How Public Should Personal Pages Be?

By Bill Mitchell
Director of Poynter Online

The new version of Poynter Online, coming later this summer, will enable registered users to maintain an online home that will automatically generate a customized url as follows:

www.poynter.org/bill-mitchell. (It’ll look better than that when we launch; this is just a placeholder design.) Here’s what the existing personal pages look like.

When we introduced personal pages with our current site back in 2002, we heard from many users that they did not like having the pages show up in search results because of the personal info they included, e.g., e-mail addresses and phone numbers. As a result, we blocked search engines from spidering the pages. 

As we prepare to launch the new personal pages, we’re looking for advice about how public to make them. We think members without an existing online personal page will appreciate having a customized url where they can display links to their work, their resume, etc. But we’re not sure how to proceed with the search engines.

Our going-in thinking is that we should enable search engines access to the personal pages, but remind users they can choose not to display such info as e-mail address and phone numbers.

Another option would be simply to continue blocking personal pages.

What do you think?

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