How quickly do you trust on the internet?

Here’s what I mean. We have people on here and on other message bases…people we talk to in IMs…people we might actually call on the phone…but we met 'em all on the internet, and there are some we haven’t met face-to-face at ALL.

How long do you have to be talking to someone before you trust them…and do you trust them a little bit, a good bit, or totally?

Do you have to meet them IRL to give them any of your trust?

Do you have to at least talk to them voice?

Can you get enough information in e-mail and IMs only to decide whether or not to trust someone?

Ever meet up with anyone and had it become clear, after you STARTED giving someone your trust, that it had been a huge mistake and had to back out?

Or started talking to someone you barely even LIKED, but ended up trusting them implicitly?

BTW, I will say that it takes a herculean effort for me, personally, to trust anyone…and lately people on the Internet have been making it even harder. But right now I want the opinions and experiences of others.

Actually, I don’t.
I’ve not met anyone yet that I would choose to have a long term or intimate correspondence with and before disclosing anything about myself that would be real personal, pictures are required along with accurate phone numbers and physical addresses.

I prefer face to face relationships, though with international penpals, things are a bit different. There I like to establish an exchange of materials, like video tapes of locality and the actual people. Even so, I don’t share deep dark intimates unless I’ve been corresponding with them for a real long time.

Most international penpals (e-pals) don’t last long anyhow because they’re loaded with other correspondents and wander off.

With the tales of Internet abuse all over the news, plus stories from friends of mine, direct observation of numerous chat rooms and comments from acquaintances who love to use fake persona’s online, I’m real cautious.

I don’t have to meet everyone to trust them. There’s a handful of people I do trust, and I’ve never met them. There’s also a few people I have met, and I don’t trust them. Then there are people like yourself, who I have met, but just can’t figure out. These people scare me. :smiley:


A few years back, I met a girl from Wichita. She and I would send letters back and forth, and I totally trusted her. I loaned her my phonecard number when she was having a rough time. $300 later, I cut it off. We stopped talking for awhile, but got back into it this summer. She admitted she had a thing for me. So, I was in Ohio, and bought her a train ticket to come see me. She stabbed me in the back again by deciding to mack on a guy from my class. Trust? Right out the window.


I sense much anger in you, young one. You are strong in the ways of Da Force. Beware, lest you join Da Dark Side.


For me, it all depends on context.

For example- the SDMB is a community. I’m relatively new here (despite lurking for well over a year) but met a halfdozen other midwest posters earlier this month at a Minnesota Dopefest. I trusted those people, because it was a public place, and they were regulars on the board. If something untoward were to have happened, other people on the board would get involved. Thus, trust and security was created by extension. Someone screws up or misbehaves, and they’ll be called out publicly on the board.

If some random person IMs me, I’ll be very reticent in trusting. It’ll take several months, if that, for me to allow any level of trust with the person. It doesn’t mean that we won’t be friends, just that I won’t share very personal details with them.

If a friend of mine gives me an email address of one of their friends, then there’s already a certain level of trust already extant due to the mutual friendship with ‘Bob’.
So, how long do I have to talk to someone before I trust them? It depends on the context, but usually a few months regardless.

Do I have to meet the RL? No, but it helps.

Talk voice? Not particularly.

Enough information in emails and IMs? Depends. Textual conversation can be very descriptive, and there are certain ‘tells’ that will give away a person’s attitudes and moods much like verbal cues. Of course, it’s no substitute for voice or actual face-to-face (y’know, that whole Real Life thing) communication.

Met someone and then regretted that trust? Yeah.

Talked to someone I didn’t like, but trusted the implicitly? No. Could happen, though.

Trust them with what? a RL meeting? Asking them on a date? Leting them use my car?

I have enough trust in the Dopers to meet them in RL. Afterall, we always meet in puplic places. :slight_smile:

Relationship-wise, I am not as trusting as I was when I first started, but that part doesn’t matter, since I’m in a happy, commited relationship.

BUT, when I was uncommited, I had to at least talk to them on the hpone for a bit before I decided to meet them in person. Even then, it takes awhile for me to really trust someone.

