Thursday, October 29, 2009

FTP Publishing - October 2009

This month, we have several reports from bloggers who, for one reason or another, have changed the FTP username and / or password on the domain host server, and then updated the username / password in their Blogger FTP settings. Much to their dismay, when attempting to publish their blog, they find the old username / password being sent to the remote server.
I have verified it's saving my new username in the publishing settings and yes, I'm seeing the error based on the posting status. I get the following ...
FTP login failed (server: ftp.domain.com, username: myoldusername, reason: 530 User myoldusername cannot log in. )


Are you seeing this behaviour, when trying to publish your blog?
  • What is the blog URL?
  • What is the FTP server setting?
  • When did you make the setting change?
  • Did you verify the problem, by examining the host server activity logs?


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A Private Blog May Not Be Completely Private

We've known for a while that private blogs have limitations, such as latency. If you originally publish your blog as public, and later make it private, cached copies of the blog will be all over the Internet, for anybody to read, after it's supposedly private. This week, we see another, possibly more serious limitation.
Why was my coworker able to read my very private, personal, password protected blog yesterday? I had it set to "Blog Author Only" and yet she found it and was able to read the whole thing.

It has never, ever been public. I started it last September and set the permissions to "blog author only" at the start for all posts. I have never invited anyone else to read it...and have never, ever logged into it at work.


Occasionally, while using a dialup connection, I've had occasion to load a private blog. As the blog loads, the browser enumerates the various components of the blog, such as various pictures loading, in the browser status area (generally, the lower left border of the browser window). The interstitial notice
This blog is open to invited readers only

It doesn't look like you have been invited to read this blog. If you think this is a mistake, you might want to contact the blog author and request an invitation.
seems to come up well after the blog main page contents have loaded.

If you are surfing from a network which uses a caching proxy server, it's possible that one person who has permission could properly load the blog in their browser. With the blog having been loaded once, the proxy server may not load the interstitial page again. Anyone else on the network could later view the blog without the interstitial page - even if they do not, supposedly, have permission to do so.

If your Blogger profile is part of your public blogs, or people link to your profile while surfing profiles, and your private blog is listed as one of your blogs, someone may click on the link, and may get a view of the blog.

A second problem comes when you invite people as members of your blog. The invitation goes to specific people, who are free to forward the invitation to their other email accounts, and even to the email addresses of their friends. You may invite one person, and you may see a dozen persons later reading the blog. This may even account for a known discrepancy with the 100 member limit.

These security deficiencies are not ones that you can control. You have no way of denying anybody access to your profile, if it's published publicly. Nor can you stop people who you invite to your blog, from forwarding the invitation to their friends.

If you want to keep your blog private, it would be a good idea to at least remove it from the list of your blogs, in your profile.

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Monday, October 26, 2009

What's In The Boxes?

Every day, we see one or two queries from confused bloggers, about these boxes.
I type the URL in my browser, and get
No blog found.
or
Why doesn't it show more than what's in my blog?
or
I know the URL. I can see it on my dashboard even. But the search says that it's not there.
All of these observations are evidence of people who don't know what all the boxes in the browser are intended to provide.

When you view your blog, there are 2 to 4 boxes of which you need to be aware. Depending upon what accessories are provided in any given blog, there may be more. Depending upon what browser you have, there may be less. And depending upon what browser you have, the label, position, and size of any of these boxes isn't predictable. But, the boxes will be there.
  • Browser Address Box. This is the most important box visible. This is where you are supposed to paste or type the URL of your blog, another blog, or any website, to browse to the blog or website.
  • Browser Search Box. This is a browser accessory, provided by some browsers, so you don't have to load the web page of the major search engines. Here, as on the search boxes on the various web pages, you paste or type the search that you want to do.
  • Navbar Blog Search Box. If you haven't disabled the navbar, here you can paste or type keywords which will be used to search your blog, directly - without requiring that your blog be indexed by the search engines.
  • Blog Search Gadget. This will be any search gadget added to a blog by the owner. This could be a version of the navbar blog search, or a version of the browser search box, but against different search engines.


Except for the navbar blog search box, there is no way to predict if, what, or where any of these boxes will look like or appear. The labeling, positioning, even whether a box is included, are all a matter of personal preference. Some personal preference is of the blog owner, other is of the blog reader / owner of the computer used for browsing.

In some browsers, the address box and search box are combined, with browser code interpreting (more or less reliably) whether a URL or search terms have been entered. This causes confusion when the person used to any one browser uses a different browser - or maybe the same brand browser, on another computer.

I could add a picture here, of my browser, on my computer. But, that would simply be a picture of my browser, and would only confuse you. I arrange my browser to suit my preferences and taste - and just as surely as I know that everything which I write in my blog won't interest everyone, I know that how I arrange my browser won't interest everyone, either.

