my coworker writes a mean blog about me

A reader writes:

I have a work colleague we’ll call J. J and I sit next to each other and have been friendly the entire time we worked together. She has told me about things in her personal life (recent loss of a beloved pet, for instance) and I’ve shared the same type of stuff with her.

A couple days ago, J showed me something she’d re-blogged (some animated gif that we both thought was funny), and I happened to notice the URL of her blog. I looked up her blog and started reading it; I didn’t think I was being out of line since she’d showed me the page already.

Then I found a very recent post where she made fun of me for starting a cleanse. I was hurt, but I was even more hurt to find that her followers were urging her on to create a blog devoted to my “ridiculousness”. Apparently she posts about me on her blog a lot (12 posts in the past 3 weeks) and the things she writes are very unkind.

Now I’m at a loss as to what to do. I know that the best option is to let this go, back away from the “friendship” gracefully and not read the blog again. But the extent to which she has posted about me is pretty startling. Worst of all – she’s recently posted (within the last couple weeks) a conversation we had about our boss, who had to go home for medical reasons. J kept insisting it was because of prescription drug overdose, and I tried to stop the conversation by saying “I think it’s a medical issue” (basically, saying – it’s private and using my tone to indicate I didn’t want to talk about it). But now it’s on this blog – and it looks like I was participating in gossip.

It’s not difficult to find her blog at all, and based on personal information she shares, it’s not difficult to identify her or the (small) company that we both work for. Aside from my own anger and hurt over what I’ve found, the things she posts about could be potentially embarrassing for our employer.

At a minimum, I’d really like her to take the post about our boss down, but I don’t know how to broach this topic without blowing things up radically. It’s possible, but not super likely, that I could have stumbled upon the blogs through other means. Do you have any suggestions about how to tackle this diplomatically? Am I being unreasonably sensitive about things she posted in her personal blog (that was probably never meant for me to see)?

J. sounds like a jerk.

I don’t think you’re being unreasonably sensitive. Your coworker, who you thought you had a warm relationship with, is mocking you to strangers, repeatedly. That’s horrible.

I’d say something like this her: “This is awkward to bring up, but I read some of the blog posts you’ve written about me and others in the office, like the one about my cleanse. I was pretty taken aback — I didn’t realize that you felt like that, and I felt pretty awful seeing the things your followers were saying.”

Then stop and see what she says. If she has any sense at all, she’s going to be mortified. She might tell you that she just does it to blow off steam, or that she doesn’t really mean what she posts there. To anything like that, or any kind of defensiveness, I’d just respond, “Well, it was pretty upsetting to see.”

Because it was upsetting, and that’s a reasonable reaction, and it’s reasonable to tell her that so that she’s face-to-face with the consequences of writing mean things about people online.

And if she asks you how you found it, I’d just be straightforward: “You showed me something you’d re-blogged from it, and I was interested to read your writing.”

There’s a good chance that she’s going to take all those posts down now after that conversation (or possibly make the blog private, if that’s an option). It would take some serious gall to leave them up. But if she doesn’t or if you don’t want to wait and see if she does, it’s reasonable to say, “I’d appreciate it if you’d remove those posts about me” and/or “I really think you should remove the post about Boss” and/or “For what it’s worth, I think the company would be concerned if they ever came across it, especially since it’s not hard to identify who you work for.” But that’s really about saving her from herself, and you’re not obligated to do that if you don’t want to get into that level of discussion with her.

Also: This is going to be an uncomfortable conversation, but it’s important to remember that she created the discomfort here, not you. The reason the conversation is going to be uncomfortable is because of her actions, not yours in addressing them.

{ 356 comments… read them below }

    1. AMG*

      And to think of all the high school classes I ditched to avoid this. Thank God I didn’t know back then how many people never really graduate high school.

      1. Tenn*

        There’s a rather well-known writer today who years ago lived in a group house with several other young writers, editors, and photographers. To this day she believes these people are her friends and provides blurbs for their book covers, etc. Whenever she traveled, they’d take her favorite stuffed animal and put it in obscene poses, make weekend road trips to snap photos of it at landmarks, etc., and kept the compilation in a book they called Behind Your Back.

        1. Melissa*

          Depending on the circle of friends you’re in, that could just be a series of pranks rather than genuine meanness. It depends on the context. But writing disparaging blog posts is just general level meanness.

            1. Anna*

              I guess the question is…how would this come to light publicly without the person knowing and how did that person take it? Because it doesn’t sound particularly mean spirited.

              1. fposte*

                Yeah, it’s goofy things with a stuffed animal. If that’s what they do out of pure meanness, they’re not very good at mean.

                1. Jazzy Red*

                  It’s definitely disrespectful, and that’s mean.

                  Being mean to people behind their backs is still being mean.

                2. fposte*

                  It’s not the behind the backs thing–it’s that the action is so utterly benign. It’s like being mean to your roommate by moving her peanut butter up a shelf, taking a picture of it, and putting it back. I mean, I’d be nonplussed that this is a thing my roommates have come together on, but I wouldn’t be wounded by the peanut butter/stuffed animal movement.

                3. The Strand*

                  Taking pictures around town with a favorite stuffed animal, that could be funny, even for the person whose bear is being “napped”. Taking it on out of town trips where it could get lost or damaged, collecting photos in a book, making it a colossal in-joke that the friend knows nothing about? Mean. Really mean… Really immature.

                  And I say this as someone who, when one of my close friends was behaving really badly and stuck another friend with carrying her luggage on a trip, took a joke picture of the luggage sitting on the railway tracks. But, that was also twenty years ago when I was a college student, and did a lot more practical jokes. And we didn’t repeatedly do this over and over.

                4. fposte*

                  @The Strand–sure, something *could* happen, but they’re not making anything bad happen to it intentionally, and it doesn’t sound like anything bad has happened to it. And “something bad could happen” is pretty much true of most pranks, too.

                  I know a lot of people here aren’t prank fans and would be pretty horrified even if this was done as a prank; I think that’s making people see the action as meaner than it is. These people haven’t damaged anything. They haven’t tainted anything. They haven’t cost the stuffed animal’s owner money or time or emotional distress. They haven’t, from what’s described, said anything insulting about the person save for the fact that she doesn’t know what they do when she’s out, and they’ve kept this book so secret Google can’t find it, so it’s hardly a big humiliation.

                  I’m not saying it’s the kindest use of people’s time, but there’s so much real meanness in the world that I just can’t see this as eligible for the category. If they start sticking her toothbrush up their butts, I’ll reconsider.

          1. maggie*

            It depends. How did she react about the Behind Your Back book? If she still isn’t even aware that the book exists, then it’s meanness. If they also did these types of pranks to OTHERS as well, then it’s all fun and games.

            1. Anna*

              I have a hard time believing that this is being posted on a blog with the general population knowing and the writer person who is well known does not know about it. Best kept secret EVAR?

            2. Elizabeth West*

              They’re doing funny things with her stuffed animal. I’m thinking Behind Your Back means the ANIMAL is doing things behind her back.

              We used to do worse to each other at a lab where I worked–scaring the crap out of each other with a rubber rat and a Frankenstein’s monster cut-out.

  1. Former Diet Coke Addict*

    This is a terrific place to use the tactic of just saying what you need to say and the stopping. Let there be a silence. Let them talk. Let them squirm. It will be uncomfortable, but silence can be a terrific tool for learning.

    1. brightstar*

      I’d also prepare myself in case she decides to launch an attack against you for causing drama when all this stems from her actions. I’ve faced this in calling someone on their bad behavior. And silence is a good defense against that as well.

      1. AMG*

        Which is why you need to get print screens of the blog in case you need them to defend yourself. Also be prepared for the possibility that she will start another blog with a different name/URL.

        1. KimmieSue*

          I normally would shy away from evidence gathering, but I completely agree with AMG. I’d save some examples just in case stuff hits the fan later. She’s obviously lacking in wise decision making abilities.

          1. John B Public*

            If she runs to your boss about this (and I wouldn’t rule that out) having evidence will definitely help you.

            1. Melissa*

              I’m not disagreeing with the idea that she might run to the boss, but she’d be exceedingly stupid if she did so since the boss is disparaged on the blog as well. Even at best, if she deletes all of the incriminating posts she’s still made a blog in which she partially identifies herself and her company.

              1. snuck*

                She might well not be completely stupid, and delete or alter blog posts (edit them) to change the story up a little….

                I’d be taking both screen shots electronically, and printing them off too.

                And THEN I’d do the “I saw and didn’t like it, please think carefully about leaving that there” and silence. And if they aren’t removed I’d tip off the boss… because that level of malicious stupidity means she isn’t a coworker that will be good to have in the company – ethically who knows what she’ll step up to revealing – and she was tipped off and still thought she was above reasonableness.

                And if she moves to all out war you have the screen dumps and so forth. I’m not sure the law on this, but once you approach her and ask her to stop I would imagine that continuing to post about you would constitute some form of harrassment or bullying (assuming you are no longer talking to her about anything personal at all… ie keeping to yourself).

        2. AMG*

          She also may blog about you confronting her and spin it to may you look like the bad person. You will have to emotionally brace yourself for fallout. I hope that’s not what happens, but just in case…

        3. maggie*

          That’s what I just came here to post. I wouldn’t trust this girl far enough to throw her. I would definitely get as much ammo as possible, just in case she’s stupid enough to try to use it against the OP.

        4. Turanga Leela*

          I completely agree with AMG. Print the relevant posts (about you and your boss), keep the printouts, and assume/hope you won’t have to use them for anything but have them as backup just in case. I can’t help but feel that this might come up ages later, and if you ever need to say something like, “My coworker was blogging cruelly about me,” this will help you show that you’re not being paranoid.

        5. The Strand*

          I would also sign up for ChangeDetection for each of the subsequent blog posts.

          Make sure the date shows in the print screens.

          Google caching (search for the content and look for “cached” next to it) may also be your friend.

          1. Lori C*

            The first thing I thought when I read this letter is the LW should print out the blog and hopefully the dates each entry is posted will show up BEFORE she talks to her co-worker. Glad to see many other commentators are on it!

      2. Ama*

        I also think, if she’s not completely oblivious, she may have shown you what she reblogged in hopes that you’d find the rest of the blog and create some drama, so the calmer you can be about it the better.

        I had a friend who did something similar — when we were 14. Be prepared for a response that isn’t particularly mature.

        1. Mander*

          This. Some people are horrible and nasty and enjoy making others uncomfortable.

          I had a room-mate/friend in college who constantly wrote these long, elaborate diary entries. She had a collection of at least a dozen hardback books full of writing. She had a habit of reading bits of them out to me and another friend, and sometimes showing us paragraphs to read. A lot of the adventures she wrote about were crazy and funny, and I never really quite believed that they were true, but I never challenged her.

          One time she handed me a book and told me to read a particular paragraph about some adventure or other. The paragraph ended on the top of the next page, and after that it was all gloating about how stupid I was for believing her stories and how much she enjoyed knowing she had deceived me and the other friend. I wasn’t sure if she secretly meant for me to read that, but I never said a word, since we had to share a room for the rest of the year. We weren’t friends after that year ended.

          1. The Strand*

            What a piss-poor excuse for a human being. If you ask me, she intended for you to read it. I know, we’re not supposed to diagnose people online, but that’s sociopathic behavior she described herself as having.

          2. I'm a Little Teapot*

            Wow. Sounds like my “best friend” from eighth grade, who lied constantly either to ruin people reputations or just for pure lulz. I was terribly gullible, and I’m sure she was laughing at me after our every conversation.

          3. Desdemona*

            I have to say, I think I’d have turned around and shown her my own earliest diary entry about how I suspected my roommate was a terrible liar, but that I didn’t want to make the relationship awkward by calling her out! I can’t believe how many liars think they’re pulling the wool over people’s eyes when in reality, we just don’t choose to point out how ridiculous they sound.

        2. Blue_eyes*

          Exactly. I knew someone who did something like this once. But he was writing about our teacher, and we were 15.

      3. A Cita*

        And also consider how you’ll respond if she just doesn’t care. You may have to mentally prepare yourself to let it go if she responds with something like, “Whatever. It’s my blog. I can write what I want…” etc.

        1. Artemesia*

          Depending on the relationship with the boss, that would be the moment for ‘concern’ expressed to him, with an example of her writing about him.

    2. Sadsack*

      Absolutely, do not feel compelled to fill the awkward silence. Your coworker is the one who needs to apologize and take action. You had no reason not to read her blog after she showed it to you. Do not apologize or make excuses for reading it if she claims that you had no right. She showed it to you and so you became interested. You had no way of knowing that she was writing negative things about you. Tell her that. Good luck, OP. This will be difficult, but it is only due to your coworker’s actions that this is happening. At least you know the truth about someone you thought was a friend.

