Monday, June 20, 2005

Private or Protected Viewing of a Blog Site

Private or protected viewing and commenting for a blog site has many valuables uses. All three of the majors, Blogger.com, MSNspaces and Yahoo 360 provide features to control the leaving of comments on a posting. As of June, 2005, only MSNspaces and Yahoo 360 have a blogging feature that allows blog owners to set up private viewing of a blog, but controlling who views your blog site, as with controlling who leaves comments, comes with an annoying but unavoidable catch.

The unavoidable catch is in the registration process. In order for someone to see a private blog page at all, whether they wish to leave comments or not, anyone that you wish to allow must follow the links provided in an invitation email and register or sign in for an account at Yahoo 360 or with Microsoft, whether they want an account or not. Every time your students or friends choose to view this view-protected blog, they will have to login with this username and password. It will not be enough to remember and enter the blog's web address. In order to see the blog, they will have to remember to use a special web address to register so that they can then see a different web page, the blog site itself.

The first time they register, the MSNspaces or Yahoo 360 blog account owner will receive indication that they are now officially registered. With Yahoo 360, they are recognized but placed in the blog owners account under Uncategorized. You will next have to move them from this un-category to the category name that you created when building the list of those who can have private viewing and commenting.

This forced approach to building Microsoft or Yahoo membership will have two negative effects. First, many of those who do register to see a friend's blog will not create a blog of their own or use membership features further, grossly inflating the numbers for company membership. They become members in name only. They will be potentially confused by many offers and invitations to other things that will appear on their registration screens. Second, once educators realize that others will be forced to go through multiple step account registration that provides Microsoft or Yahoo with their students' email addresses, they will be unlikely to set up private viewing.

This process will be a significant problem for K-12 and post-secondary educators who should set up private viewing and commenting for a class of students, but will be unwilling to put their students and families through these requirement wringers. Further, some students will get tripped up in the registration process, generating email support questions for the educator.

For K12 educators, this erosion of teacher and parent control will be a show stopper. Every time their child has to sign in, in order to see a classroom's blog, Microsoft and Yahoo who will throw up screens with numerous invitations at them to do other things not on the teacher's agenda. It seems likely that these screens will also come with advertisements, with nothing to prevent them from including salacious commercials such as those that appear in the sidebars of my wife's Microsoft hotmail account.

If nothing else, this will spur school districts and educators to buy control for these problems. They might do this by buying their own blogging software and running it on their own servers. They could also do this by buying network access to online blog software designed for schools, such as http://classblogmeister.com/. Adding control always comes with management overhead headaches.

2 Comments:

Blogger Kari Mull said...

It seems that it would be better for me as a teacher of 2nd graders, to not set up a private blog site for my class. Unless that is, that my school or county purchased some blog software for us alone to use. Where a private or protected viewing would probably be much better, I would not ask the parents/guardians of my students to assist the kids in having to deal with the mess of registering and many pop-up commercials and ads. Honestly, I would not use blogs if it meant that much trouble. I guess if my county wouldn't purchase the software, I would have to not use blogger or chance using the very public site. Why does having a bit a privacy in what you post require such a headache? They shoud make it into a one step process for the registered bloggers.

7/01/2005 01:57:00 AM  
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