Monday, December 31, 2012

Stats And The "Don't track ..." Option, Used With Multiple Browsers And Shared Computers

The controversial nature of Stats and the "Don't track ..." option, which requires a third party cookie to enable the option to work, continues.

Even with all possible cookie filter properly set, and a consistent cookie clearing policy established, some blog owners persist in reporting that there are problems with Stats inconsistently observing the setting to not track their pageviews.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Adding The Domain Ownership Verification "CNAME", For A Non Root Virtual Host

Now that the new required custom domain publishing ownership verification feature has been out for several months, we are seeing it used in domains with multiple virtual hosts.

A few blog owners are even publishing their blogs to non root virtual hosts - and here we are seeing a new reason for a persistent Error 12 / 32, which just can't be solved.
I have followed all of the instructions, and I am still seeing Error 12. Help!

The "Advanced settings" Error 12 instructions - now provided on screen instead of requiring the blog owner to open an external "Settings instructions" document - require careful examination.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Would Be Blog Owners Report Inability To Create A Blog

We are currently seeing frustration, in Blogger Help Forum: Something Is Broken, about new blog creation.

Would be new blog owners have various concerns
I can't create a blog - the "Create" button is grey (inoperative)!
or
It keeps saying
Verifying availability
when I enter a blog name!!
or even
It said
This blog address is available.
until I hit "Create blog!" - then it changed to
Sorry, this blog address is not available.

Each of these problem reports - and others - may come from people who don't read the instructions, for using the wizard. Alternately, some folks may be complaining about yet one more case of over done layered security.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Remove The "Next Blog" Link From The Navbar

Ever since Blogger added the "Next Blog" link to the Blogger Navbar, blog owner and readers alike have periodically asked one question, in Blogger Help Forum: How Do I?.
How do I remove the "Next Blog" link, from the Navbar?
The "Next Blog" link, long ago added to generate random traffic for new blogs, is occasionally perceived as leading unwary readers to blogs where they should not wish to go. Some "adults" of various intention have asked this question, quite seriously, in fear of their blogs being inadvertently linked to blogs with unsavoury content.

The navbar coded as it is, there is no known ability to customise it, and to remove specific elements such as the "Next Blog" link. Generally, we simply advise people, when they have the need, to remove the Navbar.
Use the Layout wizard, Edit the "Navbar" gadget, and select "Off".

Monday, December 24, 2012

Blog Readers Report Comments, Supposedly Published Using A Mobile Computer, Appear To Disappear

Recently, we've been seeing a few problem reports in Blogger Help Forum: Something Is Broken, mentioning problems publishing comments on Blogger blogs, when using mobile computers.
My readers tell me that they can't comment on my blog, using an iPad. Comments disappear, when they try to publish them.
As with a previously explored problem with comments on a non mobile computer, this problem may involve unfamiliarity with the publishing sequence.

The dialogue involved in publishing a comment, when using a desktop computer with a full size display and a non mobile Blogger template, is not simple. Depending upon the various commenting options selected by the owner, the publishing sequence may be even more complex. Blog owners may need to consider the additional details involved in comment publishing, when using a mobile computer.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Some Blog Owners Reporting The Template Designer Changes Do Not Update On Their Blogs

For several weeks, we're been seeing various reports in Blogger Help Forum: Something Is Broken, mentioning problems with template updates, being made using the Template Designer wizard.

The reports are not so widespread to indicate a complete malfunction - but neither can we dismiss the problem, as being unique to one browser, one template type, or one particular update pattern.

It's likely that we are looking at a number of problems, aggregated and compounded, into one common symptom.
I cannot Save changes in Template Designer.
With a problem report like this, some examining of the details may be appropriate.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Disable The Mobile Template, On Your Blog - As A Default View

Over a year ago, Blogger introduced a useful template option for our blogs - mobile templates.
Blogger mobile templates are mobile-optimized versions of our Template Designer templates. If you are using one of these templates, when you enable the mobile template option your blog will begin rendering using the mobile version of the same variant. Even if you are not using a Template Designer template, or using a heavily-customized version of one, you can still enable this feature to have your blog start rendering in a generic default mobile template that we have created.
The mobile templates let computers with lower display size / resolution - aka PDAs, mobile phones, and smart phones - display the content of our blogs, without the unnecessary overhead which may be a part of our normal blog formatting.

If you are viewing this post on your smart phone, it's likely that you are viewing it using a mobile template. As exciting as the mobile templates are, however, they will not replace the normal, full feature templates - on every blog, or on every mobile computer.

