[wp-hackers] Plugin update & security / privacy

Peter Westwood peter.westwood at ftwr.co.uk
Mon Sep 24 12:33:47 GMT 2007

On Mon, September 24, 2007 5:59 am, Matt Mullenweg wrote:
> Mark Jaquith wrote:
>>> 2. It's simple, easy, and self-evident.
>> It's a behind the scenes feature, so simplicity and ease don't really
>> apply.  Self-evident?  Evident to whom?  Evident for what purpose?
> URLs are useful unique identifiers and in my opinion the best one to use
> on the web. You can normalize them, organize them by domains and
> subdomains, look for odd characters or paths, create stats by TLDs, map
> them to hosting providers, use them as a basis for a crawl, and
> associate them with WordPress.org profiles. MD5s are unique, but don't
> have a lot of value beyond that, and even a capitalization or trailing
> slash change will change the whole MD5. There are also things I think we
> haven't imagined yet that could make URLs useful. Maybe a .org toolbar
> that ties into your .org profile and makes it easy to manage multiple
> blogs and tie them together. If by the time 2.5 comes around we're still
> not doing anything useful with it then we can re-examine it.
> I don't think an MD5 would be significantly more anonymous either.
> Anyone with a list of URLs could associate the md5 with a URL just by
> pre-computing the URL MD5s and comparing. So they would be different,
> but not really better. You'd have to add a salt of some kind. We're
> hours from the release arguing about a bikeshed that was checked in over
> a month ago.

I think I agree with matt here.  The main point is this is a bikeshed issue.

>From personal experience running the webservice for my version-check
plugin [1] I have had no complaints of issues with the fact that it sends
the blog url with every request.

For me the main points are:

 1. Sending the url doesn't expose any private information.
 2. We have been sending our urls out as pings for years without any issue.
 3. Sending the url may allow Wordpress.org to do analysis of the user
base in the future - we should probably state this if and when it

In my view the best thing that could be done now is to document the API on
the front page of api.wordpress.org and point there from the release

[1] http://blog.ftwr.co.uk/wordpress/wp-version-check/

Peter Westwood <peter.westwood at ftwr.co.uk>

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