Friday, July 21, 2006

Blogs and Goodle Adsense

This blog has become a chronicle of my problems with, going beyond just having my blog deleted.

One of the main selling points of having a blog - and of in specific - is that one can make some money using Google's ad-publishing service Adsense. With no money down, a blogger can get a little change now and again by putting Adsense on his or her blog, provided Google approves the blog, which is not hard if Google has already provided an account based on another site.

In any event, it all sounds great, but the problem - especially most recently if my observations are correct - is that everytime you update, Adsense has to cycle through to figure out which ads are relevant. In this regard, it often returns PSAs or public service announcements, which means you don't get any money.

It is possible that my particular problems with Adsense are a result of having my blogs deleted, as my health blog did not return relevant ads for several days afterwards. Sometimes one entry that is not precisely relevant to the entire site can mess the whole thing up, which makes little sense. In any event, I've been getting a lot of PSAs lately, on both my TBK News and my TBK Health blogs. It's rather frustrating, when one considers that blogging emphasizes posting regularly for the purpose of keeping up one's readership but that having such readership is not of benefit financially since Adsense is not returning relevant ads.

This turn of events is perplexing since Blogger is owned by Google.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Blogger Problem/"Blog This"

For months now, I have had the repeated problem whenever I try the "Blog This" of it not working and of receiving the following message:
Blogger Problem

This server is currently experiencing a problem. An engineer has been notified and will investigate.

Status code: 1-500-5

Please visit the Blogger status page or the Blogger Knowledge Base for further assistance.
Since this problem has been happening repeatedly since March, I highly doubt that "an engineer has been notified," unless he/she never does anything about it or unless the problem is constantly coming from a different source.

In any event, this feature works sometimes, which makes it yet another capricious Blogger problem that nobody seems able to fix.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Feed Won't Validate?

I' ve been trying to add the RSS feeds to my blog to My Yahoo, but I was unable. Yahoo support showed me that my RSS feeds are "invalid," as at the Feed Validator. Notice that the Feed Validator says that "This feed uses an obsolete namespace." This is apparently not a problem directly related to my blog being deleted, as Blogger says that you need to go to Feedburner to create a properly functioning RSS feed for your blog. Unfortunately, that feed conked out weeks ago. So, if I - and probably many other people - want to use an up-to-date RSS feed from Blogger, it's back to the Blogger Help Group...

It's a bit confusing, as Blogger Help says that what it is providing an Atom feed (don't ask me the difference), but even that is apparently "obsolete," as the feed validator says, so it would be essentially worthless.

Even going to Feedburner, once again, does not allow me to add the feeds to My Yahoo, as I get this message:

"We couldn't find the RSS file you asked for"

Confused? Me too.

It would seem to be in Blogger's best interest to just upgrade their feed capacity!

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Another Serious Problem!

I don't know if it's a repercussion of having my blogs deleted, but twice now, once each to both my TBK News blog and my TBK Health blog, something has gone haywire with the template code, and virtually the entire blog disappeared. The only thing that showed up was the main area at the top of the page, along with some of the template code, such as <$BlogTitle$>, except that the <> were replaced by {}, so that it looked like this: {$BlogTitle$}. At least, that's how I remember it, because, frankly, I was in a bit of hurry to get rid of that code and restore my blog.

When it happened the first time, to my main blog, TBK News, I thought I had done something. Looking at the code in the template, it was obvious that my entire side bar had disappeared, with what was left was reading < /div > at the end. If you look at your own template code, you will note that it normally ends with < /html >. Mine had gotten cut off somehow, with the result that all the blog entries and the side bar were completely gone. I believe it may have been cut off right above the tag < !-- Begin #content -- > , but I'm not sure. Other than the heading at the top, what was left was completely wacky, as I said, something like: {$BlogTitle$}. This was the case with all of my blog pages.

In the first case, I was not able to rescue the code, and I had to rebuild the entire sidebar from scratch. Fortunately, once I reestablished the template code, using my other blog's, all of my articles came back, with the proper code.