I met a man on Prodigy Chat in 1996, we wrote back and forth
for a few weeks. I threw caution to the wind and met him in real life (after a month - call me cheap trash if you must). We are still living together today, over 4 years later. I got lucky. There are dangerous and deranged people out there. Trolls lurking, false personalities, sick personalities are everywhere. I was SO naive then.

Nowadays, I would not believe 75% of what I am told by people online. I know it sounds jaded, but I have had some bad experiences corresponding with people from bulletin boards. I tend to be gullible and easily entangled in strange stories, so I just avoid the chat scene altogether.

For me, it takes a little while to trust people, just like IRL.

Do I need to meet them before I trust them? Not necessarily. Those SD/FFFers who I’ve had as overnight guests are people whom I’d beforehand only met once or twice IRL, and briefly at that. And there are people I know on Fathom that I’ve never met IRL who’d be equally welcome.

Right now, this is mostly a Fathom thing for me: the web of relationships is more dense and interwoven at Fathom, and that makes a big difference: I’m more inclined to trust people further, sight unseen, who have strong relationships with other people I trust, and there’s a lot of that there.

I don’t trust any of you bastards. You’re all after my money.

[sub]Hah! Jokes on you. I never made any.[/sub]

Well I live just a little off the beaten track (at least as far as the main internet drag is concerned) so RL meetings or even phone conversations are not usually practical.
This actually helps with my level of trust, as I am always confident I can ‘disappear’ at will with little or no repercussions.
I like to view going on-line as walking in a very large city I do not know very well at night.
You find a hang out, like here, in the safer parts of the city (the message boards), you get to know the regulars, and they tend to look after one another if some miscreant comes along.
When wandering the streets (Chat) you treat your fellow travellers with care if some one bumps into you and appears interesting get to know them in a safe environment (A blind temporary email account, or a very public, preferably moderated room is good).
Finally trust your instincts, and only do what you feel comfortable doing. You may get hurt, but you may enrich yourself.
Oh and the level of trust well about the same as when meeting people in a large unfamiliar city at night. :slight_smile:

Be sensible and play safe.

I’m not, by nature, a very trusting person. I generally have to meet people IRL to trust them to any significant degree, although occasionally phone calls are enough. Even then, I seldom reveal anything that isn’t already firmly ensconced in my “public” persona (not that I bother to hide much). I’d trust most of the people I recognize on the SDMB enough to meet in RL–and certainly I have greatly enjoyed meeting a number of regs already–but frankly not much more than that. (No offense meant :slight_smile: )

Call me a case study in internet trust, I suppose. I’m in charge of several lists for gay teenagers. We’ve got 1000+ subscribers. I met my first two girlfriends via the list and also matt_mcl. Some listees I consider myself good friends with. I’ve met quite a few.

The thing about it is that it’s not blind meetings. After reading however many emails from a person, talking with them on the phone for an extended period of time… lots of stuff like that, you get a sense of a person. (Time is important to me, though… and it does vary.) Sorry I’m not being very concrete, but there are so many variables that I can’t give any specific number.

And then there are Dopers…

There are Dopers that I have never met that I would trust. Some I have met that I don’t trust at all.

I will admit that I had very serious reservations about going to the NYC Dopefest. Driving for six hours with Swimming Riddles, staying for two nights at soulsling’s place without ever having met either of them. It was mildly terrifying, and there were a few moments when I wondered what the hell I was thinking.

For better or for worse, I trusted them because they were Dopers, and because my travel plans were available to the boards at large. Strength in numbers, as it were. Also, like I said before, I felt I had a sense of them.

I probably wouldn’t have gone to NYC if Robot Arm wasn’t going to be there. I’d met him before, and I like and trust him very much. As it was, though, I knew he wouldn’t mind me crashing with him if necessary. I also had some emergency backups. Swiddles turned out to be a great road trip buddy, and soulsling is one of the coolest people on the Earth. So it worked.

All the same, I got comments about the inherent foolishness of the situation. <shrug> If I hadn’t felt comfortable at any point, I wouldn’t have done it. And the only point where I was uncomfortable was when Cecil started hitting on everyone… :wink:

I’ve never had a bad experience with internet meetings, but I feel as if I’ve been careful.

