December 8, 2015

Is it time to make your blog private?

Blogs have a dynamic life-cycle unlike static websites. They need updation, and therefore the blogger has to be on his toes - getting ideas for the next post, writing posts, finding relevant pictures, publishing the post also on other social media platforms or at least giving a link, and so on. When the blogger leaves this processing of blogging, the blog hibernates and eventually dies.

There are occasions when a blogger thinks what he  publishes need not be shared with others or shared only with a few chosen ones, and he decides to make the blog private. 

For some, it is not a pleasant change but they need to do it for some specific reasons such as keeping the blog off limit from their employer, discussing a controversial subject, working on a research that is not yet public etc. However, for most such communication, we feel that there are better ways than having a private blog.

Sometimes, making the blog private is a knee-jerk reaction to not being able to maintain it. At times, it comes in response to abusive comments and spams being received on the blog.

When is it OK to make the blog private?

If you are facing some issues relating to security or engagement on a public blog, restricting access may be a valid option.

You can also think of keeping the blog private before it is ready for launch. This will avoid the blog going accidentally public, which you don't want.

It looks fine to restrict access to a page or a website / blog with information of a privileged kind, by making that stuff password protected. For example, you might want to let a series of blog posts be visited only by students who have done all their homework (Can you believe that students will not share these post with their friends??) or someone who has subscribed to a web magazine. You can send such people a password that opens those private blogs/ posts.

Private blog can be a good platform for writing and storing online content that is of serial nature, e.g. chapters of a book or a series of articles on a subject.

How to make a Blogger or Wordpress blog private?

On Blogger, go to Settings > Permissions > Blog readers [You will not have the option to go private if you have opted for Google Plus commenting on the blog.]

On Wordpress, go to My Site > Settings > Site Visibility
(or WP Admin > Settings > Reading > Site Visibility)

On both these platforms, you need to invite viewers by sending them emails.

On Wordpress, you can restrict the visibility of individual posts, by clicking on the 'eye' icon on the right top of the post editor.

On Blogger, there is no in-built provision to limit a post's visibility, but there are a number of hacks available on the web. Since these hacks need you to modify a bit of html coding, use codes only from websites that you trust.

How much private can a private blog be?

Well, on the web, everything - yes, almost everything - is public. Even erasing blogs or their posts may not erase them from the www. In most cases, search engines may still crawl archival posts. The hidden content is also prone to be made public inadvertently or deliberately by someone who has the authority to view it. It can be hacked. Privacy features can be broken. It can leave trail on computers and mobiles where it travels even with password protection.

So, the golden rule would be to make part or full blog private for a limited purpose, for example to give privileged access but not for storing sensitive information. Why not use your primary blog for sharing as much information as you can, and have a private blog to store information that you do not want to share and information that is 'work in progress'. By the way, for storing private information, these can be better options: Windows live or Dropbox or other cloud storage, your computer, password-protected documents attached on emails to yourself.