How to remove a Digital Tattoo

First, a story

Back when I was 16, it was considered very cool to get a tatoo. Some of my friends actually got the nerve (to disobey their parents) and went to get tiny bits of color embedded (mostly un)skillfully into their skin.

Now I personally considered it to be what we like to call “a bad move”. Its not that they are bad in principle. Its just that they will have an affect on your life. And be it good or bad, you will never be able to remove it.

So I never went to get one. No tattoo for me…

* Skip forward 13 years *

The people I meet now

Let me tell you a secret. If you ever emailed me, called me or were even causally mentioned to me. I investigated you. (Yes you)

But its not as creepy as it might sound. Before any interaction with a new person, I tend to spend a few minutes looking them up in LinkedIn (Who they are professionally), Facebook (The human side) and Google (everything else). This usually sets the tone of the future engagement and gives me a “virtual first impression”.

A bit of free time

Thats what I had, so I decided it might be wise to do the same on myself. Basically a mirror experiment, to see how I appear to others with similar approach.


– A fully professional overview that I try to keep updated.  [10/10 points]


– Luckily I control (+/-) my Facebook account. Its 99% private and only displays a not-so-flattering photo.   [9/10 points]


–  …. OH MY GOD !

Remember the time when I was 18 and a friend wanted to show me what RDND is all about ? And we signed up on some lame site with our REAL names ? Well I don’t. But guess who does ? GOOGLE.

Remember the time when I was giving “expert” advise on some programming forums ? Not really. But you know who remembers ? GOOGLE.

Remember the 1000 stupid things I emailed on some obscure long forgotten mailing list ? No ? Don’t I ? Yea, you figured out where this is going.

The bad news

Between old email addresses, forgotten passwords, mirroring and caching. It is simply impossible to delete these traces of stupidity.

Sure we can argue that most are not harmful. But they do create an image of you, the  “First Virtual Impression” you leave on other people.

Just like a tattoo, not bad per-say, but with implications on your life.  Be it bad or good. Its not going away, it is there. FOREVER


Is there a doctor who can help me remove my Digital Tattoos ?


  1. You could always create newer content to replace the old. It wont make the content go away but it will provide two very useful things for you: freshness and control of the first page. People are less likely to investigate past 1-2 pages. I usually just glance thru the results to see if there is anything of value to me.

    Don’t be too embarrassed by where you came from, its a sign of growth.

    Alternatively you could try:

  2. It’s not that bad.
    A) I bet this blog comes high up on Google. In most cases, people will check only the top results.
    B) I found a few other with my name, but on Google? I own my name. Under the amount of clutter I’m making, they are safe. I think there should be a start-up that will build inane sites with your name to cover you from Google.
    C) I’ve got my Facebook completely public. I decided I can’t afford keeping track of who sees what, so I’ve decided I should act as if everyone can see anything. Smart? Probably not. Never said I was.

  3. Real people grow.

    So the points is not to avoid leaving traces but to keep leaving traces so that this growth becomes visible.

    You can’t go through the rest of your life worrying more about the first impressions you make on strangers than the long term relationships you are building with the people in your life and the community within which your work takes place.

  4. This comes up a lot, especially for businesses–it is very easy for a journalist to write a quick story based on one person’s side of a complicated story, and the retractions and edits aren’t nearly as easy to find.

    “Online reputation management” is the general term for the practice, and it basically involves creating enough of a web presence for a given name to drown out negative publicity. It’s actually pretty similar to search engine optimization, except that the goal is to get ten page-one spots for a single search term (or a cluster of similar terms) instead of one page-one spot for each of many more terms.

  5. There are a couple of things you can do.

    You can change your name. For example, you could start using “Bo Dinkevich” day to day, reserving “Boris” for formal documents. In my case, I changed my legal name from Kragen Javier Sittler to Kragen Javier Sitaker. This has the disadvantage (for your purpose) of making it easier to find stuff from the pre-Sitaker days, once someone finds the old name.

    You can write stuff that’s useful enough to other people that they make copies of it. Yahoo Search reports that there are more than a thousand hits for “beowulf faq kragen”, for example. I also wrote some versions of the Afterstep FAQ, and I translated the Tao of Programming into HTML, and I’ve written a few other things that people have seen fit to update afterwards, and in some cases translate into other languages.

    You can just keep writing stuff, publicly.

    For kids today: encourage them to use pseudonyms for most of their online activity, so they can leave it somewhat behind if they choose to.

  6. Oh boy , digital traces of where you been on the internet. Guess you should of thought of that back in the day 😀 .

    People are ,well … as WhichDokta said , all about growing .

    Even if you delete what others can see about you, ultimately the only person you have to confront about your actions are yourself .

    People who cannot take you as you are, are probably not useful to/for you anyway.

  7. It’s hard to find your page in google. I found it on 18 spot,
    you should build quality backlinks , it will help you to get
    more visitors. I know how to help you, just search in google – k2 seo tips


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