Within a very short duration (sometime before the end February, we hope) ChristianBlog.Com will be making a major change to the privacy features of our minor (those under 18 years of age) members.
For the better part of two years there have been major pushes -- by Parental Right Advocacy Groups, Internet Privacy Groups, and a whole host of other Groups who desire to protect the rights of minors on the internet -- to enforce a greater level of protection at social website (which ChristianBlog.Com is) for those who are minors. Over the last two years we have seen major websites like myspace and facebook legally forced to take measures. While ChristianBlog.Com has not been forced by legal council to put into place such privacy settings, we understand that ChristianBlog.Com is growing much faster than it was two years ago, and it is our responsibility to put into place those same type (if not more) privacy settings.
This process is going to be a staged-process. We will begin with one or two major privacy and security features, and over the next few months put into place many other features to protect the privacy of not only our minors, but all of our members. This staged-approach will allow our members to not be overwhelmed with massive changes to the way the website works, and allow our developers to make sure our security measures are as secure as possible and not breachable.
We are going to stage the changes in this way: Immediate Changes, Long Term Changes, Remote Access Changes.
Here is an explanation of each of stages (but not set in stone):
The most immediate changes we are going to be making are:
, Minor Profile Protection: (updated: 03/12/2009 - feature implemented) All profile/bio information (personal details, published blog, shoutouts, gallery, etc) will be hidden from view - unless you are a friend of the minor. This means that anybody randomly visiting the website will not be able to view anything about the minor from their biography. It also means that published blog entries will not be viewable to the general public. Only those who are friends of the minor will be able to view content about the minor. This will be the #1 biggest change in our initial changes.
, Adult-To-Adult Exchange. (updated: 07/16/2009 - feature implemented) One of our long-term goals is to allow those members who can validate their are adults (over the age of 18) to share personal information with other that can validate they too are adults. We are calling this an "Adult Validation" system. A large amount of social websites have attempted to put a adult validation system into place. The large majority of them have failed. We might fail too, but we believe that even if we do fail a time or two, those short-term failures are worth it in order to provide additional features for those who are clearly adults. At the heart of this Adult-To-Adult Exchange is protection of minors. As a social website, our first and greatest priority is protecting of minors. Protecting them from adults and protecting them from each other. Up until now that level of protection has meant that those people who are clearly adults have had to have their accounts, their ability to communicate with other adults, greatly limited. We seek to resolve that! ChristianBlog.Com is not the only website attempting to solve this issue. Websites like myspace, facebook, live, and all the other big-boys in the industry have been trying to solve it for a number of years. We might not find "the" solution or even the best solution, but we feel that attempting to find A solution is the right thing to do for those members who are adults and desire to share more information about themselves. At the end of the day it either comes down to the fact that we find a solution, or we completely disable the ability for minors to join the website.
Long Term Changes:
The long term changes we are going to be making are:
, Better reporting system (updated: 04/04/2009 - feature implemented) that will involve member based calculations to determine when a specific piece of published content should be automatically removed. -- This feature has been slightly changed to our new Community Suspended Content.
, Initial Publication Review. This is a method of having our Content Review Team (or perhaps a new Group made up of community members) review the first of published content by new members. For example: A new member registers at ChristianBlog.Com and uploads a photograph. Before that photograph is made public, it must be reviewed and approved. In this way we can prevent people from joining ChristianBlog.Com and posting pornography. The same goes for publishing blog entries. The first blog entry published by new members would need to be reviewed to ensure it does not contain any content that would violate our Global Policies.
, Group Permissions. At this time anybody can create a CB Group and anybody can join them. One of the long term goals for additional privacy/security features will be to limit access to "minor" or "adult" based Groups. In such a way we can provide those of one age group protection from those of another age group. (update: Aug 04, 2009 - we have started the initial blueprint phase of this feature.)
, Parental Controls. Yes, we are finally blue-printing "parental controls"!! This feature will allow parents to setup accounts for their children and than set access to what their children can and cannot do, or access, or not access. This is a long way down the road so we will share more as we get this highly needed feature developed!
