Thursday, July 02, 2009

Precedence and Uniformity Justify The Blogger Policy About BlogSpot URL Availability

The goal of a legal system is not to be fair to everybody, it is to be consistently fair or unfair to everybody.

Any single law, fair in some instances, will be unfair in other instances. The principle of Precedence is used to make a legal decision consistently fair or unfair over time.

The Blogger Help "law": This blog has been abandoned and I want its address, which controls the reissuing of "abandoned" URLs, is not fair - to those who want a URL, that appears abandoned, issued to them. Yet, it is uniformly unfair to everybody.

The Blogger "law" about the permanence of URLs simply says
Blogger accounts and Blog*Spot addresses do not expire. Therefore, we can't take away somebody's blog address to give to you.
This law says nothing about activity - a blog updated once in 5 years is equally as valid as one updated daily for 5 years.

If a blog was setup 5 years ago, and never updated, it is still valid, in the eyes of the law. This may be unfair to other people, who would like to use that URL, and have a more dynamic blog. But, it is uniformly unfair to everybody.

To do any better, Blogger would require a system of laws, considering factors such as
  • Frequency of blog updates.
  • Time elapsed since last blog update.
  • Individual, and average, relevance of blog updates to content in general.
  • Quality of blog updates.
  • Relative need of use of that URL, by the current owner and by the prospective new owner.
  • Relevance of URL to current affairs.
  • I'm sure that you can think of still more relevant factors.
A Blogger judge would have to weigh each factor, collectively and individually, in deciding upon the current owner, vs the prospective new owner. Ultimately, any URL would be subject to this review, at any time.

Would you want to have to defend yourself, and your right to retain your URL, against any newcomer who desired your URL? Maybe against two newcomers, who simultaneously desired your URL? Knowing that the more popular URLs will always have more prospective new owners (You're not the only one who wants to take over that URL!)?

Instead of subjecting themselves, and all bloggers, to a system of undefinable complexity, Blogger simply made one law.
Blogger accounts and Blog*Spot addresses do not expire. Therefore, we can't take away somebody's blog address to give to you.
That's the law, and it's equally fair or unfair to everybody.

This policy, at least, limits the active unfairness to the limited few, who can't think of a URL except the ones that are taken, causing them to protest the unfairness.

Were Blogger to setup a courts system, and judge the permanence of any URL when one of the latter decided to demand that Blogger take away someone else's blog address to give to them, the unfairness would be much more widely spread.
  • Many worthy and anxious bloggers would have to spend more time waiting, as the Blogger judges were busy judging a URL permanence case, for their blogs to be unlocked, custom domain to be reset, or another Blogger wildfire to be diagnosed.
  • Many folks with popular URLs would have to, repeatedly, defend their right to continue to publish to their URL.
  • Maybe even, sometime later, the person who successfully took away someone else's URL would have to defend his right to continue publishing to that URL.
Blogging would become like a den of thieves, where you have to protect your wallet (and the one that you just stole) yourself, every second, because the police are always busy elsewhere.

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21 comments:

Noah said...

I don't think I understand why this is an issue. Does anyone actually like their blogspot subdomain enough to fight for it? Am I misunderstanding the point?

Chuck said...

My guess is that you are missing the point, yes.

Yossarian138 said...

Or they could just create a simple feature where you have to renew your blogspot.com domain every year or so, otherwise it exires! problem solved, no?!
http://yossarian138.blogspot.com/

Chuck said...

Why should Blogger add another feature, just to cater to the few who can't summon enough imagination, to come up with a URL that's available, to address their blogs? If you don't have even that much imagination, should you be blogging? Problem solved, yes!

Redneck Liberal said...

Obviously, some URLs have built-in potential for being easily found and could be more profitable. Are you really saying the guy who wanted 'johnsblog' should quit whining because they wind up stuck with 'johnsblog127' instead like one of those dumb Yahoo IDs?

I think an annual renewal procedure makes perfect sense though. But then long abandoned blogs being preserved for future historic value is also a good thing.

Chuck said...

Obviously, "JohnsBlog" is going to be more valuable than "JohnsBlog127". But who gets to assess the relative value?

Blogger needs to work on making Blogger work, and on developing new features, that everybody can use. Arbitrating a URL dispute, which would benefit you, and only you, isn't part of their business strategy.

It's plain business sense. Their manpower (womenpower) is devoted to programming. They have no judges, who arbitrate URL availability.

They made one simple rule, and you have to live by it.

Shel said...

I just found this after posting a question to the forum about inactive blogs... bummer should have done this first.

Anyway, I am thinking most of the people who have abandoned their blogs probably don't want them anymore and either forgot about them or didn't know how to delete them. So I agree there should be some level of judgment of inactivity; if someone hasn't posted in a couple of years send them an email that asks if they forgot they had a blog and if they would like keep the URL.

In the meantime I understand there is a rule... so I will abide by it and not complain. (Well, besides this posting, after this I won't complain anymore.) ;o)

Jay Russo said...

Since it is not a paid domain, it should expire if not used, is how I feel. Even the paid ones have an expiration so it would be available if not paid for.
My blog name was taken at Blogger but was available at WordPress so guess what? WP has my business while the same name on blogger sits idle forever!

Chuck said...

Jay,

If your criteria for choosing a blogging platform is availability of the blog URL of your choice, then Blogger is probably better off with you clogging WordPress. Go, with our blessing.

Daniel Saenz said...