    3. SJP*

      +1 On this. Your co-worker seems like a very spiteful person and people like that have things come back and bite them.
      As mentioned, use that silence, she’ll squirm, and revel in it cause you found it and called her out on her childish behaviour.
      I’m glad you asked Allison for advise on this instead of letting it slide, cause this isn’t something you let slide.
      Good luck and send an update if you can or feel you want to.
      Im sure many here will want to know how she reacted and what she did after!

    4. frequentflyer*

      If she’s truly mean, she wouldn’t squirm. :/ Just another scenario for you to be prepared for.

    5. Ella*

      I disagree with the silent treatment approach. It’s just so petty and pass overaggressive, and the rare times that it’s been tried on me, my response (both internally and externally) is to just shrug and get on with my life. There are some people from whom the silent treatment would be traumatic, but I don’t work with any of them.

      1. Jacob*

        This isn’t the silent treatment. The silent treatment is when you ignore all attempts at interaction from someone, and no amount of explanation or pleading from that person can move you, until you’ve meted out what you feel is the “appropriate” amount of punishment.

        This is very different. This is not rushing to fill an uncomfortable silence and letting the other person be the one to have to justify what they’ve done. It’s not about punishment, and it’s not passive-aggressive.

  2. AnotherAlison*

    I’d also be interested in researching how easy it is to find her blog w/o knowing the url. Does she have a FB or Twitter account that she shares here blog posts on? Does it come up when you Google her name?

    1. the gold digger*

      This is why – if you are going to write about people you know – that you change the names, change the locations, and do not tell the people you are writing about that you are writing about them.

      The awful boss in my blog is not named Sergio and he is not from Argentina. My apologies to all Sergios and all Argentinos.

      Nor are my in laws really named Sly and Doris. They don’t know about my blog and my mom does not know about my blog, not because I write about her but because my husband – who is not named Primo – does not want my mom to know how awful his parents are.

      1. Another Ellie*

        I was thinking about you when I was reading the letter! Everybody should go read the Gold Digger’s blog A) because it’s a great blog and B) to see how to blog about real people anonymously. Also, to convince yourself to never, ever run for office.

        1. maggie*

          And I totally forgot that I had read it last year, until Gold Digger reminded me. haha Yay! Now another new (old) past time at work…

      2. Ruffingit*

        For fans of The Golden Girls: “You’re Dan and Morothy!” If any of you get this reference, I will be your friend forever! :)

    2. OP*

      OP here–

      That’s a great question which Alison also asked me.

      On a scale of 1 “my blog url contains my full name” to 10 “you’d need a forensic investigator to determine whose blog this is” I’d say this is about a 5 or 6 tops.

      She has a completely public blog that you can find through a Google search of her name. She cross posts content from that public blog to the one I wrote to AAM about. Due to the nature of the blogging platform, it’s not hard to find the other blog. And once you arrive at that other blog, the amount of personally identifiable content (including selfies, and links to other websites with her name) make it abundantly clear who this person is.

      That said, I don’t know how many people would actually *do* that.

      1. AnotherAlison*

        It’s always embarrassing to admit to Googling people by name, but I think once you get a hit on someone’s name, following the rabbit trail is common, esp. if it leads somewhere hidden. I’m never surprised how someone thinks they are being digitally sneaky, when they’re really leaving huge tracks all over the place. (Found lots of details about my dad’s girlfriend on his public FB page once, while he was friends with me – and married to my mom.)

        1. Just the facts*

          Yeah, I wanted to know more about my new co-worker so I googled her name and by following the Google trail, I found out she’s been disciplined by the licensing board that oversees our profession in a state she lived in before. Also, her husband was arrested for attempting to rape a woman, but those charges were dropped. Interesting what you can find out there.

  3. NewishAnon*

    This is awful OP. Sorry you’re going through that with your coworker. Feels like high school, huh? Chances are that when you confront her she will be the one who is most embarrassed and uncomfortable. At least, she should be. If she tries any tactics to make you feel bad about it, like saying you shouldn’t have even read it to begin with, I would suggest not engaging in that with her. Just tell her she is deflecting and you reading the blog is not the issue at hand here. And going forward, I would not share any information with her that you’d be afraid will end up on her blog. If she brings up other coworkers again, just say you’re not having that conversation with her and retirect or walk away.

    Good luck. I hope this can be resolved fairly easily.

    1. Ella*

      Slightly embarrassed to admit that I was once the inappropriate, mean blogger whose blog was found by coworkers. But then, I was 19, and this was 10+ years ago, and I was still learning about being an adult. And yes, i was extremely embarrassed and uncomfortable, and felt a little violated myself, since my coworkers had been apparently been lurking on my blog and talking about me behind my back. High school drama, indeed.

      (I made my blog friends only and haven’t talked about coworkers on the internet since.)

  4. Katie the Fed*

    Wow – that’s just awful. OP, you’re totally justified in your reaction and feelings – I think anyone would be incredibly upset to find that. I found a note that some coworkers passed about me once; another time saw someone writing a nasty email about me.

    Has she used your name at all? Because that would take it a whole other level of seriousness.

    You’re perfectly justified in saying “I would like you to remove blog posts about me and this company, and write any in the future” and the vague threat about the company wouldn’t like it.

    You can also take it to your manager – you can’t possibly work constructively with someone if you know every interaction might be subjected to public ridicule. I would want to know if my direct reports were acting like this.

    And really, you don’t need to feel bad. She’s the jerk, not you. This is what children do.

    1. AMG*

      Alison, I was surprised that you didn’t suggest going to the manager over these 2 people. I would want to know too, especially since the blog also embarasses the company. Curious about your thoughts on why you didn’t suggest it. It’s at such a level of nastiness that I would think it would affect the work environment.

      1. YourCdnFriend*

        I think this falls into the camp of “you should try to deal with your interpersonal issues on your own first.” Yes, this is especially grevious but there is still an opportunity to deal with it directly. If someone came to me with this, I would ask if they’d spoken with the colleague. I would be interested in the part about bashing the company. But, I think going to the boss escalates this too much and eliminates the option for J to fix this first.

        1. Katie the Fed*

          I’m a little mixed on this, as a manager. I usually prefer people to deal with their own issues directly, but some things are egregious enough that I’d at least like to know it happened, even if I don’t need to take action. Like, if someone is sexually harrassing a colleague, and they handle it on their level – that’s great. But I still want to know it happened so if I hear something else I know it’s a pattern and not a one-time thing.

          To me, this is severe enough that I want to know about it. Like I said, I imagine someone like this is going to create other problems with coworkers in the future.

          1. maggie*

            Yep. This is so incredibly messy that I would also want to know as manager. There will obviously be some tension (likely very long term) and I would want to know exactly what I need to do to work around it, and I would also like to know exactly what she has said about the company (before taking it to HR for her file, natch). But by all means, I would coach OP on how to approach it and if she was still not satisfied with the answer, would certainly step in.

          2. Cara*

            Yeah, this sounds to me like something to bring up to the boss just as an FYI. If I were J’s boss I would want to know about this, even though I probably wouldn’t step in if OP told me she’d handled things already. OP sounds like a confident person who’s capable of calling J out appropriately, but what if J decided to switch targets to someone meeker? I would want to know that J has a pattern of this type of behaviour.

          3. Yellowrake*

            I’d want to know as the manager. I wouldn’t want it brought to me as “Jane is doing this awful thing to me!!!” but I would want to know. How I’d want the OP to approach me:

            “I have a sensitive situation that’s come up with Jane and I wanted to let you know what is happening and how I plan to handle it, before I approach her.”

            Come to me and explain the situation, have a plan for how you want to handle it but let me know what’s going on before moving forward with the plan. It shows you’re taking responsibility for solving it, but you’re also cognizant that it’s the type of issue I’d want to be apprised of and it gives me the opportunity to step in before you act if I think that’s a better approach.

            1. OP*

              This is an excellent point. I have not had the conversation yet so I have time to consider this suggestion too.

  5. Annika Potato*

    Hold on a sec, I don’t blame the OP for being upset and think she should confront the coworker BUT most people here post *very* recognizable stories about their workplaces. Those stories are by definition one-sided. It wouldn’t be hard if you knew where to look to piece together those stories (especially since anonymous posting is no longer allowed) and take offense in the same way as the OP to how work events are construed. Often things sound harsher in print than in speech. What is the difference between the blog and posting on this site?

      1. Cat*

        I don’t know, to be honest – blogs are often anonymous. I don’t think it’s per se bad to share stories here, but I have often thought that some of the stories that are posted here really, really wouldn’t be anonymous to the posters’ coworkers.

        I think how you’d react if your coworker saw what you posted is not a bad metric for whether you should post it. If they wouldn’t recognize themselves, that’s fine. If they would and you could honestly say “it was a difficult situation that I was looking for honest feedback on,” that’s probably also fine. But the fact that this is an anonymous blog isn’t going to excuse everything under all circumstances, and people certainly could be hurt by it. (And God knows I have no moral high ground here – I’ve certainly said things on the Internet that I’ve assumed the person wouldn’t see but which would have been hurtful if they had.)

        1. Leah*

          This reminds me of the book in The Help, where none of the upper-class white women who ignore or abuse their children recognize themselves. They lack the self-awareness.

        2. AdAgencyChick*

          “I think how you’d react if your coworker saw what you posted is not a bad metric for whether you should post it.”

          True dat.

      2. AnotherAlison*

        And the sheer volume of this site is so much that it’s very unlikely your coworker is going to find your one open-thread post about them (which you’ve anonymized) and figure out that it’s about them. I do think, though, if someone is coming on here every Friday with a regular 6-paragraph rant about the same coworker, that’s probably bad judgement, too.

        1. Myrin*

          That’s the main point for me in this situation.

          AAM often has several posts up per day, all of which usually get many, many comments. I’d call myself a regular reader but still often can’t/don’t want to keep up with everything. I have a few usernames I recognise and often even remember stories someone told, but it all kind of blends together as “something on AAM”. (I’ve seen others have better memories where people were all “I remember the story about your sister’s ex-stalker, you talked about it last week in thread X” but those are most often the more ghastly stories and also something only very attentive regular users will be able to do.)

          Whereas with a personal blog, you kind of get a feel of the person running it. Even if you follow multiples blogs, the nature of them is probably so that you can much easier identify something personal someone said, especially if it is about the same person over and over again. (I do absolutely agree with your last sentence, though – obviously you can behave on AAM as you’d behave on a personal blog and if it’s something regular, it’s much easier to remember/find that information. I’d still argue posting in a big comment section is different from posting on a personal blog, but in general I agree.)

        1. Katie the Fed*

          But this one, the one we’re discussing, isn’t. She has friends that are commenting on it – so people who actually know her.

          1. Elsajeni*

            I don’t think we know enough to know whether they’re people who know her in real life, though. I feel like the interaction that’s being described isn’t that different from, say, you posting about a coworker in the Open Thread here and a couple of people replying “Hah, is that the same guy who ______?” just because they recognize your name and remember your stories.

          2. Oryx*

            She has *followers* who are commenting on it. Not necessarily people she knows in real life and if you blog enough about the same thing and have enough regular readers, they will start to make connections between who is who.

            Granted, the OP does say it’s easy to find the blog and J. leaves enough personal information to trace her to the small company, but since the OP already knows in advance who J. is and what company she works for, she’s going to recognize those details while a complete stranger may not.

      3. Elsajeni*

        That depends a lot on the kind of blog it is. This sounds like a Tumblr or similar type of blog to me, in which case it would be typical for the poster to be fairly secretive about their real-life identity, since the nature of the platform makes it easy for random other users to find and follow your blog. On my own Tumblr, I think I’ve used my real first name a couple of times and I’m sure I’ve shared enough information, scattered across various posts, about where I work that a dedicated reader could probably figure out my employer, but not enough that they could find me specifically; that’s about the same amount of information that I’ve shared in comments here.

        I think Cat’s proposed test is a good one, whether it’s for comments here or blog posts elsewhere. But I also don’t, honestly, think it’s that wrong to complain about a coworker on your blog or talk about stuff they’ve done that you find silly, as long as you take reasonable precautions to make sure that 1) people can’t identify the specific person you’re talking about and 2) it won’t get back to them.

    1. some1*

      True, but at least here people are trying to get some guidance on how to handle issues. We aren’t trashing our coworkers for the sake of being mean.

      1. Adam*

        Exactly. Also there isn’t a chronic case of posters jumping on people for their hobbies, health, and lifestyle choices. For the sake of the example, if I were the OP’s coworker I may not understand or agree with the idea of getting a “cleanse”, but I’m not about to go online and post repeatedly that I think my coworker is a dingbat for getting one.

    2. Verde*

      Posting on this site is about people looking for constructive solutions to their work dilemmas. Sometimes, yes, the situations are outlandish and they say as much, but they are actually looking for help in how to sort it out. It sounds like the tone of the blog the OP is concerned about is gossipy, mean-spirited, and simply there to make fun of people, and that not much is being done to hide who it’s about. It’s not done in the spirit of anything helpful or constructive. That’s a huge difference.

