Friday, December 18, 2009

Content Control in the Blogosphere: The Lockdown of Incentives Matter by Blogger

Some of you may have noticed that my blog was unreachable during the last three days (you'd get the screen above instead of my posts). Here's what happened: on December 15 around 4:00 AM Blogger locked down my blog, apparently because some splogs were capturing my posts and monetizing them. It may not have helped me that I had been posting frequently at 12:01 AM (what could flag for use of a robot poster) and also because, as most bloggers do, I frequently link to posts in my favorite blogs. Blogger robots use some of these behaviors as flags for splogs, what leads to a significant level of false positives and frustration among bloggers, as represented by the roll of discontented bloggers in this Blogger Forum.

I followed Blogger procedures to reinstate my blog, as documented in this thread, but it took them 3 days to get it fixed! Fortunately to me, my sources of revenue don't depend on my blog. I know however that more and more people have been relying on blogs as business helpers. Not only that: such an inordinate amount of control over public discourse reveals the fragility of blogs as repositories of ideas.

Here are my tips in case you're not willing to see your hard work destroyed by Blogger robots: first, make sure that you backup your blog by downloading its contents periodically (you can eventually recover your latter posts that were not included in the backup by using Google's cache tool). Second, make sure that you choose a blog service that doesn't have a track history of lockdowns (at this point, I wouldn't use Blogger if I'd be starting from scratch). And third, if the blog is important as a revenue tool, think seriously about using a paid service, or by hosting it yourself.

Unfortunately, Gordon's Tech summarized the problem with Blogger well by saying this:

Google's honeymoon period is over. They've developed Microsoft's arrogance without Microsoft's monopoly power. This does not bode well for their future.

PS: Ennyman tells me that Blogger's export function doesn't export pictures and apparently doesn't export older posts too. It means that you need to keep old backups around. Also, as it can be seen in the comments to this post, transferring blogs from one service to another can be a frustrating experience.

An alternative is to use Blogger Backup. It'll allow you to download all your posts, each one in a different xml file. It'll not download images however. You'll need to use a download tool to get your pictures, for example, DownThemAll. See more instructions in this post.


Brad said...

Good to see you are back- I read every day.

Pedro H. Albuquerque said...

Thanks Brad!

Joseph said...

Yeah, for a minute I thought you gave up blogging. Good to see you back.

Pedro H. Albuquerque said...

Thanks Joseph!

ENNYMAN said...

Pretty scary. You make me nervous about my own blog... Hopefully I will not need your help to recover from a similar debacle. I can see I need to complete a back up though.

Pedro H. Albuquerque said...

Thanks Ed!