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Private posts appearing on Google

  1. Imagine my surprise to read the beginnings of WordPress posts I had made private in the results of a Google search. When I clicked on the links, they took me either to a document map for a post, containing the post's entire contents, or to the post itself!

    Although loathe to do so, I just deleted the posts.

    Why is this happening?

  2. Marking a private just makes it not appear in your home page, RSS feed, and on the category pages. If someone links to it, it's visable.

  3. drmike -- are you sure about that? I've tested that recently, and though I can see a private post myself, when logged in and by simply going to the link, when I try to go to it when I'm not logged in, I get the "easy tiger" 404 error page. :-/

    I'd like to be able to make posts private, so they wouldn't show up as links in the sidebar etc., and then be able to link to them within pages or posts -- a kind of workaround for the inability to make pages invisible in the sidebar. Is there something I'm missing?

    BTW, to the OP, on my old blog I once found one of my drafts on google. Didn't keep drafts stored on the blog after that.

    [edit] Here's a link to a current private test post:

    http://growthmadness.org/2007/01/13/private-test-post/

  4. G'morning growthmadness
    I clicked the link and got a 404. But what drmike said was "If someone links to it, it's visable." I take that to mean that if I give someone the url to the private post and they then read it and link to it the private post becomes "visible". But I find this confusing so maybe drmike can expand on what he said.

  5. Thanks for your answer, drmike.

    I never give links to my private posts to anyone, just to be clear.

    By "If someone links to it, it's visable" I'm assuming drmike means blog searching sites like technorati and del.icio.us make them visible to anyone who searches correctly for their content.

    Scary.

  6. Very scary. I'm so very sorry this happened to you. I am hesitant myself to put any really personal and private information anywhere on the net but I thought this "private" post function might be "safe".
    May I ask if you assigned any Category tags to the post(s) in question or did the spiders just find the key words in the post?

  7. I know I assigned tags to some of the posts, not sure if to all of them.

    It makes me wonder what the point is in making posts private. I have a page of years' worth of posts which I imported from an old deadjournal I kept during the very worst years of my life. It makes for very depressing reading and I made it private to hide it from everyone until and unless I choose to publish it again.

    I better now go and delete that page too.

    Thanks, ;p

  8. "By "If someone links to it, it's visable" I'm assuming drmike means blog searching sites like technorati and del.icio.us make them visible to anyone who searches correctly for their content."

    Maybe so. But something's odd about the whole thing. I mean, if it turns up as a search engine result, and you click it, it's going to take you to some URL. That URL should be the link to the post. But I posted the link to a private post above, and if you click the link or put it in your browser address field and try to go there, you get an error message. (though as I mentioned I do remember a similar occasion I experienced with a draft... strange)

  9. @ariane
    Sheesh ... I really feel for you. But wait, before you delete those posts what about getting another blog and specifying that whole blog as private (ignored by search engines) and then copying and pasting those those private posts over to it?

  10. I agree that there's something odd about this, although perhaps a different oddness to the one you describe.

    I clicked on a Google URL earlier today when I discovered this problem, and was taken not to one of my private posts, but to an RSS feed page incorrectly handled by Firefox, therefore showing the following statement:
    "This XML file does not appear to have any style information associated with it. The document tree is shown below", folowed by the contents of the private post in its entirety, enclosed in html.

    Another Google URL led to this page: http://es.wordpress.com/tag/nlp/

    If you go there now, my private post is not visible because I deleted it, but it was listed there a few hours ago.

  11. Ah, so maybe it's specifically an RSS thing.

  12. timethief: that's such a great idea and I will do that because I do want to have that old stuff blogged, if not currently published. Thank you for that.

    I actually exported my blog just before I got deleting, which is just as well, as I deleted my About page instead of the offending "lost years" one. ;p

  13. I would also reiterate that tagging private posts isn't a good idea. Too many things, including Technorati, are set up to look for tags. "Privacy" and "Internet" are almost exact opposites, functionally speaking.

  14. @ariane
    I'm glad I had a solution for your problem and also glad you deleted the wrong post. How ironic that it was the About page that got the deep six. All my best. :)

  15. Isn't there a form that someone could submit to Google to delete that post? Because I assume it will still show up on Google's cache.

