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Saturday, May 30, 2015

Scheduled Posts - The Challenge Continues

One Blogger feature, that is occasionally mentioned in Blogger Help Forum: Get Help with an Issue, is the issue of scheduling post publication.

Setting up a scheduled post is extremely simple - and that may be part of the problem. Before you publish a post, you give the post a published date / time that occurs in the future. The post date / time becomes the scheduled posting date / time.

And there is where one possible problem, with scheduled posts, may start. Long ago, when scheduled posts were first introduced, the wizard for setting the date and time was rather simple.

Since this is a new post, I can look under "Post settings", to the right, and see the "Schedule" option. If I expand "Schedule", I can see the selected default of "Automatic". If I select "Set date and time", the fun begins.

Do you see the clever GUI design, in the "Schedule" wizard - as it is, right now?

The date / time wizard, when Schedule Posts was first introduced, was very simple.
When the Scheduled Posts feature was first introduced, "Date" and "Time" was simply two empty boxes, with no hint of what to put into the boxes. Add to that the certainty that some people might enter either the date or time "wrong", and you would get oddities.
  • Posts scheduled for future publication, when intentionally backdated.
  • Posts published immediately, with back dates, when intentionally scheduled for future publication.
  • Posts scheduled, but at the "wrong" time.
  • Posts that never published, because the publish date / time was far in the future.
  • Now that you see the problem, I bet you can think of more scenarios.

Blogger fixed the first identified problems - and caused new problems.
After we identified the possible problems with scheduled posts, Blogger removed the date box, and replaced it with the calendar. This forced people to see and set the date, using the calendar display.


If you can read a calendar, you can set the month correctly.

But - does that solve the problem?


The calendar selected date worked great, for posts back or forward dated only a few days or weeks. You could select any date in the current month - or page backwards or forwards a month or two, and select a date. And the problem with people entering the date "wrong" was solved, with everybody able to see the month, and select a day.

Everybody did not appreciate the solution.
The calendar did not please everybody. People who had to change the date more than a month or two complained, because they had to sit there and click - click - click one month at a time, to select a month far in the past or future.

Blogger then tried what we have, today.
So Blogger created a hybrid wizard - the date and time are both type in fields - and the date can be selected using a calendar. And when the date is typed. the calendar changes, to indicate the month typed.

Does everybody, typing in the date, to schedule post publication, always look at the calendar - or the resulting Schedule date / time?

This is the current date / time wizard.


How can this not work?

See below, for discussion.
We have type in fields for date, and for time - and below that, the months calendar, with "today" highlighted - and controls, to select the previous or next month.


It's now 4:00 PM. Why do we still see "2:49 PM"?
My suspicion is that some people who type in the date may make a mistake - and not always catch the mistake. I'll also bet that this problem exists, in larger volume than is reported - but only a few people see it. Most people use post scheduling as a convenience. How many schedule a post, then stick around to watch it publish?

You compose your post, you schedule your post - then you're gone. You come back, sometime later, and it's published. Do you know, for a fact, that it published on the second - or the date - scheduled?

I'm also wondering how scheduled posts are published, in general - but that may be a subject for another post, later. Right now, the question is how to ensure post schedule dates can be accurately typed, to eliminate misscheduled posts.

And besides people who don't enter date / time correctly, there's people who never think to hit "Publish" - then watch as "scheduled" publication time comes and goes, with the post still in Draft state.

Dude, hit me with a comment!

Morgan Eckstein said...

I am a member of a blog hop (one of those blogging circles where you try to get the readers to go everyone else's blog post in a great big circle); and our number one problem over the entire hop community is prescheduling posts.

Chuck Croll said...

Morgan,

In that case, and if you are actually reporting a problem, you - and the other blog hop members - need to post in Blogger Help Forum: Get Help with an Issue, so we can try to sort your problem.

Blogger Engineering can't do anything, unless there is a problem with the design of the post scheduling infrastructure. On the other hand, if the problem is procedural, we need to sort that too.