Posts tagged ‘Blogger’

Nice try, Marissa Mayer, but no conversion


I had a chuckle at Marissa Mayer saying that Google results are worse because the web is worse.

As I’ve shown with a search, which is a good one since our site pre-dates Google (just), Google is less capable of providing the relevant pages for a typical search.

I know how web spiders work in theory, and there’s no way that 2002 framesets are coming up in a 2023 crawl. We haven’t linked to those pages for a long, long time. But Google is throwing those into the top 10.

And we can extend this argument: Google, through its advertising, incentivized the creation of the very crap polluting the web.

Mayer said, ‘I think because there’s a lot of economic incentive for misinformation, for clicks, for purchases.

‘There’s a lot more fraud on the web today than there was 20 years ago.’

What’s the bet that these fraudulent pages are carrying Google ads?

As Don Marti, who knows a lot more about this than I do, said to me: ‘It’s all about moving traffic and ads away from sites that people want, and that advertisers want to sponsor, to places where Google gets a bigger % of the ad money (even if they’re on the sketchy side)’.

I think all this was foreseeable, and one could prove negligence on Google’s part. I still remember a time when established publishers like me wouldn’t join Google’s ad programmes because they were seen as an advertising service for second-rate (or worse) sites. They would appear on places like Blogger, which Google wound up buying.

Then the buggers wound up monopolizing the area, and things got worse for digital publishers as the ad rates got lower and lower—and, as Don notes, the money can find its way to the bottom feeders.

So Google does have a problem, and it is also the cause of a problem. Maybe breaking it up will solve some of them, and I’m glad the US Department of Justice is finally courageous enough to do something about it.
A spot-on insight from Brenda Wallace earlier today on Mastodon.


An irrelevant side note: it turns out the previous post was the 1,234th on this blog.

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Should I remove Feedburner?


I’m wondering whether it’s worth carrying on with Feedburner. Over the last few years I’ve rid our sites of Facebook gadgets—that means if you “Facebook liked” something here, you’d have to go through the links above (which I’m hoping are visible on the mobile version), rather than something made by Facebook that could track you. It’s not been 100 per cent perfect, since doesn’t pick up on likes and shares that you get within Facebook, so if this post manages a dozen likes there, the count you see above won’t increase by 12. It’s why well liked posts don’t necessarily have a high share count, which renders the figure you see here irrelevant.
   I suppose it’s better that someone understates the share figure than overstates it—as Facebook does with its user numbers.
   But I dislike Google’s tracking as much as Facebook’s, and since I have de-Googled everywhere else (one of the last is shown below), then I’d like to get rid of the remaining Google tools I use.

   I signed this blog up to Feedburner when the company was independent of Google, but I see from the gadget on the full desktop version of this site there are only 37 of you who use its feeds from this blog. This is a far cry from the 400-plus I used to see regularly, even 500-plus at one point in the late 2000s.
   I checked in to my Feedburner stats lately, and was reminded that the drop from hundreds to dozens all happened one day in 2014, and my follower numbers have been in the two digits since. Check out this graphic and note the green line:

   It’s entirely consistent with what I witnessed over the years. There were indeed days when the Feedburner gadget’s count would drop into the 30s, before rising back up to 400 or so the following day. I never understood why there would be these changes: in the early days of Feedburner, before the Google acquisition in 2007, I had a slow and steady rise in followers. These peaked soon after Google took over, plateaued, and just before the 2010s began, the massive fluctations began.
   I can’t believe there’d be en masse sign-ups and cancellations over a five-year period, but in 2014, the last fall happened, and it remained low. And, to be frank, it’s somewhat demoralizing. Is the fall due to Google itself, or that Feedburner decided to run a check on email addresses and found that the majority were fake one day, or something else?
   Given that the fluctations were happening for years, then I want to say there was a bug that knocked out hundreds of subscribers, but I actually don’t know, and I haven’t read anything on this online, despite searching for it.
   Perhaps Google cuts back the dissemination of your RSS feed if you’re not using their Blogger product, but we know why using their service is an exceptionally bad idea.
   It reminds me of Facebook’s decision to kill the shares from a page by 90 per cent some years back, to force people to pay to keep their pages in the feed.
   If you’re getting this on Feedburner, would you mind leaving me a comment so I know it’s still worthwhile? Otherwise, I may remove my account—I’ve de-Googled everything else—and if you still need Atom and RSS feeds, they can be had at and respectively.