The navbar is intended as the single most predictable object on the screen, when viewing Blogger blogs. Unfortunately, some blogs are setup with the navbar hidden, which prevents use of the navbar blog search. To compensate for this, some blog owners will add a blog search gadget. Unfortunately, Search gadgets for Blogger blogs come in a variety of designs. A browser search gadget may be the equivalent of the browser search window, of the navbar blog search window, or even may be customised so you can't tell what it does.

Besides understanding the blog search box (whether navbar or blog based), we need to note a major difference between a search using a search engine, and a search directly against the blog.
  • Both a browser search box and a blog based custom search box will involve a search engine, which uses cached copies of every indexed blog and web site. The cached copies will be subject to search engine latency, causing discrepancies similar to SERPs referencing main page view.
  • Blog direct searches, such as the navbar search box, and some custom search boxes, which will search the blog now, based upon what's in the blog, now.

If your blog was just published to a custom domain, the blog will need to be re indexed under the new URL. You can accelerate the re indexing process, if you make some effort.

Considering all of these details, it's not surprising that there would be confusion, when people surf strange blogs and / or use strange browsers, maybe on strange computers. Possibly, by knowing the details, we can diagnose the questions from the confused bloggers.

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Sunday, October 25, 2009

Accepting Membership In Another Blog May Change Post Editor Settings

Recently, we've seen an occasional question about mysteriously changed post editor selections.
Where did my options toolbar go?
or
Why do I now see the new post editor?


Right now, as part of the deployment of the new post editor, there are 3 selections, in Settings - Basic - Global Settings - Select post editor.
  • Updated editor
  • Old editor
  • Hide compose mode


If you make this change under one blog, you'll find it true for all of your blogs. I've also noted, under some circumstances, that when you accept membership in someone else's blog, and the other person was using a different post editor selection, the other person's selection will now be yours, globally.

The next time that you accept membership in a blog, check your post editor setting. If the owner of the blog was using a different setting, your setting may have changed.

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Saturday, October 24, 2009

Blogs Showing The WMX Verification File, Instead Of Main Page

This week, we have various Blogger blogs reported as displaying a mysterious WMX Verification File, when main page view would be expected.
This is the WMX verification file. If you are having problems with the WMX verification for your blog please visit http://help.blogger.com/bin/static.py?page=start.cs


This symptom was first observed Thursday, October 22, and Blogger Support is aware of the problem. Supposedly, the problem was fixed, though some blog owners are still reporting it.

We note that the Google Webmaster Central Blog: Verifying a Blogger blog in Webmaster Tools now instructs us to use the meta tag verification procedure.
The "Webmaster Tools" auto-verification link from the Blogger dashboard is no longer working and will soon be removed.


Is your blog showing this, in place of main page view? If you can provide some diagnostic details, you might help Blogger to help you and others. Precision here is good - and date, time, and timezone will be appreciated.
  • What's the URL of the blog?
  • When did you first observe the problem?
  • When did you last publish a post to the blog?
  • When did you last modify the template?
  • Did you add the blog to Google Webmaster Tools, using the dashboard wizard, or using the GWT native procedure?
  • When did you add the blog to GWT?


(Update 10/23): Some bloggers are working around the problem by refreshing the blog. From Settings - Publishing,
  • Change the name to any available URL, and Save.
  • Change the name back to the correct URL, and Save.
  • Note for a custom domain published blog, you'll have to publish back to BlogSpot, then back to the correct domain URL.
If you do this, you ought to examine the Google Webmaster Tools entry for the blog, and check your Following relationships carefully. Both GWT and Following are sensitive to blog renames.

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Keep Malicious Content Out Of Your Blog

Every day or so, we see reported from concerned bloggers, about unknown content in their blogs.
Where did those ads come from? I didn't add them!
or
How do I keep this other blogger from posting porn links in my blog?


As we add content to our blogs, and make them fun, interesting, and shiny, to attract readers, we risk adding undesirable content. This is a constant problem. The bad guys are out there, and the more fun, interesting, and shiny your blog is, the more it's likely to have readership, reputation, and value. The more readership, reputation, and value that your blog has, the more attractive it is to the bad guys.

Malicious Comments

One of the easiest way to add third party content to your blog is from allowing comments. Comments are contributed by people who, at best, you simply do not know. Any content from someone who you do not know can always be malicious, or obnoxious in some way.

Some blog owners will try to identify and block individual commentors. I will continue to insist that anybody who you should fear will not be bothered greatly by anything that you can do here.

You absolutely must moderate comments, or risk having a blog known for hosting malicious links - or worse.

Malicious Posts

Besides comments, posts are a constant concern. If you have a team blog, you have to be able to trust the other members in the blog. Post moderation, using post editor to publish, isn't an option. Anybody who you make an author can publish what they feel like publishing. You can only moderate posts after they are published, when using post editor.

