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Uh… Can I Read Your Blog?

It happens at least once a month that someone either starts a new, semi-anonymous blog OR they take their current blog password-protected or invite-only.  If you want to keep reading, you need to ask for the password or the invite or the url of the new space.  Which makes sense: if you posted it on your blog, it would defeat the point of keeping the information only available to a few.  But whenever it’s time to ask for a password or an invite or a url, I always pause and think:

Crap, should I ask?  What if their entire reason for doing this is to get away from me reading?  And then, here I am, making their life even more difficult by putting them on the spot and asking for the password.  Fuck.  I shouldn’t ask.  But what if I’m not the reason they’re taking their blog private?  Okay, I will ask.  No, I shouldn’t.  This is what I’ll do: I’ll ask, but I’ll also point out that I’m not offended if they don’t give it to me.  Because I’m not offended.  And because I’m probably the reason they had to go password-protected.

I really wouldn’t be offended if someone turned me down for the password (and hopefully they wouldn’t be offended by my asking), and the intention of this post isn’t to make anyone feel like crap for going password-protected or invite-only.  You have to do what you have to do.  I’m just explaining what goes on in my head; wondering if I fit into the category of people who should keep reading.

This is a phenomena unique to the online world.  I mean, someone wouldn’t say at the pool, as they’re standing there amongst close friends and acquaintances, “I’m having a party this weekend.  Just ask if you want to come along.”  The close friends would obviously assume they would make the cut.  But the acquaintances would be standing there thinking, “well, I’d sure love to go to a party, and I’ve always enjoyed talking to you when we’ve bumped into each other at the pool.  But I’m not really party-worthy, right?  Should I ask?  Should I not?  I probably shouldn’t ask.  But wait, everyone else is asking.  I’ll just ask and she can always say no if she doesn’t want me there.”

See, it’s pretty awkward.

I’m being facetious — a bit — because asking for a password or blog invite is a low-stakes question, and the blog writer is easily avoidable in your day-to-day life if they turn you down (vs. the person at your pool that you would still need to see daily when you’re doggie-paddling in the swim lanes).  But asking for a password or invite always makes me reflect on my end of the blogging contract.  Have I read often enough, commented often enough, let the writer know I appreciate their words?

And if I haven’t, should I ask for the password or invite, promising myself to do better?  Or should I admit that password-protected or private blogs have an extra level of pain-in-the-assy-ness that one needs to get through so I better really really really want to read along if they’re unlocking that door?  A new, semi-anonymous blog url is one thing — you can enter that in your reader.

But an invite-only blog means that you have to remember to check it.*  And a password-protected post means you need to memorize a password.  This isn’t a big deal if you only read one or two password-protected blogs, but if you read a dozen and they don’t update daily so you spend half your morning searching your old emails for the password because you can’t remember it, it can be a very big deal.  Those are the times when you wonder if you should ask; will you really do better now that reading has gotten that much harder.

To all the password-protected and invite-only blogs I read: thank you for including me.  I’m glad I asked.

Am I the only one who feels awkward about asking?

* My favourite thing is when people send out an email whenever they update with a link to the post.  It’s the best work-around to the fact that you can’t have the blog in your reader.  As a reader, I never miss a post that way.


1 Mina { 06.18.13 at 8:15 am }

I had a couple of pp posts, because I uploaded some pictures of the children and us, and I wanted to control who sees them. I sent the password by email to a handful of readers I thought might enjoy seeing pictures of me and my children. I think I did not include you because it never occured to me that you might be interested.
And then I changed my mind, deleted those pictures, and when I post pictures, I chose them carefully, so that I am comfortable with that.

I asked 3 or 4 times for a password. When a blog goes private, I just don’t read it anymore. Obviously, since I can’t. But I just don’t feel like asking, it’s weird, it’s the ‘I don’t want to be in a club that doesn’t want me’ feeling, sounds silly, but it is my problem to sweep under the rug, so there.

