There’s been a lot of noise over in Livejournal by the user base complaining about Google’s new Blogsearch indexing tool. Most users are reacting by changing their entire journal over to ‘friends only’, and casting aspersions upon ‘the evil google search engine’.
This post is primarily aimed at that audience.
Folks, Livejournal is a blogging tool. It’s purpose is to post your entries onto the public net for you. What it can and cannot do is made pretty clear. People seem to have an assumption that once you post something on the net, somehow you have total control over it, and can control what happens to it, and who can access it. This is a notion people should get over.
Livejournal automatically creates RSS feeds for all your journals. Those RSS feeds are publically available, and have been forever. There is no ‘protocol’ on the net that restricts who can read an RSS feed, therefore ‘robots.txt’ and the like will not affect it. Google’s blogsearch system reads RSS feeds and indexes them, just as any other RSS news aggregator on the planet can do.
Google is doing nothing wrong, and not breaking any rules, and Livejournal is doing nothing wrong, though they should have the option of providing RSS feeds or not. My point here is casting aspersions upon Google is inappropriate. Having a realistic view of what a blog host, and what blogging software does is more appropriate.
Livejournal DOES give a small bone to the community though. You can cut down the amount of public information fed into the RSS feeds. See this helpdesk ticket for more information.
My point here is twofold.
- Yelling at Google for doing what they do, index public information, is a foolish endeavour. They are not doing anything wrong, they are indexing information that has been made public.
- Putting your faith, thoughts, and information on someone elses server means you are automatically signing on to their practices and policies. You’ve already partially lost control of your information, don’t be surprised when something happens you didn’t expect.
This post was posted on my own blog installation, on my own servers, in software I control. I fully recognize that by hitting [Save], I lose the possibility of controlling who and what has access to this content, and where it goes. I accept that even in my own environment. Don’t expect more in someone elses system.
Such is the nature of the Net.