"Cheer up. Remember what the Monty Python boys say."
"Always look on the bright side of life?"
"No, 'Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition.'"

Thursday, February 28, 2008

For Yours Eyes Only **UPDATES w/ Explaination**

Blogging was mentioned last night during practice at our church. A friend made a mention that blogs should be public domain, never invite only or password protected. If you are writing things that you do not wish to be read by all, then you shouldn’t be posting them for anyone. The reasoning behind this is, by placing a blog on “Invite Only”, you are singling out people you do not wish to have around. I can only assume that it was the allusion to being picked last for softball in grade school, and only being picked because you HAD to play. You might hurt someone’s feelings.

In a world where everyone is at peace with himself/herself and we are allowed to express opinions without judgment, one void of trolls, this would be a truth. That world is a fantasy. People judge you no matter what has been written, good, bad or indifferent. That is the wonder of the ‘comments’ section. Allowing open comments, we are also allowing others to share their opinions, whether they are family, friends or perfect strangers.

Personally, I like the option of debate that open comments can create. Let me bat things back and forth with someone; maybe I will learn something new.

Is comment moderation the hollowed middle ground? I can let anyone read my thoughts, but I can stop any comments that could be construed negatively. Then again, what if there is someone you wanted to block, won’t they notice that you are not publishing their comments? Personally, that would be a much bigger slap in the face then not allowing them access via invite.

While I embrace my first amendment right to free speech, I have gotten comments in the past that made me hate that same right. I don’t think that there really is a way to make everyone happy. I don’t want negativity but at the same time, I don’t want to limit my viewers either, I like having fresh outlooks.

For now, I am leaving my blog open to all, but I cannot say that some time in the future, I may need to be pickier about my readership. It may bother some but I got a tough skin being picked last for softball, so I think that it will be gotten over. :o)


Okay, I think I need to expound a little more on the benefit of invite only blogs. My post was not meant in anyway to be divisive. I was just looking passed the norm.

This is one example as to why
invite only can be a good thing.

I am on the praise team at our church and we are a bit of a close-knit group. They all know about the fertility issues and that DH and I are trying to work things out. In our group is a 16-year-old girl, L. She is very sweet and full of energy, extremely smart and fun to be around.

L has a 19-year-old sister who has a child and a 17-year-old sister who has endo so bad, she will never be able to maintain a pregnancy on the off chance that she were to actually conceive. L gets it. When I mention IF treatments, she is caring, she listens and she remains hopeful. I would give her my blog address and not think twice about it.

But… I do not feel in my heart that I need the entire youth group or church to find and read my blog. If they do, I can’t say anything, it’s public. There are things I talk about that my own family doesn’t get or understand; how could I expect strangers to? I am not trying to hide anything, I am not ashamed of what I feel or say; I just don’t think it would of any benefit to a large number of people. Because of this example, I see
invite only as a very valid option.

I am remiss to make blanket judgments without looking at the hidden areas that may require a deeper look at the issue.
Invite only is just another side of what could be a very touchy subject.


nancy said...

I can't believe that this is even a subject that could hold up a discussion - much less a touchy subject. I guess I don't understand?

Jonathan said...

I think you misunderstood, or I didn't properly communicate, my primary reason for not liking "friends only" style blog posts. I look at nearly everything from an computer/Internet/information security perspective -- it's my job, it's what I do. I didn't mean to communicate that my beef with it is the idea of singling out actual, specific people.

So, the entire purpose of a "friends only" post is to allow only certain people, which you approve or allow, to see your otherwise "private" post. As a matter of good security, this cannot be trusted; therefore it fails its purpose. There are at least two problems with the security -- two ways of defeating the security, or making the contents of the post non-private -- and you have to trust that neither will happen if you buy into the "friends only" thing. The first problem is that some people have access to the contents. Those same people have the full ability, intentionally or unintentionally, to leak the contents of your "protected" post. The human factor is great, isn't it? The second problem is the simple fact that the contents are on the Internet, and stored on servers that you have no control over. The contents are available to whatever company owns the site, for whatever purpose they want to use it for. Also, there could be (and probably are) invasive robots spidering all your posts, indexing and cataloging the contents, ignoring any system protections. The real fantasy is to assume these two problems will never occur.