, Blacklists. (updated: 03/25/2009 - feature implemented) This is something we have been fighting against since the day that ChristianBlog.Com went online, however the time has come for us to do that which we do not want to do in order to provide that which our members should have the right to do. Blacklists are simply this: If there is a member of ChristianBlog.Com who you have come to totally not want accessing your profile and/or content, you will be able to add their usersnames to your blacklist and they will be completely denied the ability to view your profile, view your blogs, view your gallery, and so forth.
Remote Access Changes:
In order to provide additional security from those that are not members of ChristianBlog.Com we hope to put the following features into place:
, Block search engines from finding your account and/or published content.
, Block non-members from accessing certain sections of your account and/or published content.
, Re-instate the 'Add To RSS Feeds' feature that will only add your newly published blog entries to the ChristianBlog.Com RSS Feed IF you specifically indicate it too be added. (or, maybe we will flip-flop that process. Unsure at this point)
ChristianBlog.Com has become know as "a safe place" on the internet! We are honored to know that so many people have come to trust in the privacy and security features that we already have in place!
But on the internet one can never be too careful. And for minors that 'being careful' is even a greater responsibility for us.
We fully realize that a number of the changes listed above will negatively affect a small percentage of how our members use ChristianBlog.Com, and one or two of them will have a drastic short-term affect on all of our members. But at the end of the day the long-term success and reputation of ChristianBlog.Com is of the highest concern for us. We here at ChristianBlog.Com MUST make sure that we are doing all we can to protect ALL of our members!
We do hope that everybody understands that a few short-term inconveniences will mean a much better long-term success in protecting all of you - our members.
As always, we welcome and invite feedback, questions, complaints and "I don't understand"'s.
I'm all for whatever it takes to keep this a safe site for everyone and especially our young people as they are very special to us here.
Just want to say Thank You for all the time and effort you all put into making this a safe haven for all of us.
I do not understand completely but then when I start doing the new things they become clearer.
Old dogs can learn new tricks, it just takes a little longer.
All of you work so hard at keeping us safe from those that would cause harm or hurt.
@poodle: Thank you
@reborn: Yes, a number of other social websites have copied features we have put into place. A large number of them are trying very very hard to duplicate our AAIMS [i](Autonomous Artificial-Intelligence Monitoring System)[/i] (pronounced: aims - as in aiming a gun), which is our system for processing new content to make sure it does not contain anything unacceptable. But, all of the changes address in this announcement are things that are already in place elsewhere. With maybe the exception of some new idea we might come up with on how to do an adult validation system... but at first we'll just be using a method others are already using.
@krafykatz: Not to worry, I don't understand most of it either :wink:
John B. Abela
I have just about gotten the new Friends/Contact feature finished up!
I thought I'd give you all a sneak-peak of what it looks like :)
I am VERY excited about this revamped friends/contact system!
It is sooo much cleaner and nicer looking than our present one, and it is a lot easier to use too!
I hope to be able to have it pushed out sometime in the next couple of days!
I was re-reading the part about minors and groups and I have a question. If a minor is currently the member of a group which is run by and made up of adults, does that mean they could eventually no longer be a part of that group? Or is that one of those haven't figured out the details yet sort of thing?
[quote=kreynolds]Hey John,Just wondering...I was re-reading the part about minors and groups and I have a question. If a minor is currently the member of a group which is run by and made up of adults, does that mean they could eventually no longer be a part of that group? Or is that one of those haven't figured out the details yet sort of thing?K[/quote]
At this point I think that is going to fall under the "ummm, I've got no idea" category...
To be honest, I had not even thought about the situation you presented.
So, let me hem haw for a moment or two.... brb...
Ok, I'm back... went and made myself a couple of casadias and thought about this...
At this time there is no personally identifiable information within the CB Groups other than the persons usersname and their avatar.
