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Private Blog Access Now Requires A Blogger Account

Blogger recently simplified private blog access, and removed some of the ambiguity from the membership invitation acceptance process.

Previously, an invitation to a private blog involved an email message with several options. Besides the expected invitation to join (using a Blogger / Google account), one might find an option to "preview" the blog, and / or view as a "guest" (without requiring a Blogger / Google account).

Both the "guest" and "preview" options caused confusion, for both owners and prospective members.

We might see any of several problem reports, in Blogger Help Forum: Get Help with an Issue?.
  • Some would be readers would be confused why their membership had stopped working.
  • Other readers would wonder why they could not comment - even with other members commenting.
  • Owners would be concerned by complaints from their members, about unexplained membership loss.
  • Some owners would be unable to re invite members - even with the "Blog Readers" list populated by less than 100 entries.
  • Some owners would be concerned by members unable to comment.

Invited members using "guest" / "preview" would find access was temporary.
All invited members might not observe / understand the difference between the "accept membership" and the "view as guest / in preview" mode. When the temporary membership expired, some former "members" would find themselves unable to access the blog.

Invited members using "guest" / "preview" mode could not comment.
Other "members", who were not actually authenticated, would find themselves unable to comment - even when able to read the blog. This discovery might cause bad reputation for both commenting, and private blogs.

Blog owners could not always re add members, once access expired.
Blog owners might receive complaints from "members" unable to access a blog. In some cases, having invited more members after the former "member" had "accepted" membership, trying to re invite the former member would be unsuccessful, because the membership invitation limit had been reached.

Blog owners might find problems with membership invitation limits, in general.
Some blog owners might intentionally use the "guest" membership as an option to provide access to more than 100 viewers - but be unable to sustain the desired "membership" level, because Blogger had changed limit enforcement policies.

Blog owners would receive complaints from members unable to comment.
Other blog owners might use "guest" membership to provide access for readers who refuse to use a Blogger / Google account - but be unable to provide ability for "guests" to comment.

All of these issues created some bad reputation for private blog membership, in general - and some unnecessary problem reports involving commenting. With Blogger having removed the unreliable guest / preview modes, some blog owners may find themselves with less ability to provide blog access to large crowds of members.

In the long run, this will be a positive move.

People who wish to distribute private information, to large groups of people, will have to use other products. Google+ has been recommended, for several years, as a private information distribution medium.

Simplified options leads to simpler code - and to a more stable product.
Blogger design simply does not support large reader communities, of content requiring restricted access. Cleanup of this option, misused by a minority, will allow Blogger to simplify their code base - and provide a better supported product, to the majority of blog owners and readers.

An owner of a private blog, with more appropriate member population, will simply have to convince all readers to accept a Blogger account, as part of accessing the blog.

A Blogger account does not have to be a GMail account!
Just remember - a Blogger account can have any valid GMail or non GMail email address. A Blogger / Google account does not have to have a GMail email address.


Fonda Weiss said…
I am using Blogger for the first time to design a private blog to be used for a classroom of 8th grade English students. Initially the students will be allowed to comment on the postings that I (as the admin) and the teacher make, and then later in the year, the students will be gradually be allowed "author access" to post their own content. We won't exceed the 100 user limit.

I am the administrator and use a Gmail ID to access the blog, as do 2 of the users that I have authorized as "readers" in the private blog. The 2 other users can log in with their Gmail IDs to access the blog, and can see postings and click on Comment to proceed to look at comments and to enter a comment.

The problem is that these authorized users couldn't proceed to enter comments on a blog post. The Publish and Preview comments buttons wouldn't work, and a warning message displayed saying "Comments on this blog are restricted to team members."

In Settings-Posts and Comments-Who can comment?, I had set the blog as "Only members of this blog" and Comment Moderation as "Never" and I did add customized text in the Comment Form Message area.

I subsequently read here:
Then changed the Settings-Posts and Comments-Who can comment? to anything other than "Only members of this blog" and problem is resolved.

But, given that I'm new to Blogger and don't know all the history, it seems like this is not working as designed. Could you shed some light on this, so I won't be embarrassed when we aim to successfully launch this blog in September.

Thanks much.
Märta Harr said…
I have a blog that has been public for years. I would like to make it private, but when I change that setting, it will no longer open anything at all. I am signed in as owner and should be able to see it, but the website will never pull up. Please help me switch it to private. The blog is right now it is set to private so I think you will see that nothing will open. When I go in and switch it to public again then it will open, I can post or edit, etc. I wish I could just leave it private and have access to it. Please help.

Chuck Croll said…
Hi Marta,

Thanks for the question.

The blog appears to be private. If you make it public again, and want diagnosis, let me know.

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