Tuesday, June 13, 2006

An Open Letter to Blogger Support

At last! After three hours of trying, I'm able to post an entry to my blog! I posted this to the blogger support list on Google Groups, but I wanted to post it here, too. I know I'm not the only person frustrated by Blogger's glitches.

Dear Blogger Folks:

I just tried to log in and post a new entry on my blog, but cannot. And, yet again, the screen assures me, an engineer has been informed. This is really disheartening.

I started using your service back in March 2005. Things seemed to work very smoothly, and, as someone with limited funds, I was thrilled to have a free service to support my blog. Indeed, until March 2006, in general, thing seemed to be mostly fine. But then, things crashed. And crashed again. And over and over and over again.

Sometimes, it was my blog showing up mutilated - bits of it missing, photos gone, menus and links disappeared. Sometimes, it refused to publish new entries, with that status page just sitting at 0% published. And then, sometimes, my blog simply vanished altogether.

In mid-March of this year, I wrote an entry that covered a very important event in my life the previous year; by writing about it, I hoped to be able to help a lot of people in similar desparate
situations. That entry was was picked up by national press and my modest hits - that usually are around 100 a day, escalated to 1500-2000 a day. As a writer hoping to be published, it
was a major coup.

But, you see, in the middle of it, Blogger died. For days. And interest faded rapidly.

So much for riding the wave and maintaining readers' attention.

Since that time, your service has been erratic and plagued by equipment failures and extremely poor communication with your users. Yes, your service is free to us, but if you cannot maintain the system, your users will vanish - in droves. And, very importantly, if you cannot keep up-to-date with information for your users on the status of your problems, you will anger those who stay. E-mails to your "support" address go unanswered, save for completely useless automated responses that do not address the issues of your frustrated users.

I'm asking for a genuine response from a real human being at Blogger here. What are you doing to keep your systems from crashing on a regular basis? Can you give me, likely a typical Blogger user, a reason to not move my blog to another service?

And, for that matter, can you tell me how to back up my hundreds of entries? I have this fear I'm going to wake up one morning, and it will all be gone.

Again, I appreciate what you've made available to the world on a free basis. But if you want people to stay, you have to make it work consistently. That's simply good business.

Waiting for a real answer from a real person,



Spencer said...

I'm going to post a link to this on my site. Maybe we can get everyone to "sign it" almost as if it's an online petition.

I've actually started to look around to see if there's a better alternative. This morning it was doing the same.

Time to actually fix things. We count on you. How about a response?

Merujo said...

Great idea, Spencer. I'm losing patience. I recognize that looking a gift horse in the mouth is problematic, but if the gift horse is lame and needs to be euthanized, it's not much of a gift...

Howard said...

The back-up situation is a good point to make. Since I publish my blog to my own website, I can get at the files and back them up. After reading this post, it made me realize that those who publish to blogspot can't get at their blog files.

I did find this post in their help section, but it looks like a wee bit of a complicated solution.

It also talks about copying your template and saving it as a text file. After learning the hard way, I've started to do this a month ago so I don't have to recreate the work I put into the basic design. (It was my fault not Blogger's), so I would recommend that VERY strongly.

Brendan said...

Mine keeps comign up file 404, not found.
I've been blogging at http://www.bcftu.blogspot.com since 2003.
This happened before in december 2005. "Customer Support" (which is a real joke at blogger) didn;'t answer one single request for help, never notified anyone that naything was down, and I twisted in the wind for almost three weeks.
A month after my blog was restored, someone wrote to me. Gee thanks, assholes.

Loracs said...

I only have a Blogger account so I can leave comments on your blog. If this service is having so many problems and are not very good about fixing them quickly, why do you stay? I don't know all the other possibilities out there, but I have a Live Journal blog and it's been pretty darn stable. They have a free blog or you can pay about $25 for a year for more bells and whistles.

I know lots of folks have you bookmarked, but you could leave a last entry pointing them to a new url. David Letter moved to CBS and seems to be doing okay!

Maybe they’re just going to those gangly teenage years when their body grows faster than the rest of them.

Spencer said...

This is why I haven't moved - it's not easy to move all your content to another service. It can be done, but it requires a lot of time and some finagling. I won't speak for Merujo, but I know I don't have enough time to devote to moving.

Merujo said...

Spencer, that's why I haven't moved either. I read the link that Howard kindly provided, with the horrid, convoluted instructions for saving your Blogspot information, and I quickly downed three Tylenol. Ugh.

What I'm likely going to do, over time, is save each of my entries as a separate word or text file, so none of my writing is lost. Then, when I have a free day and I'm uber-calm, I will follow the freaky instructions from Blogspot to back it up and keep the comments. But I won't have that time for a while yet...

Claire said...

I have all my entries copied to an extra gmail account of mine. Very easy to do:
Go to Blogger dashboard
BlogSend Address (just fill in your email address)

It will auto send everything you post to the email addy. I sometimes get the same post more than once, but who cares as long as they show up?

Doesn't save pics but it does save your text.

In addition, at the end of each month, I pull up the archive page for that month, copy & paste all the posts into a text file.

At first, pictures and links came to and it saved as a rich text file. Something has changed though (or I'm posting pics differently or something) and now it's just the text. Not perfect, but better than nothing.

Reminds me I should back up my template again...

Spencer said...

Well I moved my blog using the Wordpress instructions. It was very easy and highly recommended. Wordpress is so much better - check out my blog here - www.iamspencer.com