An alternative to using post editor to publish is Mail-to-Blogger, where contributions are emailed to the blog. If Mail-to-Blogger is setup to publish straight to the blog, and the bad guys figure out your MTB account and password, you'll have malicious content a plenty. You can moderate before publishing, using Mail-to-Blogger.

Malicious Accessories

Any time that you install third party accessories of any type, you are placing your blog at risk.

Don't be overly paranoid - you have to make your blog interesting to your readers. But do keep the risks in mind. This is similar to layered security for your computer, which is a related concern here.

Malicious Blog Members

Sometimes, possibly having unwisely installed a third party accessory, the install process may have enabled the addition of an unknown member to the blog - and the unwanted content may be added by the attacker using this unknown member. If none of the above advice offers you an explanation for the existence of unwanted content, check your blog member list.

BlogList / Feed Gadgets

Occasionally, we may Follow a blog where the owner will later decide to try to get more traffic to the blog, and will redirect the blog feed to a cloud of random blogs. If you are Following such a blog, or have such a blog in your BlogList or Feed gadget, you'll see your BlogList or Feed gadget show odd content - and frequent spam.

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Friday, October 23, 2009

Waiting For The Tap On The Shoulder

I'll be honest here. I was a nerd in college (and I am one even now). So this story is one that I've only seen in movies - neither I, nor my friends, got even this far.

College Secret Societies
Some of them have no name even. There are no published entrance rules - membership is by invitation only, and rules are communicated by word of mouth. And the initiation process starts like this:
  • The prospective members are blindfolded, and led to a dark room.
  • The prospective members are put into a circle, in silence.
  • The prospective members wait, for what will happen, they are told nothing.
  • Periodically, one prospect will feel a slight tap on the shoulder. In silence, he / she will be taken by the hand, and led into another room where they will join the elite.
  • And eventually, those who don't get elected will open their eyes, remove the blindfold, and find herself / himself in a pitiful group of rejects, all waiting (hopelessly) for that tap. The tap that never comes.

Now maybe you should be advised that this article is a rehash of one that I wrote long ago, about a more pleasant and positive experience.

The subject of this narration is the spam detection problem of this week. So, here are my words of wisdom about this mess.
This problem is caused by criminals - spammers who are publishing thousands of spam blogs, daily.

They make dozens of clones of your blog, by scraping the content from your blog, pasting it into their blogs, and adding the spam content to just a few of their blogs, at any time. Blogger can't tell the difference between the spam blogs without active content, and your blog. So all of the blogs that look like your blog - including your blog itself - get locked.

If you are not a spammer, look at the next guy (also reporting the problem), because it's likely that he is one. And when you get concerned about how long it's taking Blogger to restore your blog, if your blog is not a splog, place some blame on the spammers, and the thousands of splogs that have to be locked, then reviewed, daily.


Anyway, the only thing that makes this even endurable is the thought of the spammers who have lost their blogs this week. Many of them are gathered in Blogger Help Forum, reporting their blog loss. Some of those gathered in BHF are not spammers - and that is what will give hope for everybody gathered there.

Now Blogger, being the "secret society" in this analogy, will restore a few blogs - the ones that were not splogs. But they will not be posting a big notice.
The following blogs were determined to be spuriously locked, have been restored, and we apologise to their owners.
and conversely
The following blogs were righteously detemined to be splogs, and will never be restored.


Nope.

Blogger will walk around silently, and tap the owners of the spuriously locked blogs on the shoulders. Those owners will wake up one morning, and their blogs will be back, operational.

The spammers will be the ones waiting, until they figure it out on their own, that they will never get the tap. They will wait all night, then slink home in silence.

BooHoo.

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The New Navbar

By now, I'm sure that you've all seen the new navbar on our blogs. Besides having new links, and some links being renamed, there's a significant improvement - transparency.

For those of you wondering where "Search Blog" went, the "Search Blog" window is still there - the "Search Blog" caption was simply removed, to make space. And "Flag Blog" (which was, some time ago, greatly enhanced) is now accurately captioned "Report Abuse". And we have "Follow" (previously "Follow Blog"), matching the new "Share" link.

And, for everybody who has always hated the navbar because it was ugly, and its background colour never matched the blog, you can now select a transparent option - and let the background colour / images in the blog show. You can select "Transparent Dark", with light navbar characters and graphics - or "Transparent Light", with dark navbar characters and graphics.

You select the new options in the Navbar Configuration wizard in "Page Elements". Click on the "Edit" link to the right of "Navbar".

What you get doesn't look like complete transparency - you can see some colour variation on my home blog, "nitecruzr dot net", but on this blog - look above. Transparency on white looks pretty good.

No more ugly navbar stripe - that's a small improvement, but still a significant one. This may motivate some bloggers - though probably not all - to reverse their earlier decisions to hide the navbar on their blogs.

