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New Feature: Newsletters from Protected Wordpress Blogs

Friday, August 15, 2008

Good news for wordpress.com users who want to offer email newsletter (and IM and Twitter) subscriptions to their protected blogs. FeedBlitz can now access the RSS feed for protected WordPress blogs, provided that you give FeedBlitz a valid user name and password, of course.

FeedBlitz has long supported what's called HTTP authentication for password-protected RSS feeds, and this works well for sites that use it (TypePad password protected blogs, for example, can be accessed this way). But this approach doesn't work on wordpress.com blogs that are private, since WordPress uses a web-based login page to protect both the blog and its RSS feed. Before, FeedBlitz could only send a message relating to the login page itself - not useful. Now, FeedBlitz can authenticate via the web too. So wordpress.com users can offer their content privately online, but still offer an email service to users who log in and want to subscribe and be notified when new articles are posted. If a subscriber clicks through and visits your blog, they will still have to log themselves in to access the protected content.

Worth re-emphasizing, of course, that once FeedBlitz sends the content it's no longer secure - it can be forwarded around, copied and pasted and more. If you have a secure site, set the privacy flag on in its newsletter settings at the Newsletter Center, and enable the new NOINDEX feature to keep the content that FeedBlitz can now access (again, only if you give it the right credentials) out of the search engines. You give FeedBlitz a user name and password to accesss your blog during Newsletter setup, or on the security screen of the Newsletter Settings link in the Newsletter Center. If you're a WordPress user and already gave FeedBlitz a user name then you don't need to do anything - the feature's automatic.

Meanwhile, some readers will be wanting to know whether this means we can support Blogger's "Invitation Only" blogs. Sadly not, but not because of the login issue. Rather, taking a blog private on Blogger stops the RSS feed from being generated at all, so even after logging in there's nothing there for FeedBlitz to turn into a useful subscription update (oh, it sure looks like there's an RSS feed there, but accessing it gives the message "User does not have permission to read this blog" even when you're logged in and plainly do have permission. Bummer).

This has been tested for WordPress.com sites; it will probably work on self-hosted WordPress sites too, provided that there aren't any plugins messing around too greatly with the login page. If it fails to work let us know at the support address and we'll figure it out for you.

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