2 Carolyn Savage { 06.18.13 at 8:24 am }

When a blog goes pp, I’m out unless it’s a close friend or family member. Honestly, it’s too much effort for me to request the pw. (See what I did there? It’s too much effort for me to often write an entire word. It’s a wonder I find pp’s exhausting.)

And, yes. It’s like that pool conversation.

3 mrs spock { 06.18.13 at 8:26 am }

I always feel awkward about asking.

I went PP, and I wonder too- why don’t people ask for the password. I’m really just trying to keep my blog private from my MIL and work colleagues.

So this is an open invite I guess. Feel free to ask for my invite!

4 Tiara { 06.18.13 at 8:33 am }

I totally feel awkward…I’ve only asked once or twice…I end up feeling like I’m asking to have a peak at their underwear drawer. I definitely put a lot of thought into asking before I do.

5 sky girl { 06.18.13 at 8:40 am }

I always feel awkward asking too. Especially when it’s someone who I’ve asked before and the old password doesn’t work.

6 Catwoman73 { 06.18.13 at 8:52 am }

I won’t ask for passwords, no matter how much I enjoy reading the blog. My reasoning is purely selfish- I work in an environment where I have to remember a thousand and one passwords (that I have to change on a monthly basis) and door codes just to get around and do my job. The last thing on earth I want to have to remember is another password. I can imagine that it would be awkward to ask, though… I don’t think I’d really know what to say!

7 Aerotropolitan Comitissa { 06.18.13 at 8:53 am }

Yes. The email. Is good.

I do get a bit of anxiety around it, come to think of it. Since I’ve done it to others once or twice I should think of a way to smooth the transition a bit. Explanations, etc. Good point.

8 Pepper { 06.18.13 at 9:29 am }

I do feel awkward, but I sometimes do it anyway. I know that if I ever took the plunge and blogged, I would want to keep things on lockdown similar to some of my FB privacy settings. I block my MIL and other family members who I can’t unfriend (or prevent from logging onto the Internet in the case of a blog) but don’t want to read my stuff. So I just assume most people feel that way, too, and it’s probably not about me. But at the same time I totally get it if they say no, especially when they post pics of their kids because I am totally crazy about that (hence why I block my MIL and relatives who willy nilly share photos only meant for a very small, select group of people).

9 missohkay { 06.18.13 at 9:38 am }

I have a handful of password-protected posts that are protected only because they’re pictures, and I have gone back in time and belatedly password protected a few really sensitive posts. I do try to advertise that I’m not stingy with the password in hopes that people won’t be afraid to ask, but I know (because they told me) that some people were hesitant for a long time. I have the same internal monologue that you do when someone goes private though – will they think I deserve to make the cut?

10 Gail { 06.18.13 at 9:39 am }

If a blog goes private, I stop reading. I don’t ask for the password. I figured that they wanted only certain people to read it and, since I don’t know them, I wouldn’t make the cut. It doesn’t mean that I don’t miss reading their words and stories, but they had their reasons for going behind a locked door and I don’t need to ask for the key.

11 N { 06.18.13 at 9:45 am }

You’re not.

And I’ve got a few that I’ve fallen out of reading because I’ve forgotten or can’t find what I’ve done with the pw, and then am too embarrassed to ask for it a SECOND time.

12 nicoleandmaggie { 06.18.13 at 10:14 am }

I haven’t been in a situation yet where I cared enough about any blog to ask.

13 Battynurse { 06.18.13 at 11:20 am }

I don’t feel awkward usually but I can totally relate to the idea of I don’t remember to check for new posts unless they indicate by FB or email that there is a new post.

14 KeAnne { 06.18.13 at 11:53 am }

I feel the same way like if I need to ask for the password, I’m not cool enough to be reading it. Socially awkward, unite!

And for the love, yes, everyone please enable email subscriptions for new blog posts.

15 It Is What It Is { 06.18.13 at 12:35 pm }

I have never requested a password to a new blog I’ve come across that is password protected.

I have requested passwords from 3-4 blogs that went PP during my reading of them and if my browser remembers the password, I continue reading, if not, I don’t. I need to be able to scroll down my reader and click over easily if I need to.

