Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Three Strikes, And You're Out

In the American game of baseball, each player while performing in the offensive role has three chances to swing the bat and hit the ball. If he does not connect with the ball in any way, on the third chance, he is "out" and goes to the bench.

As a blogger, and when your blog is detected as hosting possible spam content, you have three strikes, too.
  1. An automated spam classification process, performed by a Blogger bot, inspects your blog, possibly with a few other blogs, and locks or deletes your blog.
  2. A manual review process, performed by people, inspects your blog again, and objectively asks whether or not it is actually hosting spam. This is done after you complete the sometimes hated 4 step review process.
  3. A second manual review process, performed by people, inspects your blog for a third time, and carefully asks whether the first two processes were correct. This is done after the review process, and is generally referred to as "escalation". This is the final recourse which you have, when you wish to continue publishing this blog.


If any one of the three steps concludes that your blog is not hosting spam, you get on base and may have a chance to, sometime later, score a point ("run") for your team. If none of the three steps finds your blog innocent of hosting spam, you get to go sit on the bench, because you are "out".

In baseball, the difference between the pitch made with one strike against the batter, and two strikes against the batter, is significant. With one strike against him, the batter can somewhat afford to be selective, and wait for a pitch that he likes; with two strikes, the batter almost has to swing, at any decent looking pitch. The batter is at a disadvantage, with the second strike pitch - because the third strike represents his last chance to accomplish something.

In spam reviews, it's to your benefit to submit the "second strike" review request, from the dashboard link. The review submitted from the dashboard link is done sooner, and it's more permissive. The review submitted from the forum request is much more carefully done, and is more restrictive. Most blog owners want their blogs reviewed and restored, as soon as possible.

All players must abide by the decision of the umpires. If the umpires rule that you're out, then you are out. Go play in another league, if you wish, or wait for your turn to possibly bat again, later (if the game does not end before that time). While you wait, read the Blogger Content Policy, the Blogger TOS, and the Google TOS.

It's that simple. Three strikes, and you're out.

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8 comments:

Roberto said...

That analogy should get the message across, even to non-sports fans!
Good one, Chuck!

Thatsnews said...

Yes. But what if you are playing soccer or Rugby, or American Football and some umpire yells: "Strike!!!"

It's as if you are playing by one set of rules, yet Blogger is playing by another set of rules.

Of course, if they told you the rules in the first place. But, wait! If they told us the rules, those sneaky spam bloggers would see what the rules were, too! And Blogger thinks it best to can years of work of a handful of Bloger.com users rather than to allow some spam bloggers to spam.

This is an example of very poor management think, were the process is more important than the product or the legitimate user. It's almost as if Blogger.com is operated by the corporation that Dilbert works for.

Chuck said...

This is an example of very poor management think, were the process is more important than the product or the legitimate user.

Were the user to get just 2 strikes, with the automated classification taking equal importance, your statement would make sense.

One of the reasons why the "third strike" (final review) takes so long, in many cases, is that many blogs are confirmed only after intense conferencing between various Blogger / Google personnel. They don't confirm spam blogs, casually.

If they decide that the last pitch was a strike, they have very carefully decided that the content of the blog does not warrant being part of Blogger. If you are confirmed, then you get to start over, with a new blog. It's that simple.

Blogger is a "free" website hosting service. If you decide to play in their ball park, you agree to play by their rules. If you publish questionable content, you suffer the consequences.

Maybe you don't agree with their conclusions - that's your right, as a blogger. That does not make you right, though.

Jim DeSantis said...

I beg to question the "3 strikes" analogy.

I was never actually told 3 times that I was out. I was only told 1 time and that was that the "bot" inadvertently flagged me as a spammer. The notice said I probably was not a spammer because I was reading the notice at that moment to prove I was a real person/blogger.

I suspect my problem was caused because I began using the mail2blogger function. I think this because there apparently has been some trouble with mail2blogger lately. Do a Google search to see what I mean.

Anyway, I appealed through my Admin Panel (several times over 2 months) and nothing happened. No 2nd strike notice. I then went to Blogger Help Forum and, following nitecruz's excellent advice, I completed the 3 steps of the appeal process.

Again, no 2nd strike.

I then got nitecruz to escalate for me. Last week, DarkUFO reported that my blogs are spam blogs and will NOT be reinstated. Strike 2? Not strike 3!

I asked DarkUFO to clarify whether he/she was speaking for Google/Blogger. No answer. I have asked nitecruz to find out for me.

I think you can see why some of us are critical of the appeal process and why your analogy doesn't line up with the reality of the process. I wish it was as clear and simple as you make it out to be.

Something similar happened to me 2 years ago. It was quickly corrected by Blogger. Unfortunately, that is not the case today. Perhaps the right hand no longer knows what the left hand is doing?

Jim

Chuck said...

Jim,

Are you actually a fan of American baseball? There are subtleties, and conventions, that you may not be getting.

First, you (the batter) is only "out" after the three strikes have been "missed". The batter will only be out on strikes after the third strike is either called, or missed - a third strike is never a "foul ball".

Second, the umpire will call strikes according to his own personal standard. Some umpires like to call strikes loudly ("Striiike"), while others may simply grunt, or say the number ("One"). The batter has to listen carefully for the calls.

Third, "DarkUFO" is English, and his style of calling the plays differs from mine. And I am not sure that he even watches American baseball.

The bottom line, Jim, is that you are "out". No amount of complaining about personal peccadilloes, nuances, or subtleties exhibited by the umpires is likely to get you on base - let alone score a run - in this inning.

Nkdgyz said...

Hi Chuck,

The analogy is fine if it really works that way. I question much of what I am reading in the help forum in regards to my issue. Now I read this thread and am left more skeptical.

Here is what I know of my blog's closure, and why I am left being a somewhat disbeliever:

Our blog was closed at roughly 4:45am on August 20. I know that by our visitor counter. We were getting roughly 1,000 visitors per hour and the blog was closed 4,000 visitors after we took count at 12:30am on August 20.

I know our visitor count because the counter widget was installed into our new blog and it began the new count where the old blog left off. That is not something Blogger could foresee.

The blog was closed at 4:45am. I did not discover the closure until 11:00am that same day, over 6 hours later.

When I signed-in at 11:00am and saw the blog was locked I followed the step given to get it reinstated. Less than an hour later I received a response email from Blogger.

Regardless of the content of that response email, what struck me most was when the response email was sent.

The response email to my request for a review of the closure was (created) sent at 4:45am on August 20, over 6 hours before I requested a review.

It was not a true response email to my request. It was an automated response created long before I asked for a review. At 4:45am it was not a response conducted by a human either.

A bot conducted an automatic review of the closure, maybe the same bot that closed us, but a human did not conduct the review or send us the response.

I wrote a letter to Google in Mountain View, not far from where I grew up and live, on August 20. I've been to Shoreline Amphitheatre several times for concerts. I just mailed a follow up letter to the same address today.

Someone higher up needs to review the entire review process for blogs that are closed, at least ones that are closed for suspected spam.

6 weeks have been lost to downtime, 6 weeks that will never be given back, ll over something I did not do and have no control over.

You guys and gals who work for Google may think you are doing a bang up job, and when things work the way they should for Google users I suppose you are. It is when things go wrong when Blogger seems to need help. You should feel good about the work you do, but you should also admit that some things are not right and try a little better to acknowledge and understand the frustration by users who are improperly closed.

Have a good day.

Mike of Nkdgyz

http://nakedpublicguyz.blogspot.com/

Chuck said...

Mike,

A very well phrased argument. But that argument would be better posted in the forum discussion.

And I'll continue to ask for Step #4, by itself.

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