View Full Version : Forum Posts Indexing in Google Searches

01-05-2016, 02:35 PM
I was searching for something the other day, and I was surprised that Treeleaf posts were showing up in search results. I know the forum is not private, but I didn't realize that the administrators allowed search engine indexing. I would like to request that we consider turning off indexing. Many people post personal information here. While we're all aware that anyone signing up to the forum can view these posts, I wouldn't expect that such information be publicly searchable by search engines.




01-05-2016, 06:07 PM
Hi Kirk,

I'm going to get a little into the technical weeds on my comments (more than likely). My apologies in advance, but in the interest of having a conversation about this topic, sometimes the devil (oops, I mean Mara) is in the details.

I also want to add that I know this is a sticky-wicket. In the local sitting group I am a part of, we have folks that do NOT want it known that they are practising Buddhists. We live in a very conservative, rural, primarily Christian area. If word were to get out that a doctor or other professional serving this community is a Buddhist, it could definitely be detrimental to their livelihood.

Anyhow, as Jundo notes, the Treeleaf forums are a mixture of "private" and public. In my opinion, the "private" areas are really only slightly less public - most "private" areas are still available to all registered users (of which there are more than a thousand I believe and it is fairly easy to register). When I post, I generally operate under the assumption that my parents and clients can read it.

Even still, it might be a good idea for us to make it clearer (visually and perhaps textually) which forum areas are completely public. We have some limitations and visual / graphical display as they will only apply to folks using the web version of the forum. We have no control over colors, layout, etc. for Tapatalk users on mobile (which is over a third of our traffic currently).

As to the question of having public sections of the forum (for search or guest visitors), this is a feature in my opinion. For two reasons:

1. Currently organic search (Google, Bing, Duckduckgo, etc.) is responsible for around 37% of the traffic to the forum. The next largest source of traffic is 26% via direct links from other sites (secularbuddhism.org, dharmawheel.net, etc.). Google is primarily how people find Treeleaf.

2. Anecdotally (from talking with other Treeleafers), I know some folks spend months reading Treeleaf as "guests", before deciding to register.

Admittedly, these two issues are not necessarily conflated (we could tell Google and others not to index the site, but still allow "guests"). But in my opinion, blocking search access, but still allowing public access gives only the illusion of privacy. Anyone interested in your posts and Treeleaf could simply go to the forum, and search for your name, or click on your profile to see all the posts you've made recently.

So, this is obviously all just my opinion, and I am very open to further discussion on this topic, and change at the technical level if it is decided.


01-08-2016, 12:46 AM
There is no indexing done on specific forums that are closed to unregistered users and to those forums that exist for training and administration. Everything else is indexed. It's pretty much the reason why so many questions to Google end up referring information on Treeleaf.