Now, since we're looking at the navbar, let's look at what the "Search Blog" box is. It is for searching for posts, in this blog, which contain references to the keywords entered into the box. It's not for searching for other blogs or web sites, neither using keywords or URLs. Just for keywords, in the blog that's currently displayed.

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Thursday, October 22, 2009

Identifying And Blocking Malicious Comments

Almost daily, we see complaints from bloggers who are disturbed or offended by comments that they get, in their blogs.
How do I stop nasty comments about my posts?
or
How do I block a person who posts nasty comments?

My answers always start with
You have to moderate comments, either before or after they are published.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Availability Of Any BlogSpot URL That's Not In Use

I've been arguing the plain facts about URL non availability for years - if the BlogSpot URL of your choice is in use, you can't have it. That's not an easy answer for many bloggers, and some don't accept it without a lot of arguing. The other side of the coin is that any available URL is there for the taking, by anybody. Relevance of the name in question, to any physical existence outside the Internet world, has no validity.

Today, we have a query of an issue not previously argued.
I have website "TheNameThatIHave.com". Today, I discovered that somebody else is publishing to "TheNameThatIHave.blogspot.com". That's not right - I should have the right to "TheNameThatIHave.blogspot.com"!


And the answer here is
No, if somebody else has "TheNameThatIHave.blogspot.com", it's their URL. You have no claim to "TheNameThatIHave.blogspot.com", simply by having "TheNameThatIHave.com".


There are multiple top level domains on the Internet, as well as various country based top level domains, and numerous web hosts similar to Blogger. Each domain / host has their own name directory, and assigns / allows assignment of names from its own universe. Assignment of any name in one top level domain / sub domain directory is irrelevant to eligibility to the same, or similar, name in any other directory.

There is no screening, to determine the validity of anybody to publish to "TheNameThatIHave.blogspot.com", for any value of "TheNameThatIHave". If the URL "TheNameThatIHave.blogspot.com" is available for publishing, every blogger has equal claim to take it. If you see it, and you take it, you have it - for eternity. The moment you take it, nobody else has any claim over it - for eternity. If somebody else took it, you have no claim over it - even if you own "TheNameThatIHave.com".

As the well used adages go
First come, first served.
and
You snooze, you lose.


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Ambiguity In URL Availability #2

A couple months ago, we had various bloggers report that they are initially informed that a given URL is available, but the "Create a blog" wizard later shows that the same URL is not available. This month, we seem to have more of the same, plus a new, disturbing detail.
I am unable to see my blog on the web or sign in to it on Blogger Dashboard. I initially thought my blog had been given a false positive as a spam blog and blocked. A Blogger Help forum post said that often happens and I should send a "review request."

I sent a review request from my Blogger Dashboard. It took me to a page that says:
Blog is not locked. Your blog is not locked and does not need a review. If you are having problems accessing your blog or if you received an email saying that it was locked, please leave a message in the Help Group and we will investigate the issue.


Further conversation returns additional details.
On my Dashboard, next to the name of my blog "This Day in Famous Quotes" (which is at the URL www.ThisDayinQuotes.com) I see this:
This Day in Famous Quotes
Restore access to this blog. Learn more

The word "Restore" has a link. I clicked that and got the message shown, which asks me to send my email address and fill in a captcha. I did that and then got a message saying my blog is not blocked. But I still can't see my blog on the web or access it through my Dashboard. Here's the message I get when I click "Restore":
Blogger's spam-prevention robots have detected that your blog has characteristics of a spam blog. (What's a spam blog?) Since you're an actual person reading this, your blog is probably not a spam blog. Automated spam detection is inherently fuzzy, and we sincerely apologize for this false positive.

Find out more about how Blogger is fighting spam blogs.



A normal error, when browsing to a blog published to BlogSpot.




A cryptic, yet distinctive, error message when browsing to a blog published to a custom domain. This is also seen for the BlogSpot alias of the blog, published to a custom domain.



Here, you have no blog, but there's nothing stated to be wrong. And, we won't tell you what's wrong, we'll just ask that you report this in Blogger Help Forum: Something Is Broken.

(Update 10/22 12:00): It appears that we have 2 relevant factors here.
  • A coding problem caused the ambiguity and some false positive results.
  • Not all blogs reporting the problem are legitimate. Blogger will probably handle this on a case by case basis, and unlock only legitimate blogs. I'm betting that we won't see a lot of apologies either.


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Monday, October 19, 2009

Getting Traffic To Your Blog - How Not To Do It

There are many ways of getting traffic to your blog - some are good, while others are not so good.

If you truly respect your readers, you 'll write content that's interesting and relevant to the needs of your readers, and you'll use the search engines to advertise your blog.

Other people might join a forum, where everybody promises to read each other's blogs. A third way would be to use the magic of RSS, and join your blog to a common feed.
TRAFFIC via RSS

by ananth77 with 2,473 members

Tagged: blog, blog building, blogging, feed, Marketing, promote, rss, traffic

Build your traffic via RSS. Simple Rules :
1. Subcribe to http://feeds.feedburner.com/feed_traffic
2. Update your RSS feed address in the reply.
3. Your feed will be merged with all the other blogs and web sites.


