Blog Privacy and Subscribers

•One of the first things you are asked to decide when signing up for your WordPress.com site is your site’s Privacy setting. Most people have already thought about whether they want their site visible to casual readers or have their site out of public view, but they may have not thought about the subscriber aspect of this decision.

Sites whose Privacy settings are either public or blocked to well-behaved search engines are open to subscribers, whether by RSS feed, Email subscription or, for WordPress.com users exclusively, the WordPress.com Reader (“Blogs I Follow”). Subscribers can also find your site through the tags and categories you have used on your Posts by browsing the WordPress.com global tag listings or by searching. The global tag listings also automatically send out notifications of new posts via Ping-o-Matic.

If you are new to WordPress, in addition to that WordPress.com address you really want for your public site, register a second, private site for testing settings, themes and features without fear of those changes screwing something up on your primary site.

privateloginSites that are private do not publish an RSS feed, do not have their Posts added to the global tag pages, nor do they appear in any search. Visitors arriving to your site will see a log-in page and unless you have invited them to view it, they will not have access. In order to be invited, visitors must have a WordPress.com account.

•Up to now this is pretty straightforward. So what happens if you start out with a public site and later decide to make it private?

First of all your site’s feeds will no longer be available. Anyone who has subscribed by RSS feed will not receive notice of new posts, nor will new posts be pinged by WordPress.com to the various services they connect to through Ping-o-Matic. Categories and Tags on your posts will no longer appear in the global tag listings. Subscribers, both WordPress.com users and those who have subscribed by email, will still show up on your Subscribers stats page. However, in spite of any misleading dashboard messages, like the one below that appears after you publish a new post, new posts are not sent out to your previous subscriber list. The only people who will be able to subscribe to your private site are the people you’ve invited to view it.

If you change your private site to a public one, keep in mind that all the posts that were previously published will now be visible to your site visitors, subscribers and search engines. Any private users that you have invited will be removed from the invited list, however, if they have also subscribed to your site, they will continue to receive notice of new posts.

•••Note: The behavior described in this post is correct as of today’s post.

•••Additional Note: This post deals with privacy settings for your entire site.  In addition, there are visibility settings for each post and page that allow you to selectively keep them out of public view. Information on this and other privacy settings in an upcoming post.

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16 thoughts on “Blog Privacy and Subscribers

  1. Pingback: Blog Privacy and Subscribers « WPcomMaven « one cool site

  2. thanks for these news
    I want to write several posts (15) without sending any mail to the followers
    I suppose I can go private, send my posts, then return public, and my problem will be solved
    sorry for my english… I’m french
    thanks

    • I’m not certain what you mean by “bad followers.” Public sites on WordPress.com and across the web are open to everyone, which means that anyone can subscribe to your site. While you cannot block subscribers/followers, you do have total control over who comments on your site. Change your settings to moderate each and every comment or put the username/email address of those you want to moderate in the Moderated List in your Discussion settings.

  3. Pingback: WordPress.com Follower Management | one cool site

  4. Great and informative post, thanks! I am planning on making my blog temporarily private and only allowing certain invited followers to read. In a few weeks, I’d like to make it completely public again. By doing this, will I lose my near 700 followers? Thanks!

    • It’s my guess that you shouldn’t lose your followers in the interim (unless they unsub themselves), but I’d also post about this in the Community forums for others to give you their input.

      But be aware that whatever posts you publish while the site was private will be entirely visible on your site once you’ve made it public again. To avoid that either make those posts password protected or make their visibility “private” so that only you will see them while logged in to your site.

  5. Thanks for good info. I think it’s terrible that spammers can follow my blog, and they don’t have to comment in order to be spammers. Their Gravatar profile image, which is displayed on my blog, links to what is obviously a spamming sales pitch for a Gravatar page. It’s an insult, and my blog would not work to be made private. I don’t want my readers seeing these follower profile images on my blog, and being led to those selling profiles.

    • Hi Sandi, I’m glad you found the information useful. I have a feeling that you’ve come in through either timethief’s excellent post on “Like” spamming or one of the many forum threads on the topic. There is a way to deal with it. You do have the option of not displaying “likes” on your site, without the need to make your site private. If you receive a notice that someone has Liked your post, you’ll be the only one to know it. If you choose to keep displaying “Likes” on your site, then use the “report abuse” link found on each and every gravatar profile. Best wishes!

      • Jennifer, thanks so much for replying. I will take advantage of your advice. I think I did wander here through timethief’s post, or I remember reading it in my travels. Have a nice evening.

  6. hi, have just changed blog public to private. Had problems with invites, noone seems to have erceived them, only those who subscribe by email. I copied and pasted list of followers from blog so have input what I think is correct in format name@wordpress.com and re-tried (60 odd followers!) done this twice, then as linked up with fellow blogger, still not received so tried by just their user name, waiting for feedback. how will I know if they have received and accepted as all my blog shows as status is “waiting”….something gone very wrong and cant seem get anyone at wordpress to sort. Very frustrated as this is a lifeline to me. Please can you help me?

    • I’ve answered you in one of the forum threads you’ve posted, but I’ll repeat it here:

      When you change your site settings from a Public site to Private, you break the connection with your Followers although they may still appear in a list as Followers.

      However, the only people who will be able to log in to and view your site (Viewers) are people you invite directly by sending an invitation to either their email address or by using their WordPress.com username. Here’s a little more on how to invite Viewers to a Private blog: http://en.support.wordpress.com/adding-users/#invite-people-to-view-your-private-blog

      If the person you invited appears as “waiting” in the list of invited Viewers that means they have not confirmed their invitation. No one other than that person can tell you if they have received the invitation or not.

      Hope that helps to make it clearer. If you need more help with this, please post back to your forum thread.

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