(From this perspective, it just so happens that completely private posts are more secure than "friends only", because it removes the human factor. Remember I said, "If you want to make it private, be my guest." But do you really trust the security of even that? Paper diaries can be a good thing...)

I really wasn't kidding when I said that if you post anything up on the Internet, you might as well post it public. And yes, I'm the same guy who doesn't use any password management software, and doesn't trust web sites to store his bank account and routing numbers, or credit card numbers. A bit paranoid? Maybe (I doubt it, knowing what I know), but at least I know I'm safer for it.

So in this case, I really dislike "friends only" posts ("invite only" blogs, whatever) is that it lulls people into a false sense of information security.

[Personal theology alert! Apply grains of salt...]
The other reason I don't use (and yes, don't care for) "friends only" posts is a matter of personal theology, which I won't smack anyone with, nor do I expect everyone to agree with me. Personally, the life I want to live is a life where I don't have anything that needs to be open to some people and hidden from others. I won't go into the long details of why I believe that. But I do firmly believe that's how I need to be living.

Needless to say, I don't plan on posting "friends only" any time soon.

nancy said...

As for security, I don't think anyone would REALLY use a blog to post things that cannot be "leaked". The reason I would use "password protected" posts is so I could freely talk about something, without accidentally hurting the feelings of someone. What if I wanted to talk about how easy weight loss is for me - without my good friends who are stuggling with it? I would make it password protected. I think that as a blog, the definition is an online diary. It's everything my brain wants to spew out and I would use password protected posts so I don't have to edit myself.

As for the whole security thing, I'm in IT myself. I know that even with it being invite only, "unwanted" readers can get into it. That's why I don't keep my finanical statements on my blog. But for what it is, a ~diary~, that amount of security is sufficient for me. It's going to stop anyone who's simply browsing to find something I don't want them to read. I think wants to stalk me enough to get past this level 1 of security, I've got bigger problems then them finding my diary.

As for the owners of the blogs themselves and whatnot - who cares. It's just my diary!

I think there is a huge difference between "mights as just well leave it public" because of who can really get into a private blog and keeping out just those innocents who you don't want reading something.

Personally, I think the only people who actually complain about "invite only" blogs are people who don't get invited to enough stuff. It's like they are still living in high school, waiting to get asked to the prom.

Jonathan said...

If only everybody used private posts to edit themselves... the blogosphere would be a much better place. :-)

As for "invite only" diaries, that amount of security may be sufficient for you, and you may be willing to take that risk. That's fine. I'd postulate that it's certainly enough if your only readers are people who don't know you personally, and don't spend time with each other, IRL. However, that is not the case for everyone. I'll call back to Tammy's example as a baseline, about not wanting everyone in the youth group to read certain things in her blog. In Tammy's case, she's not trying to hide anything, so no harm if they do read it. But imagine the hypothetical where she literally only wanted certain people to see the contents, so she made a "friends only" or "invite only" post. Then one of the people who could access the post had loose lips and let some of that "protected" information slip to the rest of the youth group (you know, because we all see each other at least once a week). And of course, once the youth group knows, the whole church knows. :-\ The problem was that Tammy would have trusted what I call the "human factor" -- that people will actually use discretion in their conversations, remember the fact that the post was not public, and respect that. Of course, humans are never that reliable.

I guess what I'm getting at is: I'm glad you know to use discretion in what you post public, what you post "friends only" or "invite only", and what you post private, and what the security issues and risks are. A lot of people aren't that smart, however, and the fact that blog systems don't educate about the false sense of security sure doesn't help things. I've seen people get burned by this kind of thing before, and it's never good.

> Personally, I think the only
> people who actually complain
> about "invite only" blogs are...

