Web Hostess Live: The latest from the Web

Nov 07, 2012

A weekly chat about the best ways to kill time online. Our Web Hostess, Monica Hesse, sifts the Internet so you don't have to, searching for meaning, manners and the next great meme.

Hi Gang --

2 p.m. snuck up on me -- I was working off of a double daylight-savinged clock, which said it was only one.


Please amuse yourselves while I get myself together.

I take a picture of my lunch everyday. I want to share the excellence of my packed lunch with the world. Should I use Tumblr or Twitter for this purpose? In a sense, it doesn't matter since no one will be looking but I'd like to think I was doing it right.

Tumblr, obviously. The reason? There is a specific kind of audience for food pictures, and the people who like them really like them -- they can, and do, visit sites dedicated solely to neatly packed lunches. However, the chances that all of your Twitter followers or Facebook friends fall in this demographic are very slim. You're going to end up tweeting out pictures of your lunch to random colleagues and buddies who will find it irritating. Best to stick with a Tumblr that people can visit if they choose.

(Full disclosure: I'm not on Twitter) Why should anyone -- but especially a public figure like Donald Trump -- be allowed to retract comments from Twitter? In particular, I gather that Trump has withdrawn some of the heinous comments he posted to Twitter last night re the President's reelection. It seems only fair to me that they be like email, that once they're sent, there's no taking them back.

I so have mixed feelings about this. We've all said things out loud that we immediately realized were stupid and wished we could take back. Now we've finally invented a medium where that's possible ("Delete tweet.") but we seem to insist that everyone play by the rules of old speech, rather than the rules of new technology. i.e. "No takebacks."


Truly, I understand the important of someone remaining on the record, but I don't think it's completely clear cut. Chatters, what do you think?

So, I have a fairly unique last name and when I picked my gmail address ages and ages ago I just chose my first initial and my last name. Well it seems that the other folks out there in the country with my same first inital last name are very stupid, and I have been getting things for them -- college information from online forms they must've filled out, snagajob accounts, and last night, a dating account. I once got a redbox confirmation from a person who had the same first name and last name as me, which sent me into a frantic checking of my credit score, etc., adn there has been no identity theft, just lazy/stupid people who can't type their own email in correct. For some things, like the snagajob or dating sites, it's fairly easy, I can go in, say I forgot my password, and delete the accounts, but it's still a pain in the butt. Is there anythng you can think of that I can do? I don't want to get a new email address, but I could do that, I guess. I also change my email password every time this happens on the chance someone is hacking into there. (for what it's worth, they seem fairly young -- applying to college or just in college -- so I'm thinking that it is just lazy/typing too fast, etc.) I don't know how to REALLY get ahold of these folks or if I should and just say, "stop being stupid, use your own darn email"....

How often does this happen? Three times ever? Four times in the past week? I think it's time to change your gmail address, if it happens with any kind of regularity. That would concern me from a safety perspective.


As for whether you should attempt to contact the people who are accidentally submitting your email address: For anything mundane or frivolous -- nah. Don't bother. But if someone, say, accidentally provided your email address in order to apply to college, and if they also provided a phone number or other means of contact, then I would reach out to them. It's the virtual equivalent of returning your neighbor's mail when it wrongly comes to your door. It's the right thing to do.


(BTW, it took me three tries to spell "perspective," including the creative variation of "percpectiv." Election mush-brain).


Help! How do I get rid of the really annoying band that the Washington Post has running across the bottom of the screen this morning? I don't see any x or close button.

There's a terrific solution for this. It's called buying the print edition of the Washington Post.

In our genius attempt at giving our 9 year old free things for Christmas, we've decided to "give" her an email address. Besides making sure that her very unique name is not similar to someone else's address, do you have any tips. I haven't gotten a new email address in many many years, so you know I'm not on gmail, should she be?

I think a gmail address is still the one to get. But if she has one, you should absolutely have one too, just for safety purposes. (Seeing when she's logged on, etc). As she's nine, you should also have access to her password, have many conversations about safety online, and other things that I'm sure you've already thought of as a parent.

