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Unfortunately this article is not an exaggeration.

We deal with stalkers on a regular basis, cam sites and stalking seem to go hand-in-hand. If you're ever in the position of being stalked please do the following:

- never ever respond to the stalker

- save each and every message

- pre-emptively alert everybody in your surroundings that they might contact, explain everything and make sure they also never respond, and ask them to alert you if they are contacted.

- formally alert law enforcement

- forward each and every message received, posting made and so on to law enforcement (yes, that can be a nuisance, and yes it can be embarrassing but if you want them to sooner or later take action they have to be aware of how bad it really is).

Over the years this has dealt with the large majority of cases. The few that are not amendable (for instance, because you don't know who the stalker is!) are far more serious and will need a lot more work to resolve.

The most important thing to remember is that stalkers feed on your attention and your pain, the more feedback they get from you and your environment the longer it will go on.

If this happens to you (it has happened to me...) then I wish you much good luck and I hope that it will end sooner rather than later.

One tactic that we have deployed that is quite effective is to counter stalk the stalkers and to expose them publicly.

Stalkers are usually not first time offenders and likely will stalk again in the future. It helps to have them easily googlable.

"never ever respond" implies that you already know they're a stalker -- but by that point you've surely already had some correspondence with them, unless you never reply to anyone. So how do you tell when it actually crosses the line?

Good point. If a stalker starts out as 'nice' (and boy, can they be nice) like in the story above then you must feel that there is a point where they go from normal to 'creepy' (hard to define). If you've been in regular communication with them until that point then it will be impossible to avoid some of the fall-out, but the rules still hold. It's a war of attrition, and unless your local law enforcement takes this sort of thing serious (and oh, the joys of the internet, you can now stalk someone half the planet away with proxies, anonymous remailers and so on to hide who you are) it can go on for years.

Not all stalkers are created equal. Some will fold after the slightest hint of official repercussions, others will continue no matter what.

Whatever happens it'll leave you changed in how you behave online and in real life.

Would it be a good idea to 'bounce' the emails back - i.e. send a fake "message was undeliverable" email status to the sender. But still keep the messages. That way they think that no one is reading the email and may give up, or at least try to find another way to contact you.

It's worse because it's another form of attention, which riles them up. In my case, once I blocked a stalker on facebook, he started sending stuff to my work email.

If the stalker writes from the same adress, you can make a filter for that and bounce this automatically back + save the message, without reading them.

A bounce is a response. Don't bounce.

An automated response is entirely different. The the bad part about responding personally is showing it affects you, however minutely. An automated response that it was not received takes away that crucial motivation quite effectively.

An automated response is information. It says 'I won't see this'. It shows you cared enough to set up an bouncer. Which in turn says that you were annoyed. Which is a pay-off. So it will result in a redirection of effort, not in reduced motivation.

I thought we were talking about in the long run. Setting up a bouncer is something that would take you a few minutes at most. I'm by no means an expert in this matter, so I can only pretend to be a stalker, and see how it would make me feel. If I thought the person received my emails, which I'd be certain of if I already knew the person, and already had conversed with the person through the email, "no response" would to me mean "he is ignoring me, but still receiving my messages". If I got a bounced back message I would think "shit, he blocked me. I'd better send from a different email address". I'm not sure which gets the most pay-off, I guess it depends on the stalker, but redirection effort means they have to do some effort. If you collect evidence of effort to stalk you, for little or no effort on your own, I'm sure that doesn't hurt either in proving your case.

"If I got a bounced back message I would think "shit, he blocked me. I'd better send from a different email address". I'm not sure which gets the most pay-off, I guess it depends on the stalker, but redirection effort means they have to do some effort."

You're talking about someone who's extremely mentally ill and ungrounded in reality. I'd be worried about them putting more effort in.

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