Tuesday, August 04, 2009

What Happened?

I updated Atlas Quest this afternoon. Nothing particularly serious or noteworthy. Minor things that most people would likely never even notice unless it's pointed out to them. =)

One addition that probably needs a bit explanation is what a "whitelist" and "blacklist" is. You're probably more familiar with the term blacklist, as in, "Fred was blacklisted from the agency." To be banished or excluded from something.

Whitelists are more of a computer nerd type of terminology, but it's the opposite of a blacklist. If you send out invitations for a party, anyone you send the invitation to is on your whitelist. Everyone NOT on your whitelist is excluded by default. Sometimes, it's easier to maintain a list of 30 people on a whitelist than a 5,999,999,970 people on a blacklist.

For a quite awhile now, AQ has supported a "whitelist" option when you listed boxes. You could restrict your box to anyone on your designated whitelist. I didn't call it a whitelist, but that's what it was. It was actually called a "contact group" on Atlas Quest. AQ lets you create contact groups, or a collection of people you want to contact or communicate with quickly and easily, but not in a public forum. If you had listed any contact groups, then you could restrict boxes, events, and trackers to members of one of your contact groups. Anyone you added as a member could see the box, event, or tracker. Everyone else could not.

Occasionally I'd get requests asking if there was some way they could restrict a specific person from seeing their boxes. In a word, no. Even if that option were available, they could log in under a different name and still see the listing. So it's not a feature I ever took seriously.

But I added it today. I'm not really sure why. I don't think people should use it. If they figure out they are on a blacklist, they might get really ticked off and do something stupid like steal your boxes. But for what it's worth, I added a blacklist option. It works like the whitelist option, but in this case, anyone on your list cannot see the box, event, or tracker.

There is ONE instance where I can see why you might want to make sure of the blacklist--and that's a blacklist with nobody in it. =) The way AQ works, it has to know who is logged in to know whether or not to display the box, event, or tracker. So if you have a whitelist or blacklist restriction, anyone who is not logged in will not be able to see it.

So AQ first checks if the person using the site is logged in or not. If not, it displays a "this page is restricted" message. If so, then it checks if you are on the whitelist (in which case you CAN see the page) or if you are in the blacklist (in which case you can NOT see the page) and displays the appropriate message. But the key thing here is that whether you are logged in or not is checked first.

So if you add an empty blacklist as a restriction, it essentially means only a logged in member can view your box, event, or tracker. Kind of equivalent to a P-0 or F-0 restriction, except those don't actually require someone to be logged in. So if you want your clues to be available to all members with the only catch being that only people with accounts can see your boxes, an empty blacklist will do the trick. =)

If you are absolutely bound and determined to prevent specific people from finding your boxes online through the use of a blacklist--that's fine. Not my problem. But it's as easy as creating another account and logging in to get around it. Most aliases don't typically have a lot of plants and finds so if you combine it with an F-count and P-count restriction, it might actually do a pretty good job of keeping people out of your boxes you don't want visiting them. It still doesn't stop them from finding boxes with friends who might have access to your boxes, and you do risk a lot of hurt feelings if the person you blacklisted ever finds out, but I'm not your babysitter. =)

It's a tool--use it responsibly.

-- Ryan


Anonymous said...

What a tool :-)

Knit Wit said...

I am intrigued by the empty blacklist option. So you just create a group and don't put anyone in it but give it a name? Is that right?

momverf said...

clear as mud!

Unknown said...

So what happens if we blacklist Green Tortuga? Does he hack into our accounts anyway or do we just get kicked off AQ? :0)

Christine said...

that's a good question, dawn. Hmmmm???? What says you, mr. tortuga?