Online reputations

Recently, a fellow asked about getting linux kernel work in Ontario. He’s an ex-pat, moving back to Ontario from the UK, and wanted to know where to look.

Well, I asked a question:

make sure you have a web site, and some stable non-yahoo email.

I consider a stable web presence, and some stable non-webmail email address to be a “you must be this tall” criteria when hiring.

It took me a moment to think of why this is.

Finally, I realized why I was asking, and said:

so, if I google that email, I'll find lots of intelligent questions, and even more useful answers on mailing list archives?

This is the thing — if you have only ever been a consumer of the Internet, googled archives, but never answered questions, etc. then it is very hard to find out much about you.

A company I worked for went through a number of VP’s R&D. I googled each one. Nothing. Bumpkiss. Final one, I learnt had been on a canoe trip in the north-west territories. Never did his name show up anywhere else. Not in a press release, or a “speaking at”, or in an online mailing list for afficiadoes of purple knitting needles.

It’s hard for me to believe that someone has in fact used the Internet, truly used it, when they just didn’t leave any trace.

Yet, many people keep throwing away their email accounts, getting new ones, and use their ISP provided crap email systems, and then change when they get a new ISP. How can you have an online identity that way?

And it isn’t like aliases aren’t all over. You can get one everywhere, and smart people either have their own domain, or they get an alias like, or, etc. seems to be somewhat more clueful to me than msn/yahoo — I think because gmail actively encourages use of POP and other internet standards for processing email.

You just can’t read 100 non-spam emails a day with a web interface.

As an aisde, I love it when I get an email from some head hunter who wants my most recent resume — yet, every copy of my resume has the URL of my resume in it. To me, that’s so obvious a thing to have, that anyone technologist that doesn’t have it… isn’t really a technologist.

It’s all about reputation.