What a deal. All that you do is make your blog part of the Feed Traffic feed, and you get a piece of all of the traffic, from / to all of the other blogs in the feed. This used to be called a "link farm", where everybody would link to each others blogs, randomly. This is just a link farm using a FeedBurner feed as a backbone.

But, there's a problem here - can you see it?

Sunday, October 18, 2009

You Have To Read The Local Language

As Blogger / Google continue to make their services more available to the bloggers and blog readers of the world, they are separating the language affinities of the various portions of the Blogger displays, into two categories.
  • Components most referenced by the bloggers.
  • Components most referenced by the blog readers.


Components referenced by the bloggers can be controlled by the Blogger profile language setting, so you, as you publish your blog, see many Blogger wizards in your stated language.

Readers of a Blogger blog, on the other hand, won't always have a Blogger profile, as they surf the Internet and land upon your blog. To support your readers, Blogger uses Geo Location, and determines the prevalent local language where the computer is located. Blog displays that are most referenced by the blog readers will be presented in the local language.

If you write your blog for your readers, this benefits you. The more portions of your blog that are available to the blog readers of the world, in the language of each reader, the more likely they will be to continue reading your blog, rather than surfing to other web sites. Since the vast majority of the people of the world surf the Internet at home, in their native culture, blog displays presented in the native language will be more friendly to the majority of your readers.

If you accompany your blog with translation options, such as a Google Translator with a user friendly interface, casual visitors will be more likely to become regular readers.

Of course, this won't please everybody. Travelers to a foreign land, using a computer connected through a local network - whether their own computer, in the hotel, or a local computer in a coffee shop / Internet cafe - won't be seeing their displays in their native language. Just like other artifacts encountered in a foreign land - advertisements, newspapers, street signs - computer displays may use unfamiliar language.

This is an unavoidable result of travel to foreign lands - everybody there won't be speaking your language.

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Saturday, October 17, 2009

Missing Icons For Commenters In Inline Comments

Does your blog use Inline (Embedded Below Post) Comments? Do you have any posts with more than 5 comments? I have a few.

Notice anything odd there? The first 4 or 5 comments, which were made by commenters who have pictures, show the pictures. After that, no pictures.

I wonder what other surprises are in store for us this week?

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Thursday, October 15, 2009

Custom Domain Problems - October 2009

During the past week (7 to 10 days), we have seen several reports / day, in Blogger Help Forum, from bloggers who state
My domain name (purchased through Google Apps) is still not available, over two days after purchasing. It's not just a DNS propagation issue, the message in the Blogger Settings | Publishing tab reads
The DNS record for your domain is not set up correctly yet. If you have just purchased this domain the setup process may take up to a day.
Now, we've seen these reports before; generally 1 or 2 / week is normal. Not 2 or 3 / day.

And when we Dig the domain, we see evidence of a new problem.

; <<>> DiG 9.3.2 <<>> @localhost mydomain.com A
; (2 servers found)
;; global options: printcmd
;; Got answer:
;; ->>HEADER<<- opcode: QUERY, status: NXDOMAIN, id: 523
;; flags: qr rd ra; QUERY: 1, ANSWER: 0, AUTHORITY: 1, ADDITIONAL: 0

;; QUESTION SECTION:
;mydomain.com. IN A

;; AUTHORITY SECTION:
com. 900 IN SOA a.gtld-servers.net. nstld.verisign-grs.com. 1255644227 1800 900 604800 86400

;; Query time: 9 msec
;; SERVER: 127.0.0.1#53(127.0.0.1)
;; WHEN: Fri Oct 16 00:03:59 2009
;; MSG SIZE rcvd: 102


This is not a domain that's improperly setup, this is a domain that was not setup, at all.

If your domain is one involved in this problem, can you please provide details, either here (below), or in your Blogger Help Forum thread. The more precise and complete your details, the more easily Blogger can help you.
  • What is the domain URL?
  • When (time, date, time zone) did you purchase the domain?
  • Did you use "Buy A Domain", or Google Apps?
  • Did you get a purchase receipt?
  • Did you get a confirming email from Google Apps?
  • Was your credit account charged?
  • Which registrar did you use (eNom / GoDaddy, and did you choose?)?


(Update 10/16 13:00): We are seeing a sign that this problem is being resolved.
I see that Google finally got things working for me. My domain www.jworktv.com is now working. I just rec'd a email out of nowhere that said thanks for your purchase of the domain, and so I went and checked it, and sure enough-it is showing up online.


(Update 2009/10/15 16:00): Blogger Support is now aware of the problem.
Thanks for the reports on this; we'll investigate what is going on from the Apps side and report back here with an update.


