I just received an email from a user at xdaflameusers.com asking me about some general information on the device in question and so on.
While I would rather see said person asking their question in the forums, so that everyone can benefit from the answers, I still decided to type up an answer, but that is not the point of the email.
After sending my reply, I decided to do a quick lookup on the person I was “talking” to and grabbed some of the data that was available from the email header and forum software.
The name revealed a profile on a popular Dutch social networking site but other than that, did not provide me with any more information, so I used the second piece of information I had, an IP address.
It turns out that the IP address that was used to register on the forums is part of a block that was delegated to Achmea Active. After searching around a bit, it would appear that the IP was mainly used for vandalism on Wikipedia.
For the sake of clarity, I should note that, in this case, the IP is shared amongst a great number of users and I do not believe that the person that mailed me is amongst the group of people that vandalized Wikipedia, but it made me think about how digital communication could evolve (for me).
In real life, I do not talk to people I know have a bad reputation, especially if they did something that goes against my core values and I am thinking of adopting a similar system for online communication. This kind of background-check would take some time to conduct, every time, but it could be limited to those contacts one is not familiar with; those contacts that contact you out of the blue.