PP blogs, even though I fully understand the need and reasoning, as a reader feel more like an exclusive club for which I am not a member.

16 Ellen { 06.18.13 at 1:41 pm }

Very relevant as I *just* took my blog private. It is awkward to ask; I tried to be very clear to people why I took mine private, and to be just as clear that whoever they were, they should feel free to ask for the password. That said, I knew I would be losing at least half of my readers. Such is life. I did it at the request of my husband; as he figures in the blog, he gets a say.

17 Michele { 06.18.13 at 1:58 pm }

I rarely ask. I feel like if they are going private then they want privacy. While I know the whole “ask for the password” is a valid thing, I guess it feels like if they want certain readers to hang around, they’d just add them. I read a few private ones, but I actually need the reminder emails or I’d never read them because I have to see them in my feed to know something new is there!

18 Amy { 06.18.13 at 2:27 pm }

I’ve asked for passwords…but like you, I’m not offended if someone doesn’t want to share. I do try to include how they know me in my request so that it doesn’t seem like a total random request.

That being said…does anyone still “follow” Sonia? The blogger who had quints? She went invite only…and I don’t have her email address to email her.

19 Amy { 06.18.13 at 2:28 pm }

I meant quads…not quints.

20 Kris { 06.18.13 at 2:30 pm }

I had to go password protected because my very abusive ex husband was reading my posts, and he was also trying to see if he could use anything against me in any kind of custody case. He knows the URL, and I barely have any followers from my original blog already from moving too many times while going through a divorce and not being able to afford typepad, and then not having internet, and well, life happened, and I went from having over 100 followers to very few, but those few have followed me from the beginning, from the infertility blog I had when I was Broken or Not. I am very open with my password, as long as you aren’t my ex-husband or related to my ex-husband, you can have the password. Heck, since I know that none of the people I don’t want having the password read here, I am willing to just throw it out. The blog that is showing when you click my name is mostly password protected, but if you ever want to visit, the password is hellokitty.

21 Sharon { 06.18.13 at 2:41 pm }

If I have been a regular enough reader and commenter to want to continue reading, then I don’t usually feel awkward about asking for the password or invitation to follow a private blog. BUT I am horrible about remembering to check on blogs that don’t show up in my reader or email. Just don’t have the time in my schedule most days. So that’s a problem.

22 Gille { 06.18.13 at 2:53 pm }

I feel much like Mina does. I don’t ask, I just don’t read it. If they wanted me to continue reading, they would put out an open invitation to ask for the password. If they didnt then I’m no longer interested and have no plans to ask.

23 Audrey { 06.18.13 at 3:31 pm }

no! I have had that very quandary play out in my head. I was following a blogger with fertility issues who then went down adoption road and made her blog private..and I worried that because I wasn’t a frequent commenter on her blog she might not “know” me and would be weirded out. So I never asked for the password and it’s been 2-3 years and I still wonder what her journey has been like. I should have asked.

24 Stimey { 06.18.13 at 3:35 pm }

YES. Every single thing in this post. YES.

25 Jenny { 06.18.13 at 3:36 pm }

It can be very awkward, especially if you don’t feel particularly close to the blogger. There are bloggers I’ve followed who have gone private with no warning and I have to admit that it feels a bit like having the door slammed in your face. At the very least it would be nice to have a heads up about it since you become emotionally invested in their story. But maybe that’s just me…

Anyway, I did end up changing my blog URL and I have a few password protected posts, but it’s only to keep people from my offline life (mostly my MIL) from finding them. I certainly don’t mind sharing them with anyone in the ALI community.

26 a { 06.18.13 at 4:36 pm }

I’m with you – although I have asked for passwords when people announce their intention, it always feels awkward. I have to be a frequent commenter and feel like I’ve established a relationship to ask for the password.

However, I have 2 notes. First, when someone emails me a password to their blog, I put it in my Passwords folder in my email. Easy to find, then (as long as I remember to file the email properly). Secondly, I really appreciate it when a blogger just emails me the password because they assume I’ll want to keep reading. It makes me feel appreciated!