This time around, I had a window open in which I had just refreshed the blog seconds before, so I viewed the source code, selected it all, copied it and pasted it back into my template. It worked. Phew!

Since it happened twice, in the exact same manner, I am certain I did not do it. This never happened before my blogs were deleted, so I wonder if it was an odd consequence of that deletion. It's possible that it's happened to others.

I got smart and finally went to and saved my blogs, or least the first pages so far.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

An Ongoing Blogger Problem?

My blogs remain restored, but this sort of thing has been happening to others, as evidenced by the work of Chuck, the very helpful Blogger volunteer. Chuck had posted the following to the comments section of my blog. (Be sure to check the comments here as well for advice.)
Hi Acharya,

Thanks for starting this. Take a look at Gia's problem ("Another Blog Hijacked"), which appears to have started at the same time yours did:
A Blogger Security Problem?

If there really is a security issue, then we need to figure out what it is, and fix it. Your blog here may be a key element in that process.
I do not have Gia's technical know-how, and I think it's fantastic that she herself was able to fix the problem, and in such an amusing manner.

these two issues are somewhat different, in that in Gia's case it appears that someone actually hacked her account, whereas in mine, Blogger simply deleted my blogs, and my main URL was shortly thereafter hijacked because it was "available." Most of the bloggers who have problems like this one or like mine will not be able to resolve them in the manner that Gia did it, and I am thinking that they may not be able to resolve their problems as quickly as I did.

In my case, I already had a ticket into Blogger support from a couple of weeks ago regarding my health blog having been flagged as "spam," and that's the one that was used to fix the problem. To my knowledge, neither of the other two or so emails I sent to Blogger regarding this most recent problem were responded to - at least not yet. It is possible that sometime down the line, Blogger support will finally get to them and then respond. Hopefully, they will check to see if something was already done first before they "fix" what ain't broke. I am certain that Blogger support is completely overwhelmed and way behind. I have no idea what the structure of their company is or where their revenues come from or how many employees and volunteers they have, but they have so many problems, in addition to the most serious ones described here, that I'm sure they are getting bombarded with requests for help.

Again, I believe that the reason my problem - one of the bigger ones, as far as I can tell - was because I already had a ticket in from weeks ago. It may be useful for me to add that email exchange to this blog, so we can see exactly what kind of timeline we are talking about. I had actually responded twice to the flagging of my health blog, evidently setting up two tickets, the first of which had been responded to earlier. The second one, if I am correct, was the one that restored my deleted health blog and, subsequently, after I tagged the problem with my main blog onto it, my deleted main blog as well. I hope this makes sense. I will attempt further to reconstruct what exactly happened in my Blogger help exchange.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Hooray! Happy Resolution!

I am delighted to say that my main blog, TBK News, has been restored, in its entirety, and the spammer is gone! (Probably to gum up somebody else's works.) I believe that my persistence - but not peskiness - in asking for assistance from Blogger allowed me to achieve this result. I do not know what others have done in the past, such that their blogs are gone forever, but Blogger came through for me this time. Of course, it was Blogger's fault in the first place for deleting my blog; nevertheless, they fixed it, and fairly quickly at that. Thank you, Blogger and everyone else who was supportive.
Date: Fri, 23 Jun 2006 14:05:46 -0700
From: "Blogger Help"
To: "Acharya S"
Subject: Non-spam review and verification request:

Hi there,

Thanks for following up. Your blog,, has been verified and restored. If you sign out of Blogger and sign back in again, you should be able to post as normal. Thanks for your patience, and we apologize for any inconvenience this has caused.

The Blogger Team
I will leave this blog online for further reference by anyone who may find him or herself in a similar situation. All future visitors are welcome to leave comments, suggestions, advice.

TBK News Still Gone/Hijacked

As of today, my main blog is still deleted and hijacked, with no word from Blogger yet.

