Identity and FERPA

Be careful about online identity, and keep a distinction between things that are public and private, course-related and open to the world.

Although you log into the WordPress blogs at Princeton using your LDAP credentials, you need not display your real name to readers of your blog. Your WordPress profile (under your name in the top grey bar when you are logged into WordPress) contains a field called “nickname.” This will be the author name that is displayed on posts and pages that you write. You can use any alias you want, or use your real name.

Publishing a course roster is against FERPA regulations, designed to protect student privacy. (FERPA stands for “Family Education Rights to Privacy Act.”) Because of this regulation, we try not to make it obvious who is enrolled in a specific course during a specific semester by revealing enrollment through the course blog. Avoid naming your blog with identifiable course information. You are not obliged to reveal your identity and should not ever explicitly reveal the identity of others in your class. Making a blog public requires permissions from every student in the class who can be identified on the site.

Your Site’s Privacy

Who can see your blog is a decision you should make as a class with your instructor. WordPress offers various levels of privacy, from completely visible (and open to comment) by anyone, just visible to members of the Princeton domain, or completely private, only visible to site members. These settings are set at a whole-site level, or at the level of individual posts and pages.