Sunday, March 18, 2012

Privacy Concerns Over Posts Being Published, And Preview Mode

Some Blogger blog owners, as they develop a post, use Preview mode to periodically observe what the post looks like. A few owners are confused about the privacy of a post, as it is Previewed. Some think that the temporary nature of the Preview window makes the content, as Previewed, intentionally unavailable for viewing by their readers.

Here is a Preview URL for this post.
http://blogging.nitecruzr.net/b/post-preview?token=yV1fKDYBAAA.ySUB0XKSvMXVATQkgsbJpQ.vf2Wk6Ed_TXX54XVpLn3uA&postId=1855542079708688719&type=POST
If you're interested, click on the link. Does it show you anything? How about another?
http://blogging.nitecruzr.net/b/post-preview?token=zx9iKDYBAAA.ySUB0XKSvMXVATQkgsbJpQ.r_B4NGbmR453Nsa2tYZPKg&postId=1855542079708688719&type=POST
See anything interesting?

Presumably, the tokens attached to the URL make the visibility of the post temporary - and the previewed post becomes secure by obscurity. That is, if anybody cares enough to view this.Why did I see evidence that 5 people had already read the Preview (and now, said evidence is gone)?

But like every Blogger feature, there are always ways to complicate the issue.

Similar to people who, years ago, published web sites, with the web site access logs published as part of the web site (and became the original target of referer spam attacks), we have Blogger blog owners who publish a real time access log on their blogs.

A popular blog accessory, Feedjit, provides a real time list of blog pages, as read by various people. Similar to a visitor log, but displayed in real time, and to the public in general, Feedjit shows everybody what blog content is being viewed.

And here is the complication, of the Preview content. Some blog owners are concerned that the public can view their Previwed content, because Feedjit displays the URLs of the Preview displays, as they (the blog owner) develop a new post.

Please examine the URL quoted below - does any component of that URL contain any tag, suggesting to you that the content is treated as private? It's simply obscure, because (without the involvement of Feedjit, or a similar access display log), the Preview post is not visible. To check it, here's the latest Preview URL for this post.
http://blogging.nitecruzr.net/b/post-preview?token=PYh8KDYBAAA.ySUB0XKSvMXVATQkgsbJpQ.6T7Xf_PcgR7nXI_xZCq_Kw&postId=1855542079708688719&type=POST

Personally, I don't use Preview mode that much. I like to Publish my posts over a period of days - if not longer. None of my posts are actually static, I call this Progressive Publishing. You're welcome to view any of my posts, any time you feel the urge.

Watch this post, and see what changes. To start, I'll now observe that, with the post Published, all of the Preview links (above) all appear to load the finished post - until the token (in the URL) expires. If you just clicked on any of the above Preview links, you are probably now seeing
Invalid security token: Error 403
since the Previews, for this post, have long expired.

The conclusion would be that Preview content is only visible until the post is Published. Until the post is Published, the Preview is available to everybody - if you choose to publicise the URL of the Preview.

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2 comments:

Mary C said...

" If you just clicked on any of the above Preview links, you are probably reading this right now."

Nope: if I click on the links now, I get a screen saying "Invalid securityToken. Error 403"

Chuck Croll said...

Yes, now that the Preview is long expired, you'll get the Error 403.

Until the post is Published, you'll see the Preview. When the post is Published (and until the Preview expires), you'll see the Published post.

So, if you find the Preview being visible to the public to be a problem, Publish the post sooner.