Now, that does not account for published comments within the CB Groups... BY minors...
Sooooo.... that's something I'm going to need to thinking about for a few more minutes.... brb while I eat my casadias...
Mmmmm, good stuff!!!
Ok, I just finished thinking this through.
As I see it, I am going to have to say...
Ask me this question again next month. Because right now I just don't know how this whole change of minor-protected-content is really going to go-down... there's way to many unknowns to really answer this question at this time.
A rather big change is going to be made with the change-over to the new Friends/Contacts system... and while it will not affect 99% of our membership, we want to give a heads-up for the other 1% of you out there that it will affect!
The big change [i](a big change within a bunch of big changes)[/i] is that we are [u]drastically[/u] reducing the total amount of friends that people can have!
Here is how the limitation on total friends presently exists:
Free Accounts = 10 total friends
Premier Accounts = 800 friends
Gold Accounts = 2000 friends
Here is what the change of limitations of total friends will be once the new system goes into place:
Free Accounts = 10 total friends
Premier Accounts = 100 friends
Gold Accounts = 200 friends
At this time less than 0.1% of our members have over 100 friends, so even for those who are Premier/Gold Members, we do not feel this change will be too drastic for you.
I spent the better part of today cleaning up my own friends list. I had over 3,500 people in my friends list. When I was finished cleaning it up, I had less than 50 people in my friends list. Now, I probably removed a few I shouldn't have by mistake... but even given that fact, I really do doubt I would have more than 50 people in my friends list.
So, to put a limit of 100 for Premier Members [i]I feel[/u] is an acceptable amount of people to have in your friends list. I really do not see how a person could keep track of 100+ people... I just don't.
So, for those of you that are uber-friendly and just gotta have your massive friends list, you'll either need to become a Premier Member.... or if your really really serious about having more friends that people I know... you'll need to become a Gold Member.
A couple other changes that will be put into place is the total amount of friends/contacts within each of the four sections (family,closest,church,professional). We are now going to be limiting each section to a max of 10 friends/contacts.
We are putting these changes into place because (a) they just make sense to us, (b) they will help keep the website more conformed to how everything else works, (c) keep everybodies friends/bio pages loading quickly, and (d) because based on our review of everybodies friends list, those high numbers we had (800/2000) were just not realistic.
Ok, let the flames begin.
John B. Abela
Opps, I forgot to mention...
I are also doing away with the whole "friends settings" feature that NOBODY is actually use.
You know, that part that allows you to set the age, gender and location of those who are allowed to contact you.
Oh wait, you probably don't know... because just about nobody uses them. lol
So, yeah, no reason to have a feature that almost nobody uses... so, it'll be going bye-bye.
Now it will just be a simple "invite -> accept/deny".
You know, like it should be.
This was a serious case of over-thinking things... and time to get rid of that over-thinking.
I regularly go through my friends list removing anyone that has not logged on in 200 days. The list seems to stay around 70-75 friends. Don't think the changes are going to be a problem for very many.
:coffee: drinking tea
@alight... almost had me on the floor from laughing so hard LOL.
@kk: Yeah, that's a really good idea. Although 200 seems a bit high to me. When I was doing my purge I figured if they hadn't been to the website in 45 days, I probably shouldn't expect them to be around soooo much to warrent being on my personal friends list.
Ok, I have just sent out a private message to those people that will be affected by this.
For those wondering, here are the people with the most friends:
The first two haven't logged into the website in MONTHS... so, I'm not worried about them all that much.
youaregolden and her mother allforhim, are going to have to seriously wack down their total friends
happytoberestored is a Gold member so she's safe at 116
iraqivetsgtret is knocking at the door :wink:
Oh... I have [b]REALLY GOOD NEWS[/b] everybody!!
Last night, technically this morning for all of you, before I went to bed, I figured out a way to do a merge !!!!!
So, that means that nobody will have to rebuild their friends/contacts list!
You'll just have to run a short "merger" (part of the website) that we will activate when we get ready for the transition from the old system to the new system.