      1. Kelly L.*

        This. I don’t think anybody here is posting “Persephone is on an all-pomegranate cleanse. That’s wacky!” The only way her cleanse makes it here is if she’s trying to push it on an OP, and then the question is “What do I do about Persephone trying to make me only eat pomegranates too?” And then people usually try to anonymize a little, too, so they’ll write instead about their co-worker “Eve” who’s cleansing with apples.

        1. INTP*

          I think I’ve vented about coworkers’ cleanses here, actually. But it was all past coworkers without identifying info about the jobs and quite frankly it was affecting me even if it wasn’t being pushed on me. All of my coworkers who have done cleanses and said anything about it (maybe some are cleansing secretly and not becoming obnoxious) publicly wound up either emotional and paranoid or sick. I had to listen to emotional outbursts – one time there was crying when someone on a 500 calorie cleanse randomly decided she was going to get fired in the middle of a meeting – and complaints about being sick for days from people who refuse to partake in the one foolproof cure for their ailments, adequate amounts of solid food. As far as coworker behavior goes, it’s definitely vent-worthy, though I wouldn’t immortalize my vent on a public blog or anything.

          1. INTP*

            *The last sentence was supposed to include “with identifying information” since I am in fact immortalizing this on a public blog, haha.

    3. C Average*

      This is a really good reminder. Thank you. Like many others, I’m probably guilty of oversharing here in the name of getting advice and feedback from the commentariat.

      1. Laurel Gray*

        You are one of my favorite posters. Both in advice and open thread. Please except my plea to NOT stop oversharing :)

        1. C Average*

          Aw, shucks! Thanks. I’ll gladly continue oversharing about my own mistakes if they’ll help others avoid similar experiences, but I can always stand to be more mindful of the things I say about other people.

    4. TL -*

      Also, Allison never posts questions with the sole intention of mocking someone, like the post about going on the cleanse.

      Or suggesting your boss has a prescription pill problem for the mere sake of stirring up rumors and gossip.

      There are definitely ways to blog about your workplace that highlights the absurd and ridiculous or tell stories without being malicious or defaming people.

    5. illini02*

      I agree. Doing it in the name of “getting help dealing with something” doesn’t mean it would be any less hurtful if someone read this and saw themselves.

    6. Annika Potato*

      So the difference is that one is posting for advice: BULLSH*T. Maybe the main posts but this is a community and people post in the comments for plenty of reasons – venting/camaraderie/boasting/trolling. Also, it’s clear based on the OP that the blog was anonymous.

      Also, how do we know she was trashing her coworker for the “sake of being mean”. Maybe she was venting about someone she liked but had issues with. Maybe she got advice from her commentators and other bloggers. I’m not saying it’s ideal behavior but I find all the pearl clutching hilarious given that this blog is full of people telling “funny stories” not just about coworkers but friends, family and partners.

      1. Cat*

        And while it sounds like the OP’s coworker behaved abominably in a number of ways, “my coworker won’t stop talking about their diet” is not a per se unreasonable base complaint. (Seriously, talking about your diet in the workplace is a TERRIBLE idea.)

          1. Cat*

            Yeah, it’s the worst. In an average-size office, you can pretty much guarantee that someone you work with has dealt with eating disorders or is currently dealing with them or has loved ones who are/have. And moreover, the nature of how much you’re at work means everyone has to eat there and will be observed eating there. So you’re talking about what is likely to be a sensitive subject for at least some of your coworkers in a setting where there’s no socially approved script for asking them to stop and where they then have to deal with their worries about being judged for what they are then eating. It’s just a bad idea.

            1. Anom for this.*

              THANK YOU for saying this, as someone who recovered from an eating disorder. I have a coworker who throws a hissy fit about her diet every time we go to lunch as a team. In the same way that I don’t detail my marathon training to coworkers who could care less, I have little interest in hearing how you’re eliminating entire food groups and absolutely miserable as a result.

        1. Anonsie*

          The nature of the actual posts is relevant, because the letter mentions the comments but not really the tone of the post other than that it was dismissive somehow. I can think of a lot of times, though, where I’ve seen someone describe something in a pretty restrained way and then other people have commented much more harshly.

      2. Ask a Manager* Post author

        She wrote: “It’s not difficult to find her blog at all, and based on personal information she shares, it’s not difficult to identify her or the (small) company that we both work for.”

        1. Annika Potato*

          That actually implies it is anonymous. Because if it were not anonymous, she would have said so. And honestly, it’s likely not the case. She is likely overestimating how easy it would be to find the blog now that the coworker pointed her to it.

          1. AW*

            That actually implies it is anonymous.

            No, it means that the co-worker is only making a half-hearted effort at anonymity.

            She is likely overestimating how easy it would be to find the blog now that the coworker pointed her to it.

            You’re underestimating it, and I can prove it:

            A couple days ago, J showed me something she’d re-blogged (some animated gif that we both thought was funny), and I happened to notice the URL of her blog.

            The co-worker is flat out telling other employees the location of this blog. They shared their blog URL with someone they spend a lot of time talking about on their blog. Why, then, should we assume that the co-worker hasn’t shared that URL with other employees. They don’t have to find it if she’s just handing it to them.

      3. sunny-dee*

        Yeah, this. The justification for posting here is that people are trying to get help or advice — but maybe the justification for her posting on her blog was that venting is cathartic and helps keep her even-keel at work.

        I don’t mean for that to *excuse* or justify the meanness. But my friend Sheila and I routinely rant to each other about coworkers that we really care about in real life — but they’re weird and quirky and sometimes you just want to say, “OMG, this is crazy!” And because you care about the person, you want to say it not to them.

          1. Katie the Fed*

            It makes sense to me. Like how I might complain about my husband’s little quirks to a friend, but not to him. They’re not a big enough deal to want him to change. But enough that I feel the need to commiserate with a friend :)

        1. Anonsie*

          Maybe this is why I’m not particularly miffed by this “pretending to be your friend” side of it. I’m nice to everyone, especially people I work with. In my mind it would be exceptionally immature to not be friendly and talk at least somewhat personally with the people you see every day regardless of what they do that might drive you insane. I expect other people to do this regardless of how much I might drive them insane, too.

          But part of how I level this off is to complain to uninvolved third parties, it gets that frustration out and then I don’t take it with me to work. I don’t do it on a blog (because I have heard way too many stories like this one and I’m paranoid) but the whole thing sort of makes sense to me. The coworker may just be a wad, I don’t know, but from the information I have I wouldn’t really go down either way.

          1. maggie*

            So you’re saying that J is actually super sweet to everyone at work (despite the blog) because that’s simply her professional demeanor? I can buy that actually.

            1. Anonsie*

              Could be, it’s the impression I get from the letter anyway. I could see how someone might see it as duplicitous since it would be weird if someone did it in a social setting, but with the workplace I feel like it’s a little different. I expect people to be friendly to each other at work.

          2. Cat*

            I am with you on this. Doing it on a blog is atrocious for the reason seen in this post, but bitching about your co-workers’ quirks to your non-work friends is pretty normal and can actually make it a lot easier not to go off on your co-workers.

      4. Sadsack*

        I am betting that if OP shows her boss the post where the coworker wrote that she thinks the boss has a drug problem, the boss would not see it as just a place where she vents work stress.

      5. Anna*

        It’s not BS, though. The people who write to Alison do so asking for how THEY (the writer) can deal with someone or something. When the writer is a jerk in their letter, or if Alison gets the vibe they aren’t being completely honest, she calls them out. At any point the OP can read comments and either give more information or clarify an item. Alison tends to keep things as vague as possible (because when you’re giving advice like this, the broader your stroke the more people can actually use your advice). I think you’re way off the mark on what about the blog is problematic in this case.

    7. BRR*

      Blogs can vary in their degree of anonymity. From what the LW says it’s easy to figure out who they’re talking about.

    8. Anonsie*

      Yeah I have similar feelings. Though here I think people are genuinely more level and the purpose is usually constructive, nothing described in the letter sounds far off of plenty of stuff I’ve seen around here or on blogs that are accepted around here either.

      For example, the cleanse: remember when we were ribbing on new agey stuff a few weeks ago?

      1. Kelly L.*

        True, but the new ager was pushing it on everybody–making workplace policies based on the beliefs and so on. We did take it and run with it, but I don’t think it would have even ended up here if the boss hadn’t been pushing boundaries.

        1. Anonsie*

          I meant in the comments, though, everyone (me included!) was talking about so-and-so person they knew or worked with who did some new agey thing and how it was so silly and ugggh those people.

            1. Anonsie*

              That’s important for two reasons: One, the letter writer only mentions the tone of the comments. If the coworkers’ blog posts are reasonable and only the comments are nasty, that’s a different issue. Two, unless the one was particularly nasty and it’s not coming across to me, this descriptions sounds an awful lot like the gripes we normally condone.

      2. fposte*

        We also do a lot more venting in the open threads, too.

        And while I don’t think it ends up being quite the same, I think it’s worth considering it starts out pretty similarly. It’s possible that the OP’s co-worker is a hideous jerk who’s delighting in creating drama, but I also think it’s possible that it started with exactly that kind of funny vent about work and that her friends’ approval egged her on to keep going. Which is deeply foolish, for all the reasons people are stating, but I also think it can feel weirdly separate from actual people, and the co-worker might be really mortified to have her worlds collide.

        (Though then again, she may not–some hate bloggers really can’t unwrap themselves from their obsessive little worlds.)

    9. amp2140*

      I think there’s a difference between posting in response to a larger article within a community, and posting so much people are urging you to write a series dedicated to the person.

    10. neverjaunty*

      If you vented here about a co-worker with sufficient detail that your co-worker knew it was you and that you were sniping about them, I think it would be fair for your co-worker to maybe have some negative feelings about that. Right?

    11. ThursdaysGeek*

      Why do you say anonymous posting is not allowed? A name is required but none of my family actually calls me ThursdaysGeek. Email and website are optional. It’s as anonymous or identifiable as we want it to be.

      Sure, I’ve put in identifying information, and if I wanted to be a stalker, I could probably figure out the identity of a few of the regular posters here from bits and pieces they have said. But only a few, and it would take work.

    12. snuck*

      It depends on the blog… we don’t know enough about it.

      Twelve posts in three weeks (15 working days!) that reference the OP is excessive, it suggests that the blogger is posting all manner of inconsequential stuff and the comments about making a separate blog devoted to the “ridiculousness” suggest that there’s either a lot of hyperbole going on, or over excessive sharing by the OP.

      What we do know is that a four posts a week (in a five day week!) is unusual, it means that the OP and the Blogger need to sort it out… because clearly the OP is annoying/entertaining the Blogger.

      Right now it’s not a work situation, but if the OP asks for it to stop, moderates any oversharing or whatever they might be doing (I have no idea!) and it continues, then it could turn into harrassment or bullying. Not knowing the Blogger or the OP it’s hard to judge this issue, but I do know that a lot of people vent online, their friends (real or internet only) comment and it turns into a silly flash joke thing which will pass over when the next amusing thing happens. I’d suggest this is starting to exceed that…

      I’d stay off the blog, not comment on it, not feed the drama. I’d just politely say “I found your blog and I think the conversations about me should be taken down, particularly the one where you are talking about Boss’s medical issues – that one is the kind of thing that could well get you fired.” and then maintain silence, no explanations, no further discussion, shrug and say “sorry, that’s just how I see it” if pushed and walk away to get a tea/go to the toilet. If it blows up in your face remember two things: You aren’t writing on a blog/FB/whatever, it’s the other person… and you are saying “I think it’s a medical issue” is vastly different to suggesting drug and mental health issues – you just need to explain the tone. Mind you… if she leaves that up and Boss reads it, and all the other posts about you too… Boss will quickly work out who the nasty one is.

      Oh. And you aren’t in high school anymore. Seriously… so what if she is… she can hang out in 9th grade heaven, you can rise above this – be stellar, be amazing, be professional… and it will resolve itself eventually without further influence from you.

      1. Zillah*

        I think the OP said the posts about herself were about 10% of all the content on the blog – it seems to be updated more frequently than that.

    13. Special Case*

      I’d like to point out, I’ve seen first hand what cyber bullies are capable of, and if you post on any site frequently, using the same user name and sharing personalized information, you are easy to unmask by someone who is determined to do so. And if you post a story about a boss or coworker, and that person or someone personally familiar with the story happens to read it and recognize it, they will search for your other posts. And they will, along with determined cyber bullies, google your user name (people often use the same user name or gravatar across different sites, fora), google details you share, perform image searches based on your gravatar, follow leads and crumbs you leave about yourself (mentions of websites you visit/like, places you online shop looking for your reviews which may contain even more personal information), etc.

      This is real. I know a real case of someone who is a contractor with high level security clearance for our favorite *cough* national agency who routinely cyber stalks and bullies people this way for kicks. Total sociopath and sadist. I’ve seen real fall out for this behavior, and you don’t have to be anyone special. Just annoy the wrong unbalanced individual on a bad day.

