person that typically represents evil. In the vernacular, the word doppelg?nger has come to refer (as in German) to any double or look-alike of a person. The word is also used to describe the sensation of having glimpsed oneself in peripheral vision, in a position where there is no chance that it could have been a reflection. Doppelg?ngers are often perceived as a sinister form of bilocation and generally regarded as harbingers of bad luck. In some traditions, a doppelg?nger seen by a person's friends or relatives portends illness or danger, while seeing one's own doppelg?nger is an omen of death. In Norse mythology, a vard?ger is a ghostly double who precedes a living person and is seen performing their actions in advance.

mcswan454
mcswan454

And I've always wondered, in this day and age of Identity Theft, how certain are we that someone ISN'T using us to "cover" themselves already? It's true just from the responses here that some of us could hide in the mix, others are readily identifiable, as myself. How safe do you feel, and what COULD you do if you were suddenly associated with a criminal? Not as if it'd be easy to prove otherwise, would it? M.

minithumbs
minithumbs

are actually highly skilled at animal management and reading their next move and split second reactions. If it was helpdesk you were going into and you had been a Rodeo Clown i think i would probably hire you

Juanita Marquez
Juanita Marquez

I have to admit I've always wondered what a professional clown's resume would look like. Skills: Able to fit into tiny cars with 10 other people Able to safely place frilly collars on wild animals and make them do my bidding Able to outrun wild animals when they don't want to do a cowboy's bidding Able to reduce both young and old to tears with either humor or pathos Certifications: Arched Eyebrow Placement Nose Honking Tailoring Extremely Large Clothing Education: Clown College, of course!

santeewelding
santeewelding

When I click, I find you on a no-fly list, outstanding warrants, foreign involvements, and a judicial fiat about non-possession of weapons, including something about you maintaining your distance according to a restraining order. Tell me it ain't so -- not that it will do you any good.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

...on the political views of the person making the mistake, doesn't it?

Raymond Danner
Raymond Danner

As odd as that sounds. One (who recently died) owned the Shoney's restaurant chain. Another owns Danner Boot Company. Get the idea yet? It seems that a lot of my family's branches uses the first name of Raymond quite often. So, most, if not all, are pluses on my side.

AviLoc
AviLoc

Hey Toni! YOU"RE THE ONE WHO BROUGHT UP PORN, NOT ME. I was merely trying to introduce some levity by referring to the Seinfeld episode. You're fantastic accusations based on that alone are truly in the realm of fantasy. You're higly aggresive reactions make you unsuitable as blogger in this or any other forum. Get a sense of humoor and an education and maybe you'll be qualify, but I doubt it.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

Did you ever consider how stupid you would sound by citing a defunct television show as a source for real-life information?

Jellimonsta
Jellimonsta

One's level of stupidity in feeling so strongly opposed to an off topic blog, is only negated by the level of stupidity in actually formulating such a response in said blog. :p

GSG
GSG

There are some p0rn stars that either use their real names, or their real names were used in conjunction with "and his p0rn name is...". I have also been mistaken for a man, when people mis-read my name, and no, it's not "and idiotic spelling". First, it's "an" not "and", so if you can't spell, don't post a snotty comment about anyone else's skills. Second, I have a spelling that some people consider different, but it's not idiotic, because it's mine and it's a feminized version of my Dad's name. In fact, you are the idiot for suggesting it and should probably go away.

toni.bowers
toni.bowers

Go take some classes in humor and get back to us. Did I say having my name misconstrued was the worst thing that ever happened to me? No, and neither is your juvenile post but good try. Do I think you're taking offense with the name spelling thing because you've actually been guilty of spelling it wrong? Yes. I was making a joke about the porn star names. Although I obviously don't have the porn-watching credentials you've obviously amassed in your lifetime, I am aware that the names are fictional. It was a j. o. k. e.

Rexxrally
Rexxrally

The problem with worrying that your doppleganger is going to be a stupid idiot loser and then finding out they're really smart is: What does your doppleganger think of you AFTER you've found out they're really smart?

toni.bowers
toni.bowers

This is one of the most fun discussions I've seen on TR.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

was named Marilyn Chambers. She caught hell from all the mental midgets when "Behind the Green Door" was released.

toni.bowers
toni.bowers

I thought of that when I used the term--I too had always thought it represented an evil version of a person. But my Random House dictionary refers to it as "a ghostly double or counterpart of a living person." Still not perfect for the point of my article but couldn't resist using the word. It's just so funny.

Zwort
Zwort

It has already happened. Incidentally, this might interest onlookers: http://www.haltabuse.org/ There are many others. Jayne's experience contains an important lesson, as does the case study of Liam Youens, which can still be found on the wayback machine, here: http://web.archive.org/web/*/http://www.amyboyer.org/mind.htm I read an article by a journo who thought no harm could come of stalking online, because after all no one's been killed online. Aside from the interesting possibilities that you can find online, stalkers who later murder have started online, and there are many ways to ruin a life. It's a very complex and interesting subject.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

If the criminal is wanted for a 2009 murder in California and you can show you haven't been west of the Mississippi since 1995, you don't really have much to worry about, other than the hassle of proving such. I was picked up by the police once because I matched most of the description they had. The officer who did it didn't ask for any id, just took me in. His own co-workers embarrassed the hell out of him when he presented 6'5" (195.5 cm) me as the 5'4" (162.5 cm) suspect. :^0

Jellimonsta
Jellimonsta

"With a bull it's worse, cause a freight train don't back up and finish the job". :p

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

That you got the reaction you did, and not just from Toni, should tell you something about your idea of levity. Then you follow up with another abusive comment. And, once again, some stupid git who can't even choose the right words—You're should be 'Your'—or spell the words he chooses—humoor is spelled h-u-m-o-r—refers to somebody else needing an education. Why would I not be surprised to find you're universally detested at your workplace?

Osiyo53
Osiyo53

Do you mean that everything presented on TV isn't real and factual? Gad, I'm crushed and disillusioned. Thank God you're not telling me that the things I read or see on the Internet might not all be completely true and accurate.

Datacommguy
Datacommguy

Your doppleganger would be proud of you!

santeewelding
santeewelding

When you have anything to do with it. Could be because you are not case-hardened.

marktoor
marktoor

A funny word is correct!

Juanita Marquez
Juanita Marquez

I thought the Ringling Bros. one was the Harvard of Clown schools, but who knew there were so many? What I find amusing is the list of funny names, then "University of Connecticut". Perhaps that is for Serious clowns.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

Everybody knows that you can't put it on the Internet unless it's true. :^0