Friday, November 29, 2013


Tips for Building and Managing Your Web Identity

Disclaimer: These are my personal views. I am not an IT Professional or SEO Expert, but just a simple Blogger and user of Social Networks


In today’s world you have two reputations:

1. OFFLINE REPUTATION (in the physical real world)

2. ONLINE REPUTATION (in the virtual world or cyberspace)

Unless you are a celebrity, your “offline reputation” is restricted and known to only those persons in your proximity, at work, in your social circles and personal life.

However, your “online reputation” is all pervasive and is available for scrutiny by anyone throughout the world who has access to the internet.

If I want to know about you, all I have to do is to “google” your name or search your details on websites, search engines or social networks.

Potential employers, or prospective spouses, or those desirous of getting into a relationship with you, can easily carry out a basic background check on you by just surfing the internet.

(Earlier, before the advent of the internet, you had to ask some mutual acquaintance or make discreet inquiries or hire a detective to find out information about somebody)

The fact of the matter is that, in today’s connected world, your online reputation is easily accessible and matters more than offline reputation.

In the same way that your personality (real-world offline identity) is important for your offline reputation, your online identity plays an important role in determining your online reputation.


Your online identity consists of two things:

1. What you say about yourself on the internet (your “Owned Identity”)

2. What others say about you on the internet (your “Earned Identity”)

Your OWNED IDENTITY comprises whatever information you upload on the internet.

Your owned identity will comprise so many things like:

1. Whatever you upload on social networking sites like Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, Twitter etc including your profiles, pictures, photos, status reports, tweets, comments – anything and everything you upload about yourself.

2. Your Blogs

3. Your Websites (personal, professional and company)

4. All your writings and postings on the web which you post on the internet on various websites, online journals and e-magazines, forums, networks, groups, emails, documents, presentations – anything and everything you put on the internet.

5. Various “profiles” and “avatars” you create on the web – like, for example, your profiles on job search sites and matrimonial sites.

To put it metaphorically, your owned identity is like having a permanent tattoo – it can never be fully erased.

Your EARNED IDENTITY is what others “say” about you on the internet.

Your earned identity includes:

1. Information about you on Social Networking Sites like postings about you on Facebook by your friends (status, tags, pictures, photos, comments), recommendations and endorsements on LinkedIn, Re-tweets and Mentions of your Tweets on Twitter etc

2. Articles, Blog Posts, Wikis, Biographical Writings etc written about you which are available on the internet (these are things written about you by others - what you write about yourself on the internet becomes a part of your owned identity)

3. Various “profiles” created by others about you at various places on the web.

4. Various networks and websites that link to you

5. Miscellaneous information about you available on the internet – for example, your examination results uploaded online by your university, education board, UPSC etc or results of job selection interviews promulgated online.

To use a metaphor, your earned identity is like “branding” where a permanent mark is stamped on you by someone else.


Your “owned identity” is in your control.

You must be circumspect about what you put on the internet as even a small slip-up like an injudicious writing, indiscreet photo, imprudent relationship status update or careless comment has the potential of harming your reputation in future.

Your “earned identity” is not in your control.

Sometimes, this matters more, since people may be curious to find out what others have to say about you than what you say about yourself.

Even if you avoid the internet altogether, you cannot avoid having an “earned identity” since someone else may upload some writing or material about you on the web, especially if you are a celebrity or remain in the news for something or the other.

That is why famous people, like ancient philosophers and writers, who lived much before the advent of internet, have “earned identities” and consequently they have “online reputations”.

So remember, going offline and avoiding the internet is not the solution.


Do a simple experiment.

Just “google” your name and see the results of the search.

What are the top few results?

How many are “owned reputation” and how many are “earned reputation”.

If you want to manage your online reputation you must ensure that links pertaining to “owned reputation” (what you say about yourself) appear as the top search results as compared to “earned reputation” (what others say about you).

As far as your online reputation is concerned, what you say about yourself (owned reputation) must have more prominence than what others say about you (earned reputation).

Remember that your “owned identity” and “owned reputation” are in your control because you can always control what to say about yourself on the internet.

But your “earned identity” and “earned reputation” may not be in your full control since you cannot control what others say about you on the internet.

Therefore, in a nutshell, if you want to control your online reputation, you will have to “say” more about yourself on the internet than others “say” about you.

How do you do this?

It is simple.

Get active on the internet – blog regularly, tweet vigorously, and maintain a dynamic presence on social networking sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, Quora etc and various Forums and groups, and make sure you network effectively.

You must be conscious of your online reputation because with the proliferation of the internet, your “online reputation” will overshadow your “offline reputation”.

Remember, if someone wants to do a background check on you, for whatever reason, to hire you for a job, to check you out as a marriage prospect, or they just want to find out more about you, all they have to do is to “google” your name, ingeniously delve a bit and explore your online identity (web shadow) and discover your online reputation – yes, all that will matter is your online reputation.

It is, therefore, imperative that you establish an effective web presence and be careful to build a good online reputation and make constant efforts to monitor and manage your online reputation.

Copyright © Vikram Karve 
Vikram Karve has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this work.
© vikram karve., all rights reserved.

All stories in this blog are a work of fiction. The characters do not exist and are purely imaginary. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
No part of this Blog may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical including photocopying or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the Blog Author Vikram Karve who holds the copyright.
Copyright © Vikram Karve - all rights reserved

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About Vikram Karve

A creative person with a zest for life, Vikram Karve is a retired Naval Officer turned full time writer and blogger. Educated at IIT Delhi, IIT (BHU) Varanasi, The Lawrence School Lovedale and Bishops School Pune, Vikram has published two books: COCKTAIL a collection of fiction short stories about relationships (2011) and APPETITE FOR A STROLL a book of Foodie Adventures (2008) and is currently working on his novel and a book of vignettes and an anthology of short fiction. An avid blogger, he has written a number of fiction short stories and creative non-fiction articles on a variety of topics including food, travel, philosophy, academics, technology, management, health, pet parenting, teaching stories and self help in magazines and published a large number of professional  and academic research papers in journals and edited in-house journals and magazines for many years, before the advent of blogging. Vikram has taught at a University as a Professor for 15 years and now teaches as a visiting faculty and devotes most of his time to creative writing and blogging. Vikram Karve lives in Pune India with his family and muse - his pet dog Sherry with whom he takes long walks thinking creative thoughts.

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