      Not saying this to scare folks, but to let you know you’re not as anonymous as you think. Best practices if you share sensitive info:
      -don’t use a gravatar
      -don’t use the same user name (across sites, consistently on one site you frequent a lot)
      -use a vpn proxy if you’re uncertain you can completely trust an site/forum owner, administrator
      -mix up how you hide details (e.g., don’t use the same fake names for the same characters/locations/etc)

      And don’t completely trust anyone you haven’t actually met in person.

  6. kristinyc*

    Wow, what a jerk.

    If I were you and I didn’t feel like having that difficult conversation, I would just start re-blogging and tweeting everything she’s writing. (And make it clear that it’s you re-blogging everything). If she meant for it to be a secret, she’ll be mortified. If she meant for you to find it, then she still doesn’t win, because it just publicizes what a jerk she is). Oooooor, you could just start talking about even more ridiculous (untrue) things at work and see if she writes about them, and just mess with her.

    (Okay, you probably shouldn’t actually do either of these…. But wow. She’s really awful.)

    1. some1*

      It’s possible she completely spaced about the posts about the LW when she showed her the blog, or never thought the LW would try to look it up on her own.

      I had a former friend who would bring fights with her family and friends on Facebook. She was posting about a big fight she had with her mom (her mom wasn’t on FB) and getting really personal. I knew my ex-friend was FB friends with a lot of her relatives on FB, so I messaged her, “Aren’t you worried that your relatives will repeat what you ar eposting to your mom?” and she replied, “I hadn’t thought of that.”

      1. TL -*

        Yeah, a lot of people don’t really think about how everything they post is actually public. Especially when it’s a blog that has a small readership or something.

    2. neverjaunty*

      I’d be tempted to just become very distant and cool, but professional, at work, and avoid having any conversations or interactions that were not directly work-related. Either she’d be bright enough to figure out why, or if she asked if something was wrong, I could politely explain that I didn’t care to be joke fodder for her and her buddies.

      1. Book Person*

        This was my thought, too. Even if she was just venting to what she assumed was an anonymous internet audience and didn’t mean to be malicious, you don’t owe her friendship, nor a chance to explain herself. Screencap for future reference if you’d like, but otherwise just take a step back into a reserved and professional demeanor.

        (Though I admit there would be a small, small part of me that would want to see if she made a “my coworker is being so rude!” post after the fact and, if so, comment “maybe she didn’t like what you wrote about her on here?”)

        1. TT*

          You’re a better person than me, Book Person. My very first instinct was to comment on the blog. (There’s a reason I need to reign in my first instinct)

  7. Career Counselorette*

    This is SUCH a bad idea as blog fodder. A friend of mine, with a considerable social media reach, was pretty unhappy in his day job for a long time, and a huge source of his frustration was a very unpleasant and inappropriate co-worker he worked with directly. Practically every single day he would post multiple Facebook statuses about things his co-worker had said or done, and egged on by his following, he did start a Tumblr called something like “My Annoying Co-Worker.” He never identified the guy or their company by name, but eventually there were so many details like where the guy lived, his wife’s name, his race, his politic leanings, his vet status, etc. that I felt like it was only a matter of time before someone would put all the pieces together. And interestingly enough, although this was meant to help him “let off steam,” it seemed to only increase the volume of complaints he had before it escalated to full-on bitch eating crackers mode. It’s kind of amazing to me that it somehow didn’t come back to bite him.

    1. LawBee*

      I have found that “venting” only makes me focus on the thing I’m venting about even more. I still do it, because I’m not perfect, but I’m really trying to let things go and accept people the way they are.

      Having said that, some people in my life flat-out drive me up the WALL.

    2. Katie the Fed*

      A professor at Marquette University was actually just stripped of tenure because he kept a blog that detailed what he thought about other colleagues’ classes and departmental happenings and whatnot. He posted a poorly-researched post bashing (and naming) a graduate instructor for how she handled an interaction with one of her students, exposing her to a barrage of violent, misogynistic rants, and the university decided he’d gone too far. So they’re stripping him of tenure and firing him. He’s arguing he had a right to academic freedom; they’re arguing that by publicly shaming this instructor he violated university rules. It’s an interesting case.

      1. maggie*

        Well, and I’m sure yours is quite like mine, freedom of thought and speech are arguably protected, unless it goes against the fundamental safety of its occupants. Once he virtually called fire in a crowded graduate instructor, all bets are off. Good for the university.

        1. Katie the Fed*

          And freedom of speech and thought are only protected insofar as the government can’t retaliate against you for your speech. Private citizens, corporations, universities, etc most certainly can implement consequences.

        2. Lore*

          I don’t find the Marquette case quite as clear-cut as this, though. The professor criticized the graduate instructor’s teaching, but having read the post, I don’t see that he in any way incited other people to subsequently attack her. Yes, he shouldn’t have used her name, but stripping him of tenure and firing him seems to open some other potentially scary cans of worms, academic freedom-wise.

          1. Katie the Fed*

            It’s probably a better discussion for the open thread, but since he wasn’t blogging about academic matters, or his professional research, or anything along those lines I don’t think it’s as all a question of academic freedom. But we can meet in the open thread so as not to derail.

          2. Artemesia*

            And when his followers started sending her messages about how they wanted to rape her and carve her up, the Professor doubled down about ridiculing her rather than trying to defuse. Naming a student (the TA is a student) in this way publicly is beyond un professional for a professor. Good for the university.

            1. I'm a Little Teapot*


              I’d heard of this case, but I hadn’t heard THAT. Now THAT makes this case clear-cut. I remember him saying that he wasn’t responsible for the violent threats just because he posted her name – but if she gets violent threats and he responds by egging on the scum who threaten her, trying to disclaim responsibility is disingenuous.

              It’s like GamerGate, Academic Edition. Gross.

    3. Haleyca*

      This! I have never started a blog about an annoying co-worker but I do find that vocalizing my complaints about something can sometimes make it even worse. Often if I have a bad day I will say that I am having a bad day to my roommate or a friend or relative and then be asked what happened and have to rehash it (sometimes multiple times with different people) which only makes me feel more negative. I’ve found that not talking about these things (as in slight, everyday annoyances or occasional rough days) makes it much easier to just let things go (and I am a total venter usually. I bet having a popular blog to immortalize these feelings would be even worse.

      1. maggie*

        This happened to me last night!! A bad mood at 3pm turned me into a crying mess by 8pm, simply by giving it more life when discussing it with my husband. Shoulda just kept my mouth shut!

  8. Annalee*

    One thing I would suggest BEFORE talking to her–get screenshots of the posts where she’s talking about you and others. Save them to a computer she does not have access to.

    If she has any sense at all, she’ll delete the posts and start being more responsible about what she says online, but having a paper trail may come in handy if you have to escalate the issue further.

    1. Gene*

      Yeah, without screenshots she can make them disappear in moments, then accuse you of feeding the Drama Llama.

      1. Leah*

        You should also be able to print the whole web page to pdf if it doesn’t fit into one screenshot.
        Honestly, this coworker sounds like a coward. She liked the Internet attention from mocking you and perhaps thought this was her little anonymous corner of the Internet. If this is true, she’ll be mortified that you found it.

    2. AndersonDarling*

      Great idea! You never know where this will lead. The co-worker may go to the manager and say the OP was causing trouble and making up stories. Or if the co-worker really goes off the deep end, it may be important to have this information to pass over to the company.
      I worked with a similar kind of co-worker, ironically her name was also “J.” She didn’t blog, but she would pretend to be concerned, fish for personal information then gossip it. She eventually cracked up and started “poisoning” our co-workers by giving them food that they were allergic to and telling them it was something else. When it was time, we had lists of documentation of her behavior (she would brag about poisoning her co-workers), and the discipline happened quickly.
      Not to say that this is the same. But it is good to have documentation.

      1. A Non*

        Please tell me the discipline was firing. I’m pretty sure deliberately feeding people stuff they’re allergic to can have legal consequences.

      2. allergic person*

        As a person with peanut/tree nut allergies (confirmed by the allergist), if I found out this had happened to me there would be legal involvement. If I was lucky i’d just feel like absolute crap and have severe bowel problems for a day or two, and of course anything up to and including hospitalization or death is possible.

        1. snuck*

          Yup. Me too. I’m not a ‘call the police’ kind of person at all… but if someone deliberately gave me something that I was allergic to and lied to me about it then I’d be dealing with them forcefully.

    3. kozinskey*

      I agree that having a paper trail is a good idea. I might extend that idea further, actually. I know a lot of people here would love to see her squirm in a face-to-face conversation, but personally I would probably send a short email saying “I saw your blog posts about me and am uncomfortable with the content. In particular, I would prefer not to be mentioned in the post about Boss. Could you please take down that post, or at least remove any mention of me from it?”

      That way, if the need to take the issue to management arises, OP will be able to show that they tried to deal with it calmly themselves first.

    4. Pat*

      I’d check whether or not her blog posts shows up on* and/or google’s cache, and bookmark those as well. Then if she claims you faked the screenshots, you can pull up a pretty unassailable record. Also, if she has a personal domain for the blog (so something like, rather than try doing a Whois search to see if her details pop up as the owner – she may not even know those are usually public by default.

      *(For example, we can see how this site’s changed over time by looking at*/ )

  9. C Average*

    I haven’t quite been on the other side of this, but I’ve been close enough that I have some insights.

    I said something mean about a colleague and my boss on social media, on my own time and in a way I believed was private. It wasn’t private, and difficult conversations ensued. In my case I merely said that I didn’t like them or consider them friends, which was and is objectively true but definitely didn’t need to be expressed in a place where there was the potential for anyone to see it.

    So, for starters, yes, what Alison said, all of it. Tell her how this makes you feel. But I’d also not wait to ask her to remove or hide the posts. I’d lead with that request.

    I know when I made my mistake, I was utterly horrified and, honestly, would have welcomed either party saying “I’d like you to __________” just so that I could display good faith by acquiescing immediately.

    I’m assuming the two of you need to maintain a good working relationship, which is going to be challenging in the near term but not impossible. It’ll go a long way toward healing if you can suggest a specific and constructive way for her to fix this and for her to demonstrate that she Gets It by doing so right away.

    I’d say something like this: “So, after our conversation last week about animated GIFs on your blog, I read some of your other posts because I was curious about your writing. I found quite a few critical, mean-spirited comments about me that are specific enough to make me easily recognizable to anyone who knows me. There were similar comments about our boss and our workplace. Can you please remove the ones about me and think seriously about removing the ones about other colleagues as well? I want to have a good working relationship with you, and it’s difficult to do that when I know I’m fodder for a blog where you’re writing about me in a personal and unkind way.”

  10. YogiJosephina*


    Out of curiosity, this is a HUGE stretch, but…are you in North Carolina? Because if you are, I’m almost 100% certain I know your co-worker.

    I’m really hoping I’m wrong here.

      1. Laurel Gray*

        But this is a great example of how easily identifiable people are when they blog negatively about someone and over-share about said person. It is so easy to play detective with info people divulge. People have lost their jobs over Twitter…anonymous people contacting their employer with screenshots etc with their outrageous and damaging timelines etc

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I mentioned this below but will put it here too: I totally understand the temptation, but I want to ask that we not speculate on whether we might know the people OPs are writing in about (not just with this letter but always). It puts the letter-writer in a really awkward position! Thank you!

      (I’ll also add that I think it’s rarely the case that it turns out to be true. I sometimes see people saying things like “I think I know what company you work for,” when judging by my mail, there are enough companies to fit whatever description that it’s probably not the case.)

      1. YogiJosephina*

        No problem, Allison. The reason I asked was because it seemed that it could be possible that this person was someone I knew pretty intimately at one point in my life and I honestly was coming at it from a place of being able to give pretty experience-based advice about how to approach this with said person. So, caraytid, yes, it would’ve been relevant. I had no intention of “outing” the coworker by name or blog or whatever, and would have simply responded with advice based on the benefit of my experience. Perhaps I read it wrong (because Internet) but those two replies seemed awfully snarky and attacking, especially towards someone who didn’t have any ill intentions.

        However, Allison, if you’d rather we not, I will totally respect that. Consider the subject dropped!

        1. caraytid*

          definitely didn’t mean to be snarky, and apologies if i was short.

          but i just feel that the OP is probably wishing that no one else sees this unflattering and mean blog, and any details that can lead people to find it are not going to help achieve that.

          and generally, as alison has said, this puts people in an awkward position, and removes some of what makes this site a great place, if posters wish to remain anonymous.

        2. some1*

          I didn’t mean to be snarky –I just meant that people all over the word read Alison’s blog and there’s nothing in the letter that’s an uncommon scenario. It’s pretty unlikely any of the readers here know the LW.

