Let's see if we can identify some problem areas.
When asking for help, please:
- Identify your blog, as necessary.
- Don't give out unnecessary detail.
- Republish previously posted information.
- Start a new thread, for each problem.
- Solve each problem in one thread.
- PLEASE Do not yell.
- Provide a coherent and complete problem description.
- List a brief description of the problem, in the Subject of the post.
- List the details of the error message, or the symptoms, in the body of the post.
- Describe the problem, as you see it, including how, when, and where you observe the symptoms.
- Provide useful diagnostic data.
- Explicitly point out any unusual features of your blog, of your working environment, and your history.
- Accuracy is essential.
- Check the discussion groups, for replies, regularly.
- Be patient, as you wait for an answer.
- Respectfully acknowledge and consider help offered.
- Update the discussion groups, when results are observed.
Identify your blog
Here's a common complaint in Blogger Help Forum:
My blog doesn't workHere's another:
My blog is missing! Help!What's the common item in both of the above examples (aside from the pain the Blogger must be feeling!)?
No mention of the blog name.Please, folks, if you're going to ask for help, start your report with something like:
My blog is http://blogging.nitecruzr.net/.
To identify, and retrieve, the URL of your blog:
- For many places to find the URL, for blogs published to BlogSpot, click here.
- For one specific place to find the URL, for blogs published to anywhere but BlogSpot, click here.
- If the blog is locked, as suspected spam, you'll need the lockedBlogID, so click here.
To identify your Profile ID:
- If you are able to load your dashboard, click here.
If you're publishing the blog externally, to a Google Custom Domain, both the BlogSpot URL and the domain URL are very useful, in diagnosing the problems involved. If the blog has been locked, you'll need the lockedBlogID, before it can be unlocked. And please, make the URLs obvious, in the body of your problem report. Don't put the name in the title - make the title brief and descriptive. Having an obvious URL, in the body, makes it possible to more easily see (or not see) your blog, without having to ask
Got URL?and wait for your response. You want your problem solved, I bet. Don't make us waste our time (and yours) asking the obvious questions. And, be 100% accurate when providing URLs. If you're really thinking about what you're doing, you could increase the possibility of being helped, with something like:
My blog is http://blogging.nitecruzr.net/. It looks fine in Firefox, but in Internet Explorer, The posts are missing.In other words, diagnose the problem, if ever so slightly. But start with the blog name, in the body of your problem report. Help us to help you. Going in the other direction, though, don't provide too much information. Our blogs are under constant attack, so don't make it easier for the bad guys.
Don't give out unnecessary detail
To diagnose a problem, we obviously need the blog name, and a detailed description of the symptoms. We don't need the account name, or other personal details. That information could be useful to the bad guys, in hacking your account, so keep it secure (private). Should we be able to solve your problem, we'd prefer to not read this followup problem report.
Last month, I had a problem with my blog, and you folks helped me find and fix the problem. This month, I find my blog has been replaced with a spam blog. Was that made easier by my disclosing my account name, and other personal details, last month?Use discretion. If we need additional details, we'll ask for them, and hopefully provide some guidelines how you can protect yourself when you provide additional details.
Republish useful information
Please note that, in Blogger Help Forum, we can't see any of your previous posts. So if you've provided information in the past, you'll still have to provide it again. We can't see your previous posts, unless you provide a link to one.
Start a new thread for a new problem
It's normal to read thru a forum, looking for others with your problem. It's a good idea, even. But having found a thread where your problem (what looks like yours anyway) is being discussed, please don't go the the end of the thread and post
I'm having the problem too. Help!When you do that, the discussion now contains 2 threads. How can anybody keep up with 2 threads in 1 discussion? Start a new thread, for each new problem. Please. For everybody's sake! And don't despair, you can correct your mistakes - if you're repentant. Just remove your attempted thread hijacks from the Blogger Help forums. Do your part to keep the forums usable by everybody.
Solve Each Problem In One Thread
To the other extreme, if you have a problem, start one new thread. Ask and answer all questions within that thread. Opening multiple threads is similar to multi-posting.
If a problem extends over a long period of time, it's a good idea to post back in the same thread, if possible. If you can't find the previous thread, when you start a new one, at least make everybody aware that there was a previous thread. Maybe one of the helpers can find the previous thread, and link back to it from the new thread. That would help everybody greatly.
If you do have to start a new thread, try and start it under the same group name / forum account. It's good courtesy, and common sense, to use the same identity for one problem. Makes it easier for the helpers too.
PLEASE Do Not Yell
PLEASE do not yell. Use mixed case in the Subject, and the Message, fields. Using mixed case makes an easier to read message.
Here's another example of yelling, in forums like Google Blogger Help, that provide semi rich text options like bold type face. Do you see how annoying this is? I hope so.
You want help? Help the helpers. Find the Caps Lock and Shift keys. Use Shift as needed, to punctuate small portions of your problem report. Use it no more than needed. Ditto for bold type.
Provide a Coherent and Complete Description Of Your Problem
The Internet in general, and the Blogger Help forums specifically, is a wide and diverse medium, and it is recognised that not everybody there speaks the same language. In the more serious forums, the more serious helpers will try and be tolerant of those who were not born with English as their mother tongue.