I have a "janedoe@gmail.com" address that I've had for many years. One person keeps emailing me thinking I am her friend, who is "jane.doe@gmail.com". The first email I ignored as spam, but when she sent a long heartfelt letter about a mutual friend's battle with cancer, I replied saying she had the wrong Jane and wishing her well. She replied with a "my bad" and I thought that was the end of it. Since then, she's written me (thinking it's her friend) 7 more emails (I logged in to make sure). Most recently she invited me to meet her at the club for supper. I replied "sure!" I bet she thinks her friend is a jerk for standing her up.

Oh, that's bad. But kind of good.

Oh, that's bad. But kind of good.

Others can see this q&a and I cannot. Am jealous! Repost!

I cannot repost, because I cannot see it either. Guys, I think we might have entered some unexplored territory in the space-time continuum. My best theory now is that half of us are in a black hole, and half of us are not. I think Scott Bakula is involved, but I haven't figured out how yet.

Maybe I should be worried, but I see your question & response to the person with the Austin e-mail twin...

It disappeared...and then it came back!! The ghost is in the machine.

Had no idea you could do this - that's awesome! Leave it alone. There are so many things we all wish we could take back, why deny that right to someone who figures out how to do it??

It seems people's answers have a lot to do with motive. Only the pure of heart may redact their actions on Twitter.

I have an (old) email address that I don't check often - only when my phone tells me that account has a new message. Someone has almost the same address as me, except mine has an "e" in the middle and the other person has an "a". I've gotten quite a few personal type emails (nothing life altering) and responded to the few that seem like the sender would worry if they didn't get a response (a legitimate sounding craigslist response for an apartment sublet, someone emailing about a friend having surgery) with a "I think you have a typo in the To address".

Precisely so. This is neighborly Internet behavior.

but somehow I doubt that is what The Donald had in mind.

You think it was more, "Oops, everyone is saying mean things about me now because I Tweeted like a maniac?"


Even that could have some merit, I suppose.


Also, it's worth noting that even thought we're talking about whether he should have redacted his Tweets, he wasn't fully successful, since said Tweets were cached and we obviously know all about them.

Gang -- I'm having a weird chat issue that I've never had before. Questions I've answered are disappearing into the ether instead of properly posting on the site. Bear with me.


(I know that I lost one about a person who had discovered his/her email twin living in Austin. You must seek out this email twin. Immediately. And if you wrote that question and want me to repost it, send it in, please).

I agree, if there were no rules announced about sticking to one news source, live and nationwide TV doesn't need spoiler alerts.



It's not just you. Alex Petri answered one of my posts yesterday, and next thing I knew, it had disappeared off the chat page.

I blame the electoral college.

I blame the electoral college.

When I was in college, my phone number ended up on a list somewhere of a girl who had the same name as I did, but was clearly way more popular. I was constantly getting calls for her, but since we had the same name, sometimes I would get kind of far into the conversation before I realized they had the wrong person. I would also get lots of messages on Fridays about parties over the weekend. Once I decided to just show up at one of the parties. It was great! I had a good time and made out with a cute boy. I sometimes wonder if I accidentally stole her future husband that night.

Did he become your husband? I hope so!

In college, I went on a few dates with the person who responded to the email I'd wrongly sent him (same initials as my best friend).

There are many romantic comedies in these scenarios, people.

If you have a party to watch election results on TV, then everyone should watch the TV. A person sitting in the corner playing with his/her cellphone/internet is not part of the group. That's rude behaviour. Tell him/her to put the device away OR go home.

Seemingly unrelated, but actually related follow-up: Where do you live?

And now all of your answers are appearing twice!

Truly, I am flummoxed. There are two possible solutions: halt this chat immediately, or soldier through and just see what other wacky things happen next. I vote for B, especially if it involves Donald Trump coming in here and redacting some stuff.

I use Twitter but missed this; guess that's because I don't follow Trump (never have, never will) but if he wants to retract statements he made, why shouldn't he be able to? Once it was posted, I am sure someone saw it and, regardless of him trying to delete it, it will be known. Worst case scenario, he retracts everything so there is nothing left to follow and best case scenario, he realizes what a glass bowl he is and actually stops tweeting, so there is nothing left to follow. I think we win either way.

Hallelujah to us all!

I hope you realize this makes you part of the problem, not the solution...

I'm not sure there is a solution, so my solution is for all of us to pretend we are Nora Ephron.

