Thursday, May 31, 2012

Spam Interdiction Sucks - But Not Having Spam Interdiction Sucks A Lot More

I've been writing about spam, and about Blogger blogs, for many years. In 2006, I started attacking spam in Blogger Help Forum. As I use this blog, to attack spammers, I have taken a few hits from spammers - including one from the referer spam producers, last year.

Besides the hits from spammers, I get an occasional unhappy non spammer, confusing my occasional remarks about spam, with evidence of my general lack of civility towards non spammers, falsely accused of spamming. And some non spammers seem to see this blog as a forum where they may air their gripes about Blogger, and about the Blogger spam classification policy in general.

Buying A Custom Domain Requires A Working Bank Issued Credit Card

As Blogger in general, and custom domain publishing in particular, becomes more popular in Asia and Africa, we are seeing more problems with the Blogger / Google domain purchase process. The basic problem, in Blogger Help Forum: Something Is Broken, will be expressed so simply.
My blog is showing an off-site redirect.
You're about to be redirected.

The blog that used to be here is now at http://www.mydomain.com.
Do you wish to be redirected?
What do I do now?

Some time ago, this report would have been diagnosed as spurious DNS addresses - and we would point out the necessities of proper custom domain DNS addressing, when setting up the domain yourself. Nowadays, an increasingly common diagnosis, for this problem, is an unsuccessfully purchased domain, using the Blogger / Google "Buy a domain" or Google Apps purchase process.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

A Template For Virginia USA, #4

As the frustrations about the CC TLD aliases continue to be reported in Blogger Help Forum: Something Is Broken, and some of the details are discovered and resolved, we are seeing suggestions of other, more subtle problems.

Some blog owners claim that their page rank / search engine reputation has taken a nose dive, because their readership is spread out over many different countries. Apparently, canonical resolution by the search engines does not work, for all "blogspot.com" published blogs. Older blogs, including those with Classic (HTML based) templates - and possibly some older Layout templates - seem to lack canonical resolution.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Attention Canadian Blog Owners: The URL Of Your Blog Is "BlogSpot.com" - NOT "BlogSpot.ca"

We have a number of blog owners, apparently located in Canada, who have been sharing their "blogspot.com" published Blogger blogs, using the "blogspot.ca" alias. This week, two major services - FaceBook and McAfee Anti-Malware, have decided that links mentioning "blogspot.ca" are not trustworthy.

Use of the Country Code aliases - of which "blogspot.ca" is simply one of many - has provided potential for confusion, for some time. What some blog owners may not realise is that only the online viewers of the blog (and the owners, viewing their own blogs) see the "blogspot.ca" alias - and only when they are located in Canada. At the same time, people in Malaysia see their blog (and other blogs, published to "blogspot.com") as "blogspot.my", people in Mexico see their blog as "blogspot.mx", etc.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Concentrate On Your Readers, Not On The Spammers

We've been exploring the nature of referer spam for over a year now. I've provided various suggestions about the problem - what you should not do, the observation that it does not actually show traffic to your blog, and even why Stats is vulnerable to this abuse.

To the most frequently asked question
What do I do about it?
the answer is generally
Don't click on the links.
And that's just half of the answer, if we think about it.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

CAPTCHA Verification Required For Excessive Posting Volume

Occasionally in Blogger Help Forum: Something Is Broken, we see a query from a confused blog owner.
I made a large number of posts today, and Blogger is now requiring me to solve a CAPTCHA, for every post. I tried to find the form to submit, so that my website could be reviewed, but I could not find it. What do I do, now?
This blog owner, like too many, does not understand the spam mitigation policy.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Setting Options In The Post Template

Every person who maintains a Blogger blog (or other web site) has his or her own idea about what features she or he wants to present, on his or her blog / web site.

With a Classic template, this need was provided only by editing the blog template, using HTML. With a Layouts / Designer template, besides letting us add and move template objects all over the display page, Blogger gives us the ability to add and move objects all over the post layout. This, too, is done without even opening the "Edit HTML" Template wizard.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Dynamic Templates, As Part Of Blogger History

Recently, we've seen people who want to use a dynamic template on their blog - but are unwilling to put up with the limitations.
Why can't Google make its Dynamic View Template easy to customize?
and
Why can't I choose who I want reading my blog, and let my readers use a dynamic view?
and
Why should I publish my blog to a "Dynamic Template" - which appears to be Google speak for "It doesn't work at all."?
Not every Blogger blog owner realises why the dynamic templates work as they do, yet offer as few options.

