Content availability

This page considers how open one’s content should be. One definitely shouldn’t “fetishize openness”, and ought to always consider to whom what you write will be useful (since if it’s useful to no one, then one shouldn’t bother publishing it). Then again, it’s sometimes hard to anticipate who will respond positively to what you write, which is one argument for greater openness.

Below is some of what I wrote for the Cognito Mentoring wiki.

Selecting an appropriate audience

There exists a spectrum for sharing information about oneself; i.e. there is no dichotomy of either complete privacy or complete release of information. Consider the gradual increase in visibility in the following:

  1. Keeping one’s data local (on one’s own hard drive)
  2. Keeping data on a cloud service but available only to oneself (so that the service provider, such as Google, can potentially view or use the data)
  3. Keeping data on a cloud service but with the ability to invite other authorized users to view the data (e.g. restricted Facebook posts)
  4. Making the data public, but not locatable by search engines, so that effectively only people with the link can view the data (this is, for instance, what GitHub does with its secret gists)
  5. Releasing the data publicly and making it locatable by search engines

Additionally, in each case, one has the option of using one’s real name or a pseudonym (or, in some cases, staying anonymous). It is important to know, then, that some of the pros and cons of privacy will only apply to a certain part of this spectrum.

In terms of content sharing online, this means that one can attempt to restrict the audience that receives specific content. Since your interests are likely to not overlap completely with that of most people, targeting content to an audience who shares a particular interest will likely mean that (1) they will be happier seeing content that applies to them, and (2) you will receive better feedback on what you post. Restriction of the whole discussion may also mean that people will give you more candid responses.


See Content licensing.

See also