Some nice people at the Blogger Help Group have made helpful comments. It may very well be that the spammer who stole my URL did not get it from BHG, so I do not want anyone to be discouraged from communicating there. One individual at BHG has expressed dismay that such a thing could happen - I am hopeful that my experience will be one of making lemonade out of lemons. (I'm pretty good at doing that, after all these years of being alive and having had my share of lemons tossed my way...)
From: phydeaux3
Date: Thurs, Jun 22 2006 9:56 pm

If you keep at it, Blogger will Delete the blog that was taken over also, just keep with it. Since it is obviously spam they will delete it and should restore your previous one with it. Other people have had it happen and gotten it back when the spammers took over the available url.

And this is a guess, but I don't think that posting the URL here is what made the spammer get that one (even tho who knows). But from the sound of your posts, the one you posted was your main one which had been up the longest. The spammers look for blogs that have been indexed and attainaed even a little page rank in google, and they have automated scripts looking for ones that suddenly return 404's and are thus available. Sorry they got to it before you did, that's why I suggested to grab it immediately, the spammers are quick.

Other people have gotten the spammers out and their blogs restored...just keep at it.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

TBK Health News Restored

I just received the following message regarding one of my blogs, TBK Health News, which had been suspended about three weeks ago when one of Blogger's spambots flagged it. As you can tell, the blog is not a spamblog or splog. I had sent two messages to Blogger beginning a couple of weeks ago asking them to restore it. I received a message a few days ago saying that it had been restored at that time. I didn't realize that I would have to repost it, but I did so a day or so ago, shortly before all of my blogs then utterly disappeared, having been deleted by Blogger, as evidenced by this message. I had begun another blog on money issues, but that was also deleted. I have not requested that it be restored, as it had very little to it. I believe that the fact that I could not actively work on these blogs caused the spambot to flag my entire account, even though I was highly active on my main blog, TBK News, still hijacked by the link-spammer at the moment. I have responded to Blogger's message, asking them to delete that link farm and restore my main blog ASAP.

The morals of this story appear to be:
  1. Blogger's spambots are capricious and not particularly efficient.
  2. Blogger is a free service; hence, it reserves the right to be inefficient and unresponsive. Fair enough. In all the years that I have had a free Yahoo mail account, I can't even recall contacting them with any problems, as I have long understood that such an attempt would be futile. It appears that Blogger, however, will respond at some point if the issue is pressed.
  3. If you have a blog in your account that is not very active, you may get one or all of your blogs deleted. I have seen blogs that nobody's worked on in years, and they remain, but, as I say, Blogger's bots are capricious.
  4. If your blog is deleted, using the Blogger Help Group is useful, but you may not wish to post the blog URL there, as it could be snapped up, as was mine. There is no way to know, however, whether or not the link-farmer got my URL from there or from some other process. No one hijacked my health blog URL, which I did not post at BHG, but that one isn't as popular. In any event, it may be a good idea take your URL back with a small post - I guess. I didn't repost anything because I thought that might interfere with my blog being restored in the first place. It never occurred to me that some slimeball would hijack my URL within a matter of hours. I have little experience with blogging, and I didn't even consider that someone could take over my URL.
  5. You may wish to host your blog elsewhere, as you never know when Blogger's spambots will take you out.
  6. It's probably a good idea to back up all your work, even though it's a pain and can certainly put a crimp in your creative style. In my case, time-consumption was a big factor, although I didn't even really consider that my entire blog could be deleted without a word to me beforehand. Again, the TBK Health blog was visibly suspended for weeks before it was deleted, despite my timely requests to restore it. With TBK News, nada, not a word, just - poof! Gone. In retrospect, it would be a better idea to figure out how to work a back up site such as Furl, rather than spend the time futzing around with cached pages or even with contacting Blogger help, as if I had furled the site, I could have reposted the entire thing fairly quickly. (I'm guessing, as I still haven't gone to Furl to figure it out. There's always so much to do...)
That's it for now. Let's hope that the rest of it is restored soon and that the link-farmer gets his comeuppance. Alas, having received probably hundreds of thousands of pieces of spam, including countless "spoofs" on Paypal and Ebay that are designed by evil people to get into your bank account, and knowing that it is impossible to investigate or prosecute even a tiny percentage of such, I doubt that anything will be done about this matter. As I know too well from a much more serious crime committed against me and mine that to this day remains unpursued, the authorities have their hands full and their priorities. (Which apparently do not include felonious child abduction, but that's another story...)