I realize all of this is a lot of craziness for everybody, but in the end, it will be worth it. This new friends/contacts system ROCKS!! In fact, I like it so much I'm going to start using it in my other popular websites!!
Ok, I am going to be doing further/final testing on the new friends/contacts system all day today, so I suspect that by tomorrow (saturday) we will be making the transition from the existing system to the new system. For all of you, that will involve a one-step process of visiting the "merger" page/script of the website. Once you do that, your old friends system will get disabled and your new one will be enabled - along with the transfer of your friends from the old to the new.
Or, I might just shut down the ability to add new friends for an hour or two tonight, and we'll do the merging from our end. This would probably be the better course of action... it'll just mean nobody will be able to add/edit/delete/remove their friends while we are doing this.
Anyway, that's all I've got to share for now. Time for me to go cook some [amazon=B001EO5U3I]McCANN'S Steel Cut Traditional Oatmeal[/amazon] -- Mmmmmm!!
Greetings from the telemetry Ward,
Great ideas and execution John on this friends stuff. Much better than the NBC version which ran for years.
The new page looks clean and crisp and flows with blogs page. You better watch out or this site is going to become so COOL everyone will want to copy it!!
thanks for figuring out the merge thing so quickly and if you can do it from your end, that would be great.
Well, back to watching the Heperin drip, life is so exciting up here on the 4th floor (not the 7th where the, well you know whos are).
OK, I have been busily deleting friends, not hard but tedious. Geez most people hadn't logged in for over a year and some almost two! I'll have to pay more attention. I am so glad you worked it where we can merge instead of start all over again and I appreciate the security put into place, as I have young children getting close to that critical age. I am going to pare it down to less than 100 do I can still make new friends :)! Old Girl Scout that I am.
Ok, I have got the merge completed.
I am now going to begin the process of updating the profile/bio page to have it use the new contacts system.
After that will be getting all of the links changed.
After that will be setting up the new "invitation" system.
After that will be re-activating the "invitation" system, which I disabled a few hours ago to prevent any issues from pop'ing up during the transition.
If all goes well, I should be done in about 2 more hours. (hopefully most of you are sleeping right now)
I will update everybody as I move through this process.
Ok, I have just finished up four major things:
(1) All members profile/bio pages now show the NEW Friends/Contacts system!!!
(2) All members profile/bio pages now use the new Friends/Contact system for their "My Wall".
(3) You can now view all of a friends friends/contacts!! Note that people can only view your FULL friends-list IF they are your friend! Unlike before when we showed all of your friends to everybody, we know only display your entire friends/contacts list to those who ARE your friend!
(4) The link at the top of the website now points to /contacts/ instead of /friends/ We will leave the old system /friends/ in place for a week or so to allow everybody to have access to their old friends-list, for whatever reason they might need it.
Please report any feedback from these changes.
Next I will be getting the "invitation" feature working again... be back when I'm done with that!
John B. Abela
Really like the new look of my friends page. It is so easy to read ans navigate. You are right 200 days is a lot, maybe I should cut back on the number. Three months or 90 days may be a better number.
C-17°|F1°LOVE[/h1] the changes so far.
Ok, last major update before I take a break...
I have now gotten the entire "invitation" feature re-activated.
I had to complete rewrite the whole thing from the ground-up, so, it took a bit longer than expected.
So, it works almost identical as it always has...
When you are viewing the profile page of a member:
If you are already their friend you will see the button to send them a message.
If you are not already their friend you will see a button to send an invitation request. [i]( i am reaaaly tired so if somebody could review the text on the invite page and let me know if it makes sense or not, that would be great)[/i]
If you click the button to send them an invitation, you will have a short form to fill out.
It includes: "type" (family, friend, church, professional) and a short "message".
Than, the person who you are sending the invitation too will get a little message at the top of the website letting them know they have a pending invitation.
At which point they can either approve or deny your invitation.
Simple as that.