          1. Lily in NYC*

            You’d be surprised. I had a mortifying moment when a coworker recognized something I submitted to a online washington post chat – the chat host liked my question and wrote about it in a tiny NYC-based trade publication that he also authored. There was no warning anywhere in the washington post that this could happen, and I was furious. I played dumb with my coworker and pretended I had no idea what he was talking about, but I was shaking inside.

          2. YogiJosephina*

            No worries. I had a feeling I might’ve been misreading it. In any case, you guys are right. We don’t want to make this any more awkward for OP than it already is!

  11. Clever Name*

    Wow. How awful. If it makes you feel any better, I have a coworker who made me think he was my friend….until it was abundantly clear that he isn’t my friend. At all. It was really hurtful, and I felt very betrayed. Just know that you aren’t the only one who is going through something like this. This has nothing to do with you or you as a person and everything to do with her. Shame on her.

    1. Artemesia*

      I had a similar situation and I had actually saved this guy’s job for years by intervening when steps were being taken to end his position. He was a strong contributor in some ways and a bit of a liability in others and I thought the strengths outweighed the problems. And then he screwed me over for about the third time and I just dropped the rope. The next time attempts were made to get rid of him, I simply did nothing and that was the end of his job.

  12. Natasha*

    If this situation were anywhere outside of work I’d say differently, but I would personally abstain from saying anything to your coworker here unless there’s actual slander with your company, boss’s, or your name specified on the blog. Although your coworker is obviously very mean-spirited, and not so bright if she made the link available to you, it’s almost never advisable to start friction with someone you work with. You practically live with these people, and any kind of drama could make your work life very unpleasant. What I would do is remain friendly with her but less forthcoming about your personal life so that she will lose fuel to stab you in the back on her blog.

    I want to end this comment by thinking from another perspective. This woman must not have much of a personal life if you are such a frequent topic of conversation outside of work. At the very least, she finds you very, very interesting.

      1. Iro*

        Exactly. For me not “causing friction” does not = not standing up for yourself. I once had a co-worker say some very jingoist and racist comments to me in the lunch room, and you bet I took that stuff straigt to HR and my supervisor.

        Was it awkward for a couple of weeks? Yes. However I didn’t “cause friction” because I continued to treat the culprit professionally and kindly, and eventually the culprit calmed down and returned to being “normal co-worker”.

      2. Natasha*

        Fair enough. I would just be worried about someone who is as two-faced as this woman seems to be, making my work life very difficult. After reading some of the comments on here, I do think the OP should look at her company’s social media policy. If there is one and it’s clear the coworker violated it, she could reasonably broach the subject with her. I’d frame it along the lines of: “After you showed me that animated gif, I looked at your blog out of curiosity and saw some negative mention of people in our company. I just want to give you a heads-up of the social media policy here, which prohibits, X, Y, and Z….” How direct she wants to be depends on how comfortable she is with confrontation. If not so much, this is a way of still getting the point across effectively .

        1. Observer*

          There probably isn’t a social media policy covering this. In any case, that’s not the issue. Posting negative stuff about your employer or co-workers can get you in trouble at work, outside of some fairly narrow exceptions.

          As for the co-worker making life difficult, that horse has already left the barn. Trying to get the gossip stop could at least get one source of difficulty removed.

        2. Colette*

          I understand the impulse, but there doesn’t need to be a policy to call the coworker on her hurtful and inappropriate behavior – and, in fact, it’s not wrong because it’s against a policy, it’s wrong because it’s hurtful and mean.

      3. sunny-dee*

        Except for one thing: The coworker probably never thought the OP would see her blog. Even the GIF she showed, she showed to the OP on her computer; she didn’t send a link.

        1. Colette*

          So what? The issue here isn’t that the coworker got caught, it’s that she’s behaving inappropriately. How (or if) the OP finds it is not the issue.

    1. Nerd Girl*

      “This woman must not have much of a personal life if you are such a frequent topic of conversation outside of work. At the very least, she finds you very, very interesting.”

      I had a co-worker I hated. Loathed. I’d spend time at work complaining about her to other like-minded co-workers, I’d spend time at home complaining about her to my poor husband, and she even popped up in conversations with friends and family who were far removed from my day to day life. It was a cousin I seldom see who said something very similar to this thought to me. He said “For someone you claim to hate you sure spend a lot of time talking about her.” It was one of those OMG moments. After that I devoted a lot less time to focusing on her and more focusing on me. Within the year I had changed jobs, moved halfway across the country, and had a list of new hobbies and interests. My husband even told me that he noticed that by not dwelling on how much I disliked someone I became more likable myself. Don’t get me wrong…the woman was (and still is) the most loathesome person I’ve ever worked with but I pulled myself out of that middle school mindset and moved on and have been happier for it.

      1. Natasha*

        It really takes a strong person to admit that. I’ve been there too, and I am only speaking from experience. Very humbling for sure. Glad you have found a better perspective and lifestyle!

        1. Leah*

          Yes, this! You stopped not because this woman wasn’t loathsome or because you didn’t have a right to complain, but because it’s not worth your being miserable and preoccupied with anger. Like in Mean Girls when Cady is obsessed with talking about/gossiping about Regina.

      2. Mockingjay*

        I was like this. Complained about difficult oldjob and its coworkers morning, noon, and night. My wake-up call was when my teen was having scheduling issues with a part-time job. She whined, complained, and posted on FB instead of working with the supervisor about it. Because that’s what I taught her you do in those situations (and she pointed that out). Worst parenting moment, ever.

    2. mel*

      If OP decides to move on without confronting this coworker, she could pose as a page visitor and send this coworker a messsage about how she is able to guess their employer and could potentially contact their boss. It seems like a pretty normal thing to happen online that wouldn’t immediately identify the messenger as OP, and it may make coworker realize how easily identifiable (?) and incredibly public her writing can be.

      I’m not sure that just telling coworker outright to take down that particular blogpost would work as effectively as one or several “guesses from strangers”.

      1. Mander*

        I think this could come across as being duplicitous and just as mean-spirited as the blog posts themselves, though. If a truly anonymous person can figure out who they are that’s one thing, but I think it is just tit-for-tat to pose as such just to get back at the coworker.

    1. Iro*

      The same way she is going to feel when OP reveals his/her knowedge of the blog?

      The OP was very kind in the post, and also quite anonymous because there is no way I can know what company, region, or even gender ths OP is. The OP is in no way, “writing a mean blog” about a co-worker by asking Alison and the commenter community for advice.

      1. Yep, me again*

        I wasn’t implying she was mean or rude. I meant just like it unnerved OP to have a blog post written about them, it might shake up J to know her actions had a consequence. I get the feeling ‘J’ does not realize that otherwise why point out a blog OP could read. It’s actually a good life lesson that computers make poor shields from reality.

        1. fposte*

          I think, though, it’s one of those situations that can read as lowering yourself to their level–“See, you don’t like it when it’s done to you!” And that’s not usually the firmest of ground to stand on anyway (it’s easy to respond with “Oh, so it’s okay when you do it but not when I do it?”), and the OP doesn’t seem like somebody who’d be comfortable with that.

          1. Yep, me again*

            I still think awareness is something ‘J’ is lacking and it may come from a level of maturity instead of cognition that is affected OP so much. Making fun of someone on a dietary cleanse? Responders encouraging more of it and on top of that, J doesn’t think OP is going to ever read beyond what was pointed out to her? In some respects, J may decide to blog some more trashing OP regardless of her approach.
            I will respect the dissenting opinion. Your point is valid and in many instances I agree with you but J isn’t mature. J has the mentality of a teenager and it’s going to get her fired one day if it hasn’t already. I think this maybe one of the few times showing more than telling can be warranted.

      2. Nerdling*

        The OP also doesn’t provide enough information to identify him/herself, the coworker, or the company they work for. I would say, from the sound of some other posts, that there are a number of people from around the country who could read this and feel as though they are the coworker mentioned here.

    2. Mephyle*

      I don’t think it is symmetric. Showing her this post isn’t be ‘getting back at her’ or ‘paying her in her own coin’; it is showing her how her actions look from the other side. Also, her reaction (good or bad) would be a good indication of how to proceed.

  13. Leah*

    Wow, OP, I’m really sorry that someone you thought was a friend was going behind your back like that. She is completely wrong and you have every reason to be upset.
    I wish people would realize that you can never depend on anonymity on the Internet. Write like your mother/boss/friend will find it someday.

  14. Adam*

    This woman would have me fuming. While it would be hard for me to do because I would be so pissed, I agree with everyone that it would be best to broach the subject with her directly and then see what she says. Make her talk and see if she’ll come clean.

  15. Mena*

    You are more kind than J deserves to be worried about handling this diplomatically. I think calm and straight-forward is the best approach: “writing about me on your blog is unkind and I’d like it to stop.” And because she is disparaging her employer, perhaps her supervisor should check this blog out also.

    And obviously, the work-friendship is over; keep any necessary conversation to work-related matters. The chilly attitude should keep her at a distance and you won’t be giving her anything to write about.
    What a completely childish jerk she is.

  16. illini02*

    So devil’s advocate here. Does she mention you by name ever? I’ve done the “vague-booking” thing before (I’m not proud of it) where I said some stuff about co-workers. My company is not listed on there, but of course my good friends know where I work. So I guess someone COULD theoretically look up my company on Linkedin and try to piece things together and figure out who I’m referring to, but who really cares that much. Point being, if she never mentions you, your company, or your boss by name, I don’t know that you have much of a leg to stand on except for hurt feelings. Now, I understand how much that can suck, but I don’t know that you have the right to ask her to remove it if you aren’t actually mentioned. A nice person probably would offer to do it, but again whether or not you should ask to do this is different.

    Let me be clear, she seems mean. But she could just be trying to be funny and not considering how you would feel if you saw it. I’ve written blog posts about friends and family members, that if you didn’t know me, would probably think they were mean spirited, but they were mostly just humor. Most of the subjects I sent the link I wrote about them (although no one is mentioned by name)

    And I do think that a bunch of people on an internet board who constantly judge other people’s co-workers being up in arms about this is slightly hypocritical. Its a one sided story and people have no problem calling people racist, sexist, whatever.

    1. some1*

      “I’ve written blog posts about friends and family members, that if you didn’t know me, would probably think they were mean spirited, but they were mostly just humor.”

      Do you mind if I ask why you need to publish these, though? Why can’t you just write about friends and family in unflattering terms in a personal diary or journal?

      1. illini02*

        Its just to be entertaining. I don’t “need” to publish it, I wanted to, for humor sake. In all the posts, ONE person took it badly. When they told me this, I took it down. Its like joking about stupid stuff your friends do. ITs not necessarily always malicious.

        1. Wheedle*

          So, you’re making fun of other people on a public forum so you can get attention? And you don’t ask them for permission until after you’ve posted it? For attention?

          1. fposte*

            No, he’s writing jokingly about people he knows and loves. That’s 99.9% of mommyblogging right there, and it’s been writers such as Erma Bombeck and Jean Kerr before them.

            Maybe he’s being really mean and should stop; I don’t know, I haven’t seen the posts. But you seem to be suggesting that you can never write jokingly about any other people to anybody ever, and I think that’s a outlier position that takes some defending rather than being the lesson of this AAM post.

    2. Lily in NYC*

      She doesn’t need a leg to stand on – it’s not like she’s taking coworker to court, she’s just going to tell her to knock it off. Also, please think about how you come across when you post mean-spirited things with the excuse that it’s just a joke. I used to be so sarcastically mean in the name of humor until I heard a nasty joke someone else made about me. It was one of those Aha! moments that made me realize that I was doing the same exact thing and had no right to hurt feelings. I’ve been so much nicer since then. Funny doesn’t have to be mean; it’s really the lowest form of humor after fat jokes.

    3. neverjaunty*

      Well, wait, are you playing devil’s advocate or are you saying something you believe? Because it sounds like you are not so much testing the argument (which is what “playing devil’s advocate” actually means) as mad that people here sometimes say things are racist or sexist.

      Also, the fact that something is humor does not prevent it from being mean-spirited. At all. That’s kind of the whole point of “making fun” of somebody.

      This isn’t OP complaining that her co-worker anonymously posted to AAM and the co-worker stumbled across a request for advice that made her sound awful. This is a run of the mill person not understanding that the magic pixels do not make you anonymous and actions have consequences, problem.

      1. Ann*

        I actually think he’s mad that other people are mad about racist and sexist comments, which seems…odd. I don’t think I understand the problem there.

        And yeah, “Lighten up! You’re too sensitive! Don’t you have a sense of humor?” is generally not the way to go when someone is upset about mean-spirited comments.

        1. Kelly L.*

          Yes. I read it as “Writing on AAM about racist/sexist behavior is as bad as making fun of someone for their personal habits on your blog because they’re both ‘name-calling,'” or something along those lines. It’s a huge false equivalency but a very common one.

