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Have only not-yet-signed-up classmates displayed, unless a user has signed in

Forums: Suggestions and Feedback
Created on: 07/15/10 03:20 PM Views: 1589 Replies: 13
Thursday, July 15, 2010 at 3:20 PM

Hi, Brad --

We have a few classmates who do not want their names to be viewable on the Internet. They don't want their names to be viewable on the Our Classmates list, except for registered and verified fellow classmates who ahve signed in with a password.

As you and I both know, the Our Classmates list is set up to include EVERYONE and be visible to the public, so that not-yet-signed-up people can find their name and sign up.

Because of this, the security of the class list is compromised. Any outsider can view the class list, without a password.

A possible solution would be a "Sign up here" page that would only include the names of classmates who had NOT yet signed up. Thus, a new person would go to that page to find his or her name, and then proceed with the standard sign-up process. In this way, the bulk of the classmates' names (the ones who had already signed up) would not be visible to the world.

Another possibility would be to password-protect the page, and then to have a new person contact me by e-mail, and I could issue them a temporary password so they could start the sign-in process.

I received this e-mail today:
-------------------
Fred, it appears that something is wrong with the security on this site:
http://www.classcreator.com/Wyncote-PA-Cheltenham-1970/class_classmates.cfm?year_id=0&sort1=0&sort2=2&f3=c&yp=n

The page can be accessed without a password for some names. Please correct this immediately or contact Classcreator about fixing this security problem.
Please cc us with Classcreator's response.
-------------------

Well, it's not just for some names it can be accessed -- it's for all names. The way things are now, the entire list of class names is visible to the public, as that's the way ClassCreator handles the sign-up process.

[By the way, the people who wrote are the people who didn't want me to send e-mails to them, because they feel there are "sniffers" out there that are collecting e-mail addresses through traffic on the Internet... and who didn't want me to use gmail, because Google reads all that e-mail for their ads. What I say is "who cares" ? But they are entitled to ask for more security, I guess. ]


What do you think about a page that only has the names of the people who have NOT yet signed up ? And then there can be standard security for the full list of classmates. Has such a thing been considered ?

Any other suggestions ?

Have a great day,
Cheers,
-- Fred

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Thursday, July 15, 2010 at 5:52 PM - Response #1

I'm not sure how much this really solves? If you created such a sign up page, you'd still have to put that page behind a password to prevent the page from being spidered. You already have that exact ability right now, just click on Edit Site Pages and password protect your Classmate Profiles page. That will stop all names from being spidered, problem solved. I don't really see what the difference would be between this and creating a different password protected login page. We've already given Admins the ability to stop this page from being spidered by password protecting it, and we've also given Admins the ability to not show member names on the Class List if a specific person does not want to be shown on there. I guess I do see the one benefit of the secondary join page being that the Classmates who never want their name displaying to the public but do want their name displaying to logged in members could do so.

My real concern here is this type of thing will cause all kinds of confusion vs. simply password protecting your page, which you can easily do right now. Sure, that makes it harder for people to join, but there's a price for total privacy. In reality it's incredibly simple to find out where somebody attended highschool, and most people don't care if their name is on a class list. It's just a name, there is absolutely no personal information obtainable from the class list of any kind. Thus I wouldn't call this a security problem. In today's world if you Google anybody's name at all it's likely to appear on page 1 of Google in several sites. So ultimately I guess I see the benefit here being very low, and the confusion factor being very high. And again, with you already having the ability to password protect this page already and solve your own problem, or simply not show the person on the list and let them participate in the site anyway, I think there's plenty of options already available to you.

Let me propose a counter solution: In my opinion and my experience, I'd estimate 99% of people don't care that their name is on a list of classmates who graduated from a particular school. Although the concerns expressed here are valid and I have zero problem with somebody wanting to completely remove their name from the Internet, even though it's their name only and nothing more about them showing, the reality is that global solutions to accommodate the 1% of people are probably not a good idea. Better would be to simply add a "comment out" option for people who can't have any mention of their name listed anywhere on the Internet. By comment out, I mean that we could put in code that only comments out the name to search engine spiders. I.E. we can show the name on the public class list to real viewers, but not show it to Google. As a result the name doesn't get spidered by Google even though it's actually still on the class list where it belongs. And of course Google searches done by members of the public for this person's name no longer brings up the class list at all, as it's doing now.

I think this would be a far better solution than trying to keep two lists of names. Just too confusing. So I think for now your best options are:

1) Password protect your Class List and simply solve the problem now, or
2) Give me the names of the Classmate(s) who want their name no longer spiderable. I'll comment out these names to the bots, and on their next visit the names will be dropped from the search engine index. I'd need to do this manually for now, but we can also build in the options to toggle on such a comment out feature for specific Classmates who have requested Google searches for their names do not trigger your class list.

