Your privacy on Betalogue

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Blogging
March 1st, 2004 • 11:53 pm

This is for Betalogue readers who have submitted or are interested in submitting comments on any of my Betalogue pages.

The pMachine blogging system that I use guarantees the privacy of your contact information. When you submit registration information along with your comment, you have several options:

  1. provide a name and email address, but no URL; by default, pMachine will not display or use your email address for anything in the footer below your comments; this footer will simply use your name as provided as plain text, and there’ll be no option for people to communicate with you except by submitting their own comments in response to yours;
  2. provide a name and email address and allow pMachine to use the email address as a contact link with your name as it appears at the bottom of your comments (by checking the “Show email” box); this option is available, but is not recommended, because it’s too easy for spammers to use robots that scan web pages for anything that looks like an email address; if you want people to be able to contact you, the better option is to register as a member of Betalogue; you will have to provide a valid email address as part of the registration process, but pMachine will never show this email address to anyone but you and me, the web site’s administrator; when other people want to send you an email, they can simply click on the appropriate link in the “Members” section, which will give them a form that they can use to ask pMachine to send you an email; but they won’t see your email until you choose to reply to them from your email account;
  3. provide an email address without checking the “Show email” box, and provide a URL (to your own web page) that pMachine will use as a contact link with your name as it appears at the bottom of your comments; this is a common way to encourage people to check out your site; it is, in effect, just like including your site’s URL in a signature at the bottom of your comments.

In other words, there is no need to use a fake name and a fake email address, as I see people regularly do on Betalogue. Unless, that is, you don’t trust me as the administrator of the site. If you have any doubts about my honesty, I challenge you to send a message to any registered Betalogue member and ask him or her whether I have ever abused his/her contact information in any way. You will find that the contact information that you provide to Betalogue is safe.

In addition, using a valid e-mail address will ensure that you get the proper notifications via e-mail whenever someone responds to one of your comments and you’ve asked the Betalogue system to notify you. Obviously, Betalogue can only notify you if you have provided a valid e-mail address.

Don’t hesitate to contact me (via the Members page) or add a comment below if you have any additional concerns about the privacy of your information on Betalogue.

6 Responses to “Your privacy on Betalogue”

  1. Pierre Igot says:

    I fully understand your reluctance, and that’s why this “Your Privacy” page exists. Comment abuse is a problem, and there are several other reasons for the email address requirement, some of which might not be immediately obvious. For example, I don’t want this blog to turn into a free-for-all tech support forum. I don’t mind people asking for help, but only to the extent that their input might help further the discussion. This usually means that there has to be an on-going discussion and, for this, people need to be notified when someone has responded to their post. Similarly, I am not particularly interested in people who post a comment that begs a reply, and then never come back to follow up on it. Turning email notification on by default helps alleviate that problem.

    Believe it or not, URL abuse is another problem. I regularly get people who register on this blog with a semi-fake email address (typically a Yahoo! account) and a URL to a totally unrelated site, usually of a commercial/porn nature. I suppose that they are trying to increase the ranking of the site by making a link to it automatically appear on my “Members” page, which might be automatically indexed by Google (it’s a


    page, so I’m not sure). These people have absolutely no interest in this blog and are just trying to get their page URL to appear on as many sites as possible.

    So changing the requirements so that only a homepage URL is required would make it even easier for such people to abuse this blog.

    I don’t think that the spam issue should prevent legitimate communication from taking place. There are other ways to prevent spam. For example, if you own your own domain name, and have automatic redirection of all email addresses (even addresses that don’t exist as such), you can make up a new email address on the fly for each blog/forum that you register with. Just use

    for this blog, for example, and you’ll have a sure-fire way to determine whether this email address is ever abused.

    If you don’t have your own domain name with automatic redirection, you can still use a separate email account for blog/forum registrations, and add filters to your email client so that email notifications are recognized as legitimate email.

  2. Rob Calhoun says:

    Because of the spam issue, I am always reluctant to give out my email addresses. While I was happy to see that your blog engine doesn’t post them, that’s not true for many sites and few make the matter as clear as you do above. Since I tend to come across blogs when Googling for something specific rather than as a dedicated reader (sorry!), I don’t usually know the site’s policy. In general, if a site requires an email address, I won’t post a comment. Perhaps comment abuse is a bigger problem than I realize, but I think leaving a homepage url should be sufficient.

  3. Puerto Vallarta Fishing Charter Sportfishing says:

    why is it that it that a requirement to post an email causes spamming concerns?

  4. Pierre Igot says:

    Puerto: There shouldn’t be any concerns, which is precisely my point :). My blogging system pMachine always hides your email address completely unless you specifically instruct it not to do so. In other words, the only person who ever gets to see your email address is me. So it’s basically an issue of trust. You have to trust that I will never ever use your email address for unwanted purposes or sell it to anyone else — which I will never do, of course.

    I guess people’s concerns stem from the fact that there are sites that haven’t been as trustworthy in the past. And there is always the theoretical risk that a breach of system security might give a third party access to the system’s list of email addresses. Based on the pMachine documentation and the user feedback, however, pMachine appears to be pretty secure.

  5. Coca IQ Bogdan says:

    Can’t you do something to encrypt the url/e-mail address? or to not directly show them to the public?

  6. Pierre Igot says:

    Well, the e-mail address is never shown directly, unless the member in question specifically asks the system to show it. As for the URL, it’s not mandatory, so I don’t see the need to encrypt it. If the member doesn’t want people to see his URL, he doesn’t have to include one.

    Anyway, I wouldn’t know how to “encrypt” such information in the first place.

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