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Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Blogger Accounts, And Non Existent Email Addresses, Redux

Every now and then, I become motivated to repeat a previous experiment. Blogger has been known to change their code, occasionally, so in some cases, that would seem to be a good idea. In one case, one very anxious blogger asked
We are a school system and federal law requires us to archive all email. Therefore all external accounts are blocked. Staff and students can not use gmail, yahoo, AOL or any outside email. Only email provided by the school. The delimma is that you require one of these email addresses in order to post. We do not want an anonymous post option and do want to have valid discussions on curriculum, reporting etc.
As usual, I jumped right in, with
You can use any email address, for a Blogger account.
then I had second thoughts.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Private Blogs And Commenting Policy

Besides the currently known problems with commenting, which involve the post template and various local computer settings, there are some odd details that not everybody is aware of. If you have a private blog, you'll face a lesser known challenge with comments.

If you are in the habit of restricting the ability to comment, in your blogs, to members only, you may want to change that policy, when setting up a private blog. Setting "Who Can Comment?" to "Only members of this blog" will leave your Designated Readers unable to comment.


That's not good!



When we setup permissions, we're told that the blog membership list, which includes Administrator, Authors, and Readers, is limited to 100 entries. There, "Readers" are implied to be "Members". In this example, we see that "Readers" are apparently not "Members".

I'll explore this oddity further, in Private Blogs And Designated Readers. It's possible that this is an intentional decision, to give blog owners an additional level of control.

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Nitecruzr Dot Net Et Al Is Now Avaliable In Thai And Turkish

Thanks to the effort from Bob, of Robertos Blogs, The Real Blogger Status (and the rest of Nitecruzr Dot Net) is now available in 36 languages. Today, we add 2 new languages - Thai and Turkish.

In Make Your Blog Speak More Languages, you will find the updated code block, with the new language set.

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Saturday, October 10, 2009

LinkWithin - A Graphic Equivalent To Labels

As I've written before, labels (which are, as noted, best used with blogs using a layouts template), in my opinion, are one of the best ways to organise your blog, and make it user friendly. But labels are text based. Many of you have blogs, and readers, that like pictures.

For those of you that build blogs with pictures, there's LinkWithin. LinkWithin uses thumbnail copies of the pictures in your posts to make a "related posts" index at the end of each post. This is a pictorial equivalent of the labels list, that you see after each post.

Note that LinkWithin installs automatically for you, with you logged in to Blogger. This is a process which, as I have written separately, should be considered with care.

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Lighten Up, Francis

Blogger / Google is becoming a common fixture in the lives of people around the world. Google tries to create forums of relevant subject, and language, to support its customers. Unfortunately, there will always be those issues, and languages, which are not uniquely addressed in a special forum. In some cases, the people needing help gather in the main forum for help with Blogger issues, Blogger Help Forum.

In Blogger Help Forum, we try to be tolerant of those whose primary language may not equal the native language of the forum. Even so, when you ask technical questions, and expect coherent and helpful answers, it helps us greatly when you attempt to write answers in grammatically correct English. That way, we don't have to guess at what you are trying to say.

If we don't seem to be properly respectful of you, or of your questions, this may be because we are trying to understand your problem, which may not be the same as what you are trying to say about your problem. In some cases, we will request that you lighten up. Free advice has a price, sometimes.

On a serious note, you could start by learning how to ask for, and accept, help.

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Friday, October 09, 2009

FTP Publishing and Yahoo Hosting - October 2009

Occasionally, a blogger reports a problem with FTP Publishing, and it turns out to be caused by changes made at the host server. Rarely, the host server staff admits to the problem promptly, and we can move on. Today, we got an answer back, and positive results, in the same day.
I called Yahoo again. I pestered them and found out that there WAS a change on their side of things. I was able to resolve the issue.
then later
The change they made was that they now require the entire email address as the user name (username@yahoo.com) whenever you're going FTP something. In Blogger, I made this change under: Settings - Publishing - FTP username.


If you have a blog published to a Yahoo server, using FTP, and your publishing has stopped working this week, maybe this is why you're here.

Check the settings for your blog, and contact the Yahoo support team. Verify the change, then update your settings.

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Embedded Comments and Post Pages

Apparently one (of several) recent problems, with Inline (Embedded Below Post) Comments, is related to Post Pages. In Settings - Archiving - "Enable Post Pages?", we observe the notice
Warning: If you disable Post Pages the embedded comment form will not work. Click here to change your comment settings first.


If you can't enable or disable Post Pages, you should check your (Settings - Comments -) Comment Form Placement, and ensure that you have not selected "Embedded below post". There, we see
The embedded comment form can not be used if you have Post Pages disabled.
Apparently, the Comments setting overrides the Archiving setting.

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Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Problems With Posting Comments To Blogs, With Embedded Comments Form Used

Besides the well known problem of post template corruption, which affects all commenters (owners, members, and readers alike) of a blog with Inline ("Embedded below post") comments, there's an odd problem, which affects some blogs with inline comments, using CAPTCHA (word puzzle) verification.