  16. Hi nosy,
    I've been wondering how you are. Yes, you are correct there is a form one can submit to have the cache cleared. But, in this case, she has already removed the blog posts from the blog they were originally in into a private blog. Now when people search they get a 404.

  17. Lack of sleep will drive me to drugs. I guarantee it. Find myself asleep alot while on the computer. :(

  18. BTW, to the OP, on my old blog I once found one of my drafts on Google. Didn't keep drafts stored on the blog after that

    How could that happen?

    All in this discussion is surprising news to me. Ariana's story is shocking, ... It is so true what raincoasters says that "Privacy and Internet are almost exact opposites, functionally speaking". It is so difficult to really comprehend the entire workaround of the Internet and all the different access ways to any kind of information... rss robots, and so on. Better be careful to keep private stuff completely off the web.

    Thank you for the insight, all of you.

  19. Someone sent a support in earlier saying that something on their blog was linked in Google when it should not have been.

    The problem was Google Desktop, not us.

    Be careful what you install.........

  20. anne1024,

    It is shocking to me too. I don't know how it could happen. I assume that WordPress is not configured to keep posts designated as private by their authors away from spidering robots. It is possible to do this, otherwise online banking wouldn't be possible.

  21. I think you missed Mark's point.

    Your private blog posts were found because you assigned categories to them which put them into the tagging system where the search spiders crawl.

    There are all kinds of free desktop and browser downloads available now. If you download for example a Google desktop application then their spiders will become aware of your data.

    I am super cautious about what I download. However, there are legions of people out there with all kinds of widgets and doodads on their desk tops as well as spyware browsers.

  22. If you want privacy don't put it on a blog.

    At the least use a password.

  23. But isn't it all kept private if you do. . .

    Dashboard > Manage > Options > Privacy

    . . . and also ask WordPress to clasify your blog an a mature blog?

  24. "Privacy and Internet are almost exact opposites, functionally speaking". (raincoaster)

    (1) If you select the privacy option and then you assign categories to your posts then the posts will end up on the tag pages where the spiders can crawl them.

    In other words, wordpress will respect your privacy choice but the blogger must not break the bond of secrecy by assigning categories to posts.

    (2) If you have downloaded a Google Desktop then be aware that the Google spiders will be crawling your blog regardless of the wordpress privacy setting.

    In other words, this is not a wordpress failure at all. The blogger created the open invitation to have Google spiders crawling all over everything he/she puts on the net by saying "I agree" to the download ToS.

    (3) Don't download any desktop applications without reading very carefully before you agree to their ToS.

    Don't be naive. There is a reason you are getting a free application or doodad and that reason is to spy on you. All information gained about you and your preferences feeds into consumer databases and is sold to companies with products and services they want to sell to you and other people like you.

    P.S. I don't think the blogger said anything at all about having mature content.

  25. No, but asking WordPress to mark your blog Mature will take it off the tag pages for WordPress and Top Blogs and give your privacy yet another degree of protection.

    Don't forget, as well, that if you leave a comment on someone else's blog, even if you're not signed in and even if you leave a fake email, they have your IP. They can find you.

    The internet is the single most powerful communication tool ever invented. If you don't want to communicate widely, I would suggest not putting your stuff there. You can always keep a journal on your computer in Word or some other desktop software.

  26. timethief

    I didn't miss Mark's point at all. It simply doesn't apply to me. I do not use any desktop doodads, Google anythings or anything other dodgy add-on which could have caused or contributed to this. I'm also extremely cautious about what I download onto my computer. I also stated that I think I tagged some of the posts but not sure if all of them. I'm almost certain I didn't tag them all, and I usually forget to tag posts as a rule and have to go back and do it later, if at all.

    What I did was write posts, assign tags to some, and post them. I then, after some time, decided to make them private for a while. I didn't write private posts, store them on a web site and then assign them tags. That would be plain daft.

    I have learned my lesson now and only post what I want to be read.

  27. "I then, after some time, decided to make them private for a while."

    Isn't that why?

  28. Isn't what why?

  29. You didn't make them private to begin with; that means that search engines and random bloggers saw them, including random bloggers with Google toolbars installed, which is why Google had them. Does that make sense now? That's how they found the posts; they were out in the open to begin with.

  30. So, for the record, you're claiming that it was entirely and solely my actions which caused this and that the way WordPress works has nothing to do with it?

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