Sorry, I find that statement to be closed minded, and somewhat insulting. I'm very obviously complaining about them, for very objective and practical reasons, but I couldn't care less if people invited me to their blogs. I don't have time to follow the blogs of the few friends I have IRL, much less that of a bunch of strangers on the Internet. I have too many things to do to worry about how long my list of blogs is -- it's just not a high priority for me. I hardly consider that situation immature or "high school-ish". And I don't think I'm special enough to be the only person who fits this description (the "exception to the rule," so to speak).

And, for the record, PLEASE for the love of all humanity, can we start a movement on the Internet to get people to actually proofread before they post? Just this one blog post and comment thread are riddled with spelling errors, bad grammar and punctuation, and flat-out missing words. It's enough to make me want to cancel my Internet connection and return to paper full-time (although I'm finding more and more typos in printed material these days too). Blah.

Monica Fayth said...

I can totally understand why someone would want to make their blog invite only or "friends only". Especially when you're talking about people who work with youth or in the school system like I do. There are so many of us who blog about infertility who include a lot of information about cycles and the number of times they have sex. I really don't think that a 14 year old male student needs to be reading such information. And then there are times we need to vent. Do we need all those impressionable minds seeing all that? So it's not really about "hiding" anything, but there are things that others just really don't need to know.

There are also many who are struggling with IF but aren't telling family or IRL friends about it b/c they don't want everyone to know. But there are a lot of other ladies that have gone through IF that can provide encouragement and support so we'd want them to be able to access our blogs.

Tammy's Thought Pattern said...

**This is just a repeat of the initial post, sans errors :o)**

Hey Jonathan,

I guess I should have melted my two thoughts together better; a little less vague.

Your comment on Wednesday and a post I read http://stirrup-queens.blogspot.com/2008/02/friday-blog-roundup.html was the reason for the musings. It did a poor job of putting both thoughts together, at least for someone who does not frequent Mel's blog too.

Both of you brought up very valid points. I knew you were mainly talking security, the human element of it just kind of floated around in my head a little more that the virtual.

I am an open book. If someone asks a question, I am as honest as I can be without crossing boundaries. (i.e. discussing my intimate life with D) I have a past that I am open about. I made mistakes and still make them. As you can see, I am not about to start hiding things now.

As far as what I mentioned, in regards to comments, I leave them open even thought they may piss me off. Sometimes it is helpful; sometimes it is hurtful. My biggest problem is diarrhea of the mouth. I tend to get defensive and I let others options way too heavily on me taking comments entirely too personal. This would be my only reasoning for an "invite only" blog, the ability to block hurtful and judgmental comments.

nancy said...

warning - this post has NOT been proofread ~or~ spell checked. For those who cannot make it through simple mistakes by a fast typer and for those who think these things actually need to be done "FOR THE LOVE OF ALL HUMANITY" (yeah, cause proofreading equals the love of humanity. I hate the world, therefore I don't proofread. Anarchy! Anarchy!), stop reading here. The lack of grammar my pop a brain cell.

Firstly, the prom thing was a joke. But funny how immediately thereafter I was attacked by my lack of proofreading and allowing gramatical and spelling errors into a ~shock and awe~ comment!

Nah, I don't proofread comments. I pretty much think anyone can read through simple errors in something as non-consequential as a blog comment. (oh yeah, I hate all of humanity!!)

I was so very quite impressed with your response to my comment until you attacked ~how~ I wrote. Here's a hint - attack CONTENT, not how it's written. (I see you are a religious man - would Jesus make fun of my spelling errors? Nah, I didn't think so. If he would, I'm sure God would've written on a different medium than rock tablets and have gone for a nice off white stationary, don't you think?) I'm all for you not agreeing with my joke. I thought it was funny, hence why I wrote it. But I bet without the joke, you'd never of attacked my spelling/grammar errors.

(sometimes the types of retorts really show how a little joke ~really~ effects someone, eh?)

All the rudeness aside, I understand your point. But it's really no different than Tammy having a personal conversation with a select few and them telling it through loose lips. It'd be nice to have a world without secret and a world where hurt feelings for not knowing the secrets exist. But it doesn't.

Monica Fayth said...