Many of us have been to foreign lands, and have experienced for ourselves the frustration of being part of a minority culture. That said, there are several posting styles, other than broken English from not speaking it as well as one would like, which will not always be received graciously.
- Grammar and Phrasing. Usenet is NOT English class, and nobody expects perfect documents. But when you type incomplete or run-on sentences, don't start sentences with capital letters, or your entire post is just one long paragraph, your post is hard to read. Many helpers will ignore your post and find better written ones to read.
- Language. When you're posting in any online forum, it's courteous to speak the same language as the majority of the users of the forum. When you're asking for help, it's common sense too. When you're asking for technical advice, the helpers can help you better if they don't have to spend time wondering what you meant by a particular phrase, or what that word really means.
- Spelling. Were you typing conversations in an Instant Messenger program, you would be expected to make a few odd spelling mistakes from time to time. When you post in an online forum, take the time to review what you type before hitting Send. Use a spell checker, but don't depend upon it completely. If it's important enough for the helpers to read, it's important enough for YOU to read once after you write it.
- How To Ask Questions The Smart Way.
- How to ask a question.
- How Not To Look Like An Idiot.
- How To Post On Usenet And Encourage Intelligent Answers.
- Making Good Newsgroup Posts.
- news.newusers.questions Links Page.
Provide a Very Brief Description Of The Problem In The Subject
Look at the topic list. See how each post is listed, with a brief topic? Each topic is brief, because the Topic list is an index of Topics.
Make a very brief description of your problem - 6 to 12 words is the absolute maximum needed here. Put those 6 to 12 words in the Subject: field of your new topic. Put the details of your problem into the Message: field. URLs, and complete error messages, in particular, belong in the Message: field.
Try copying the text of the Author, or Subject, to see why this is relevant. The helpers may use copy and paste, to transfer text in your problem report, to another medium, or to a file. Copying the text of the Author Name, or Subject, isn't easy to do. Plus, if the helpers copy just the body of your post, your details in the Subject may go overlooked.
Help the helpers. Use the Topics List as an Index. Put all of the details in the Body.
Describe the details of the error message or the symptoms
Here's a start for one problem report.
My blog is http://blogging.nitecruzr.net/. I get an error when publishing.OK, that tells us two things:
- The name of the blog involved.
- What you were doing when you ran into a problem.
- What is the problem?
If there's a serious problem, it's possible that some detail about the problem would be of use here. Maybe:
My blog is http://blogging.nitecruzr.net/. I get an "450 Write error: No space left on device" error when publishing.Now that's details which we don't like seeing, because it identifies a problem that Blogger Support has to resolve. You won't get around THAT error by changing to another Blogger server.
Maybe other error messages (both the error number and the description are useful, so be generous) will have better news for us, and for you in turn. And when you're writing your report, maybe you know that you're not alone. So, you're tempted to write
I have the same problem as [another poster].or even
I have the same problem.Please don't do that. Write your own report. We can't see the other report.
Sometimes, the other report may NOT lead to the same solution as yours. Until you know what your problem is, state your symptoms, and let the helpers decide if your problem is the same as the others. Without the error details, or the symptoms, what can we do? And remember, the helpers don't know everything.
If you're asking for help, and referring to another article somewhere on the net, or to a thread elsewhere in the forum, provide the URL of the article - or a clear easy to use link to the other thread. If your problem report was prompted by the appearance, on your screen, of one of the many mysterious "bx-" problem codes, be sure to provide the code, with the Additional information, in its entirety, in your report.
Again, put all such details in the Body, not in the Subject. Try copying the text of the Author, or Subject, to see why this is important. The helpers may use copy and paste, to transfer text in your problem report, to another media, or to a file. Copying the text of the Author Name, or Subject, isn't easy to do.
Describe the problem, as you see it, and how, when, and where to observe its symptoms
The game of "20 Questions" is great for parties, but when it's played when you're hoping for help with your problem, it's a waste of time - yours and mine.
When you write a problem report, understand the difference between Blogger and Blog*Spot. And tell us how and where you observe the symptoms of the problem. If there's a specific paragraph in a location in the sidebar, or in a single post, or maybe involving a given browser, tell us how and where to best observe the problem.
We are neither mindreaders nor treasure hunters - our time can be better spent diagnosing your problem, than searching for clues as to how and where to examine the symptoms.
As blogging becomes less of a unique activity, and more a portion of our daily lives, external references will be involved. If you're researching a blog problem that starts with a search engine, knowing the name of the search engine, and the exact phrase searched, is essential. You could even copy and paste the complete SERP entry that concerns you, if you're really thoughtful.
If you see a problem constantly, and have always seen the problem, tell us that. If you see the problem only occasionally, or only started seeing it a week ago, tell us that. If the problem is visible only on days where you were online after midnight the previous day, tell us that. Any pattern to the problem, however vague, could be a clue that leads us to a diagnosis.
