Rebuffing the Skype stalkers

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

As part of the whole transparent lifestyle, I publish my real name, my age and my gender on my Skype profile. Unfortunately, some morons take the “female” indicator as an invitation to start a chat with me that they think is going to lead to some sort of hot IM conversation. I allow chat messages from people who are not on my buddy list, since that’s a good way for people to make initial contact with me, but I had to disallow inbound phone calls from anyone not on my list because of the many unsolicited (and unanswered) calls coming in.

Since my first name is gender-neutral, I could just leave my gender unspecified, but it’s kind of funny to see how, within hours after setting it to “female”, the unsolicited chats start. If I turn it off, they stop. Back on, they start. Like Pavlov’s dog.

Here’s a few from a 6-day span last month:

firatveli47m says: [which pretty much makes me want to barf]

[name deleted] says: “does this work?” [his brain, I assume, and the answer is “no”] [The owner of this Skype name recently contacted me and said that he was just trying out Skype, and picked me at random to send a test message. Personally, I wouldn’t recommend that practice, but I’m letting him off the hook.]

batmisho9 says: “hi” [twice, 30 minutes apart], to which I reply “do you have a valid reason for contacting me? i’m not available for chatting with strangers, i use skype mostly for business.” He disappears after that.

versace_74 says: “hi” [yeah, that’s original]

sourito (tanger 2007) says: “hollllllllllllllllllla” [okay, at least that’s original]

farido771 says: “212063 80 39 87” [weird, I assume that’s a phone number?]

kingmoon6 says: “hi” [a couple of times, starting to get annoying], to which I reply “who are you and why do you want to exchange details?” he says “am froom toronto” [oh, great, a rocket scientist], and I say “so?” he indignantly replies “SO ? SO”, and I block his ID.

romantic206 (Sameer) says “hi” [the usual couple of times], and I give my now-standard reply, “who are you and why do you want to exchange contact details?” He says “hi” a couple more times, then “how r u”, twice. He then follows with “your name plz”, “do you have time to see you today”, then the ever-barfable before I block him.

I cleared my gender indicator for a while to ponder this, then I saw the description on Alec Saunders‘ Skype profile: “Please be specific in your contact requests. I do not accept blind contacts.”

My profile now says:

Please be specific in your contact requests. I do not accept blind contacts, especially from idiots who think that because my profile says “female”, it means “skype me”.

All quiet on the Skype stalker front since then.

15 Comments

  1. Sandy, thanks for posting this. As a guy, I had no idea this kind of thing was happening. I love most how you handled it. Instead of recoiling, you stand up tall and strong and say f-you, this is my internet too!

    You rock.

  2. sandy says:

    Mark, I feel that it’s time for women to stop being as afraid on the internet as they might be on a dark city street. Here, we can fight back using the same tools that make it so easy for the snakes to find us online in the first place: transparency.

  3. Kate says:

    Thanks for posting this! I have been having the same issue and it’s nice to know I’m not the only one. Sandy’s comment reminded me of a webcomic on the issue of women being afraid of the internet because of the jerks: http://xkcd.com/322/

  4. sandy says:

    I saw that xkcd comic when it published recently, loved it!

    I still get one or two Skype idiots per week asking to connect or sending me inappropriate notes, and sometimes I think about removing the gender flag from my profile but don’t like the idea of having to hide that on the internet. I’m still not at the point where I respond back to them to tell them why what they’re doing isn’t appropriate; I’m looking for the perfect standard answer that I can send to them that will shut them down permanently.

  5. Ms Vague says:

    Thanks for posting this. I was just harassed on Skype when I changed my status to “skype me” accidentally. I had no idea why I started getting all these messages one after the other from men around the world. A guy from Algeria even said, “i respect you.” Wow, gee, thanks. He then tried calling me… ten times.
    So ridiculous. I make sure I’m on invisible now.

  6. sandy says:

    No need to set your status to invisible — then your friends can’t find you. Better to limit inbound chats and calls to people who are already on your friends list.

  7. Olden Atwoody says:

    I recently changed my profile to state (honestly): Happily married man, I do not chat with singles…” or something similar.

    Now, almost every day, I get unsolicited chats from very attractive, decent girls who apparantly consider me the last honest guy on the planet, and whom are almost insistent to seemingly make me their man.

    Oh, well.

  8. Sandra says:

    I have just today complained to Skype for this very reason and have received basically a bot-like response that is obviously a cut/paste. I have already done all of their “privacy” suggestions a long time ago. I have never used SkypeMe! either. So I either have a glitch or there really is no way to completely block requests. I have been receiving pop-up add me requests for months now, and tonight I just received a call which I did not answer because the two people that have my number always let me know they are going to call first. I’m at the end of my rope with this software. If I didn’t still have a $30 credit to use up I would be uninstalling Skype right now. As it is, I’m requesting a name change because my name is gender specific. I’m now sitting on Invisible mode, but this is really pissing me off to have to do this. I’ve definitely removed my photo (that was a HUGE mistake duh), changed my gender and put my birthday to being born in 1918. However, every time I tried to put Not Specified on my country, it changes back to where I’m at. It really makes me sick that there are these absolutely moronic fools out there that have absolutely nothing better to do than stalk women like this. This world is a sad sad place at times. ARGH.

  9. Anotherone says:

    Thank you for posting this. This stalking is more than a nuisance. Its gets positively scary if that person is or claims to be in your own city. I feel vulnerable… Good to hear so many women post about it.

  10. Ann says:

    Thank you so much for posting this. I’m new to skype, living and working in China, we use it here for communicating back and forth with other ESL teachers at our school. I started getting all these weird requests from men I didn’t know. And I stupidly said yes to one request that, seemingly, seems to be from the same city I live in at the moment. And of course I had put my cell number on the site, not even considering people could get it and harass me. So– this guy, who I thought was someone I had met before, a friend of a friend type of thing, turns out to be a stranger, very vague about what he’s doing here in Asia, won’t reveal where he’s from, wants to know how old I am…as I did not put my real birthday on skype. And then starts calling me, texting me, looking for me online and oh yes, asking me out. He does this within minutes of me stupidly, oh so stupidly, accepting his request. I, too, am way too polite and nice, instead of being– get the blurb away from me, you puppy-killing clown. I hate that I FEEL I have to turn invisible to avoid this smothering, unwanted, scary as all get out attention from someone I don’t know and don’t want to know. I’m avoiding dealing with him as I should so will steel myself to tell him not interested, and to stop bothering me.

  11. Ann, thanks for sharing your story. I think that it’s important to not get too freaked out about this, but to be careful about who you give information to. A healthy dose of skepticism when someone blindly contacts you is always a good idea. I hope that by “outing” some of my worst offenders here (and there have been many other on the intervening years), at least a few people have realized that it’s not okay to harass women online.

  12. Torpekai Boukens says:

    Sandy, I hope you don’t mind that I copied your message into my Skype profile. My name is not obviously female, so I do indicate that in my profile, but otherwise I have most settings to contacts only.

    I have a least 2 guys setting up numerous Skype accounts under slightly different names and they just keep contact me every so often. I block them every time, but it’s getting really annoying. I actually replied once with a rather crude message saying “stop f-ing harrasing me”. Didn’t work. Hope your message does though stop future morons though 😉

  13. Torpekai, hope that it works for you. I still get a few requests, but they are very few now. One of the last ones claimed to be Kofi Annan, which made me laugh.

Leave a Reply

Pingbacks & Trackbacks

  1. Off Topic :: Love 2.0 - Pingback on 2007/02/14
  2. Off Topic :: A bit of social unnetworking - Pingback on 2007/03/01