Nancy, I was thinking the exact same thing about the fact that if you're going to take the human factor into account, it's no different from telling a couple friends who may or may not tell someone else or someone overhearing something that they might repeat. So yeah, there is always the chance of someone else finding out your personal business but that doesn't mean that you don't have a right to confide in whomever you wish and not confide in those you don't.

Tammy's Thought Pattern said...

It is sort of like the game 'Telephone'. If someone overhears a conversation and then repeats it to someone else, then that person repeats it, by the time it gets back to me, I could be living in the hill of Uganda, selling all my worldly belongings and taking up with a Buhdist Shamin.

Nancy and Monica, I didn't think of it that way until you both said something.

DH and I are notorious 'people watchers'. We will observe the people around us and try to figure out the 'back story'. It is a fun game for just the two of us. What if someone were to overhear a conversation between the two of us at a resturant and they just happen to go to our church. How do we stop the conversation from going to others. There is no way of doing that. Half the time I have to monitor myself. I don't have time to worry about what others overhear. As much as I would like to say gossip isn't a problem there, it is.

Jonathan said...

Because I targeted you so very specifically in my comment (which I didn't), not the whole blog thread, or the entire Internet, or even the print media (which I did). Right.

Please, be impressed if you like, or not. Just don't take it personally. I've not directed any of my comments specifically at any one person (until now). I realize I've used the word "you", but I was polite with the usage and responding in a manner of conversation, or so I've thought. I've just tried to keep my words open to everyone and re-enforce my original point. I really think you have been reading things into my words. Please don't.

Seriously, it appears that mine was as much a joke as yours. The real case study here is that neither of us got it.

So let me clear something up for the Internet: in printed media (digital or paper), the words are the content, because that's all that appear on the page. It's sort of like how in a phone conversation, the words are the content. People would think it was weird if I randomly dropped words from my sentences. They would probably think I was a bit "off" if I did it repeatedly, and didn't show any signs of realizing it by trying to correct myself. And they might actually be confused if I left out some of the more important words from a sentence. In my opinion, this is very analogous with print/email/blogs/etc. And I see this problem all over the "personal" side of the Internet (blogs especially, forums too, emails sometimes). So I didn't attack how anyone wrote anything; I was complaining about the content itself, and the fact that it was incomplete. Words that aren't on the page aren't part of the content. It's print media -- there isn't anything besides the words.

Yes, I had noticed quite a lot of errors, and would have said it anyway without your joke. And for the record, I was attempting to use hyperbole (a little) and be tongue-in-cheek. It looks like we both missed our mark.

@Tammy, Monica
I agree with the telephone thing. I think it's what I've been trying to say all along. Except that in the digital world, content can be replicated better than in the game "telephone". At least with telephone, you have some plausible deniability ("That's not anything like what I said!"). But on the Internet, people see exactly what you wrote, and can replicate it perfectly anywhere, or spread it by word of mouth if they like.

My opinion is that realizing that this is like "telephone" is all the more reason that I wouldn't want to put sensitive information online in "invite only" or "friends only" form. I don't think it supports the idea of "be careful what you say in a crowd" yet "say what you want on a protected post". I consider the "friends only" post to be very analogous to sharing a conversation with a small group while standing in the middle of a crowd... and you never know who is going to "overhear" what.

By the way, I'm not trying to remove people's freedom to post "invite only" or "friends only". Obviously, it's their choice what they post and who they direct it at, and they make their own decisions based on their risk analysis. However, I do believe that the majority of people are not aware of the actual security issues, and therefore cannot do accurate risk analysis. I also think that many people really should think through what they post online anywhere, especially if they really don't want some people to find the information.

Based on my own risk analysis, I'm not willing to chance it. I won't ever put something in a "protected" blog unless I really don't care if everyone in the world sees it -- my opinion is that it's not worth the risk. You never know what "protected" information could show up on another web site or in a search engine that anyone could be viewing or using.

Of course, other people are free to do their own risk analysis and come up with whatever answer works for them. I'd just like to see that they made a properly informed decision.