And precision is essential. Don't say
... before the url of the video in my posttry something like
In the sidebar, after the label "A Reminder"or maybe
In the post"Asking For Help", in the second paragraph, in the sentence "See PChuck: ...", you can see my problem. I've observed this with Firefox V2.0, though it doesn't seem to be obvious with Internet Explorer.The quicker we can get to the symptoms of your problem, the more energy and time we have to diagnose it.
Help us to help you. Provide details about the problem, including how and where to best observe the symptoms.
Provide diagnostic information about you, your computer, your environment, and your history
Your physical and political location is relevant. Your physical location affects your network access, and your political location can affect what network services you can get. When you're having a problem, both details may be relevant.
If you're able, a Pathping log or a Tracert log may help the helpers identify your location or Internet service more reliably, and in some cases may even point to the problem itself. Some details about you, your Internet use, your computer (operating system name and version), and the browser that you're using (again, name and version), wouldn't be wasted effort either.
If you made a change to the computer, and the problem started after the change, that's an essential clue. Did you maybe make the change based upon advice in an article on the web? If so, the URL of the specific web article is an essential detail. If you have a computer with a Microsoft operating system, and the problem started after the first Tuesday of the month, that's a drop dead clue.
Help us to help you. Provide details about your environment, and your history.
Point out any extra normal features and issues
When you make your problem report, remember that most blogging is done against a blog using a Layouts template, published to Blog*Spot (not to a custom domain, or using FTP). If you're using a Classical template, tell us that too.
Also, and this is not to discriminate, remember that most bloggers use a Windows operating system, run on an Intel based computer (aka "Wintel"). If you're using the Safari browser, or an Apple brand computer, or if you're running Windows on a Macintosh, that's something that may help us diagnose your problem.
Where you are, and how you connect, may have a direct effect too. If you're not in the USA, or not using either "Cable" ("TV service" based wiring) or "DSL" ("telephone" based wiring), let us know.
This month, June / July 2008, we have 2 recent challenges which appear to be problematic.
- Firefox V3.0 was recently released, and several bloggers have found Blogger has problems with it.
- New Blogger June 2008 includes some interesting changes in the post editor, and some changes appear to not be unique to Draft Blogger.
Accuracy is essential
This blog is published to "blogging.nitecruzr.net", not "biogging.nitecruzr.net", "bkogging.nitecruzr.net", or "blgging.nitecruzr.net". If you're asking for technical help, triple check each technologically significant detail - before, and after, posting. Correct all typos! Again, don't play "20 Questions" with us.
Check the forum for replies
If you ask for help in a forum, check back there for responses, later. Don't ask to have help emailed to you. Asked here, answered here.
You can now use the Subscribe option, at the bottom of the thread, if you wish. Check "Email me when people reply", and hit the "Save" button, when you're signed in to BHF using a valid and active email address.
Be patient, as you wait for an answer.
Most of the forums that help people are staffed by volunteers, and not one volunteer knows the answer to every question. Worse, some questions won't get any answers.
If you find a forum where every question is answered in an hour, chances are either the customers of the forum aren't asking very challenging questions, or the folks who answer the questions aren't providing a lot of help.
One expert in a forum far, far away compiled a file containing all of his wisdom - 841 lines at one time. Whenever anyone asked a question that was even remotely similar to something he thought he might have written about, he would paste the entire file into his answer. The first line of the file contained the instruction
Read this - the answer to your question is in here - somewhere.He could answer dozens of questions, simply by pasting his knowledge file as an answer. Many people thought that they were being helped, too, until they would ask for more detail, or for a variation on what he had written.
Additional questions got silence, or help from the other helpers, who would have to read the morons help file themselves, to see how to correct or undo the advice given. If you're posting in a forum where good help - not help from donkeys, spammers, and trolls - is generally seen, and nobody answers your question in an hour, don't post again
I asked this question. Where is my answer?or a similar whine. That won't get you answered any quicker. You want help, and you want accurate help? Be polite. The helpers have their own lives (some do - really), and the helpers who can help you, with your specific question, just may be somewhere else for a few hours. Be patient.
Respectfully acknowledge and consider help offered
When help is provided to you, it may take any of several forms. Some helpers may offer help directly in a post. Other helpers may refer you to another post in that forum, or to another forum, for more advice. Still others may offer help based upon articles written in various web sites, some written by the helper, others written by third parties.
If the help offered contains links to other web sites, and the helpers are otherwise honest and trustable, follow the links, and click on other links in the text. Read the help provided.
When help is given, it may not contain details that you understand, or be in a style that you appreciate. In some cases, you may have to learn some new concepts, or details, that you don't consider relevant. Accept the possibility that you don't know all of the issues, which may be why you're writing for help in the first places, and prepare to learn new things.
Try and speak the language of the helpers, and plan to learn from the advice provided.
Update the discussion groups, when results are seen
When you get results, whether from suggestions given in the group where you're posting, from other groups, or from your own, separate efforts, go back to the threads where you asked for help, and let everybody know.
Even a final link, to the article or thread where you were helped the most, is not a waste of time. The next guy looking for help will surely appreciate it, and that's the reason for peer assistance in the first place.
The helpers will appreciate feedback, too. Here's a good example of problem post mortem analysis. A lot of Bloggers can benefit from this post.