    4. Mephyle*

      I think this misses the point somewhat. The hurtful thing is finding that someone OP thought of as a work friend, and who always interacted with her in a friendly way, is actually mocking her behind her back. If it wasn’t taking place on a blog, but in some other medium (such as in person), it wouldn’t change the essential point.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        This. Even if none of the readers knew the writer or OP, there is still a matter between the writer and OP. Well, actually it’s two matters, one is the online complaints and the other is that the writer acted like OP’s friend. If no one was reading the blog there would still be a problem.

    5. AW*

      Point being, if she never mentions you, your company, or your boss by name, I don’t know that you have much of a leg to stand on except for hurt feelings.

      The OP isn’t trying to take her to criminal court, she’s asking how she should handle knowing that the blog makes her and the company look bad, particularly a post where the co-worker made it look like the OP was gossiping when they were just trying to end a conversation. The blog doesn’t have to use real names. As long as it’s not hard to figure out who the author is and where they work then that’s a problem. The OP said the co-worker is including personal information on the blog. Heck, the co-worker themselves shared an URL of their blog with the OP. The co-worker is clearly not being careful about remaining anonymous.

      But she could just be trying to be funny and not considering how you would feel if you saw it.

      Intent is not magic and the company isn’t going to care about intent if they find this blog. All that will matter is that the co-worker is publicly accusing a manager of a drug problem and the OP appears to be in on the gossiping. The co-worker’s intent will not pay the OP’s bills if this gets them fired.

      And not considering how the target of a joke would feel if they knew about it is part of the problem.

    1. caraytid*

      how is it relevant to Alison’s advice for the OP to reveal their location or other details that can lead us to the offending blog? i think they are probably looking for more anonymity, not less…

      1. Wheedle*

        Yeah, you’re right. I mostly just want to commiserate with this poor coworker. If it’s the blog I (hate)read, I’ve considered sending screenshots to the business owner because it’s so embarrassing and mean.

        1. caraytid*

          i confess that i am curious about the blog now, but i think it’s going to have the opposite of the desired effect for the OP if MORE people can find the mean posts, rather than the posts being taken down :)

          1. Wheedle*

            True. I feel so sorry for the OP, especially if I’m right. There are years of mean, mean posts on that blog, and it is totally easy to find out where they work. I would also be interested to hear from others whether it would ever be advisable to send screenshots to a manager/business owner in the case of inappropriate things posted on a blog – rude comments about clients, details about personnel issues, statements about drug overdoses, etc.

    2. Adonday Veeah*

      Somebody above wanted to know if s/he was in North Carolina. Are there that many blogs across the nation saying mean ugly things about co-workers? This is sad.

      1. BRR*

        With the number of people who complain about their coworkers/work/boss I wouldn’t be surprised. I think the fact two people asked is evidence that it’s not as easy to figure out who they OP is talking about.

    3. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I totally understand the temptation, but I want to ask that we not speculate on whether we might know the people OPs are writing in about (not just with this letter but always). It puts the letter-writer in a really awkward position! Thank you!

      (I’ll also add that I think it’s rarely the case that it turns out to be true. I sometimes see people saying things like “I think I know what company you work for,” when judging by my mail, there are enough companies to fit whatever description that it’s probably not the case.)

  17. Nerd Girl*

    This is horrible. OP – I am so sorry that you are going through this. I echo the others in the fact that this is a reflection of her, not you and that you need to say what you saw and then stop talking.

    For myself, I use this rule when posting about others online: would I want my kids to someday stumble across this? It makes me think about everything I do before hitting “submit”. If a stranger doesn’t respect me that’s fine. I can deal with that. But my kids? If I’m going to sacrifice their respect it’s going to be over something bigger and better than my online behavior.

  18. Yet Another Manager*

    Am I the first to point out you should look up your company’s social media policy? Your colleague would be fired before lunch in my company. we do NOT tolerate social media posts that negatively portray the company or colleagues. At. All. Not in a Big Brother sense but overall company reputation amongst others. And if she posted that she suspects your boss has a prescription drug abuse problem – she could be sued. I would take screen shots, speak to your colleague and follow up with HR.

    1. RJ*

      This is a really great point. I agree with AAM’s advice about confronting the coworker directly, like adults. Printing screenshots so you have documentation is a good idea (the Wayback Machine doesn’t grab shots of everything).

      However, if the OP is uncomfortable with confronting their coworker and having a Crucial Conversation about the blog, it seems to me like this would be reasonable to print screenshots and just take it to HR.

      1. AW*

        For what it’s worth, the Wayback Machine will archive a page if you tell it to. Obviously screenshots are better but she could double up on documentation by also telling it to archive the offending pages.

    2. Adam*

      This is an interesting point. I’m not even aware of what my organization’s social media policies are now that I think about. I haven’t talked about work on Facebook online at all for like two years since I started looking for a better job. And even when I did I had enough sense to keep it very vague, not address any person specifically, and not make me sound like a snake in the grass. Mostly I just posted about humorous stories from the Customer Service trenches. My friends were disappointed when I stopped completely because they loved the stories so much.

    3. HR Manager*

      Absolutely – I’ve had this at other companies too where social media was a big platform for us to interact with clients as well as general marketing and branding purposes. Even if she now hides all her posts – if there are clear signs of her violating that policy/practice, she would face disciplinary consequences.

    4. lindsay*

      I had a coworker fired for what she wrote on her blog about the office. It wasn’t hard to figure out where she worked, and she wrote pretty awful things about most people in our department (including calling our department head “Dragon Lady”). She was clearly unhappy about her job and other things in her life, so it was sad to see just how unhappy she was being in our office every day. Needless to say, my boss did not like being called Dragon Lady and fired her immediately.

      But after that, I’m pretty restrained on what I post about my work online. I tell all of my interns about it so they know I won’t tolerate it and their future employers likely won’t either.

    5. Chris*

      I was wondering about the social media policy too- thank you for pointing it out for the OP.
      We had some Facebook drama go down several years ago that resulted in one termination and several disciplinary meetings. Hopefully you too have access to a social media policy that you can cite when talking to her- not only is it personally hurtful, TPTB may take disciplinary action against her if discovered.

    6. Joey*

      Ooh. You do know that firing someone who is complaining to other employees about work conditions might be a violation of NLRA?

      1. Observer*

        But, she’s not complaining to other workers. She’s posting thinly veiled nasty-grams and those are NOT generally protected.

        The key here is that there needs to be some evidence of “concerted activity” – ie two co-wokers talking about an issue that might lead to some attempt to take action about the problem (at least in theory.) Snarky comments about co-workers’ personal lives don’t qualify, nor do comments that are not intended to be part of a discussion with co-workers.

        1. Joey*

          I was speaking to the “we don’t tolerate social media that negatively portrays the company or co workers at all” policy.

    7. De Minimis*

      We have a vague policy that basically says if you identify yourself as an employee of our organization on social media, you can get in trouble for stuff that you post, especially if it could be misinterpreted as some kind of official communication, and especially if you’re showing up as posting from one of our facilities during work hours.

      I decided to err on the side of caution and remove any specific reference to where I work on my Facebook and Twitter profiles.

  19. Liz*

    Something to bear in mind is that she might (depending on the blog platform) have the ability to restrict access to the posts while still leaving them up. If I were the OP, I’d do a little research on whether that’s possible because if the conversation doesn’t go well the coworker might just hide the posts from public view and continue doing it.

    1. Laurel Gray*

      I think the OP should screen shot everything first and print it out as well as save it digitally if she can before taking any further action. This person would be a complete tool if after they were confronted by a coworker and possibly their employer about their blog they decide to keep it up and only restrict access.

  20. Jessica*

    I’m really bothered by the fact that the coworker seems to have been mining the friendship for tidbits for her blog. Ugh. What a nasty, nasty person. Sorry you are having to deal with this, OP.

    I think the best way to deal with her, after confronting her, is to never give her any info about you. From my experience, people like this love to take the most mundane things and gleefully embellish them to make you sound terrible. Give her nothing to work with. Best of luck!

    1. Iro*

      Ugh. Yes. I will never get this tendency in some people.

      “I’m leaving company X because they are falsifying data. In the meantime will be moving in with *Jane and looking for a new job”

      Turns into “Iro ran off with Jane and is throwing away his career! Yeah he quit that place! All for Jane!”

    2. Adam*

      The law of karma would indicate that the blogger could be a pretty miserable person if she spends so much of her online time mocking a colleague just for s***s and giggles [12 posts in 3 weeks???]. Well-adjusted actualized people, in addition to never dream of doing such nonsense in the first place, would be to busy with their lives for that kind of crap.

      1. Jessica*

        Missed that part! That’s a significant amount of time to devote to talking about one person. That takes it to a whole other level. Maybe OP should be flattered that coworker finds her so interesting…

        OP’s response should be: “Why are you so obsessed with me??”

        1. Adam*

          It’s almost creepy. I now wonder how much of the blog OP read and what the colleague was droning on about when she wasn’t taking the time to make fun of her.

          1. Jessica*

            Could this be a performance issue? Maybe the boss would like to hear about that. If these posts were during work hours, how much time is blogger taking out of her day to share this?

            1. Adam*

              It could be. Time stamps on blogs can be confusing to sort out though. For instance my last post in this conversation says 12:34 p.m. and it’s nowhere near lunch where I am.

              That may not be that big a deal though. As one poster pointed out most organizations have social media policies these days, and blogs like this can very easily violate them so if the OP documents the posts she’s got plenty of support as it is.

        1. Adam*

          Maybe, though the OP didn’t really comment on the quality of writing in her coworker’s postings. You can write a lot surprisingly quickly if you don’t pay much mind for proper grammar, spelling, and sentence structure. The less you think about what you’re putting down the less time it takes, and I think we can all agree this coworker is not thinking very hard on this.

          Also, maybe I’m a little too optimistic, but it sounds like these documentations of her personal endeavors have garnered a bit of a following. I don’t think the blogger’s “audience” would be calling for a blog dedicated to the OPs exploits if posts were mainly “OMG! Now that crazy girl is getting a cleanse! Can you believe it?!?”

          Really I don’t want to meet the kind of person who would want more of this sort of thing anyways…

          1. Jessica*

            Yeah, that’s how I interpreted it. Her audience seemed WAY too involved for it to have been an offhand comment by blogger. And really, it’s not the length of the post that matters. She’s going out of her way to have fun at OP’s expense, in a mean way. I’m with you on not ever wanting to ever be around people like that. Ugh.

    3. sunny-dee*

      Well, it depends on the nature of the conversations. I have a friend whose boss regularly tells her insanely intimate — and, well, insane — things about her dating life, her kids, her diets, her boob job, her vacations…. And then the boss will take personal calls in her office and put them on speaker and everyone can hear them through the walls.

      I’m just saying, depending on how much personal information the OP is sharing, the blogger may not even be trying to pump her for ideas.

      1. Jessica*

        Very true, but I feel it’s unkind for the blogger to share still. Yes, it’s the OP’s prerogative to protect her own information, but the blogger is responsible for her own actions too and has control over whether she shares it with others. People tell me stuff all the time where I think, “Huh? I wouldn’t necessarily share that.” I keep it in the vault and figure it’s not my story to share.

        1. sunny-dee*

          Oh, it’s unkind, or at least really insensitive. But I was responding to the idea that she was prodding the OP to give her these stories so she’d have fodder for her blog.

  21. Micaela*

    I’d say, “I’m sure our boss would be equally interested in your incisive thoughts on her recent absence. I’ll be sharing your blog with her.”

    1. Taylor*

      I sort of agree with you–I would mention the blog to her, but only bring up the posts regarding their boss. I’d ask her to remove the boss-related posts because it’s “unprofessional.” I wouldn’t make any mention of the posts about me and let her sweat and squirm and wonder/worry if I had seen them. This J doesn’t deserve anything better.

  22. Not Here or There*

    I feel like the OP is kind of between a rock and hard place with this one. In my experience with people like the OP’s co-worker, confronting the problem tends to lead to more issues not less. If the co-worker is a mean girl, rather than feel embarrassed she may double down on the OP. She may start gossip about the OP or try to find a way to “punish” her for being so forthright.
    While I would advocate for the OP to talk to the coworker, I would absolutely document the blog and any other interactions that aren’t strictly business before you do. I think the other thing the OP needs to do is mentally prepare herself before she talks to her. People who are mean, nasty gossips don’t tend to change your spots just because you call them out on it. It is possible that the coworker will feel chastened, but I think it’s far more likely that a coworker who is clearly rather childish will continue to be childish and will try and turn any wrong doing onto the OP. The best you can do it document everything you can, remain calm, and try to weather the storm. (I feel like if you prepare for the worst with this one, it will be easier not to take it personally and remain calm)

    1. HR Manager*

      I would agree that being called out on her bad behavior may not lead her to stop, but I would still call her out on it. What’s the worst that could happen? I don’t think the threat of more mean behavior should allow this to go on. It’s like bullying — you can’t fear the bullies are going to harass you more and so you let that behavior continue. At some point, enough is enough.