Thanks for your continued support.
From: "Blogger Help"
To: "
Subject: Non-spam review and verification request:


Your blog has been reviewed, verified, and cleared for regular use so that it will no longer appear as potential spam. If you sign out of Blogger and sign back in again, you should be able to post as normal.

Also, please note that you may need to republish your blog in order for it to be visible online again.

Thanks for your patience, and we apologize for any inconvenience this has caused.

The Blogger Team

My Blog was Deleted and Hijacked

I have established this new blog as a warning to the entire blogging community - or at least the enormous community that uses Be warned that what happened to me can happen to you, as it has nothing to do with the content of your blog but the capricious nature of the Blogger spambots.

I created a blog in March 2006 and had posted at least 40 entries. On June 21, 2006, my entire blog (actually three of them), all entries and all comments, of which there were many, were deleted. Gone, poof, disappeared. The URL for the blogs returned a "404 Not Found" page. I was mystified, as I certainly had not deleted any of my blogs. One of my blogs on health had been targeted by a spambot thinking it was a spam blog, but it had simply been suspended, and I was able, by contacting Blogger support, to get it back online - or so I thought. I didn't realize I had to republish the blog for it to be "Found" again, so I did that, the day before all of my blogs were deleted.

I discovered to my horror that my blogs had been deleted. I had no idea that anything like this could happen, as I never saw any warning about it on or the discussion forum. After it happened to me, I did see on the Blogger Help Group that at least one other person had the same thing happen back in February. This person's blog was quite innocuous - as opposed to mine, which consisted of very controversial articles on some of the most taboo subjects, such as religion and politics. There is no way this person's blog was deleted because of its content, nor was it in actuality a spam blog or "splog." This person's blog URL still returns a "404 Not Found" page.

But, after I posted my blog URL to the Blogger Help Group, my URL was hijacked by a link farm sleazeball. I had no idea anyone could do this, and no advice had been forthcoming at the moment when I was posting to BHG, so I didn't think to grab the URL myself. It was very late at night when all of this was transpiring, and, being a human, I needed sleep. However, to my disgust, this morning, 6/22, I discovered the hijacking. Now, the problem is not only that I must recreate my entire blog, using mostly cached pages on search engines - and losing a certain amount of it - but I must also be concerned that all the websites that linked to my blog are now linked to a link farm, which, according to SEO expert Brad Callen, will lower their Page Rankings and, possibly, their search engine rankings as well. Unless Blogger deletes this link-farm jerk and restores my blogs, I will now be compelled to spend hours not only restoring my blog myself - and placing it somewhere safe where capricious spambots can't just delete it on a whim - but also removing all links to my blog and advising anyone else I know who linked to my blog to remove them as well.

I am in a quandary as to whether or not to do all of this right away, because Blogger has been known to restore deleted blogs, and they may delete this jerk's link farm and return my URL to me, but the latter is probably wishful thinking.

In the meantime, I repeat, the Blogging community needs to be warned that this could happen to anyone. THIS COULD HAPPEN TO YOU. Back up your work and, possibly, move your blog. If the same thing happens to you, be careful about exposing your URL using the Blogger Help Group. I am open to other suggestions, which is why I created this blog, which may be helpful to many others who could possibly end up in the same situation. I want to emphasize once again that this could happen to anyone. This situation did not require my password or any other encryption. The spambot simply deleted my blogs, and someone was able to grab the URL. My blog got a fair amount of traffic, so it was probably picked up pretty quickly using automated devices.

Please feel free to leave comments. Please also feel free to spread this blog all over the blogosphere, so that other people may be warned that it could happen to them. As can be imagined, I put a tremendous amount of work into my blog. It is likely that should such a thing happen to someone with money, Blogger could be looking at a big lawsuit.

P.S. I am surprised that no one from Blogger made a comment on my post on the Blogger Help Group, as there are some people who work from Blogger helping out there. Is this wanton blog-deletion a Blogger dirty little secret?