Visitor Logs Cause Undue Concern, When Visitors Click On Cached Icons

We see periodic concern, expressed in Blogger Help Forum: Something Is Broken, over apparent visitor access to blog maintenance wizards, using the Quick Edit icons.
I found this entry, in my StatCounter log. How did this person get access to my blog?
http://www.blogger.com/post-edit.g?blogID=7834826019588534175&postID=890014875501476492&from=pencil
Was my blog hacked?


This may not be a justified reason to panic, however. One may first wish to check that Stats (or whatever visitor log is in use, in this case) is properly configured, to not track your own activity. The link that you see may reflect your activity.

Even if the visitor log entry in question does not appear to reflect your own activity - even when allowing for the vagaries of geo location, you may still do well to remain calm.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Use Of Google+ For Networking, And Keeping Your Blogger Account And Blogs Safe

One constant activity in Blogger Help Forum: Something Is Broken involves blog owners whose blogs were deleted - either righteously or spuriously - as part of the ongoing battle against spam, in Blogger blogs. Generally, the problem comes directly from the blog content.

Sometimes, the problem is more subtle.
When I tried to login to Blogger, I got a screen that said my account needed to be verified, due to "unusual activity on my account". Having verified my account, I see that my blogs have been deleted.
This is part of one of the more intriguing episodes, in the never ending fight against hacking and spam, in Blogger.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Submitting A Court Order To Google

Periodically, we have discussions in Blogger Help Forum: Something Is Broken, about issues, that absolutely cannot be resolved in a forum problem discussion.

These issues will vary, by relationship to a given blog, as well as by nature of the offense perceived.Some of these complaints may have been reported to Google, in an ongoing effort, for years.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

After Using "Buy a domain", Blog Owners Are Seeing "Server error" From Google Apps

Ever since Google ended its free Google Apps accounts, we've been seeing reports in Blogger Help Forum: Something Is Broken, about problems encountered when setting up a new Google Apps account, to administer a newly purchased custom domain.
Every time I try to login to Google Apps, using instructions in the email message, I get
Server Error: We could not process your request at this time, please try again later.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Redirecting The Home Page, And Mobile Templates

Everything has its limits - even Blogger features. For a while, we've been seeing hints that mobile templates don't support a redirected Home page.
How do I disable the Blogger mobile redirect "/?m=1"?
Some blog owners would prefer their readers, using a mobile computer, see a redirected Home page, with a desktop template - instead of a mobile display with a dynamic Home page.

Apparently, the mobile redirect
/?m=1
overrides the Home page redirect
/
Actually, this makes sense. "/?m=1" (the redirected mobile template URL snippet) is not equal to "/" (the redirected Home page URL snippet).

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Template Designer Upgrades Require Supporting Updates To The Individual Blog Templates

This week, we're seeing a small flood of problem reports in Blogger Help Forum: Something Is Broken about problems with the Template Designer.
Every time I change something, I have to refresh the page in order for it to show up. It won't "Save" when I try to save the layout changes. It just says "Saving..." at the top of the page and fades away, but doesn't actually save any changes.

Many problems involve changes made to the template, using the Designer, which aren't being saved - or are broken when saved. Most of the people reporting these problems have made changes to the template, previously - some are so experienced at making changes, they can't believe that their latest changes could ever have problems.

Interestingly, this history of changes is not a coincidence - and it's likely that some of the changes helps to cause these problems.

The Content Of Your Reading List Is Your Responsibility

Occasionally, we see an odd problem report about Reading List content, in Blogger Help Forum: Something Is Broken.
How did this blog get into my Reading List? I did not Follow this blog!

Most people will not, knowingly, Follow a spam blog. This is one reason why Following is so popular - each blog owner, and blog reader can easily bypass, and actively block - spam. Spammers have, however, found devious ways to convince people to Follow them.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Blogger Magic - Activating The Blog Feed

One of the neatest - and easiest - ways to make your blog available to a larger audience uses a replica of the blog posts - the blog newsfeed. Most blogs, when new, have the feed activated by default.

Oddly enough, some blogs do not publish a newsfeed. Some blog owners, wondering why their blogs are not being indexed by the search engines, are perplexed.
Why isn't my blog publishing a feed?

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Redirecting Any URL In Your Blog, To Another URL In Your Blog

Several months ago, Blogger Engineering gave us a new Blogger feature - the ability to redirect any URL in a blog, to any other URL in the blog. Like any feature, we found an immediate use for it - something much requested, for a good while.