This problem will affect just the guests - the owners and members will not be subject to CAPTCHA verification, and won't have this problem. This is in addition to the well known problem with CAPTCHA verification and third party cookies.

Occasionally, you may get a perplexed email from a blog reader
I can't comment on your blog - the CAPTCHA form isn't fully displayed!


This is easy enough to fix, though why this is happening is still a question.

First and always, backup the template.

Then, edit the template and select "Expand Widget Templates". Look in the template body, near the bottom of the post template.
<b:includable id='comment-form' var='post'>
<div class='comment-form'>
<a name='comment-form'/>
<h4 id='comment-post-message'><data:postCommentMsg/></h4>
<p><data:blogCommentMessage/></p>
<data:blogTeamBlogMessage/>
<a expr:href='data:post.commentFormIframeSrc' id='comment-editor-src'/>
<iframe allowtransparency='true' class='blogger-iframe-colorize
blogger-comment-from-post' frameborder='0' height='275' id='comment-editor'
name='comment-editor' src='' width='100%'/>
<data:post.friendConnectJs/>
<data:post.cmtfpIframe/>
<script type='text/javascript'>
BLOG_CMT_createIframe('<data:post.appRpcRelayPath/>',
'<data:post.communityId/>');
</script>
</div>
</b:includable>


There are two possible solutions to this problem.

The first simply makes the Comment form larger.

<b:includable id='comment-form' var='post'>
<div class='comment-form'>
<a name='comment-form'/>
<h4 id='comment-post-message'><data:postCommentMsg/></h4>
<p><data:blogCommentMessage/></p>
<data:blogTeamBlogMessage/>
<a expr:href='data:post.commentFormIframeSrc' id='comment-editor-src'/>
<iframe allowtransparency='true' class='blogger-iframe-colorize
blogger-comment-from-post' frameborder='0' height='410' id='comment-editor'
name='comment-editor' src='' width='100%'/>
<data:post.friendConnectJs/>
<data:post.cmtfpIframe/>
<script type='text/javascript'>
BLOG_CMT_createIframe('<data:post.appRpcRelayPath/>',
'<data:post.communityId/>');
</script>
</div>
</b:includable>


Alternately, keep the form the same size, but have it scroll.

<b:includable id='comment-form' var='post'>
<div class='comment-form'>
<a name='comment-form'/>
<h4 id='comment-post-message'><data:postCommentMsg/></h4>
<p><data:blogCommentMessage/></p>
<data:blogTeamBlogMessage/>
<a expr:href='data:post.commentFormIframeSrc' id='comment-editor-src'/>
<iframe allowtransparency='true' class='blogger-iframe-colorize
blogger-comment-from-post' frameborder='0' height="275" scrolling="auto"
id='comment-editor' name='comment-editor' src='' width='100%'/>
<data:post.friendConnectJs/>
<data:post.cmtfpIframe/>
<script type='text/javascript'>
BLOG_CMT_createIframe('<data:post.appRpcRelayPath/>',
'<data:post.communityId/>');
</script>
</div>
</b:includable>


Having made one change or the other, Save Template and test. Then, backup the template, again.

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Monday, October 05, 2009

Blogger Limits: Blog Ownership Count

Possibly as a way of emphasising Blogger as a personal, simple blogging platform, Blogger recently imposed a 100 blog limit on new blogs. This is a limit that has not yet been documented.
Number of Blogs: You can have as many blogs as you like on one account.


Apparently, the limit is against starting new blogs, not owning blogs. If you're like me, you'll note the limit when you try to Create a Blog.

D'ohh!



But this limit, like many others, can be bypassed. You can setup more than one Blogger account, create more blogs under multiple accounts, and make team memberships of the blogs created. Setting up and teaming multiple blogs, of course, will be a tedious activity if you are going to setup 100+ blogs at one time, so plan the process and allow lots of time. Using multiple browsers or computers is highly recommended.

Just creating 100+ blogs, if you publish to "xxxxxxx.blogspot.com", won't be easy - remember each blog will require an available and unique URL. If you publish to your own domain, you'll maybe control naming there.
Either way, tracking 100+ blogs won't be easy in any case. Take a look at your dashboard, if you have any substantial number of blogs, and imagine trying to manage over 100 blogs.

And note that currently, Blogger, in the latest effort to mitigate publishing of spam blog farms, is using CAPTCHA screening and / or SMS verification, to block automated blog creation. If you plan to create more than one or two blogs in the same day, be prepared.

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Your Blog, Custom Domains, And Virtual Hosts

I've written about publishing your blog as a virtual host in your domain, already.

blog.mydomain.com. 3600 IN CNAME ghs.google.com.
www.blog.mydomain.com. 3600 IN CNAME ghs.google.com.


