Thursday, November 27, 2014

Publishing A Gadget To A Specific Page

Long before Blogger developed static pages, blog owners had wanted to have some accessories or gadgets visible only on specific pages.

Initially, we discovered that gadgets could be displayed conditionally, based upon the URL being displayed. This is a fairly simple task, when you get used to it - but it requires editing the template HTML - and can look a bit scary, to those inexperienced in template editing.

Recently, we realised that some gadgets can be embedded in a page or post, by editing in HTML mode - and accomplish the same. I demonstrated my custom "Contact Me" gadget, using that ability.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Clearing Cache Won't Always Solve Problems

Sometimes, when diagnosing a problem which involves cache, you may be advised to "clear cache" - or possibly, "clear cache, cookies, and sessions".

Instructions, to do either, may vary according to the problem being diagnosed. Unfortunately, clearing "cache" or clearing "cache, cookies, and sessions", for problems which involve cache, may not always solve the problem at hand.

If you have a problem when viewing your blog - or if you wish to immediately refresh your personal view of your blog, you might clear "cache". If you have a problem with your Blogger dashboard - maybe when switching between Draft and Production Blogger, on the other hand, you would want to clear "cookies". Whenever you clear cookies, you should clear cache, also - so, if you have a problem when maintaining or publishing your blog, you will be advised to clear "cache, cookies, and sessions".

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Static Blogs, And Spam Classification

Blogger blogs are starting to become a regular website publishing platform - not just a blogging platform.

Long ago, a Blogger blog was just an online journal, with posts, and text. Then, Blogger added labels, later static pages - and then the ability to replace the home / main page, with dynamic or static content of your choice. Recently, the original limitation of 20 static pages / blog was relaxed (we are not yet certain that the limit has been eliminated completely, however).

Now, you can practically publish a static website, without even having posts, using a Blogger platform. But, is this a good idea, with Blogger "One button" Publishing?

Monday, November 24, 2014

Use A Blogger Blog As An OpenID Host

We see an occasional request, in Blogger Help Forum: Learn More About Blogger, about commenting and the profile used when authenticated.
How do I have my comments linked directly to my blog? I don't want my comments linked to my profile, with people having to hunt for my blog links!
This person does not understand why we have Bogger / Google / Google+ profiles, linked from our comments.

Even if we can't provide direct links to our blogs, when commenting using a Blogger or Google account - we can do that, if we can comment, using an OpenID account. An OpenID account links directly to our designated blog - when we specify the right blog URL, while logged in using OpenID, to publish a comment.

Your Blogger blog will provide an OpenID account, just as well as a FaceBook or WordPress account will do, for any Blogger blog using Blogger hosted commenting. Blogs using third party commenting systems may, or may not, support OpenID.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Change Per Post Comment Settings, One Post At A Time

Occasionally, we have a blog owner trying to enable commenting, on a blog - and being unsuccessful diagnosing commenting problems.

Checking the per blog comment settings, in the the dashboard menu under Settings - Posts and comments, there's no obvious problem. The problem, in some cases, is in the per post settings, in the Post Editor "Post settings - Options" wizard - but not all posts will have a problem.

The "Reader comments" setting, for any new post, is taken from the setting for the previously published post. If you publish a post today, with "Reader comments" selected as "Don't allow", the next post will also be set to "Don't allow" - unless you change the setting, before publishing. Similarly, if it's set to "Allow", the next post published will have it set to "Allow".
  • Allow
  • Don't allow
That's the choices, for each new post.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Spam Blog False Positive Classifications Do Exist

No matter what Blogger does with improving the spam classification process, they will always generate some false positive classifications.

The more that they improve the classification process overall, the more obscure the false positive classifications will be. Some false positives will require intense investigation of the blogs, to identify the relationships between the blogs involved - and to prove, to Blogger Policy Review staff, that a false positive classification is present.

Some time ago, in Blogger Help Forum: Get Help with an Issue, I had occasion to deal with a blog owner who was a currency trader, by profession. This person had published a cluster of blogs, where he discussed legitimate issues involved in currency trading.

