Monday, April 30, 2012

Blogger Provides Details About Un Migrated Legacy Accounts

Blogger Support, in observing the confusion caused by the recent email about unmigrated legacy Blogger accounts, has taken action to reduce the confusion.

For the people unsure or unaware of what un migrated legacy accounts they may have, they now have a "Blogger legacy account data request" form. It's a very simple form - but you will be expected to exercise patience, before you receive actual detail.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Mass Confusion Caused By The Next Phase Of The Legacy Account Migration Process

Last week, Blogger started the next phase of the Legacy Account migration process. For several days, we have seen confusion, in Blogger Help Forum: Something Is Broken.
Why am I getting this email? Is it a scam?
and
I can't migrate my account!
and
I migrated my account, and my blogs disappeared from my dashboard!!

The people targeted in the email were registered owners of legacy (pre 2006) Blogger accounts, created before Blogger started using Google (email address based) accounts. The confused owners are similar to the ones with whom we have been dealing for several months, unable to regain access to their long dormant Blogger / Google accounts. Many do not remember creating accounts, others don't remember the login details, which are essential to blog control.

The confusion was caused jointly by Blogger, and by the blog owners. And, it was not a surprise, to Blogger Support.

eNom Hosted Custom Domains Showing Intermittent Connectivity Issues

We are seeing reports from owners of several Blogger blogs, published to custom domains, of intermittent connectivity problems, reported in Blogger Help Forum: Something Is Broken.
Recently, I have been unable to load my custom domain blog www.mydomain.com. My browsers (whether Chrome, Firefox, Safari, etc.) all tell me they are "unable to find the server". Various online utilities report problems also. I am able to get to Blogger and my dashboard for the blog, but nothing will load the page. All other services on my computer appear to be working normally.

The problem appears to be somewhat intermittent and varying across different ISPs, and various online utilities which I use.

The domains being reported all appear to be registered with eNom - and at first glance, domain registration appears normal. We have to do some detailed investigation to identify a consistent detail, which appears to be common to all individually reported domains.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Continued Inability To Update The Labels Gadget, With A Large Partial List

In February, we observed that various blog owners were reporting problems with updating label and link lists. We setup a problem rollup in Blogger Help Forum: Something Is Broken, where we observed a small but significant number of reports from unhappy blog owners, unable to update the gadgets on their blogs.

Last month, Blogger Support supposedly resolved the reported problem, and the volume of problem reports dropped significantly. The problem, however, has not been eliminated.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Adding An HTML / JavaScript / Text Gadget To Your Blog? Be Careful

An interesting bit of confusion is seen, occasionally, in Blogger Help Forum: Something Is Broken.
I added a gadget using code from a third party website - but the new gadget shows the code, instead of the gadget content, when I view my blog!
This is somebody who was confused by the options offered by the gadget setup wizard.

Before Publishing Back To BlogSpot, Get The DNS Addresses Right

One problem, occasionally seen in Blogger Help Forum: Something Is Broken, involves blog owners preparing to re use their custom domain for publishing their website - and who now need to publish their Blogger blog back to BlogSpot.
I need to reuse my domain for my website - but when I try to re publish my blog, I keep seeing
Another blog is already hosted at this address.
How can I get my blog back online?

When we look at the domain, and the DNS addresses, we see the domain pointing to the website, already. And this is where many custom domain publishing problems start.

Better Get Into The New Blogger GUI Soon - And Tell Blogger What Problems You Find

The New Blogger GUI (2011) was pushed out, during the past week, to a number of blog owners - and the complaints are showing up in Blogger Help Forum: Something Is Broken. Some are polite.
Please, Blogger - allow us the option of staying with the old format.
and some less polite
Are you listening Google? Your new interface SUCKS!
Only one thing is obvious - many people, suddenly finding themselves using the New GUI, do not like the New GUI.

Unfortunately, there are real reasons why the New GUI has been developed - and those reasons are not going to go away. The New GUI is here - to stay. Right now, comprehensive and objective criticism is needed, to convince Blogger to make it better - before they remove the Classic GUI altogether.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Referer Spam Cannot Be Blocked, Immediately

That is the unfortunate truth.

