Thursday, July 08, 2010

Diagnosing Problems With Your Blogger / BlogSpot Connectivity

One of the most frustrating problems reported occasionally in in BHF: Something Is Broken comes in very terse langauge.
I can't access my blog.
or slightly longer
I can't access any blogs
.or possibly
I can't access Blogger.
In situations where the blog owner, and / or any number of blog readers, are cooperative, and able to take a few minutes to perform some simple tests, we can conduct a Affinity based analysis - or possibly an Affinity / Differential Analysis.

Given the cases (which are, unfortunately, not consistently seen) where the URL of the missing blog is provided in the problem report, and we are able to access the missing blog ourselves, we frequently resort to a canonical diagnostic procedure, before starting a more comprehensive diagnosis.
Here are replicas of the same article. Can you read all 7? Please be specific - which ones can you, and which can't you, read?
  1. http://blogger-status-for-real.blogspot.com/2006/07/help-my-blog-is-gone.html
  2. http://blogger-status-for-real.blogspot.com/ncr/2006/07/help-my-blog-is-gone.html
  3. http://blogger-status-for-real.blogspot.co.uk/2006/07/help-my-blog-is-gone.html
  4. http://bloggerstatusforreal.blogspot.com/2006/07/help-my-blog-is-gone.html
  5. http://blogging.nitecruzr.net/2006/07/help-my-blog-is-gone.html
  6. http://groups.google.com/group/blogger-help/web/my-blog-is-gone
  7. http://www.google.com/support/forum/p/blogger/thread?tid=7a80abd00b3cd7d8&hl=en
If you can open either of the latter two, read them carefully.

From observing the responses seen frequently, it appears that the 7 tests identified above, are seen as frivolous or trivial. This, however, is not the case. All tests complement each other - and none are redundant. If executed in precise sequence, when a problem is observed, they can help to focus on many known or suspected connectivity problems.

By understanding the principles of causality and epidemiology, we know that when we see a possible connectivity problem reported at low volume, it's likely that the problem is at least partially caused by the individual computer or Internet connection. When the problem is reported at high volume, this test set, provided consistently, helps us see a non spurious relationship between the many reports - and productively forward an urgent problem report to Blogger Engineering.

The first task is to identify the nature of the problem - and this is where the 7+ link test comes into play. If you post a forum question - and the 7+ link test is suggested in a reply - take a couple minutes, click on the 7+ links, and note which ones lead (or do not lead) to properly provided advice. Read the advice. And finally, reply and tell us the results.

So, what is special and unique about the 7+ links? Let's look, briefly.
  • "blogger-status-for-real.blogspot.com" is a Blogger blog, published to "blogspot.com" only.
  • "blogger-status-for-real.blogspot.com/ncr" is a Blogger blog, published to "blogspot.com" only - and accessed through the CC alias override, in countries where CC aliasing is in effect.
  • "blogger-status-for-real.blogspot.co.uk" is the UK alias of "blogger-status-for-real.blogspot.com". If the problem is identified for a specific country, "co.uk" may be changed to the CC alias that's relevant.
  • "bloggerstatusforreal.blogspot.com" is a Blogger blog, published to a Google Custom Domain.
  • "blogging.nitecruzr.net" is the custom domain alias for "bloggerstatusforreal.blogspot.com".
  • "groups.google.com/group/blogger-help" is the old Blogger Support forum.
  • "www.google.com/support/forum/p/blogger" is the current Blogger Support forum.

Each of the 7 linked articles contains a (replicated, as much as possible) alias of my first diagnostic procedure, Help! My Blog Is Gone! That name identifies one frequently seen complaint, in BHF: Something Is Broken.

That set of 7+ links (plus any which I may add, according to your individual complaint) comprises one simple affinity test. And any collection of multiple 7+ link observations, taken over a period of time by one person - or taken by multiple people - constitutes an affinity differential test.

Adding in 3 to 5 aliases of the specific blog mentioned by the owner - or readers - allows an affinity comparison between the different aliases of my blog(s), and the aliases of the problem blog. And multiple affinity sets allow an affinity differential comparison.

And a properly assembled affinity differential set can make a difference between Blogger Engineering diagnosing and fixing a problem today - and sometime next month.

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