This is generally done when "mydomain.com" and / or "www/mydomain.com" is in use for hosting a web site. This is a great way to combine your blog and your web site. Yet there are other reasons to avoid publishing your blog to the domain root.

mydomain.com. 3600 IN A 216.239.32.21
mydomain.com. 3600 IN A 216.239.34.21
mydomain.com. 3600 IN A 216.239.36.21
mydomain.com. 3600 IN A 216.239.38.21
www.mydomain.com. 3600 IN CNAME ghs.google.com.

If your domain comes with content hosting (not just DNS hosting), the domain may be in use for hosting email, an FTP server, or miscellaneous content such as photos, on the domain server. Now, you can host your domain email with Google Apps, but FTP (hosted on "ftp.mydomain.com") and miscellaneous services will probably always be the responsibility of a third party host. And if you add the 4 x "A" referrals shown above, access to the third party host (besides explicit access to "ftp.mydomain.com") will stop working.

In these cases, your best choice is to publish the blog to a virtual host. Leave the FTP server, your photo library, and your web site, hosted on the third party server, at the domain root - and get started with weaving your blog into your domain.

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Saturday, October 03, 2009

Remove Offensive Comments, Completely

If you publish a blog, and allow comments, you're going to occasionally get comments that you don't appreciate, on your blog.

Some comments will be blatantly offensive, and contain links to hacking activity, porn, and / or spam. I won't provide an example here - but some, that I've seen recently, have been pretty nasty. If you're going to keep your blog suitable to the general public, you're going to have to moderate comments, either before or after publishing.

Friday, October 02, 2009

New Blogger Limits 2009 - Labels, Again

Almost one year ago, I wrote about a newly discovered limit in Blogger blogs.

Labels could have, at most, 200 characters of labels (including spaces and commas). Today, we see reports of newly discovered limits, again in labels.

A Small Change - October 2009

Occasionally, Blogger makes small changes to their code, which we may not see immediately. This, as in a previous example, I will call a snake.
If it was a snake, it would have bitten you.
This is a very small snake, but one that we've been asking for, for a while.

I just published my previous post, Manage The Blogs That You Follow, Carefully, and I was casually looking at the display Your blog post published successfully!.

What is that odd symbol next to the caption View Post? For that matter, what is View Post?

OMG, that's now "View Post", instead of "View Blog"!

Surprise!



No reloading the entire main page, after publishing a new post. And no reloading the main page, then having to search, for an edited post. Just click on "View Post". Bravo, Blogger. Another change made in silence. And, a significant improvement enabling my Progressive Publishing strategy.

A second change was noted today, but it's one that won't be nearly as popular as this one.

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Manage The Blogs That You Follow, Carefully

Blogger Following and Google Friend Connect are great ways to connect with others - and to let them connect with us. But people change, and so do our interests. Like our need to manage who Follow us, we need to occasionally manage what blogs we Follow.

This, normally, isn't difficult. In the Classic GUI, go to the bottom of your dashboard, click on Manage, and you have a menu of the blogs that you Follow. From here, you can Add blogs to Follow, you can remove any that you currently Follow, or you can change your Following settings. The New GUI (2011) has a Gear icon in the upper right corner of the Reading List section of the dashboard, which provides a similar wizard.

In changing your Following settings, you can change between Following a blog anonymously or publicly. If you choose to Follow any given blog publicly, you can choose whether to include this blog in your profile, on each site where you Follow publicly. Don't make this change casually, if you are concerned about anonymity.

However, you can only manage your Following profile if you have chosen to make your Blogger profile public. If you have chosen to not share your Blogger profile, when you hit the Manage button to manage your Following community, you'll get a notice about "Profile Not Available".

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Thursday, October 01, 2009

Problems With Posting Comments To Blogs, With Popup Comments Form Used

Many problems with Blogger Commenting are related to the comment entry form. Besides the well known post template corruption problem, that is known to affect blogs using inline comments ("Embedded below post"), there are problems (not as well known) with blogs using a popup comment window.

Web sites which spawn popup (miniature) windows have been around for years. Besides some web sites which use popup windows for authentication ("Enter your name and password"), and error alerts ("Sorry, you can't do that - but here are some other possibilities"), there's one well known - and thoroughly disliked - use for popup windows.

Popup windows are very popular for displaying advertisements. Long ago, some spammers discovered that they can be used to display spam contents. Many browsers, by default, block popup windows.

If your blog uses the popup comments form, and some readers complain that they can't leave comments, this is one possible reason why they are complaining. You may have to advise them to configure their browsers, to allow popups from "blogger.com", "blogspot.com", and / or "google.com".

Besides the problems specific to the popup comments form, advise your readers of possible problems with CAPTCHA (word puzzle) verification (should you use that for commenting, in your blog), and for authentication (for any non anonymous comment entry). Both of those require the proper browser security settings also.

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