Thursday, September 24, 2009

Blogger Magic - The Interstitial Warning Display

Magic shows have been around for centuries - the world is full of magic, when we don't understand what's going on.

URL redirection is a Blogger magic trick, similar to the disappearing quarter - a common sleight of hand trick in stage magic performances. Another Blogger magic trick, and one which not all bloggers or blog viewers appreciate, is the interstitial warning display.

Interstitial warnings pop up like magic, where you (or your prospective viewer) would least expect them.
  • In front of a "private" blog, where you have to identify yourself to continue.
  • In front of a blog that contains (or is reputed to contain) objectionable material (naughty pictures or such).
  • In front of a blog that is (or appears to be) published off site.
  • In front of a blog that has been blocked, for TOS violation, or maybe for hosting hacking content.

One of the problems with the interstitial displays is the inconvenience to the prospective readers of the blog.

Given the possibility that cookies aren't being blocked, for BlogSpot - or whatever domain the blog is published into - the interstitial display shouldn't be a permanent problem, if the person viewing the display decides to return. If the reader clicks on "I understand, and I wish to continue.", the script behind the interstitial display sets a cookie, and the next time the reader surfs to this URL, no display.

There's magic - "Now, you see it", and later "Now, you don't", that you want to see (or not see). Unfortunately, many prospective readers see the display, and don't (maybe, can't) continue.

A private blog is a real problem - if you weren't invited, you can't get in.
It doesn't look like you have been invited to view this blog.
Not all prospective readers will want to view a blog with naughty pictures (unless they are looking for that).
The blog that you are about to view may contain content only suitable for adults.
Very few prospective readers are going to click through to view a blog that's hosted off site - based upon the language in the off site warning.
This blog is not hosted by Blogger, and has not been checked for spam, viruses, and other forms of malware.
And way less will want to view a blog that contains active hacking activity.
This blog may contain material that will actively harm your computer.

One odd problem with the interstitial display is when 2 warnings - or a redirection with a single warning - are applied to the same blog.
  • A (reputed) offsite blog, with (reputed) adult content will cause a redirect loop, from one screen to the other, and back.
  • A private blog, with adult content, is a no-go.
  • A legitimately redirected blog (as in a blog published to a custom domain) with either an adult content or private blog warning, will be a problem.
  • The recently released dynamic templates appear to be a problem, with "adult content" blogs.
In neither case, will the intended readers see the blog content.

Another problem, long discussed and frequently misunderstood, is with the effects upon search engines, visitor meters, and similar third party services.

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