      I would also have no qualms bringing this to my manager’s attention, not necessarily for pointing out how the co-worker is badmouthing the boss, but certainly point out that her behavior is causing a problem with your ability to work with her and point out that in the scenarios, it is quite easy to identify the company and the people, and how these negative posts portray the company. If the boss investigates further and happens to find the unpleasant posts about the manager, then that is something the employee will have to deal with on top of that.

      1. Not Here or There*

        I agree that the OP absolutely needs to do something about it, and that you should not let fear of bullying stop you. I guess my point was sort of an addendum to Alison’s advice. Her advice centered on the coworker feeling uncomfortable or chastened like a reasonable person might when confronted with some wrongdoing. However, I have no confidence that the coworker is a reasonable person who will feel remorse for her behavior, and I feel like it’s better to go into it steeling yourself for that than expecting the person to behave reasonably.

  23. Amethyst*

    Ouch. I’m sorry you’re having to deal with this, OP.

    On a tech note, I’m pretty sure this is Tumblr (“reblog” is very specific to Tumblr). In that case, it’s unlikely she’ll make the blog private – if you do that, your friends can’t see it. You cannot privacy-protect certain posts either. Also, even if she deletes the posts, if her friends commented by reblogging it, her deleting the post will not remove it from their pages. Not that she shouldn’t do it, she absolutely should, but just to note that if it was reblogged it will still be “out there.”

    (If you’re unfamiliar with Tumblr, you can comment on someone’s post in a few ways: “replies” will be shown to the poster, who will usually copy/paste them into a new post to answer them, you can send someone an “ask” which they may publish or answer privately, or you can “reblog” the post onto your own blog and add your comments at the bottom. Changes made to the original post do not affect your reblog. Reblogging is most common.)

    1. BRR*

      I am guessing tumblr as well (with the words followers). My concern is that I don’t believe there are really any privacy options and like you said once it’s reblogged the blog writer cannot delete it from other people’s blogs.

    2. eee*

      also, in regards to screenshots, on tumblr it would be very easy for the co-worker to change their URL, making it hard for OP to find them again (to make sure posting has stopped?) but easy for their followers to continue doing so. So it would be very easy to say “oh okay I’ll delete it,” change their URL and then post “oof had to change URLs because co-worker found me! here’s more stuff about that…”

      Although I will echo what others have said–tone really is everything. There’s a really big difference between “noo best friend co-worker is doing ANOTHER cleanse and as always insists on explaining every detail to me. I can’t stand any more diet talk!” and “ugh that annoying co-worker will absolutely not shut up about their cleanse, they’re so stupid, I wish they would just shut up and go away.” Or “whoa, boss decided to take a leave of absence. (sneaking suspicion it’s prescription abuse??? I hope not)” vs “well my boss’s drug problem has finally taken them out of commission. I just can’t believe what they’re doing to themselves”.

      However, if their followers are urging them to start a side-blog documenting OP’s behavior….it seems unlikely that it’s the first, nicer version.

      1. Journalist Wife*

        And you can always google strings of phrases from the old posts later to see if they pop up on a “new” tumblr page to keep monitoring their behavior…if you wanted to do that.

          1. Journalist Wife*

            Haha. OP should just open a Tumblr account with her actual name so it’s obvious it’s OP and then click “Follow” so that J gets an email/Tumblr notice that “You have a new follower! [OP] is now following your blog!” Muwahhaaaaa…

            1. BRR*

              I was thinking sending Anon questions like “Your coworker doesn’t seem that bad, I think you’re blowing this out of proportion.”

              Or the OP just mentioned something from the blog.

      2. Amethyst*

        I forgot about the URL changing option (can you tell I’ve kept the same URL since I started?). That’s a good point. There’s not really anything OP could do to stop that, but it could easily happen. Actually, if a coworker found my blog, I’d probably change my URL regardless of what they found (but I wouldn’t have shown them my Tumblr in the first place…).

      3. A Non*

        I think any kind of public speculation about substance abuse or any other major mental or physical problem is over the line, really. I’ve ranted here about coworkers who are drama-llamas, and about bosses that have made noises about firing me in an attempt to cover up their mistakes, and so on, but that’s stuff that immediately affected me and that I wanted advice or support in dealing with. People’s personal tragedies and battles are not in that category.

    3. Helena*

      And if it is a tumblr blog, it will be very easy for the coworker to just change the URL and keep posting about the OP.

    4. Saurs*

      You cannot privacy-protect certain posts either.

      Just for the record, you can definitely individually privatize past or future posts, making them viewable only to you or other admins on your tumblr.

  24. Apersonymous*

    Sorry if this was mentioned above, but…

    Print out the blog posts before you confront her! If she deletes them and then goes to the boss, at least they will still exist!

    1. Laurel Gray*

      YES, this!

      And for the record, put me down on the list of people who have zero sympathy if this blogger lost her job over this. She would not be the first. I think people need to really find mature ways to express themselves including appropriate avenues to serve as “outlets”.

      1. BRR*

        I would have 0 to mild sympathy. It’s obvious enough to not do this. A blog (especially if it’s tumblr) is not private.

  25. TubbyTheHut*

    I’m sure could give the OP’s coworker some advice about blogging about your work, boss, and coworkers. Overall, it’s a bad idea.

    1. Lizzie*

      I was thinking EXACTLY the same thing. This is obviously (well, obviously to anyone with any sense at all) a really cruel and childish thing to do to a co-worker, but I wonder if J. ever considered what the cost might be to her if (when) someone found out and connected the dots back to her.

  26. Journalist Wife*

    The orneriness in me is thinking, “Why not find out what the company’s exact social media policy is, and then do a little stealth entrapment?” Like give her a little premeditated “material” to work with that you know she couldn’t resist blogging about but that would absolutely land her squarely in the bounds of discipline after it was presented to HR/boss?

    That’s probably the wrong approach, and bad for my karma for even writing it. But I bet someone else was thinking it, too…

    1. Journalist Wife*

      That, or just leave her mean posts up on your screen every time you go to the bathroom until she notices and feels mortified…

      1. AW*

        Eh, but then the OP is still open to warnings about not locking her computer or even pranks because of it. She might get back to her desk and find that her mouse doesn’t work, for example.

        1. Journalist Wife*

          Haha. Then reprogram the screen saver as one of her worst blog screenshots full of incriminating stuff and set it to bounce around like a photo on the screen while computer is locked. :)

  27. Leah*

    I once had a peer who would write not very nice things on her Twitter account about her manager and the company she works for. I sent her a nicely-worded private message explaning how even though her account is locked people can still take screenshots and show them to her employer which could result in an embarrassing situation for her, or could negatively impact her employment. She never responded, but did remove the rude posts and refrained from doing so from then on.

  28. AW*

    But now it’s on this blog – and it looks like I was participating in gossip.

    If it weren’t for that part, I’d say stay quiet but you can’t have your boss or any other employees finding this and coming to that conclusion. Allison’s script is excellent but however you decide to word it you should make it clear that she can’t be publicly accusing you of being a gossip or implying it. That part is non-negotiable. For all you know, someone at the company already knows about this blog and keeps an eye on it.

    If she wants to blow up her own reputation, fine, but she shouldn’t take your reputation with it.

    1. Leah*

      For that reason, I think OP should talk to the manager and disclose that conversation from her point of view. Better to be proiactive than reactive. However, in my opinion, what OP said does not insinuate gossiping, rather than ending the conversation with a fact and moving on.

      1. AW*

        Since the OP cited that as a concern, I’m betting the co-worker framed it in such a way that it looks like gossip.

        I just read some of the posts up thread that point out that if this is on Tumblr and it’s been re-blogged then not even deleting the original post won’t help. You might be right that they need to go to the manager on this. (It’d be nice if there was some way to find out ahead of time if anyone else there already knows about it but I don’t think there’s a way of doing that without disclosure.)

    2. Not So NewReader*

      I never once heard of gossip with the intent to find advice. Gossip is just for the sake of maligning people. That is not what OP is doing here. OP has written a well-know and well-respected professional for advice on a work situation. If this is gossiping then NO one should write to Alison. And definitely no one should comment here because we all gossiping, if this is the standard to go by.

      I would argue that it’s not the standard to go by.

      There are appropriate channels for discussion and then there are inappropriate channels for discussion.

      For example: If OP’s cleanse bother Blogger so much, Blogger could have written Alison for advice on how to discuss this with OP. That is not what Blogger decided to do. Blogger decided to talk to a random group of people who did not have any constructive advice for her and it is reasonable to assume that Blogger was not looking for advice.

      Our OP decided to find a way to put the brakes on this situation for once and for all. OP could have resorted to some cool, stealthy internet thing to do to Blogger. But, nope, OP decided to go to a respected person and ask advice. There is such a huge difference between the actions of these two people.

      OP, anyone who says that you are doing the same thing as Blogger- you know what to say to that, now.
      Print out your screenshots. LEAVE a set at home! Do not bring the extra set to work.
      Do as Alison says. Talk to your coworker. Let her know that you are disappointed in what you see online. Point blank tell her to stop blogging about you.

      See, this is the part that is so difficult- people have such a hard time telling other people to STOP. Yet in my experience (I have had to tell a lot of people to stop) 95% of the time they do stop. A wise person told me, most of the time people will stop if you tell them. Matter of fact, they are waiting for you to tell them to stop. (Yes, that is a little weird, but some people operate in this manner. They keep doing something until someone says “stop”.) Additionally, if you do not tell them to stop the problem can get worse. (I know. That does not seem possible. Please don’t try to prove this out.) Tell her to stop. You have your back-up copy of the comments at home and that is your plan B if this conversation does not go well.

      Good luck. I think with everything you have said so far this person will probably back down. Be professional and act like you expect nothing but professional behavior from her.

  29. Leah*

    … I also have a friend who was sexually harrassed via text message by a colleague but was unable to report it as in the previous conversation she had made some unfavourable comments about her boss (who she was actually quite close with) and didn’t want the risk of having those messages also exposed. Moral of the story, don’t put negative opinions of your colleagues anywhere on the internet or in text messages. This colleague of the OP should be facing repurcussions of her actions even if it is termination. That is a lesson she may have to learn the hard way.

    And OP, heed the advice of others and take screenshots of the posts. You may need them in the future.

  30. C Average*

    A further thought, upon reading all these responses.

    Before you do anything, think about what outcome you are hoping for.

    Do you want to know that mean, personally identifiable blog posts about you are not floating freely on the internet where you or anyone else can see them?

    Do you want to know that your colleague is not writing mean, personally identifiable things about you on the internet, regardless of whether you can easily find them or not?

    Do you want your colleague to face some kind of consequence for this?

    Maybe I’m naive, but I think your outcome is going to be better if you go into this encounter believing that your colleague is exhibiting bad judgment and will want to make this right once she realizes you’re aware of the blog and you’re understandably hurt by it. I think this is most likely the truth. Most people who vent semi-anonymously on the internet are more dumb than mean, and all they really need is a good wake-up call, which you’re about to deliver. Approach this in a way that lets her respond to that wake-up call and opens the way for both of you to put this whole thing behind you.

    1. fposte*

      I really like this. I give it whatever is the AAM equivalent of an upvote for visibility.

      I especially like the “dumb not mean.” The internet is full of stuff like Reasons My Son Is Crying, Shit My Dad Says, and People of Walmart, not to mention parents posting their kids puking and pooping. It’s not hard to just go with that flow whether you should or not.

    2. OP*

      This made me think quite hard about the situation.

      1. I want her to take down the post about our boss (and the conversation she mostly had *at* me that she posted). It misrepresents my intentions, and it makes me look awful.

      2. I don’t know that I can really change anything regarding the second and third options you mention; as someone else noted – it’s pretty easy to change the URL (or start a new blog, whatever) and continue saying negative things about me. I’m not trying to control what she thinks of me, and frankly, if the blog were private/completely undiscoverable, then it would pretty much the same as her private thoughts.

      3. I *DO* want her to know that there will be consequences for her continuing to post about me on a public blog. However, we don’t have an HR department and I’ll need to research the social media policy–if one even exists–before knowing exactly what to say to her about that.

      That said, I’m trying really hard to not read the blog anymore. I’m revisiting it today to gather screen shots as advised, but I think the more I read it and look for stuff she’s posted, the angrier I get — and that isn’t doing me any good really. (I guess I mean, I want to let her know there are consequences, but I’m not sure I want to go through all the work of checking in periodically to see if she’s trash-talking me to her followers.)

      1. Observer*

        I think that you are taking a pretty healthy approach.

        Don’t get hung up on the social media policy. You don’t have to have one for your employer to have an issue with it.

        Stick to the basics – it’s totally out of line for her to speculate in public about your boss’ taking drugs and to misrepresent what you said. That needs to come down immediately. You don’t care what she thinks of you, but it’s inappropriate to trash talk your co-workers in a public space, even if the identities are officially cloaked. Those need to come down as well. If she pushes back, let her know you will be speaking to your boss about this.

