Saturday, September 29, 2007

Make A Private Blog

A blog is for you to share - with the world, with your friends, or with one special friend.

We see many examples of this diversity, when we go "Next Blog" surfing.

If you don't want the world seeing your blog, so you can share your private thoughts with your special friends, you can keep the world out. Just as the ability to post in your blog requires permission, you can make your blog require permission for anybody to read, too.


If you're going to restrict access to your known friends, just use the dashboard wizard at Settings - Basic - Permissions, and invite your friends as readers, by Editing "Blog Readers".

If you're going to restrict access to the blog, note several downsides.
  • Your friends can't use a newsfeed, and subscribe to the blog. Blog feeds aren't available for a private blog.
  • The search engines won't index the blog, with any reliability. Occasionally, someone reports having deleted their blog by mistake, and the response is
    Go into Google BlogSearch and other search engines, and retrieve the contents, which are cached.
    With a private blog, there's no search cache.
  • If you have over 99 friends, this solution isn't for you. The 100 member limit applies to Members and Readers in total (including you).
  • If you're setting up a blog under Google Webmaster Tools, you may have to make the blog public, to get your ownership verified. If your blog is private, you try to verify ownership using a meta tag, and you get a message about "... unable to find the meta tag ...", this will likely be your problem.

Each person added to the "Add readers" list has to open the invitational email, click on the link, and authenticate, using a new or existing Google account, to become a member of your private blog. The invitational email will also contain a temporary link, so they can read the blog and decide if the content interests them, before actually joining.

Note that people currently able to access the blog, and people who work with your designated readers, may be able to continue doing so, for a while after you designate your first Reader. The blog will not be completely private, immediately.

You can get some additional privacy control, from two key selections in Settings - Basic. And Google Webmaster Tools has other possibilities.

If you do decide to make the blog private, your blog is for your known friends right now, and you hope to add more friends later (who knows, that could happen), consider making a public entrance for the blog.

It's a very simple change. Select "Only these readers", or "Only blog authors" for "Blog Readers". If you choose the former, you get to enter email addresses, and you wait while your prospective readers accept the invitations that get sent out. If you choose the latter, that's already done, as part of the blog author invitation process.

Some people would consider other solutions for keeping out unwanted guests.
  • Block access to known accounts. Since Google accounts are free, and appallingly easy to setup, any intruder with any determination won't be slowed by this tactic, he'll simply use another account.
  • Block access to known IP addresses. This is a technical solution, and it will work in a very limited capacity.

It's a very simple change to reverse, too. Just select "Anybody" for "Blog Readers", and the blog becomes public, again. And should you later decide to make the blog private again, and select "Only people I choose", your previous Readers list will be there, waiting for you.

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