Saturday, June 17, 2006

Why Are You Doing THIS?

Long ago, and oh so far away (no, that's a popular song from when I was young), I wrote an article Why Do I Do This?. This is not a rehash of that article.

I've had a few folks, (maybe misunderstanding my motives, maybe wanting to interfere with my message, who knows?) tell me, in not so many words but close
Chuck, you have your head where it won't see any sun.


It appears that my pointing out that
... all of these posts, in general, mean that I am trying to be a shill for Blogger.

Simultaneously, though, I wonder whether Blogger might become tired of my prodding them. I prod them to get off their coffee breaks and fix the problems. And to communicate with their unpaid staff more.

So, Chuck, why do you do this? Why do you write, just to piss everybody off?

To answer that question, I will start by reminiscing about March 6 - March 15, 2006. I am virtually certain that Blogger Support was NOT firmly aware of what was going on, during the first week of that incident. Obviously, their monitoring of their server infrastructure left something to be desired.

Now I suspect, from seeing how March 17 - March 18, 2006 (just 3 days after the previous incident was resolved) was conducted, it's somewhat obvious that Blogger Support did try to improve. But I know too, that they can and should improve more.

One way that Blogger Support can improve their act is to read the forums - Blogger Help Group - Publishing Trouble, Blogger Help Group - Something Is Broken, and others. People who don't feel comfortable filling in the Blogger Support Request form (if they can find it), will ask for help in the forums. When there's a high level of noise here, and the noise is consistent, maybe there's a widespread outage in process.

But as a Network Support and Troubleshooting Tech, I know that's not going to happen very soon.

Why, Chuck? Why won't Blogger Support read the forums? Why are problems, like the ones that inspired various posts, with such insightful titles, like What The FUCK IS GOING ON WITH MY BLOG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!, What the *%^%$ Is going on with Blogger?!, and Hello Blogger Staff! Come in. We're all going nuts here! not being resolved immediately? Why doesn't Blogger Support work 7 x 24, and fix every problem that comes up with quantities of staff dedicated to instantaneous problem solving?

One of the reasons why Blogger can't devote enough time towards solving every problem instantly, and let us know what the hell is going on, is that they are busy fighting fires. Some fires are hardware failures, caused by overuse of hardware. One of the causes of hardware overuse is the explosion of splogging.

Now splogs are not trivial annoyances. They are hurting blogging in general, and Bloggers (us) in particular, in several ways. So Blogger Support is trying to practice splog containment in Blogspot / Blogger. But if you look at the numbers described in the various articles about the problem, it's pretty obvious that they can't do this alone, nor can they do this manually.

Blogger is using automated tools to detect, and to block splogs. Unfortunately, like any automated spam or hacking detection tool, there will be false positives (where innocent blogs are falsely detected as splogs), and false negatives (where splogs successfully hide their nature). The more that Blogger tunes their splog containment to reduce false negatives, the more false positives will occur.

And the sploggers don't create splogs blindly. The smart sploggers know what the limits are, and carefully tune their product to produce the maximum result, without being detected by Blogger tools. This results in more false negatives, and the need for detection tools to scan more strictly. And that leads to more false positives.

We are the ones suffering from the false positive detections. Every time somebody posts spam blog, or the like, they are describing the side effects of splog containment, and of false positive detection.

But the biggest problem is that Blogger needs to start publishing official information to this effect, and letting their unpaid staff know what the hell is going on. The problem here is not the problems (OK, not quite so much, with all condolences to those suffering from false positive splog detection, and from other known yet unresolved problems), the problem is the silence.

One tool that could possibly help Blogger, and us, know what's going on, is these forums. When there's a problem, we are urged to post here, and get peer help, because Blogger Support is busy fighting other fires. Right now, though, there is too much noise in these forums, to provide any real possiblity that actual problems will be noticed. Occasionally, Blogger Employee will post here. But the key word is occasionally.

Now, if you're a regular reader in the Blogger Support forums, you'll notice that right now, there are no problems indicating widespread outages (Now being 8:00 PST Jun 19, 2006). Despite what some may say, neither Blogger nor Blogspot is down. That doesn't mean that there are not lots of problems though. Some problems Blogger Support must resolve, others are for us to resolve. And if we can learn to troubleshoot our problems a bit, the noise level here will decrease, and Blogger Support can look here for problem reports more reliably.

But none of that will happen immediately. And Blogger has to contribute to the process of making it happen. Blogger Employee posting here is a start, as is (occasionally observed) improved problem reporting. And we have to encourage both practices.

So, why am I doing THIS?

  • A lower noise level in the forums may encourage Blogger Support to visit here more often, and to see problems more quickly.
  • With Blogger Support able to respond to problems more quickly, problems should get solved more quickly.
  • With Blogger Support able to solve problems more quickly, the noise level, relative to June 7 - 9 2006, will be lower, the next time that there are widespread problems.
  • With Blogger Support able to solve problems more quickly, they will be more available to deal with spam and splogging.
  • Less spam and splogging means better service for us, and better positioning in searches. This leads to more visitors to our blogs.
  • Less spam and splogging will lead to less needless load on the hardware, less hardware related failures, and more stability overall.
  • More stability overall will lead to more traffic to our blogs, and to better search results.
  • All of the above will lead to a lower noise level in the forums, which will make widespread problems more obvious.
  • And we can return to writing blog content, instead of gathering in the forums and griping. More content in our blogs will lead to more traffic to our blogs, and to better search results.

I use my blogs to help people with network issues, as well as Blogger issues. Blogger provides the hardware and software infrastructure, I provide the content and thus the readers. My readers provide the eyes, which read the ads, which prompt the advertisers to pay Google for ad services. It's a circular partnership.

That's why I am doing THIS.

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2 comments:

parnellpr said...

Thanx for explaining things and getting the message about this out to other bloggers. I feel very silly now ........ Maybe next time I get a problem real or not I'll check your blog first.

Mama Mouse said...

Here Here! I admit ... I panicked a wee bit earlier tonight when I thought Blogger was down. But I didn't complain, at least TOO loudly ... and just decided to let them do their thing and went off and watched tv.

The service that Blogger provides is a SERVICE to us .... for FREE. And the volunteer support staff (YOU) do those of us who don't know much about blogging a HUGE service. I thank you and salute you!