27 May { 06.18.13 at 5:20 pm }

I assume, if a person wanted me to carry on reading their blog, they’d send me the password.

Though it does unnerve me if a password-protected blogger then goes on to comment on my blog and if hits to my blog are coming from theirs. Do you want a relationship? Then please send me the password. If you don’t, well, thank you for reading my blog, but isn’t this a little one-sided now? Because Introverted Insecure Blogger Who Still Can’t Believe People Like Her (spelt ‘May’) is having a great deal of trouble tracking down your email or other contact details and then actually having to ASK for the password and what if you say no? And what if I can’t find contact details? And I’m not going to ask you for your password in the comments on MY blog, because that weirds me out.

28 Chickenpig { 06.18.13 at 5:38 pm }

Yes and yes! I’ve asked only a couple of bloggers that went private for their passwords, and then I don’t end up following them because frankly, I’m lazy. If it doesn’t show up on my reader or on FB now I don’t read it.

29 Sarah { 06.18.13 at 6:13 pm }

I actually switched blog sites so I had the option to password protect particular posts. Because my blog is semi anonymous, when posting about certain “searchable” topics, I did this to protect myself. I have absolutely zero problem with anyone asking for my password. I have turned down a few because they weren’t known readers to me. As I get to know new readers, I’ve shared my password with them.
As far as following PWP posts/private blogs, I have a list in my notes on my iPhone with all the passwords and the blogs so I only have one place to look. Much easier than searching through old emails 🙂 And I have been “rejected” a time or two. I take zero offense. Everyone has their reasons. I know I have mine. Sometimes I’ll post something and leave it live for 48 hours and then PWP, like my most recent post. Other times, it’s just PWP from the beginning. I respect people’s either known or unknown reasons for making blogs private or password protected.

It is a bit awkward asking, but if I’m going to use the feature, I have to be willing to ask if I’m asking others to be willing to ask me, right?

30 Wolfers { 06.18.13 at 8:04 pm }

I’d LOVE to go semi-private- but have no idea how to go from here. I know I have two “invisible” readers, but I couldn’t block them since I can’t find out who they are (I only know I have them because I see I have 26 readers, yet when I look at photos/names, only 24 show up. Two others are invisible. :-/

I know several blogs, good reads, so I’d hope that if they go private, I’d be invited (otherwise I’ll just knock at the door and ask). 🙂

31 Jen { 06.18.13 at 9:32 pm }

I feel that way too. It feels too much like, I don’t know, one of those exclusive open-but-not high school clubs.

I’ve dealt with too much rejection to want to purposely put myself in that position with blogs. If you want to go private, fine, but then don’t count on me for ad rev., hit counts or comments. I’m done, lest I get confirmation that the blogger doesn’t want me to read their posts.

On the other hand, if someone goes private / for family only, then I can totally understand and respect that. But that is kind of a different issues, it doesn’t create the same awkwardness.

32 Justine { 06.18.13 at 10:10 pm }

I guess I don’t read any blogs that have gone password protected. But I understand the thought process. I’d probably run through a very similar monologue. I keep trying to think about a real life parallel, but you’re right; in real life, we’d just invite the people we want to come, and be done with it. Others would feel left out, but there would be no guessing about whether it was done purposefully or not. You’d have a better sense of where you stand, I guess.

33 marwil { 06.19.13 at 5:28 am }

As someone who recently went private, this is very interesting. And surprising that so many of the comments echo the same thing, that it’s awkward to ask.

For me, if it is a blogger who I have followed for some time or am in the same situation, and that I want to keep reading, I ask. It doesn’t matter if I’m a silent follower or comment often. I honestly don’t get why it would feel weird. I understand the extra hassle of keeping track of passwords and such though.

I switched over to Feedly and there, the password protected posts show up, but you have to click over to read which is fine. You do that anyway if you want to comment, or for some feeds, read the whole post. Private WordPress blogs show up in your WordPress reader if you have an account/blog with them, so it really only is an invite that’s needed. No password to remember but your own login.