Confusion Over Newer Browser Versions Not Being Accepted By Blogger

Occasionally, we see confused blog owners reporting a problem with using Blogger, because of their browser version.
I am seeing an error when I try to use Blogger.
Your browser is no longer supported by Blogger. Some parts of Blogger will not work and you may experience problems.
I just upgraded, last week, to the latest version of Internet Explorer! What now?
And this is one blog owner who does not understand Blogger, and their browser support policy.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Follow Blogs, Without A Followers Gadget

Recently, Blogger cleaned up the Navbar somewhat - and removed the "Follow" link. This left some blog would be Followers inconvenienced.
How do I Follow blogs, that don't have a Followers gadget?
There has always been a third way to Follow a blog, provided by Blogger - though not everybody may be aware of it.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

The New GUI (2011) Is Here - And Is Not Going Away

Last month, Blogger took the next step in making us use the New Blogger GUI, and started migrating our accounts, aggressively. This change did not please a lot of people.

Why won't Google admit the new interface is an utter failure, and scrap it?
This is an example of misguided optimism. Blogger is not simply going to scrap it.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Creating A New Blog

In terms of questions which seem, to me, to be on the level as the legendary question
Who is buried in Grant's Tomb?
the question, asked by some folks in Blogger Help Forum: How Do I?
How do I setup a new blog?
would seem to be at the top of the list. But, it's not necessarily so, for everybody.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Blogger Magic - Publish Posts To Pages

Ever since Blogger gave us the option to add pages to our blogs - and provided the complementary Pages index gadget - blog owners have asked, periodically
How do I publish my posts to pages?
This is a pretty simple procedure, too - once we understand the complementary nature of dynamic and static pages.

The New Blogger GUI Is Still Not Ready For Prime Time

This month, we're increasing aware of the approaching day when The New Blogger GUI (aka the "New Interface") will become The Blogger GUI. As suggested last year,
In about two weeks from today, all Blogger accounts that haven’t yet made the switch will be upgraded to the new user interface. You will be able to opt-out at any time by clicking the “Switch back” link; however, all accounts will eventually be permanently upgraded.
The aggressive upgrade was experienced by many last month - not enjoyably. Personally, I went through several days when I had to, repeatedly, revert to The Classic GUI.

The permanent upgrade is yet to be scheduled - possibly, because of continued opposition - and several very noticeable omissions.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Improved Stub Blog Using Search Preferences Features

I've been advising people to use a stub blog, when renaming (changing the URL of) a blog, for a few years.
Hey folks, this blog has moved to http://mynewblogspoturl.blogspot.com.
That's a stub post - and a blog, containing only a stub post, is a stub blog.

A stub blog is a compromise, based on the Blogger anti-spam policy which prevents Blogger blogs from automatically redirecting from an old URL to a new URL.
  • The stub post replaces the main page - not the individual post pages, not archive retrievals, label searches, etc.
  • The stub post contains a minimum of information.
The stub post is simply better than nothing.

But now, maybe you can provide something a bit better than a simple stub post, to let your readers know that your blog now has a new URL.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Confusion Between Draft Blogger And Production Blogger, In Various New Blogger GUI Problems

Occasionally, in answering a problem report in Blogger Help Forum: Something Is Broken which involves custom domain publishing, or the Post Editor, or maybe template editing, we'll start by simply advising the blog owner to revert to the Classic GUI.
Click on the Gear icon, and select "Old Blogger interface".
Even when reverting to the Classic GUI is an acceptable - and effective - solution, we may not always get a positive response.
Where is the Gear icon?
or
I don't have a selection for "Old Blogger interface"!
Sometimes, this is not purely from the blog owner, balking at the unwanted change.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Confusion Between The New Blogger GUI, And Dynamic Templates

Recently, we're seeing some possible confusion between the design of our blogs, and the design of the menus and utilities used to maintain and publish our blogs.
I like my blog, as it is! Please, Blogger, don't make me change my blog!
Not everybody, posting in Blogger Help Forum: How Do I?, understands the changes that Blogger and Google is making.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Changing Blog Ownership Only Changes How You Maintain And Publish The Blog

Occasionally blog owners get confused about the effects of blog ownership changes, and various Settings values. We'll see odd questions in Blogger Help Forum: How Do I?.
I just changed the email address of the blog owner - but comments are still going to the old address.
and
How do I change the email address used in emailing my posts to my blog?
Not all blog owners realise that blog ownership, and various Settings values, are separate from each other.

Friday, May 11, 2012

The New Blogger GUI, And The White Screen Of Death

Ever since Blogger became more aggressive with the distribution of their New Interface, we've been seeing more reports in Blogger Help Forum: Something Is Broken about a frustrating problem.
When I type in "www.blogger.com" - or try to pull up my dashboard - the website "thinks" for a minute, acts like it is going to load, then nothing is displayed.
This is another way of describing an Internet symptom - observed from time to time - and generically known as the (dreaded) "white screen of death".