Ok, a few changes for those who've been around a loooong time.
The whole ability to disable the feature of not allowing friend invitations has been removed. Simply put, if you don't want people to send you invites... sorry. Just hit the "deny" button and move on with your life.
Likewise, the whole crazy schema of setting who can contact you based on age, sex, location,etc... yeah, that has also been removed. Same as above... just "Deny" if you don't want to deal with it.
FYI: When you "deny" an invitation the person who sent you the invitation WILL NOT receive a message saying you denied their invitation.
FYI2: After I get some sleep, I will update the "pending friends" page and include a section where you can see invitations that YOU have sent and have not yet been accepted/denied by the person you sent the invite too. I'm just too tired to do that tonight.
FYI3: Umm, I'm sure there is a #3... but the 5-hour drink I drank about 2.5 hours ago is starting to wear off and I cannot remember what #3 would be right now. LOL.
Ok, until tomorrow... I await everybodies feedback and bug/error-reports!!
John B. Abela
I'm speechless. Mostly because I started at the top of this and read down through the original post and then all the responses. A few things stick in my mind:
EXCELLENT work oh tireless hard working and relentlessly committed to making this site the COOLEST on the web one.
I am sure after everyone's feelings are sufficiently healed for being lopped off the bestest friends lists because of going down from 15 to 10, everything will be fine. Was that a technical issue--the reduction of best friends to 10?
I am so glad to have this simplified version in operation. Like all the other kabillion great changes that have come to this site in the past year or so---TEN THUMBS UP, or at least TWO.
Blessings from the 4th Floor, ???? Wing.
Great Job Brother,
If you have found something that does not seem to have merged correctly, please, let me know and I'll try to fix it ASAP!
(asap as in... after I sleep for a few hours :wink: )
John B. Abela
You posted while I was typing the comments to sbc... so, double posts here on my part.
In regards to the decision of going from 15 down to 10 for each of the Friend Types (family,friend,church,professional)...
It was most one of those "executive decisions" that yours truly decided to make.
I figured alight has been bugging me for the last month about not having more than 15, so, I'd counter-act with going down to ten only.
lol... no no no... that's not the reason LOL.
Um, ok, let me try this one:
Yeah, at the end of the day, I just had to make a decision on "how many for each section"... and I decided "10" sounded good.
Yes, that really is the reason. No great science or programming complications behind 10 verses 15. I just felt "10" was a better all-around number. Nothing more, nothing less.
To compensate for the change from 15 to 10, I have been writing down a list of additional Friend Types, beyond the existing four (family,friend,church,professional) types. I've got a few ideas so far. Such as "Minister, Neighbor, Youth Group, Seniors Group"... so, I am open to suggestions if you/anybody has any suggestions.
I had actually thought of allowing people to define their own Friend Types. But at the end of the day, I just figured that would cause more tech-support heartache than it would convenience.
Anyway, hope that answers your question.
Oh, and btw... what has the world comes too when a guy has a heart surgery and than later that day he's on the internet surfing around lol. wow brother... you got more strength than I think a guy who just had his heart ripped into should be having. Put the computer back in the wives purse and enjoy the lime jello and day time soap tv shows LOLOL.
John, thank you for all your hard work. I have one question and maybe it is a stupid question. I don't see how to add people to my friends list still like it use to be. Am I blind? Help me see John. (I only have 19 friends and would like to add more, I feel kind of inadequate compared to elezabeth at 585, clayonmyeyes at 365, youaregolden at 342, algorism at 209, happytoberestored at 116 and iraqivetsgtret at 72.) As for all the changes I say, Good Job! I realize with the changes of times and predators out there we need to protect our young Believers. I don not want to see them dropped from our site here because I believe as much as they need us older Believers, we need them too. So I'm glad you are not leaving them out without CB. Bless You Brother for your many hours of work here at CB.
