There has been a discussion about blogging on the All ALF’s email list recently and it touched on blog privacy. I wanted to write an outline of what your options are in terms of privacy when it comes to this site.
First of all as a general rule, anything you put on the internet can never come off and it should be assumed that at some point it will become public.
That said, WordPress (the system this website runs on) has many features that allow you to manage the privacy of your website and blog posts.
It should be noted that I or any one else, as a super admin, can access and troubleshoot any site on the network. It also means that trusted users with super admin privileges can view posts on any site regardless of privacy settings. Furthermore anyone with privileged access to the host server can read your posts directly out of the database. This is a general truth about the internet, be it Facebook or your bank, some users can see everything. I’ve mused about this before.
Managing the visibility of your site
Each user has their very own website. You are probably viewing this post on my site: http://drew.agilelearningcenters.org
“drew” is my user name which is also the subdomain where my blog lives. Each of us has a website that is located at http://user_name.agilelearningcenters.org
All of these subdomain sites, or sub sites, can have individual visibility settings. Either super admin can set them for you or you can set them yourself. The default setting is fully visible.
These settings can be found on your website’s “Dashboard” under Settings > Reading. Seen here:
Let’s look at each of these options:
Allow search engines to index this site
This means that your site is visible to anyone on the internet and there have been no restrictions placed on search engine robots to “index” the site. This simply means that your site and pages will appear on search engines like Google.com.
Discourage search engines from indexing this site
This means your site is visible to anyone on the internet but search engines are politely asked not to “index” your site. It is up to search engines to honor this request! There is no technical barrier restricting search engines or any other “web crawlers” from recording your site. It’s actually pretty interesting how this all works, you can read more about it over at robottxt.org.
Visible only to registered users of this network
This is the recommended setting if you want to keep the general internet population from viewing your site but still want to participate in cross network sharing. Registration to agilelearningcenters.org is not open to the public so only people who have been invited are able to have accounts, we currently have about 100 accounts on the site.
Visible only to registered users of this site
This setting gives you the most control over who can see your site. It allows only people who are registered users of your site to see your site. You have to set each user’s role in the Users menu of your dashboard. You might already have some participants in your users list, this just means that they have participated in your site in some way. You would have to promote them to have an actual role in your site for them to be able to see the site under this setting.
Visible only to administrators of this site
This is the most private setting. The site is only visible to you, the admin, and anyone else who you specifically set as an admin. It is also visible to super-admin, like me.
Per Post Privacy
Locking down your whole site might be over kill in your situation. Maybe you want to have a public blog that you can share with friends on Facebook but also want to write stuff that you will only share with the ALC community. Post privacy settings allows you to manage who can see individual posts.
A post, in the WordPress lexicon is any content you post to your site. So this can be a blog post, or a page, or a custom “post-type”.
You’ll find the visibility settings inside the Publish box when editing a new post.
The default is public, which has an option to be sticky, which will “stick” the post to the top of your blog.
You can password protect any post so that it is available to anyone on the internet who has the password.
Then there is private. This will make posts invisible to anyone except registered users of your site. Private posts are great for group blogs where you want to share something with only the members of your site.
Privacy is a tough thing to manage on the web. The very best thing you can do to keep yourself safe is to limit the personal information you expose on the web, private or not. Be wary of posting any identifiable information, be smart, be safe.
And remember, unless people are really out to get you, it’s probably nothing to worry about.