Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Custom Domain Publishing And Abandoned Blogs

We've been exploring the issues of Custom Domain Publishing for many years. The problem of custom domain database corruption, also known as
Another blog is already hosted at this address.
is one of the most commonly observed symptoms, with custom domain publishing problems.

The most common cause of the "Another blog ..." symptom is broken database pointers. In the past, the broken pointers have been associated with various Google Apps controlled services.
  • Ad Services.
  • Google Sites.
  • Start Page.
Now that Custom Domain Publishing is a mature feature in Blogger, there's a newly seen trend, in problems reported in Blogger Help Forum: Something Is Broken.
  • Blogger Blogs.

Ever since we started systematically diagnosing problems with custom domain publishing, and learned how to attack the most common problem, the "Another blog ..." symptom, we've learned to use an HTTP trace, and noted the many redirects to various services, in the domain database, that are controlled by Google Apps.

Now that Blogger has been using custom domain publishing for many years, we're starting to see a new trend in broken database pointers - Blogger blogs. Just as abandoned Blogger blogs are becoming a normal observation in general, so are abandoned Blogger blogs, published to custom domains.

Abandoned Blogger blogs are easy enough to diagnose - and similarly easy enough to treat.
Blogger accounts, and BlogSpot addresses, do not expire.
The solution is simple.
Pick another BlogSpot URL, and publish to that URL.
Custom domain URLs, however, should not be treated that way.

If you buy a domain - whether using "Buy a domain", or directly from a registrar of your choice - you expect that you should be able to use that domain with any Blogger blog that you may already own - regardless of whether another Blogger blog owner has previously used that domain with another Blogger blog. If you own a blog which is now broken, because of a Google database problem - and you are stressed enough over the URL change - how do you deal with the domain being broken, before you can even start to get the blog re indexed?

Unfortunately, differing from Ad Services, Sites, and Start Page, there is no Google Apps desktop wizard that lets you reset your registered domain, and clear a previously published - and abandoned - Blogger blog redirection.

As Blogger blogs - and custom domain publishing - becomes a more commonly used and abandoned service, this is going to become a progressively more common scenario.
My custom domain is already published - to another Blogger blog! Help!
And a more immediate and reliable solution needs to be developed, than submitting a "Magical" Custom Domain Reset request.


(Update 2012/09/18): Blogger has provided domain ownership verification, as part of the domain setup. This solution has, predictably, provided new frustrations.

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