I don’t trust people with most things, but then again, the annonymity of being online lets me deal with some things I don’t talk about around “real life” friends. For instance, I had a question about my credit rating that I wouldn’t talk to my friends or family about because it was kinda embarassing to me. But here, what the heck. The only message boards I use are here and Fathom, and I don’t talk to strangers online (just like mom taught me!). I have met friends of friends online, but even that is kinda weird to me.

Just like IRL, I think I trust too easily online. I used to spill everything on the boards, and feel safe in doing so. But then it all blew up in my face when the administrators of my school got ahold of the URL, and used several of my posts as grounds to kick me out. That’s the main reason why I haven’t been sharing as much on the boards as I usually do. I’m scared of what’s going to happen, but I’m scared that I have lost my favorite venting ground.

I used to trust quite freely, but now I’m probably over cautious.

Once burned and all that stuff. I met up with someone online who turned out to be quite the liar and phony. It was a waste of my time and ended up costing me a fair bit of money. I guess I should have realized he had no morals when he had slept with a married woman prior to us meeting.

Online relationships are not my thing. For me, having the person close by is more important. I know they work for some people and thats great!

I think I’m more of a friendship type of person at this point.

I trust the people I meet online for as long as they show they are trustworthy. I can’t talk to people assumming they’re out to get me, although I know there are predators. Trusting online doesn’t mean I give out my name, address and creditcard number. But I do converse with the premise that this is a sincere effort at communicating. I have met people IRL from online that I realized had issues, people who exaggerated, people who looked different than their pics. I have had truth dawn slowly on me in a don’t-ask-don’t-tell type of situation—I didn’t think to ask and they certainly weren’t volunteering. Live and learn…but I have not had anyone severly abuse what trust I extended, and the only person who’s run up my phone bill is my 14 yo!

are people I first met electronically.

I suspect I’ve been meeting people electronically a bit longer than most here. I met one of my two dearest friends on mainframe “conferences” in 1983. “D” and I noticed that we shared a lot of opinions on a number of different subjects. After a few months, we met in person for lunch, and this friendship has been one of my best emotional supports over the years since.

I’ve also met several people who became good friends through maillists. That’s a great way to make friends who live around the world. You may not ever meet most of them, though one friend in England I got to know that way became a close friend. Of course, he travels for a living. We met IRL for the first time about 6 months after we started corresponding offlist. He usually visits me (sometimes it’s a couple of hours at the airport) about once a year. And I’ve been to his home in England.

Of course, James and I were/are both “talkative” and it’s generally possible to get a good sense of a person like that. It takes someone who is a genius with an outstanding memory and totally amoral to be able to convincingly and consistently depict themself as something they’re not over an extended period of time.

I met another dear friend through a favorable review of her first book in a newsgroup. Her husband told her about it, and she sent me a message. We found out we have a lot in common. I finally met her when she came to my (then) hometown on a book tour for her second book.

And then I met a guy online who turned out to be a total jerk. I wasn’t as careful as I should have been, but the only hurt was emotional. It could have been worse.

The only thing I caution anyone to do is: Don’t meet an e-friend for the first time anywhere except in public. Meet them AT the restaurant (Restaurants are the safest places for first meetings of this sort. It’s a structured and reasonably well-lit environment with lots of other people around.), whether you are hoping to form a platonic relationship or a romantic one. You can leave the restaurant by yourself, just as you came. Other public places are not as good. In a restaurant, if something suddenly goes horribly wrong, there are tons of strangers around, and SOMEbody will help you, if you make enough fuss.

I do not lie on the net!
And I trust other people…
But then, we gotta take hte e-environment for what it is…
There is no verification, and as long as anything electronic stays electronic, it is completely safe as far as I am concerned.

I flirt a hell of a lot on e-environments…
Never let that interfere with my RL - I am married for 2 years, been together with my current wife for a total of 3.5 years, and never cheated her!

:slight_smile: Are e-flings considered cheating???
I have no problem with giving away personal info - nýt my VISA number, but you know nobody asked for it yet!!!

I am a trustful person ladies and gentlemen…lie to me, I will believe you!