Every day, some new member of Blogger Help Forum: Something Is Broken asks, innocently
What is all this traffic from dodgy websites?
and after we explain what the dodgy traffic is, and why it does not reflect real traffic, the next question is
So why doesn't Google block it? Why should I have it polluting my Stats displays, and be unable to find actual traffic in my counts?
and the unfortunate truth is simply that Google cannot block it, because it's not significantly different from normal traffic - and the insignificant difference is not easily detected.

After Setting Up Your Custom Domain DNS Addresses, Always Verify Your Work

So many problems with custom domain publishing start with incorrectly setup DNS addresses. Sometimes the problems start with misunderstanding about the rigid requirements of DNS addresses, other times misunderstanding about how to use the Domain Manager tools provided - and sometimes the registrar gets involved, and causes problems.

Many times, I'll offer advice in Blogger Help Forum: Something Is Broken, and the reply will indicate the confusion.
Here's a screenshot of my settings - I can't see a problem!
or
I just got my registrar to setup the DNS addresses, as you gave me. Surely, they are right?
But we diagnose the problem, and find that the addresses are still wrong.

In business, we learn of the importance of using well known, standard testing procedures. People setting up a custom domain would do well to learn this concept, also.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Blogger Limits: Pages - Dynamic And Static

We see periodic evidence of the confusion about the differences between dynamic and static pages, expressed as limit uncertainties in Blogger Help Forum: How Do I?.
How many pages can I have in my blog?
and
Why can't I have more than 20 tabs in my top menu bar?
The Pages editor manages dynamic and static pages so transparently, not everybody realises where the limits are.

The Simplicity Of A Custom Domain Setup Presents Its Biggest Challenge

Custom domain publishing is a very simple way to give your Blogger blog a non BlogSpot URL - when you follow the recommended procedure. Along with the simplicity, you'll find rather rigid requirements, when any alternative procedure is used.

Too many blog owners, unfamiliar with the complexity of the custom domain infrastructure, try to "fly by the seat of their pants", when they see a requirement that they don't understand. This is the cause of many custom domain publishing problems.

First, understand some of the most common mistakes, made by people who do not use "Buy a domain".
As of 2013/06/23, "Buy a domain" is not offered, as part of "Add a custom domain". That reality does not change any of the necessities of proper domain setup, however. Substituting for "Buy a domain", Blogger offers instructions, in How do I use a custom domain name for my blog?.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Blogger Blogs Displaying Mysterious Transparent Boxes, Covering Blog Content

We're seeing a steady flood of problem reports about various Blogger blogs that have developed a mysterious transparent box, covering some portion of the blog surface when displayed. Some blogs display the box for all views, others for main page view only, and still others for specific individual posts. The box may be visible at the top of the page or in the middle - and may scroll with the screen, or may remain fixed relative to the display. In many cases, it blocks important blog content, and / or prevents clicking on crucial links.

Initial observations, during the immediately previous 2 - 3 days. referred to a "FaceBook or similar Social Networking gadget". Digging deeper, and looking closely at reported cases, we can look for the problem itself.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Blog Owners Reporting Various Security Related Issues, This Week

This week, we are seeing various reports from people who are reporting different problems with Blogger - all problems which were associated with security issues in the past. In the past couple days, we've seen several reports of problems with Commenting, and with Stats - both problems which were known, in the somewhat distant past, to be caused by filtering of cookies and / or scripts.

Post Editor Preview Mode, In The New Blogger GUI

We're seeing a few reports from blog owners having problems with Previewing their posts, using Post Editor in the New Blogger GUI.
I can't preview my blog post, while I am composing it!
It appears that Blogger has changed the New GUI Post Editor, to open the Preview window in a popup, instead of a new tab or window.

Almost all browsers, by default, block popup windows. If you want to use Preview Mode, in the New GUI, you'll have to check all relevant filters, and ensure that popup windows are allowed. It's possible that Blogger decided that a popup window was easier to provide than a separate tab / window, involving cross-site scripting, as the Template Designer Live Preview currently requires.

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Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Bloggers Trying To Login, Seeing "The page isn't redirecting properly", Revisited

For some time recently, we've been seeing numerous reports from people in Blogger Help Forum: Something Is Broken, unable to successfully login to Blogger.
I cannot log into Blogger - I keep getting this error
The page isn't redirecting properly.

