Friday, September 12, 2008

Troubleshooting Problems With Your Blog, Or With Your Connection To Blogger

I'm a desktop / network support technician, and I enjoy troubleshooting problems with other peoples computers. I prefer that my own computers remain trouble free (of course, that won't always be the case). I can apply my skills in desktop / network troubleshooting to the tasks involved in troubleshooting problems with Blogger, and Blogger blogs.

So, consider this. Blogspot / Blogger hosts millions of blogs, and has many more millions of worldwide customers reading those blogs. You send in a complaint to Blogger Support, about your blog, or your connection to Blogger / BlogSpot, and your complaint goes into a long queue. And if it's just YOUR problem with YOUR blog, or YOUR connection, that's where it will likely stay. Problems affecting multiple blogs, and problems affecting multiple Bloggers, or customers, will always get higher priority. That's common sense.

So, if YOU notice a problem with YOUR blog, or with YOUR connection, it's up to YOU to do some initial troubleshooting. Now, as a desktop support technician, I preach diagnostic procedure. Constantly.

Note: This article is a Blogger specific adaptation of Solving Network Problems - A Tutorial.

Here's where multiple observations is essential. If you see a problem with your blog, do any of your friends see the same problem? Do you see the same problem with your friends blogs?

You also have to understand the concept of cache, which partially explains why not everybody sees a problem with your blog at the same time.

Now the customer, and server, population for Blogger is immense. Blogspot uses thousands of servers to host the millions of blogs that they have. So the fact that your friends may or may not see the same problem on your blog, or you may or may not see the same problem on your friends blogs, is not in itself definitive of a worldwide Blogspot problem. But it can help us develop a procedure for diagnosing your problem.

There are several major items involved in any problem.

  1. The content (the text that you typed into your post, or the template) for your blog might have (gasp) coding errors. This will affect everybody who views your blog, until you fix your mistakes. And, if you haven't done this yet, backup your blog. NOW.

  2. The database where your blog is stored might be corrupt. This problem may affect other blogs, and other Bloggers. It will affect other folks viewing your blog, if they don't have a good copy already cached on their computer. If your problem is not part of a major outage, republishing your blog, which takes the source text (item #1) and rebuilds the blog into a web page, may resolve this.

  3. The server which serves Blogspot content to you may be having problems. This will affect your ability to view multiple blogs. Other Bloggers using this same server will have the same problems. With 4500+ servers, it's possible (but not likely) that you may know somebody else sharing your server. If your problem is not part of a major outage, clearing cookies and changing your server may resolve this.

  4. Your computer, or your network, may have problems, or some characteristic of your ISPs service may cause a problem with a Blogger server. I work with these sort of problems, and know how tricky they are to diagnose. This will affect you only, or others in your area too. It may, or may not, affect your access to multiple blogs.

  5. The cache of your blog, and other blogs, on YOUR computer, may contain bad content from any previous existence of any problems. This should only affect your computer, though any other computer may have similar problems.



  • If both you and your friends see a problem with your blog, there's a good chance that any fixes that affect only you won't have too much effect. Here you need to concentrate on items #1 - #3, from the above list.

  • On the other hand, if you have multiple friends viewing your blog (and here is one example why having friends is a good thing), and nobody but you sees any problems, items #4 and #5 are more likely suspects.

  • If some friends see problems, and others don't, it's still more likely that the problems involve items #1 - #3.

  • If you see problems with your friends blogs, and your friends see those same problems, it's likely an outage at Blogspot. Maybe Blogger Status will acknowledge the outage. Don't hold your breath, but look there anyway. File a Blogger Contact Report, but again, don't hold your breath.



OK, let's translate the above sermon above into a usable procedure.

  1. Check Blogger Status. Check Real Blogger Status (here). It's possible that the problem has been noted already. Check the online Blogger databases - Blogger Help, Blogger Known Issues, and Blogger Status. Check the online forums - Google Blogger Help, and Blogger Forum.

  2. Check Recently Updated Blogs, which lists all blogs updated in the immediately previous 10 minutes. The number of updates enumerated there may confirm or deny any suspicion of a widespread publishing problem. If any doubt, check in another 15 - 20 minutes (open another window), and compare the 2 lists.

  3. Note that both Blogger Status and Real Blogger Status provide Atom and / or RSS feeds. If you use Syndication / Atom, you may find this convenient. Or, you can Follow this, and other, blogs, for a more convenient subscription.

  4. Are you, and your friends, having problems viewing your blog, and other blogs? If the problems are just yours, or if they involve multiple blogs, pray, then troubleshoot the cache. If you see an improvement, clear cache and cookies on your computer. If this helps you, let your friends know, and have them do the same (if they are affected).

  5. If your friends see the same problems with your blog that you see, chances are that the previous step won't fix things by itself. Did you just post something, immediately before the problem was noted? Go back and verify what you just changed. Correct the problem, if necessary, and republish. If you get an error from publishing, proceed to the last step.

  6. Did you make a change in the blog content, from executing the previous step? If so, clear your cache.

  7. If you have executed all above steps, and you or your friends still see problems, then it's time to seek collaborative analysis.

    • Try to file a report with Blogger Support, observing their current (and dynamic) problem resolution policies. Wait for the botmail.

    • Reply to the botmail, objectively pointing out that none of the suggested references - none of the online Blogger databases, or the online forums, offer any help.

    • File a description of the problem, what you've done to date, and the botmail problem number (if any provided), at Blogger Forum and at Google Blogger Help.

    • Look in the forums for others with your problem, or for any helpful suggestions. Let others know that you are having this problem. Note any correspondence with Blogger Support, and note your problem number. Provide useful diagnostic information about you, your computer, and your Internet service. Links between your thread in one forum, and any others, are not a bad idea either.

    • Check back in Blogger Forum and at Google Blogger Help, for comments to your posts, regularly. Be prepared to answer questions. Crosspost updates to the other forum.


  8. If any of the above steps help you diagnose or resolve the problem,

    1. Say a prayer of thanks to the deity of your faith.

    2. Backup your blog. Having a local mirror of your blog can be very useful.

    3. Sign my GuestBook, or alternately, leave me a comment. Knowing that this blog is of use, or not, motivates ongoing additions and improvements.

    4. Post back in the above mentioned forums, and close any open threads. Become part of The Solution.



If you're having a problem, don't just drop it on Blogger Support. Involve Blogger Forum and Google Blogger Help, too. Update all 3 groups, regularly, when suggestions are made by any others. Be patient and persistent.

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1 comment:

Make mine Mid-Century said...

Thanks this was very helpful.