I have watched more tv the past few days than the past 10 years combined. Typing here gives me relief from the boredom. Thanks and I understand your executive decision. To appease alight, how about a class of friends called "kindred spirits" aka "bestest of the bestest friends". Just a thought.
Well, aside from Alight's yelling in the background, I like the new look a lot. Thank you!
That "kindred spirit" phrase sounds suspiciously familiar to this K
Now where have I heard that before
Ok so I just woke up.
Actually, I'm not sure I'm "awake" yet... but I am up.
Alarm went off that told me it was time to feed the cat... and heaven help me if I don't feed the cat.
So, probably going to answer a few questions and go crawl back in bed...
[quote=gfccbrother]John, thank you for all your hard work. I have one question and maybe it is a stupid question. I don't see how to add people to my friends list still like it use to be. Am I blind? Help me see John. (I only have 19 friends and would like to add more, I feel kind of inadequate compared to elezabeth at 585, clayonmyeyes at 365, youaregolden at 342, algorism at 209, happytoberestored at 116 and iraqivetsgtret at 72.) As for all the changes I say, Good Job! I realize with the changes of times and predators out there we need to protect our young Believers. I don not want to see them dropped from our site here because I believe as much as they need us older Believers, we need them too. So I'm glad you are not leaving them out without CB. Bless You Brother for your many hours of work here at CB.[/quote]
Well, unless I messed up something...
When you are viewing somebodies profile page, you should see the usual "invite friends-name to be a friend".
For instance, I seemed to have removed you from my friends list during all of this (opps, sorry)... so when I am viewing your profile page ( http://www.christianblog.com/bio/gfccbrother/ ) I see the following option:
So to add you to my friends list, I would click on the button that says "invite gfccbrother to be a friend!"... and I'll be taken to another page that looks like this:
I would than fill out the form... what "type" of friend you are (family,friend,church,professional) -- use "friend" for generic friends -- and than type in a short message.
That information would get sent over you to, and when you logged into the website, you would see a message at the top of the website that says "you have a pending friend invitation".
You go to the pending friend invitation, all of my information is shown there, along with what type of friends I think we are (family,friend,church,professional) and you see the message I wrote.
At that point you can either click an "accept" or a "deny" button.
Now, if you do not see that "invite friends-usersname to be your friend" button, when viewing their profile page... and you know they are not in your friends list...
Well, than I obviously messed up something and would need to know you cannot see it so I can try to fix it.
[quote=kraftykatz]How about a group title for CB groups?KraftyKatz[/quote]
[quote=blessings2you]I have watched more tv the past few days than the past 10 years combined. Typing here gives me relief from the boredom. Thanks and I understand your executive decision. To appease alight, how about a class of friends called "kindred spirits" aka "bestest of the bestest friends". Just a thought.B2Y[/quote]
Or I could just make it so that alight cannot add anybody to his friendslist except for me
[quote=kreynolds]Well, aside from Alight's yelling in the background, I like the new look a lot. Thank you! @B2Y That "kindred spirit" phrase sounds suspiciously familiar to this K Now where have I heard that before K[/quote]
Did you notice if you go to your "all my friends" page... and go all the way down to the bottom.... on the bottom right it shows the "average age of all your friends".
[i](ok, that really had nothing to do with nothing... just wanted to throw out that little feature to everybody lol)[/i]
Well, please do let me know, everybody, if you guys find anything "wrong" or "not working" with any of the new friends system!
Also remember that you can get to your OLD friends list by going to http://www.christianblog.com/friends/
Alrighty, hope that answers everything.
I do have problem. I inadvertantly invited Mrs. B2Y to be my friend/family obviously when you had it down this morning. She never received the invitation and when I tried to invite again, it says invitation is pending. I show no pending invitations on my friends page. Any remedy? I would like to have my beloved as a friend/family.
I have been getting requests for a "purge" feature, so folks can quickly and easily remove everybody in their friends/contacts list.
I have now added that option to your "Friends" page.
It will require password verification, just to make sure you do not do it by mistake :wink:
John B. Abela