One more thing by the way, if we did create a two list solution you'd stop numerous people from finding your site. One thing everybody does from time to time is Google their own name to see what comes up. And often they find their class site and join. It wouldn't be good for us, and it certainly wouldn't be good for Admins, to break this process. Better is to create a specific solution for the 1% or so of people who absolutely must remove all mention of their name from the Internet.


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Edited 07/15/10 5:56 PM
Thursday, July 15, 2010 at 6:45 PM - Response #2

Great response, Brad !

For starters, I'll say that your opinion as to how many people are bothered is rather coincidentally spot-on. You wrote:
>>In my opinion and my experience, I'd estimate 99% of people don't care that their name is on a list of classmates who graduated from a particular school.

In my case, we have 297 who have signed up, and 3 who are complaining (3 friends who wrote together). So there are your 99% who are okay with it. (We have had a couple of people who asked to be removed entirely, but I put them in a different category.)

I agree with you, almost entirely -- but....

You wrote:
>>One more thing by the way, if we did create a two list solution you'd stop numerous people from finding your site. One thing everybody does from time to time is Google their own name to see what comes up. And often they find their class site and join. It wouldn't be good for us, and it certainly wouldn't be good for Admins, to break this process. Better is to create a specific solution for the 1% or so of people who absolutely must remove all mention of their name from the Internet.

I agree.

At this point, our Reunion is less than 3 months away; we have 297 classmates sign up and I expect perhaps another 50, based on phone calls and promises.

I went ahead and password-protected the Class List page. The 50 or so people who need to join us will just have to send me an e-mail first. I already go through a verification procedure, so it's not that much more work for me as administrator.

>>If you created such a sign up page, you'd still have to put that page behind a password to prevent the page from being spidered.

I don't think you would need to put that page behind a password, or would want to. Here's my logic:

If there were a sign-up page that was open to the public, and someone didn't want to be on that page, then all they'd have to do is sign up on the website. Then, after they'd joined, their name would automatically be removed from the "missing" list. And the people who were on the not-signed-up page wouldn't complain -- because they wouldn't have yet contacted us. It's self-fulfilling.

The not-yet-signed-up list could be behind a CAPTCHA (where you show squiggly letters, and the person has to type them in).

>> So ultimately I guess I see the benefit here being very low, and the confusion factor being very high.

Again, I agree with you.

Giving people the ability to opt of being "spiderable" may be a good option. But then the people who are paranoid will not believe that the non-search option is really working. (Everyone gets more spam after they've signed up on this website, don't they ? haha)

I'll leave this up to you. The 3 classmates requested that I bring this "issue" up with you, to see what your response was.

I'm fine with things the way they are. I password-protected the class list. If this were at the beginning, I would not have wanted to do it this way, however.

Thanks, Brad !
I'm sure whatever you choose to do (or not do) will be a fine addition to the ClassCreator system.

Cheers,
-- Fred

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Thursday, July 15, 2010 at 7:19 PM - Response #3

Ok, good comments Fred. Couple more things:

"If there were a sign-up page that was open to the public, and someone didn't want to be on that page, then all they'd have to do is sign up on the website. Then, after they'd joined, their name would automatically be removed from the "missing" list. And the people who were on the not-signed-up page wouldn't complain -- because they wouldn't have yet contacted us. It's self-fulfilling."

Yes, other than the fact that by the time they've even found this their name is already in Google. Which is the whole problem. In fact they most likely found their name there, which is how they got here. While joining will ultimately remove their name from Google, remember that you're dealing with the 1% here, so they're not going to be happy about finding their name there in the first place. It would also have to be abundantly clear that joining actually removes their name. And what if for whatever reason they don't want to join? Then you're stuck with the same problem anyway. There's a high probability that a large percentage of the 1% will in fact not want to join.

"Giving people the ability to opt of being "spiderable" may be a good option. But then the people who are paranoid will not believe that the non-search option is really working. (Everyone gets more spam after they've signed up on this website, don't they ? haha)"

That's possible. However it would be pretty easy to prove to them this works. After the setting takes effect they'd search Google for their name, find no link to your site, and that should be that. Maybe. Smile


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Thursday, August 5, 2010 at 11:10 AM - Response #4

Brad Switzer wrote:

Let me propose a counter solution: .... Better would be to simply add a "comment out" option for people who can't have any mention of their name listed anywhere on the Internet. By comment out, I mean that we could put in code that only comments out the name to search engine spiders. I.E. we can show the name on the public class list to real viewers, but not show it to Google. As a result the name doesn't get spidered by Google even though it's actually still on the class list where it belongs. And of course Google searches done by members of the public for this person's name no longer brings up the class list at all, as it's doing now.

Hi, Brad --

Can I take you up on this ? We have 3 classmates who don't want their names to be Internet-searchable.