Currency trading is an essential part of exchange of merchandise, between different countries (the export / import business) - and the Blogger spam classification process had deleted his blogs, as suspected spam hosts.

Friday, November 21, 2014

GPT / PTC / PTS Content Is Not Welcome, In Blogger

One of the most easily overlooked details, about Blogger blog content, is that GPT / PTC / PTS Content is not suitable, for Blogger blogs.

Blogger Content Policy has a section which describes GPT / PTC / PTS Content, in passing.
Spam: Spam takes several forms in Blogger, all of which can result in deletion of your account or blog. Some examples include creating blogs designed to drive traffic to your site or to move it up in search listings, posting comments on other people's blogs just to promote your site or product, and scraping existing content from other sources for the primary purpose of generating revenue or other personal gains.
Unfortunately, spammers have been very subtle, in their description of various make money fast programmes - and not so many blog owners think it necessary to contact a lawyer, to interpret the Content Policy document, when planning their new blog.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Private Blogs, And Dynamic Blog Access

Occasionally, someone may publish a blog as private, invite / accept readers, then later decide that results are not as positive as desired.

It's easy enough to change a blog, from Private to Public. Just go to the Permissions wizard, in the dashboard menu Settings - Basic, and change Blog Readers from "Private" to "Public".

Unfortunately, this may not leave everybody able to access the blog.
I made my blog public, last week. Some of my friends are now seeing
Your current account does not have access to view this page.
Why is this still an issue?
The blog owner, in this case, is seeing the effect of cache, and authentication.

In many cases, simple instructions to "clear cache, cookies, and sessions" may resolve this problem. This does not always work, however - and the mystery why it does not always work may frustrate us, almost as much as the original symptom.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

'Good Enough' Never Is

This month, we're seeing an interesting collection of problem reports, in Blogger Help Forum: Get Help with an Issue, about custom domain setup.
Why is my blog offline - occasionally?
And
Why do some (just some!) of my readers tell me they can't see my blog?
Investigating the problem, we see that the domain is, indeed online - some of the time.

Investigating the DNS addressing, robustly, we find an all too frequently seen set of name servers:
mydomain.com. 14400 IN A 216.239.32.21
www.mydomain.com. 14400 IN CNAME ghs.google.com.
What we see here is a domain, setup by someone who thought that one server would be 'good enough' to get by.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Comments, Owner Choices, And Reader Choices

Much of what we do in life - and what we do when using Blogger - is based upon, and limited by, choice.

Some choices we get to make, for ourselves. Other choices are made for us, by people who make their own choices.

Some blog owners do not want their readers to have to login to Blogger, to comment on their blogs. Other blog owners do not want their readers to have to solve a CAPTCHA, to comment on their blogs.

A few blog owners do not want their readers to have to do either.
It seems anyone who wishes to leave a comment, will have to do some form of login, either via Google or a CAPTCHA, to do so! Is there a reason for this, would it not be easier, for anyone to just leave a comment?
And the answer here is simple.
It would be easier, if neither were required.
But reality - involving activity by spammers, and activity to counter spammers - leaves some of us with less choices.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Clearing Cache, Cookies, And Other Website Data

Most of us, as we surf the Internet, are going to surf some websites, repeatedly.

Everybody has favourite websites. When we surf the same website, over and over, some of what we do and see may not change a lot.

To keep us from wasting our time, and generating unnecessary network traffic, our browsers keep track of the websites that we visit over and over, save records of what we do and copies of what we see, and note what has changed. The website content, stored locally, is known as "private" data.

There are times when we need to clear "private" data. Note the different browsers - and the different menus and selections, provided by each browser.
  • If you have a problem when viewing your blog - or if you wish to immediately refresh your personal view of your blog, you should clear "cache".
  • If you have a problem maintaining or publishing your blog - maybe when switching between Draft and Production Blogger, you should clear "cookies".
  • Whenever you clear cookies, you should clear cache, also - so, if you have a problem when maintaining or publishing your blog, you should clear "cache, cookies, and sessions".
There are other reasons for clearing private data - but there are also reasons for not clearing private data, indiscriminately. It will be worth your time, to understand what and when you should clear - and not clear.