Other people have found more uses for the redirection feature - and still others have found confusion. The syntax used in the redirection "From" and "To" values is not always obvious - and occasionally there is confusion about what can - and can't - be done with redirection.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Use Free Online Website Display Services, To Diagnose Browser Related Problems

Look at the Audience display, in Stats. How many different entries do you see, in "Pageviews by Browser" and "Pageviews by Operating System"? Stats lists are limited to 10 entries, each. Do you ever wonder if those lists, like the other Stats lists, should be longer? How do we ever hope to observe our blogs, and see what they look like, for our many different readers?

One of the challenges of publishing a Blogger blog is developing a blog that looks good, on every reader's browser and computer. The number of combinations of operating system times browser brand times browser version - any of which can create a display oddity, when viewing any blog or website - is staggering.

Saturday, December 08, 2012

Google Apps Ends Availability Of Their Free Edition

Last week, Google dropped a bombshell on many small client developers.
Starting on December 6, 2012, Google will no longer offer new accounts for the free edition of Google Apps. Google Apps free edition is sometimes referred to as "Standard Edition."

This announcement will bring changes to Blogger, and to custom domain publishing. Many owners of Blogger blogs published using the Google Custom Domain feature have learned to use various Google Apps wizards, to setup and to maintain their domains.

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Stats Time Ranges, And Pageview Count Recalculations, Cause Confusion

Periodically, we see evidence of confusion about Stats and the pageview counts, as provided in the various displays and time ranges, expressed in Blogger Help Forum: Something Is Broken.
My pageview counts keep going down!
or
My counts go up during the day - but in the afternoon, they drop to zero!!
or
My counts keep going down! There's no end to the drop!!

All of these complaints - and more - involve blog owners, who don't understand the relationships between the displays and time ranges.

We've explored the results of the ongoing referer spam war, of normal viewer activity, and of the daily pageview count reset which is applied, simultaneously, to all blogs. Besides those 3 issues, there is some confusion about the relationships between the various time ranges.

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

The Stats "All Time" Display, And The 2011 Numbers

Occasionally in Blogger Help Forum: Something Is Broken, we see a curious question, which is repeated.
My blog Stats display is missing a complete year.
The problem is actually right there, in front of all of us - if we look. We showed this last year - for 2010.

Adding AdBrite Ads To Your Blog May Cause Spurious Spam Classification

For several months, we've been seeing reports from various Blogger blog owners, about yet another possible source of spurious spam classification.
I just received the email:
Hello,

Your blog at http://yourblog.blogspot.com/ has been reviewed and confirmed as in violation of our Terms of Service for: MALICIOUS_JAVASCRIPT. In accordance to these terms, we've removed the blog and the URL is no longer accessible. For more information, please review the following resources:

Blogger Terms of Service: http://blogger.com/terms.g
Blogger Content Policy: http://blogger.com/go/contentpolicy

-The Blogger Team

This happened almost immediately after I added HTML script recommended to me from AdBrite.

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Fluctuations In Stats Pageview Counts Are More Obvious, To Owners Of Newer Blogs

Some owners of newer Blogger blogs spend time reading their Stats logs, and worry that their "All time" pageview counts don't always go up - they go down, too.
Why do the counts go down? Is there one number, that I can believe?
They don't understand that with Stats, you need to look for trends - not absolute readings. In the beginning, fluctuations are more obvious, and trends are less obvious.

Thanks to the referer spam war, and to normal visitor activity, even the "All time" numbers will go up and down - for newer blogs, which have less genuine and constant visitor traffic. And the constant rise and fall is scary - until you get used to it.

Sunday, December 02, 2012

Stats And The "Don't track your own pageviews" Option On Mobile Computers

As mobile computing becomes more popular, we're starting to see questions about use of the Blogger dashboard on mobile computers (iPhone / iPod, PDA, smart phone), in Blogger Help Forum: Something Is Broken. Most recently, we're seeing people trying to use Stats, and the "Don't track my own pageviews" option, with Blogger on mobile computers.

Problems with Stats and the "Don't track ..." option are not unknown, in the past. We've helped many blog owners with this setting, which is sensitive to cookie and script filtering in general - and to "third party cookies" in particular. "Third party cookies" may be filtered in any of several places, any which will interfere with "Don't track ...".

Saturday, December 01, 2012

The Dashboard Spam Review / Undelete Option Can Be Used To Your Advantage

Recently, Blogger added an improvement in the spam review process, to help shorten the review cycle. Blogs that are deleted or locked, as suspected spam hosts, are now listed on the dashboard, behind a "Deleted blogs" / "Locked blogs" button or link. Each blog, deleted or locked by Blogger, can be submitted for an automated review, by using the "Restore" button next to any blog listed.

Not all blog owners see the benefit of the new option. Some owners think this represents yet one more hurdle, in the endless protocol.
I just want my blog restored! Can you please just forward my review request, without the red tape?