What I did though, was to send invites to the ones that was following me (what I could see on my platform through email and WordPress), and some accepted it and some ignored it. Which is fine, just gave the opportunity if someone had missed the announcement.

And yes, of course you can read my blog if you like.

34 Erica { 06.19.13 at 2:19 pm }

This is probably a legacy from years of junior high and high school where I was used to not being invited to things and not being included in the “cool” groups, but I’ve never asked for a password. I worry that I’ve said something offensive or thoughtless, or that I’m not the kind of reader people are interested in keeping.

Having said that, I’m closer to some bloggers than others, and I’d definitely ask if someone I’m close to went private.

35 Ann Z { 06.19.13 at 2:50 pm }

I thought I was the only one who worried about that.

36 Geochick { 06.19.13 at 3:30 pm }

I usually think that a pp blog is mostly to avoid close duly members. It’s why I strive to stay relatively anonymous. So that I hopefully don’t have to shut it down someday.

37 Geochick { 06.19.13 at 3:31 pm }

Duly? Dumb phone. I meant “family”

38 Sara { 06.19.13 at 8:30 pm }

Yes, it feels awkward, and I only ask for the pw if I have already had extensive comment contact with the writer. I have lost some blogs that I LOVED when they went pp and I couldn’t find the email or didn’t feel brave enough to ask. (Akeeyu’s blog, for example).

39 Esperanza { 06.20.13 at 1:36 am }

Sorry I’m late on this, but I just had to add my two cents (and I haven’t been able to read all the comments so I don’t know if I’m repeating here).

I wrote a post over a year ago about how I felt password protecting post was an exercise in exclusivity (because, well, it DOES exclude people from reading, that is the point) and it DID NOT go over well. I actually wrote it after I had asked someone for a password and was informed I would not be getting it. The whole thing was a total shit show and I learned a lot about how to say things on my blog.

The thing is, I still feel like password protected posts do create an atmosphere of exclusivity, one that I don’t want to create on my own blog. I feel very awkward asking for a password (I did even before I was rejected) and I usually don’t unless I know the blogger very well. If a blog becomes primarily password protected I usually just stop following because that is not what I’m interested in as a reader.

Of course I understand why people PWP, especially when they blog under the real name (which is something I don’t actually understand all that well–I would feel almost unable to write if I did so under my own name). So I get why people do it, but that doesn’t change what it feels like on their blog when they do.

I have recently started PWP protecting picture posts about 48 hours after they go up. Mostly I just want to keep the pictures of my family private from random people coming across my blog, but I’m okay with my readers seeing them right when they’re up. I don’t have any qualms with the people who read seeing my family, I just don’t want those pictures available and accessible forever. So it feels different to me, to PWP them after anyone has access to them, but maybe I’m just kidding myself.

Anyway, I guess that was the long winded way of saying I get why people do it, but I don’t really like the way it feels when it’s happening all the time and I generally just avoid blogs that start doing that, or already do it. I also don’t like asking people for passwords and do so sparingly, if at all.

An interesting post…

40 April { 06.22.13 at 10:22 pm }

I’m glad you wrote about this, actually. My blogoversary for my new space is next week (do we even get to celebrate that if it’s just a new url?), and it was a whole mess of secret new private blog/pwp old posts/finally throwing my hands up in exasperation and making old blog private. A few months later, when I opened it up for ICLW, I know I still hadn’t invited everyone who was welcome to read. It’s a pain all around, but sometimes compromises must be made. But good point, and I’ll be including my feelings on the mess in the post I have planned. Thanks!

If it’s someone I’ve been reading, I’ll ask, unless there was a post explicitly stating ‘IRL family/friends only’, or something along those lines. A new blog, I’d also want explicit permission to ask. I’d rather not unwittingly step on toes, even though it’s a minor thing. But like another commenter, I’ve also been too embarrassed to continue asking for a password if I’ve forgotten or lost it. That sounds kind of silly, now that I admit it. I wouldn’t mind someone having to ask me a few times.

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