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Thread: Forum posts showing up in Google searches

  1. #1

    Forum posts showing up in Google searches

    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.



    I know nothing.

  2. #2
    Hi Kirk,

    I am not sure about the issue, and will ask Seimyo and Sekishi to comment.

    Our Confidential Tips advise ...

    Thus, a few simple steps by our members can let us have both the security to talk absolutely openly and great privacy from the “rest of the internet”.

    1 – First, please note that two sections of our Forum are visible and accessible only to Sangha members who have registered for our Forum. Those are our (1) TOPICS ABOUT ALL OF LIFE section, and (2) JUKAI, PRECEPTS STUDY & SEWING FORUM section. The reason is that, in those sections, people tend to speak most often about subjects such as past health struggles, personal problems, marriage and work difficulties and the like that best should not be shared with the likes of strangers, nosey neighbors and co-workers. Thus, we believe that Google and like search engines will not have access to those sections, and if you wish to prevent search engines from access to such information, it is best to post in those two parts of our Forum. All other sections of our Forum are potentially open to anyone for perusal, and to search engines to collect and archive the content. So, be careful in discussing very private matters in other sections of the Forum unless you do not care who reads it. (If you have previously posted very private information in other sections of the Forum, you may wish to go back into your past posts and delete such information).

    Because the above is not sufficient alone, we also STRONGLY suggest that:


    3 – Be careful and discreet in being TOO SPECIFIC ABOUT WORK PLACES, overly indentifiable HOME ADDRESSES, CHILDRENS’ AND SPOUSE’S NAMES and the like. This will let us talk about anything, but with some safety. For example, instead of saying “I am a physician named Robert Smith at Mercy Hospital in Bedford, Texas with a past drinking problem” one could say “I am a medical professional named Bob at a hospital in Texas with a past drinking problem.” Just use common sense here.
    More here ...

    Gassho, Jundo


  3. #3
    Treeleaf Unsui / Engineer Sekishi's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Virginia, USA
    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 (,, 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.


    As a novice priest-in-training, this is simply an expression of my opinion. Please take it with a grain of salt.

  4. #4

    Thanks for the details. As someone who runs a (fairly) high-traffic website, I know how important it is to get Google traffic. Perhaps it would be a good idea to better indicate which forums are likely to show up in search engines. I might be a bit more careful about what I say in such forums.

    I know that once someone has found me, they can then see everything I've written, but I was a bit surprised by what was in some of the Google search results.



    I know nothing.

  5. #5
    I'm sure that's why some folks here prefer to go by their Dharma names... I signed up under a pseudonym because I need my real name to be searchable on Google for business/professional purposes. But it wouldn't be difficult to track me here from my real name on Google plus or Facebook, so I also assume that anything I write on here could be read by anybody. I have had the occasional weird experience with clients finding and following me into facebook groups and things... I would be uncomfortable if that happened here for sure, but I'm not sure how it could be prevented.


  6. #6
    For the record, I encourage folks to post a human name or Dharma name and a human face picture, because that puts a human face on our interaction here ...

    ... but depending on sensitivity, there is much flexibility. For example, we have some law enforcement folks such as prison guards where there could actually be some danger, so I allowed them to post a "human face" with a hat and shades, or a human face in the ballpark of their own. That is an extreme case.

    As I said, the wisest course is to talk about your self openly but with discretion, speaking honestly but with care. For example, "I am a mother named Mary who is a teacher and used to have a drug problem" is very different from "I am a mother of two children named Sally and John Smith, who lives in Boston, and my name is Mary Smith and I teach at the Kennedy High School, and I used to have a drug problem." The extra information is not really needed to have a heartfelt discussion about being an educator with a former drug problem.

    By the way, I also have translation clients here in Japan who are not interested in my particular religious and philosophical beliefs, and I leave them to theirs. No need to mix the two.

    Gassho, Jundo

    Last edited by Jundo; 01-08-2016 at 04:12 AM.

  7. #7
    I don't have a dharma name, so I use my abbreviated name, which is the user name I use on most forums.



    Didn'tSitYetTodayButAmAboutToo,Seriously :-)
    I know nothing.

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by kirkmc View Post
    I don't have a dharma name, )
    nudge nudge

    Kaishin (Open Heart aka Matt)
    Please take this layman's words with a grain of salt.

  9. #9
    Treeleaf Engineer Seimyo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Yuba City, California, USA
    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.


    明 Seimyō (Christhatischris)

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