As you know from your experience, making the Class List not-viewable is detrimental to the spirit of the process. In the past, an unsigned-up classmate would find us, enter his or her information, I'd get the notice and I'd send them a welcome and a request for some info so I could verify them. As it is now, they write to me, I write to them for address/phone/verification info (I don't even want to give them the system password until I can verify them - perhaps excessive paranoia), then I enter their info and sign them up, and send them a temporary password. The problem is that there's not enough involvement on their part -- I send them a temp password, and they don't come back to the website.

As I say, you know all this; I am confirming what you already have seen.

There is also the matter, as you pointed out, that most people want to be found. If a friend from 40 years ago were to search for me on the Internet, I'd want that person to be able to locate me.

Brad, if you take a moment "comment-out" those 3 names, I would appreciate it. Problem is, I can't write here what the names are ! Otherwise they'd have to kill me. I can send it in a private e-mail, as long as your mail servers aren't backed up off-site. (Just kidding) I can send the names, or you can call me.

Let me know... and thank you.

-- Fred

p.s. The 5-gallons of Rocky Road left from here in California a week ago. I tried to track the shipment, and it appears to have been sitting in a warehouse in L.A. for the past several days. You'll probably want to put it in your freezer as soon as its delivered, as it may be a bit soft by the time it gets to you.

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Thursday, August 5, 2010 at 11:25 AM - Response #5

Fred,

Can you put their initials?


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Thursday, August 5, 2010 at 11:37 AM - Response #6

Hi, Kyle --

Sure, good idea. I most likely won't get shot for that.

We can be certain that the names will not be searchable? I assume it's the same kind of code as would be used on the entire page.

Thank you, Kyle !

-- Fred

Reply
Edited 08/10/10 3:19 PM
Thursday, August 5, 2010 at 11:52 AM - Response #7

There is a special link on the PROFILES page only visible to ClassCreator SUPPORT people - it says "Do not show geographic details in the title bar for this user.". It removes all SEARCH features for the classmates so they cannot be indexed.

I have made the change for all three of these classmates.


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Thursday, August 5, 2010 at 12:32 PM - Response #8

Thank you, Kyle !

A question --
On the home-page (not password protected, of course) there is a link (a smaller map) to the map with pushpins that show classmates' locations. Is the information (name, city) on those pushpins searchable ? I would think not, just wanted to ask.

As an aside, I came across the CC site for the 2nd and Cheltenham neighborhood reunion. http://www.2ndandcheltenhamreunion.com/class_classmates.cfm
792 profiles there, outstanding ! I was told they recently had a reunion with 700 attendees. The site says: "This site is limited to those born between 1951-1968, and who lived on the following streets only. (list of streets). So it's basically for kids who played together, went to school together, etc.

What I find curious is this: Their Neighbors Profiles (Class List) page is open to viewing, but their Home Page is password protected ? Why would someone want to password-protect their home page ? I guess they have their reasons.

Thanks again, Kyle.

-- Fred

Reply
Thursday, August 5, 2010 at 3:40 PM - Response #9

No the map is not indexed in Google. There's lots of reasons for that, but like you said it's good that it's not anyway.

There's numerous reasons somebody might password protect a home page. As a general rule we advise against it of course, but there are plenty of exceptions to the rule and valid reasons we've heard for needing to do so. Usually it boils down to content on the home page they want nobody from the public to see, or search engines.


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Thursday, August 5, 2010 at 4:54 PM - Response #10

Brad Switzer wrote:

There's numerous reasons somebody might password protect a home page.

Brad has a few 'classes' of people in the witness protection program operating CC websites. Laughing

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Tuesday, August 10, 2010 at 6:58 AM - Response #11

Kyle Erickson wrote:

There is a special link on the PROFILES page only visible to ClassCreator SUPPORT people - it says "Do not show geographic details in the title bar for this user.". It removes all SEARCH features for the classmates so they cannot be indexed.

I have made the change for all three of these classmates.

Hi, Kyle --
When you can, could you please do this also for [classmate who asked name to be removed]. I recognize that this profile is already not visible but if later it were to be made visible, we would not it searchable.
Thanks again.
-- Fred

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Edited 08/10/10 3:20 PM
Tuesday, August 10, 2010 at 7:28 AM - Response #12

It is so.


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Tuesday, August 10, 2010 at 7:40 AM - Response #13

Thanks much, Brad. You're up early. (I'm up earlier.)

I'm going to be turning the Classmate List back on to being visible. One of the ironies is that after having turned it off, a Google search now shows that the page isn't available, so it shows a older, cached page... which, you guessed it, has the names of the people who don't want to be seen. So, by making the Class List page visible (with certain names not spiderable, thanks to you), the old cached page won't be called up, etc.

Thanks again !

-- Fred

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