Did he delete the tweets? I looked at his account earlier and there were still some pretty crazy nonsense there from last night...but that may be par for the (Trump National) course.

It is possible that the remaining wackadoo tweets are less extreme than other tweets that were deleted. What you are seeing may be the sane ones.

I was watching CBS coverage of the election and found it very amusing that Tim Kaine's victory speech was interrupted by a note from an aide, then the announcement "And NBC has just called the election for Obama!" Do you think every other network covering that live did a facepalm?

It was all a highwire act last night.

I keep getting emails for someone with the same first initial, middle initial, and last name as me. Her email address leaves off the last letter of the last name; mine has the whole last name. So it's an easy mistake. But it means I'm getting everything from her salon appointments (in another state) to mortgage information. When it's something where it sounds like the person really needs to contact this doppelganger, I write back to the senders telling them they've reached the wrong person and they should delete the email address. Then, they can reach out to this woman via some other method. (I still delete the junk, though.)

Have you ever had any direct contact with her?

I get emails for someone with my name living in London. I gather she works in the financial sector. She recently applied for a job (which she didn't get), then sold something at Sotheby's. I get invites to lots of parties, so she's very social. She's apparently contemplating buying a house because now I'm getting real estate listings (given the prices, she makes a boatload of money). Where appropriate, I've emailed the sender saying he or she must have a typo in the address. It's been quite a lot of fun, actually, getting a glimpse into her life.

This story should star Emily Blunt as the Londoner. You can be played by -- I don't know, who would you like to play you?

Then I'll just assume you posted witty, amusing responses to my witty, amusing comments and the black hole swallowed them and not that they were too lame for the chat. Unexpected benefit!

Obviously. Our twins in a parallel universe have been having erudite repartee for hours now.

One thought is that he redacted the ones that could actually get him in legal trouble. Calling for a revolution against an elected office is not something the secret service normally like to see. His partner in tweeting idiocy last night, Ted Nugent, found that out the hard way after the agents visited him.

This is true.

I had this exact same issue. I contacted gmail and they told me that Bob.Jones is the same in their eyes as BobJones. The person had registered on a dating site and I was freaking out that my wife would think it was me. It wasn't. I finally logged into his account using the forgot password feature and changed the email address to his work address that I found on the web (we both have uniqueish names). I still have no idea if his email address with gmail was actually that close to mine or if he mistyped it, but I do know I did stop getting dating notifications. Good thing, too. He was NOT looking for my type.

Wait. Are you telling me that Google told you that it does not recognize a period as altering someone's email address? This makes no sense at all.

Remind me what your policy is about being "friends" with people you've never met? I think you're hysterical and really believe we'd be friends in real life, hence be wanting to be your FB friend. I promise I'm not psycho, just a fan.

I'll friend everyone, and keep you as a friend as long as you obey the single rule I have for social networks: You must either be kind or funny. Both are equally valuable, but I have no patience for snark without wit. (Oh, and follow me on Twitter @MonicaHesse. I'm trying to bet better about keeping that updated but it would help if I had, you know, people to talk to there).

I am so relieved this seems to happen to a lot of people. Because I am only getting form-type emails (though they appear to be for multiple people) I will just keep deleting the accounts where I can -- I figure that way these people will have difficulty logging on and recreate their accounts. If anything personal comes across, I will do what your chatters suggest, and I will hold off on changing the email unless it becomes more common. The only one that freaked me out was the redbox one because when I called to see what it was, the card used had the same name as me and that's what freaked me out about identity theft. Now I'm just jealous my people are boring and not Londoners selling things at Sotheby's or people getting invited to fun parties. Thanks!

Glad we could help! And I'm glad to know so many others have similar stories.

All right. I know that there were many questions I couldn't get to today, and many more that I attempted to post, but then disappeared instead. I'm sorry for the dotty nature of this chat. Hopefully things will be back in working order next week.


And speaking of next week: The chat will commence as usual, but I'll be off the following two Wednesdays. I'll remind you all next week, and get someone to post an away reminder after that.



In This Chat
Monica Hesse
Monica Hesse is a staff writer for the Post Style section. She frequently writes about culture, the Web and the intersection of the two.

Read the The Web Hostess Archive .
Recent Chats
  • Next: