"Hidden" Page Visibility

  1. Graham Stoney


    Add a "Hidden" page visibility option to the WordPress core, alongside Public, Private and Password Protected.

    Hidden pages contain content that should not be widely promoted in the usual traffic source channels like search engines and social media. A hidden page's content is accessible to any visitor who knows the URL, but there are no automatic links to it on the site itself or in the sitemap, and the site owner does not want to publicise the page on the Internet generally.

    Typical uses for a hidden page are:
    - Bonus promotions in advertising literature: "For a special bonus offer, visit site.com/bonusoffer"
    - Marketing promotions on business cards and in audio files.
    - Any time you want to make a page with non-sensitive content easily accessible, but not widely promoted

    A hidden page differs from the existing page visibilities like this:
    - Public: A hidden page isn't widely advertised. They don't get added automatically to menus even if that option is selected, but they can still be included in menus manually.

    - Private: A hidden page's content is accessible to anyone who knows the URL, regardless of their authorisation level.

    - Password Protected: A hidden page requires no password to access.

    Hidden pages should be marked "noindex", but this alone isn't sufficient. This needs to be a core feature, because many existing plugins can use this information about a page, and a standard mechanism for specifying it is required. Most of the decisions treating public and hidden pages differently occur in plugins that advertise pages to the outside world.

    Plugins should treat hidden pages as follows:
    - Site Map plugins would not list the page in the XML or human readable sitemap.
    - SEO/Robots Meta plugins would mark hidden pages "noindex" by default so they don't get indexed
    - Social Network integration plugins would not automatically publish hidden page references to social networks
    - Social Network bookmarking plugins would not generate bookmarking features for hidden pages
    - Facebook Like plugins would not add a Like button to hidden pages.
    - Automatic cross-linking plugins like SEO Smart Links would not generate links to them.
    - Etc

    Hidden pages offer a weak but nonetheless useful level of security. The content of a hidden page should not be damaging if publicly released. Nothing stops a visitor from publishing a hidden page's URL on the Internet once they know what it is. The idea is to stop WordPress and it's plugins from promoting them automatically, and to discourage visitors from promoting by trivial actions.

    Posted: 7 years ago #
  2. Graham Stoney


    As I mentioned in the original idea, simply marking it "noindex" in your SEO plugin isn't enough: a plethora of other plugins will still make it available via everything from your XML sitemap to social bookmarks. That's why this needs to be a core feature.

    Posted: 7 years ago #
  3. Graham Stoney


    I notice the status says "This is plugin territory", but read again: this needs to be a core feature so that plugins can use the visibility information consistently.

    Posted: 7 years ago #
  4. albertf01


    Another practical use is for auto replies like Thank You pages or Sorry pages.

    Posted: 7 years ago #
  5. Ipstenu (Mika Epstein)
    Lead Plugin Wrangler

    If a page isn't linked to, then Google can't find it. So if you have a page and you don't add it to your site's navigation or as a link (except on a result page for 'thank you' or 'sorry') then it should not show up in search results.

    Of course you can robot-block it as well.

    Jetpack (speaking of FB like plugins) allows you to turn it off per-page.

    Yoast WordPress SEO (XML sitemap plugin, among other things) lets you set Meta Robots Index and Follow, AND Include in Sitemap.

    So ... this sounds like it can already be done with extant plugins :)

    Posted: 7 years ago #
  6. Graham Stoney


    Ipstenu, the point is that preventing the page being linked to from anywhere isn't as easy as you first think. Sure it's possible with extant plugins; I've even written an article about how to do it. But it's not exactly easy to get right. You overlooked local search results, social bookmarking, and social network publishing for instance. All of these plugins could do this automatically if the WordPress core supported the notion of a hidden page.

    Posted: 7 years ago #
  7. Ipstenu (Mika Epstein)
    Lead Plugin Wrangler

    The majority of your directions are telling people how to make other PLUGINS honor your hidden page, which tells me that's not something Core could control unless all the plugins honored that setting. And as there's no plugin oversight today, that's a hard road.

    Posted: 7 years ago #
  8. Graham Stoney


    Well the plugin authors can't honor the setting until it exists in the core; they're even less likely to honor other plugin's settings.

    Posted: 7 years ago #
  9. Graham Stoney


    I just stumbled upon yet another place where hidden pages can get leaked to visitors: plugins like Smart 404 and 404 Redirected give suggestions to visitors who see 404 errors. I overlooked this initially, which just shows how hard it is to do this properly at present.

    I see from Ipstenu's comments that there is some resistance to this being a core feature because many of these leaks are in plugins, but it's only by making it a core feature that plugins will honor it. If hiding pages is important to you, please vote for this idea.


    Posted: 6 years ago #
  10. sldon

    Can you please advise me how to find a hidden page in a blog. I mean THE PAGE that sending auto when a subscriber submit their information. And the other pages after the subscriber confirms their email address and etc....
    Thanks, Don
    (if you cannot reply to this please tell me where I post this question)

    Posted: 5 years ago #

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  • Rating

    60 Votes
  • Status

    This is plugin territory