Firefox has detected that the server is redirecting the request for this address in a way that will never complete.
In a few cases, we identified the underlying cause of the problem as disabling or refusing to accept cookies, or similar overly aggressive layered security procedures and settings. Feedback from some forum members, who were able to provide details, suggests another cause. The problem may be simpler - or more complex - to resolve.

Saturday, April 07, 2012

Problems With Non Google Hosted Photos Are Separate From Problems With Picasa Hosted Photos

We see daily evidence of confusion, in Blogger Help Forum: Something Is Broken, about photo hosting.
How much space do I get for photo storage?
and
What happened to the pictures on my blog?
and
Why does my blog look weird now?
Some of these questions come from photos (pictures) hosted by Google, others from photos (pictures) hosted outside Google - and the uncertainty about hosting leads to confusion about the problems.

Confusion Over Domain Expiration Dates Caused By "Buy a domain" Renewal

We're seeing some reports of panic, from a few Blogger blog owners who recently renewed registration of their "Buy a domain" purchased custom domains, with Google Apps informing them that their domain registration is now renewed - but with a back dated expiry. This appears to be a known Google Apps issue.

Roberto of "robertosblogs.net", in Another Google Stuff-up, shows us the confirmation letter, that he recently received from Google Apps.
This message confirms we have renewed your domain registration for robertosblogs.net with GoDaddy.com . Your credit card has been charged $10 and your domain registration is valid until April 5, 2011 .
Some people, reporting this scenario in Blogger Help Forum: Something Is Broken have been rather panicked, and fearful either that they had just wasted $10 - or that their domain now needs an additional payment (for 2 years?).

Thursday, April 05, 2012

How To Not Get Content For Your Blog

One of the oddest displays of naivete we see, from some blog owners, asking in Blogger Help Forum: How Do I?, would be
How do I let anybody post to my blog?
These owners have no idea how popular they would be, with spammers, were this to happen.

If you have a blog, and you want to let up to 99 of your closest friends publish their thoughts to your blog, you can setup a team blog, and have fun. Beyond that limit, you cannot - nor should you - go.

Confusion Over Domains Purchased Directly From The Registrar

Blogger / Google offers the optional ability to publish a Blogger blog to any available non BlogSpot URL, aka "Custom Domain Publishing" - and the process of setting up a custom domain is so simple - when we use the "Buy a domain" wizard. As simple as "Buy a domain" is, it involves details that are unbelievably complex - and too many blog owners, avoiding use of "Buy a domain", find out about these details the hard way.

One important detail about custom domain publishing involves the level of service, as purchased from the registrar. There are three basic levels of service, offered by many registrars.
  1. Name registration, only.
  2. DNS hosting / Name registration.
  3. Content hosting / DNS hosting / Name registration.
Choose the wrong service level, and you'll waste either time - or money. And, we all know that "time is money".

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Bloggers Trying To Login, Seeing "The page isn't redirecting properly"

Recently, we're seeing numerous reports from people in Blogger Help Forum: Something Is Broken, unable to successfully login to Blogger.
I cannot log into Blogger - I keep getting this error
The page isn't redirecting properly.

Firefox has detected that the server is redirecting the request for this address in a way that will never complete.
In a few cases, we are seeing a key clue to the cause of the problem.
This problem can sometimes be caused by disabling or refusing to accept cookies.
And this now looks like another case of overly aggressive layered security procedures and settings.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Blog Membership Is The Responsibility Of The Blog Administrators

We see occasional confusion in Blogger Help Forum: How Do I? about gaining (or re gaining) access to a given blog.
I made my buddy an administrator - and now, I can't control the blog. Who do I contact to get this corrected?
and
I was reader of a blog which is now private. Can Blogger provide me contact to the blog owner?
Not everybody realises that Blogger does not provide blog access / membership control.

The Blogger Country Code Aliases, And Search Engine Reputation

Many blog owners take great pride in publishing a blog that's read by many readers, and that is held in high esteem by the search engines.

Some owners have even installed various badges on their blogs, which automatically retrieve the Page Rank achieved by the blog, as distributed at the most recent Page Rank calculation. Recently, we've been seeing cries of anguish, in Blogger Help Forum: Something Is Broken.
I lost my Page Rank! My blog, as a ".com", had PR of 2 - but as ".in", it has 0! Woe is me!!
These owners do not understand that search engine reputation is still calculated and indexed using the ".com" alias.