After doing some research on abandoned blogspot domains and finding this post, I can only agree with those who propose a system where continuity is checked somehow.

Most simple names I can think of were taken at the beginning of blogging some six or eight years ago, and most often were used for only ONE post. It seems unreasonable to keep them on, especially as the number of existing blogs continue to grow.

This could easily be solved (if not for present blogs, at least for future ones) by automatically sending an e-mail to anyone whose blog has not been updated for one year (longer if it has more than X entries); if another year goes by without answer or updating, it should be removed and the address become available.

Chuck said...

Daniel,

You're entitled to your opinion. If that ever happens, though, it won't be soon enough to help anybody who needs a "dormat" blog URL.

Daniel Saenz said...

Hello, Chuck. I am not quite thinking about people who need a dormant URL *just now* (although my little investigation was started for that very reason). It is more a question of hygiene on the long run.

Reading back on my answer, it was likely poorly expressed or thought. Blogs which have actually been written (three entries, five, X) should definitely stay, because they are offering something. As you say, battles for propriety of names would hardly be an improvement.

Having said that, it is just a pity that thousands of URLs were set up some six years ago, got a single post (sometimes even none) and then were left behind. Those really need a solution.

Chuck said...

Hi Daniel,

Yes, you're right, it would be hygenic. But the blogs that would be axed, with zero posts / activity, would likely be too small to make any difference. And any more than zero posts / activity, and you would need a judge / jury to decide disposition.

And it would be a shitty job to give someone.

a said...

Hi Chuck!

May I ask some related questions?

I once had a URL on Blogger that I (am pretty sure that I) deleted.

I've come back to Blogger and have taken a related URL. When I opened my account I checked the availability of my old one and was shown the "Blog Can Not Be Found" page. I'm pretty sure that I deleted my last account so - shouldn't that old URL be available again?

If I didn't delete my old URL is there any way that Blogger can send me my access info? I don't remember which email address or password I used for it but if the account is still open and Blogger sent me that info to the email address I opened that account with, then I'd be able to access my old URL, wouldn't I?

I opened (and supposedly closed) my old account quite a while ago - years, even. Am I doomed to using my new variant URL and repenting at my leisure or is there any hope for me?

To prove that I'm an honest broker - if Blogger were to send that access info to that listed email address, I would receive it if I'm telling you the truth - and NOT receive it if I'm lying - right? (provided that I didn't also delete the email address that I opened my first URL with!)

Am I out of luck?

I throw myself on the mercy of your Court.

Thank You!

Daniel said...

I agree with Daniel S. I don't think axing zero or single post blogs that have gone unused for a certain amount of time would be so inconsequential. In finding the name for my own blog, I easily came across 30 blogs that fit the criteria (ie. one "hello" post from 2001). There must be MILLIONS of wasted URLs and as long as Blogger's arbitrary policy stays in effect, that number will continue to grow.

Chuck said...

I don't think axing zero or single post blogs that have gone unused for a certain amount of time would be so inconsequential.

I don't think it would be so inconsequential, either. Nor do I think it would be so easily made fair. Who would be first in line for a popular URL? The one who popped up a day ago and said "I demand that URL!", or the one who called for it 3 years ago? And how do you say for sure that a "Hello" post has no validity?

There is neither a minimum content, nor a minimum posting activity, required for a blog to remain yours. That's the simple fact.

bluegreenbicycle said...

I really don't buy the "slippery slope" argument. It would be simple enough to establish an arbitrary bright line policy that if a blog has had no activity for 1, 2, whatever years, it disappears. This is what most free webmail providers do after all.

You can go ahead and laugh/sneer at me for my lack of imagination, but I have been trying to think of a good, interesting, easy to remember blog name for a general personal blog for a solid week now and EVERYTHING I come up with is taken by an abandoned site.

Any useful advice for those of us in this predicament? Again, yes, fine, I'm an awful dumb horrible stupid person for not being able to come up with something. Let's grant that. Any useful advice?

Chuck said...

It would be simple enough to establish an arbitrary bright line policy that if a blog has had no activity for 1, 2, whatever years, it disappears. This is what most free webmail providers do after all.

Nice try, but I don't buy that, and neither does Blogger. Blogs and websites have value to their readers, long after we stop publishing. The value of a blog simply has no relation to publishing frequency.

dmac said...

My problem is not with a blog that someone started and made a few posts then stopped, but rather with people who just go out and create blogs put never post anything. Example, http://thislittlehomestead.blogspot.com/ There's never been anything posted. Ever. And if you look at their profile, there's 4 blogs all with similar names, and none of them have a single post on it. That shouldn't be allowed.

Chuck said...

Mac,

Unfortunately, that's not your choice to make.

Blogger says, quite simply

Blogger accounts and Blog*Spot addresses do not expire.

Publishing practices are not part of the requirement.

http://blogging.nitecruzr.net/2006/12/your-blog-is-forever.html

http://blogging.nitecruzr.net/2009/05/value-of-your-blog-is-based-upon.html

Brian said...

Here are some numbers to go with your discussion. I didn't break out the blogs with no posts at all, but I believe there was a significant percentage.

http://rundown.blogspot.com/2011/09/preferred-domain-names-on-blogspot-are.html

My initial opinion is that Blogger should allow people to send messages to the blog owner. Some of these people would surely donate or sell their name.

I also think, though, that Blogger should require some sort of refresh, similar to the domain registrar system. I can't think of another system of property that doesn't include the concept of abandonment. The whole thing just seems like a silly waste.