The "white screen of death" is not unique to the New GUI - it's been reported in the forums, in the past, for various causes. It's possible that various design features of the New GUI are making it more likely to be observed, right now.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

The Time Window To Restore A Deleted Google Account Is Limited

We've known for a while about the limited ability for Blogger to restore a deleted blog. Recently, we learned about a second, and possibly more severe, restore limit.

Google Accounts: Deleting or restoring a Google account warns us that the ability to restore a deleted Google account is limited.
If you accidentally deleted your Google Account, you can attempt to restore it by going to our password assistance page within a limited window of time after deletion.
Without any authoritative source to quote, I am told that the "limited window" is less than a business week.

If you delete your Google account, you have to have the account restored - not recreated - if you hope to regain use of your Blogger account - and (if necessary) have your blogs also restored. If this happens, you will need to act quickly - and hope that you can provide the necessary details, to regain control of your account and / or blogs.

>> Top

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Confusion About The New GUI, And Reading List Management

As the New Blogger GUI becomes more of a standard, in the Blogger blog world, we're seeing evidence of confusion about the differences in the icons and the menus.
How do I UnFollow a blog?
is one question that we're seeing, from a few confused blog Followers, this week.

The answer is right there, in front of you, when you're looking at the Blog List / Reading list. The Gear icon, to the right of "Reading list"(in the New GUI), replaces the blue "Manage" button at the bottom of the page (in the Classic GUI).

Just click on the Gear icon, and you're there, ready to Manage your blog community. But don't confuse the Gear icon to the right of "Reading list", with the Gear icon at the top of each dashboard page.

>> Top

Creating A Floating Background, To Make The Blog Content More Readable

This blog started out using a Layout template, name "Minima". When I applied a Designer template, I selected the Designer equivalent of "Minima", name "Simple".

Long ago, I picked a template background - which looked slightly better than boring - for this blog. The blog looked fairly decent with the content text floating over the background, when viewed using a high resolution, full colour ("32 bit" palette) display.

Unfortunately, not everybody who views this blog uses a high resolution, 32 bit colour palette. During the past couple years, I have observed various comments published here, from people who did not find it easy reading the text, floating over the naked blog background.

Sunday, May 06, 2012

New Custom Domains "In Transition" And Various Blog Gadgets

About a year after Blogger introduced custom domain publishing, they segmented the custom domain publishing process. In order to avoid database corruption, which was a frequent cause of the "Another blog ..." problem, they introduced a delay period, which we call "Transition". Transition lets them delay key blog updates - until the world wide DNS infrastructure has a chance to reliably update with information about any new Google custom domains.

In the beginning, Transition lasted almost exactly 72 hours, and delayed creation of the "301 Moved Permanently" redirect from the BlogSpot to domain URL. Later, when Following became a fixture on most blogs, we observed that the Followers gadget was also being updated on a Transition based delay.

The Followers gadget is not the only accessory that references the blog URL - and recently, we observed that more features are subject to Transition based update delays.

Friday, May 04, 2012

Internet Identity - Yours, And The Other Guy's

One issue in Blogger Help Forum: Something Is Broken, that has always fascinated me, involves how we validate our existence, as a Blogger blog owner. Along with the periodic demand
I want that URL for my blog - it's my name!
and
Why was my blog deleted?
comes the intriguing demand
I want that blog deleted - the owner is impersonating me!

Some time ago, Blogger provided us with a definition of the complementary concepts of defamation and impersonation. Impersonation (identity theft) is a Blogger TOS offense - and if righteously reported, can be judged by Google Legal. Defamation (ridicule, slander, trash talk), on the other hand, is a civil or criminal offense (depending upon your country of residence) - and must be judged in a government court. Even with the difference defined, there are ways to confuse defamation and impersonation, in forum discussions.

Thursday, May 03, 2012

Confusion Over Custom Domains Using AdSense For Domains DNS Servers

I've been warning people for years about the lack of detail provided by Google, in their instructions about setting up a custom domain, with the domain registration purchased directly from a registrar
.... you only need to get the domain name; you don't have to pay extra for hosting service.
That was an observation, that I made, 5 years ago.

The Google provided instructions were recently changed - unfortunately, not to satisfy every new domain owner's need for detail. Recently, we're seeing new evidence of confusion - which appears to start with Google instructions, again.

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.

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

The Limits In Your Blogger Blog

One interesting question, seen occasionally in Blogger Help Forum: How Do I?, seems to focus not on what can be done - but on what can't.
What are the limits, that apply to my Blogger blog?
Some people are accustomed to dealing with resource limits, imposed on websites hosted by paid hosting services, which meter service based on bandwidth and storage space used by a blog or website.

Blogger / Google does not spend time monitoring our blogs, and what resources we use. Neither bandwidth or storage size are limited. However, there are some limits on the content, which may restrict growth of our blogs. If we're aware of these limits, we can work around them.