  31. hayling*

    OP, please keep this piece of Alison’s advice in mind: “This is going to be an uncomfortable conversation, but it’s important to remember that she created the discomfort here, not you. The reason the conversation is going to be uncomfortable is because of her actions, not yours in addressing them.”

    1. Jazzy Red*


      It amazes me how people who are doing wrong will try to turn everything around and blame the person who calls them on it. The blogger in this case will probably try that, too.

  32. Ann O'Nemity*

    I was on the fence about posting this, but here goes…

    One of my close relatives uses our family members as fodder for his writing. I hate it. He doesn’t care. It’s ruined relationships in our family and caused never-ending family tensions. He doesn’t care. We tried to stage some sort of intervention-like confrontation… and then he wrote about it.

    After my experience, I have to say I’m pessimistic that the OP’s co-worker is going to change. A sensitive, kindhearted person wouldn’t do this, and it’s going to be an uphill battle to convince a jerk to change.

      1. Ann O'Nemity*

        There’s no family agreement. Some people love him no matter what. Others get excited and like the attention. At the other end of the spectrum, some relatives will boycott events if he’s invited or walk the other way if they see him coming. And of course, everyone fights over how everyone else should be feeling about it. Like I said, never-ending family tensions.

      1. fposte*

        This is historically a problem for a lot of writers’ families; now we have the internet to exacerbate it.

      2. caraytid*

        i almost asked that same question then thought it would be contradicting the “don’t out the reader” point i made upthread… haha

  33. voluptuousfire*

    Blech. Your co-worker reminds me of a guy I used to know ages ago. He had a blog where he used to make fun of what sounded like a very unfortunate colleague. The guy I knew was a nasty piece of work with a tongue to match. :/ He savaged this poor colleague because he 1. annoyed him and 2. existed.

    I’ll never understand how this dude got a girlfriend with his caustic, nasty personality. He also wasn’t going to be a body double for any of the dudes in Magic Mike either.

  34. Elder Dog*

    Just wondering how many of the people commenting on this blog also work for the same company.

    I think treating this as some kind of friction between two co-workers is entirely missing the point. If the company is easy to identify as the LW has said, then it can affect the business.
    (Oh, no, Frank, don’t hire *that* company! I read on one of my blogs they let druggies be managers! How good can the quality control on their teapots be?!?)

    This is something that needs to be documented, and taken to the boss who was accused of overdosing on prescription meds, the OP’s boss, “J”‘s boss, (even if that’s all the same person) and HR.

  35. Helen*

    I actually don’t think that J will respond in a way the OP she should fear. I think she’ll most likely be mortified and apologize. (I’m basing this on the fact that the OP characterizes the relationship as friendly and doesn’t say the person is mean overall.) I’m an active tumblr user as well and I have to constantly remind myself that nothing I post there is private. Since I tend to interact with the same 10-15 users regularly, it can feel like private girl talk, but it’s not.

    (I’m not at all excusing what J wrote–I just think there’s more cause for optimism in terms of expecting an apology/for J to learn her lesson.)

  36. OP*

    OP here–

    Wow! Thanks everyone for your comments and feedback. I’ll admit, I worried a lot when sending my letter to AAM that I’d get some blow back for ‘stalking’ my colleague.

    I do want to point out that this blog isn’t *devoted* to saying mean things about me (or our boss). Yes, 12 posts in 3 weeks is a lot but that’s about 10% (roughly) of all the posts in that time period.

    I also like the advice to gather screen shots. I went to do this today and discovered that J had posted about me AGAIN!

    I need to gather my thoughts and figure out exactly how to say this to her. I am thinking I’ll do it toward the end of the week, after I’ve finished getting screen caps of everything. Each time I re-read these posts, it makes me angry, and I want some time to calm down sufficiently before telling her what I’ve found.

    I *really* appreciate the support here from everyone.

    1. AW*

      I want some time to calm down sufficiently before telling her what I’ve found.

      That’s a good idea.

      For what it’s worth, even though my mind drifted into worst case territory, I’m hoping the people predicting that J will be contrite are right. Good luck!

    2. Nerdling*

      I think you’re taking the right tack in stepping away to calm down before you go any further.

      For your own peace of mind, it might not be a bad idea, once you’re done with SSs, to clear your browser history and cookies and, if you’ve set one, delete any bookmarks to her blog. Then it won’t pop up on autofill when you go to type a new URL or visit a different Tumblr/blog. That way you’re not reminded over and over again about these posts just by getting on your own computer.

      I hope that everything goes well for you!

    3. Jessica*

      Hi OP, could you also see when she is posting? I think there is the issue of what she is saying, which is terrible, but there may also be the issue of whether she is using company time and resources to write these posts. I don’t know enough about blogging to know if this anything you can prove or even bring up, but I thought that it might be something to check in to. Stay strong!

    4. BRR*

      You are making such a great choice waiting to cool down. It seems like you have a great head on your shoulders. Please send in an update to Alison on this one.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      I think you have been doing a great job of controlling your temper and channeling it. (I hope you see my comment upthread.)

      I am kind of optimistic for you based on a number of things, not the least of which is your willingness to read through all this and think about things. I am not sure I could do that if I was feeling peeved.

      Let us know how you are doing.

  37. Cheesehead*

    I would be tempted to just pull WAY back from sharing anything remotely personal with J. I’m sure eventually J will notice, because after all, she’ll want the OP to talk because she needs material for the blog. So at the point when J questions OP about it, that’s when OP says “I realized that it’s not wise for me to share any personal information with you, because you just use the things I say to ridicule me and complain about me on your blog. I was really stunned and hurt by what I read there and that you apparently only acted friendly to me to get fodder for your blog. I thought we were friendly and on good terms, but now I realize that it was all very one-sided. I would appreciate it if you take down the posts.”

    When I read that, I flashed back to my first job out of college (early 90s). I wanted to fit in with my new coworkers and develop a good relationship with them. But I found out that several of them (the women) were a bunch of gossipy backstabbers. Apparently, I was doing some things that bugged them, like complimenting them on an outfit. I thought that was a harmlessly good way to be pleasant and have some small talk. One girl was so incensed by my behavior (and just by me in general) that she took to ranting to a girlfriend of hers, who then called me up in the middle of the work day one day, out of the blue, and proceeded to rip into me about how I think I’m so great, but I’m really this awful person, I don’t do anything useful, and I’m stupid, and I don’t know anything…..she went on and on with hateful, awful comments. There was enough specificity to what she said that I knew it wasn’t just a prank call. I was stunned and on the verge of tears at what this person said. I walked out into the main part of the office and people asked me what was wrong (look on my face). I asked them if I was this awful person who…. They exchanged some telling looks between them, and then a couple of them ushered me into an empty conference room and proceeded to tell me about all of the bad things I did, like the complimenting people on their clothing (apparently too much). Complainer girl was in sales and I was a sales trainee. Part of my position was that I was supposed to spend time with other employees being trained on various systems, etc. So she was mad/jealous at that too, even though it was part of my job description and was set up by our boss; she felt that I was getting more training than she had, and I was new and didn’t deserve it! So she took it out on me, rather than going to boss. She supposedly didn’t know that the friend was going to call me and rip me a new one, but did admit that she shouldn’t have vented to her friend like that. I got apologies from people because they all had obviously discussed it among themselves, but after that, it was hard to trust anyone or to have any sort of a conversation because I didn’t know if what I said would be taken wrong. I got to be pretty quiet around there; never knew if what I said would be used against me or gossiped about by the backstabbers.

    1. Laurel Gray*

      Wow, I would think that if a coworker constantly complimented me on my clothing, it was a double positive – I have great style and they have a great eye to notice! It’s quite fascinating what a small mind can become so petty, negative and nastily obsessed about.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Grammar school stuff. I would have hoped to have left this all behind in grammar school, but apparently not. I am so sorry this happened to you. Yep, I would have a hard time trusting again, too.

    3. SnowWhite*

      When I was reading that it sounded straight out of Mean Girls

      I am a firm believer in karma, what you put out eventually comes back around. You did nothing wrong.

  38. Preston*

    OP, I am not even touch the jerk factor that this blog is creating in your life, but one thing you might consider is seeing of your workplace has a rule on social media. Where I work currently does and a blog like that might be asked to be taken down.

  39. Weasel007*

    Wow, not sure if anyone else has mentioned what I would do, but I’d so create a user ID (make it obvious that it is you) on that blog and post a comment. It would be similar to “Wow, this isn’t very nice. I don’t appreciate me being a subject of your blog.”

    But that is just me.

  40. Karen Peterson*

    I had a friend who worked for a large company and was actually talked to by HR because of some work-related things she wrote on her blog. She was reprimanded and forced to shut down the entire blog because of the posts. I think this co-worker is very definitely in the wrong and if she refuses to take down the posts, this writer should go to the boss.

  41. Nelly*

    We had someone fired a couple of months ago for doing this (from a job I left a couple of months ago). He was caught with a blog about the ‘funny women’ he worked with. Didn’t identify anyone by name, but he was walked out of the door immediately. At first no one knew why he’d been fired, but then he blogged about that, too. The ‘funny women’ became ‘the bitches who got him fired’, but hey, no great loss. That organisation had a horrible problem with work place bullying (that’s why I changed jobs myself), but at least they got rid of that guy instantly.

  42. Anonyhere*

    J sounds like my coworker. I didn’t have a URL to go by, but I had googled my coworker’s name and the name of our company one day. Long story short, he is planning on writing a book of poems about his coworkers’ personal stories/lives. The two examples he mentioned on this website are quite personal and most certainly are not his stories to tell. I don’t know if the company knows; truthfully I was snooping on the internet. However, I’m tight-lip whenever I have to work with him; the conversations are solely work-related. If he ever does publish this, he is not going to make money off of my personal history.

    Yes, I did mention this on an open thread a while back. I just thought it was relevant to this, obviously with a few changes in detail.

    On another note, I would think that if a written piece is even remotely close to someone the author knows it can be held liable for possible slander. I’m not a lawyer so I could be way off base. I thought that is why many TV shows or books say “This is a work of fiction and names/places are coincidental.”

    1. fposte*

      Slander is spoken; if it’s in a fixed medium it’s libel. But merely saying bad things about somebody isn’t enough to automatically make it libelous, and there’s not likely to be much in the way of damages in a situation like the OP’s, so the cost of pursuing it would probably be prohibitive.

      1. voyager1*

        I think libel would apply if the OP can show some kind of damages, in the case of the drug abuse, I don’t think that would be too hard. I once saw a blog post where someone implied a man at a triathlon hit a woman with a very carefully cropped picture. Once a video was released of the incident it was quite clear that it was accident and the woman wandered into the man while he was running into the finish line. That video of course was released after the man was named, his hometown listed and where he worked… damage was already done. So no maybe this incident here isn’t libel, but don’t think because you write a blog that you are protected, because you don’t know when/where it will go viral. You also don’t know who might be reading it and posts it on a highly frequented message board.

      2. AcademiaNut*

        I think libel/slander generally has to be shown to be false – so blogging or publishing personal stories wouldn’t count as libel if they were actually true. Otherwise you could claim libel/slander if someone were publicizing true but negative information about you (which would include a lot of news and political scandals, among other things).

  43. peanut butter kisses*

    After the screen shots have been taken and the talk has been done, is there any way that you can switch desks with someone? I would hate to be stationed near that person again and it would give me peace of mind to physically move away from the problem and I would think it might be something to think about.

  44. Winter*

    I don’t know if this has been said, but I would have that conversation in a public place within earshot of other people. People who behave like that can get weird when confronted about stuff. Be safe.

  45. Jules*

    When I was in my early 20s I blogged about work and people around me. I was very careful to replace names with code names etc. But again back then, people aren’t as internet savy and chances of me getting caught was pretty low. It stopped soon after because, come on, who has the time when there is a lot of things going on in real life.

    You could talk to her and see if it changes, chances are probably not. You are better of being careful of the people whom you trust at work. I think blogging about people is something someone young will do and eventually they outgrow it. I still occasionally post about work but now I concentrate of the behavior that I don’t like vs. making it personal and pointing out specific people.

  46. TT*

    I had a similiar issue, but fortunately the coworker was posting on Facebook. (She was disparging several people in the same posts, as well). Maybe I’m a coward, but I used the general reporting button to submit it to Facebook as a libel issue.

    The posts went down, my coworker ranted and raged that she could post whatever she wanted.
    But, despite her raging, she didn’t post about anyone specific from work any further, all without saying a word to anyone. Perhaps she got the hint – does the blogging platform your coworker have a similiar reporting function that could be utilised?

  47. PJS*

    Wow, I don’t think she needs to explain how she found the blog or apologize for reading it…a blog is by its very definition public. I would go to my human resources department and file a formal complaint as this is harassment. If she comes clean first, there might not be major consequences down the road if her employer finds the blog.

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