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The pre-blocked Google Plus Circle


I might be Google-sceptic, but I’m not so daft as to risk clients and the Medinge Group, both groups having various things in my Google account, opened either in the days when Google was not being evil (many, many years ago now) or before Google acquired that company. So, I made a public profile, to prevent Google deleting it as threatened by July 31, and, possibly, affecting various things that fall under my account. My own stuff I don’t care about. Other people’s—well, they shouldn’t be dragged in to this nearly two-year battle I have had with holding Google accountable over the most basic things, things which, by its own evasion, make the company look highly suspect. (I’ve actually had more success getting Facebook to do things. Really.)
   But many people still love Google. Then again, in 1997, many people loved Tony Blair. Not so long ago, the Tories loved the Murdoch Press. Some of us just get suspicious a little earlier because we’re not too bad at understanding corporate culture and can spot the warning signs.
   All this, unfortunately, meant having a Plus account. It’s one of life’s ironies that as one of the few people who did not want a Plus account, I’ve been able to go to since day one and get one. No pleading with friends for an invitation. In fact, I was able to send invitations to a few friends, which was my original reason for going in—far be it for me to deny them the chance to make up their own minds. The only period I couldn’t sign in to Plus was immediately after my initial deletion or ‘downgrade’. If it were not for the profile threat made several days after that deletion, I would have let it stay shut.
   Now that I have it (again), I still have minimal use for it. I don’t post to it, I don’t plus-one anything, nor can I see Circles as being unique. I have my lists on Facebook and have sent customized messages for years. Last time I looked, we are in charge of technology, not vice versa, so why would I duplicate work just for the sake of Google Plus hype?
   One utility—and another reason for signing up—was to use the data liberation feature, to download what the company claimed to have on me. (Interestingly, the downloaded file was 4 kbyte long, mostly composed on empty directories—not really reflective of what Google actually has on me.) Its only other utility, as far as I can see, is to arm me with more facts for a speech I’m doing this November on social media for business.
   As stated in earlier posts, until Google answers just why it has held on to my Blogger data in contravention of its own terms and conditions (it has ceased responding to the email thread), and my personal details under Adsense when that account has been closed for a long time, as well as several other ongoing privacy gaffes, then I have no confidence in the Californian company to do right by Plus. They are extremely simple questions. But, Google has no desire to answer them.
   I keep finding further grounds to question Plus. For example, I have a Circle with 18 people pre-blocked. This is quite a feat for someone who has never used Plus other than sign on to it and send out some invitations. It is also quite a feat for someone who has been de-Googling for over a year. Where have these 18 come from? On what criteria has Google decided these 18 are unsuitable for me?
   None of the logical explanations fit.
   Hypothesis 1: for a year or so, despite not having a Buzz account, I get Buzz followers. Google just adds them to my account without my permission. Often they are anonymous. I still get them today, even after the release of Plus. So these 18 must be from my regular blocking of these errant accounts.
   Response 1: actually, no. If this were the case, the number would be higher than 18. Since February 2011, I have been getting three to five per week, despite having a private profile which, by Google’s own admission, would prevent me from being found in Buzz. Despite blocking another person today, the Plus Blocked Circle has not increased in number. It stays happily at 18.

Errant Buzz followers

   Hypothesis 2: when I was first given a Buzz account—and remember, I never had a Gmail account though Google went and changed my defaults—I had some followers. These 18 are the ones I blocked then before I changed my profile settings back and got rid of Buzz. Buzz and Plus are, basically, the same thing.
   Response 2: no. Among these 18 are real friends, people I met since Buzz was added to my account. They did not know me then, nor would I have been in their Gmail address books then. While there are a few that are the same, most are not. And I have read nothing from Google to suggest that Buzz and Plus are the same thing, though I’d love to hear if Harriet J. has had a similar experience.
   Hypothesis 3: aliens from the planet Vulcan, the Obama administration, and military personnel at Area 51 have pre-blocked these 18 to warn me that I should have no interaction with them.
   Response 3: of the three, this is the most likely scenario. I’ll get you for this, Spock. Bones McCoy is a personal friend of mine.
   But whether you are blocked (by Google) or not, please don’t be offended if you see nothing from me, or if I don’t add you to a Circle. Google is a privacy black hole, and I have no desire to let it have more data about me than what it already holds on to without my consent.

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Facebook hates The Scotsman, and other xenophobic bugs


Some very interesting errors on the internet today.
   Facebook blocked an innocent link about the price of electricity in Scotland, from The Scotsman, because it was deemed ‘abusive or spammy’. Maybe Scottish accents don’t go down well in California. Hang on, didn’t they import Craig Ferguson?
   I am told by Colvin Inglis on my wall that it isn’t the first time Facebook has blocked The Scotsman. He blames the English. Maybe they’re still sore about the genealogical accounting error that James VI a.k.a. James I caused.
   A little later today, I wasn’t allowed to Tweet to my friend Kai in German but all my other Tweets in English went through. I had to conclude that German does not go down well in California. Hang on, didn’t their former governor speak the language?
   You can’t expect me to let Google off the hook, of course, even when being humorous.
   Here’s what clicking on a Google advertiser on the Lucire website netted me:

Google 404

‘That’s all we know,’ proclaims Google.
   Well, you’d better know more, because that’s one of your customers you’re not servicing correctly.
   The Google Dashboard continues to be faulty and despite not being on Buzz or Gmail, I continue getting followers.
   As explained numerous times before, Google says that if you don’t fill out your profile, you won’t be on Buzz. When the big privacy breaches occurred, I deleted all my personal info from Google, leaving only my name (the bare minimum).

Google Dashboard

It’s not the first time (that was in February 2010), and, as with the last few times, the follower is totally unknown to me.
   You’ll notice I underlined the entry under Blogger. I haven’t had a Blogger blog since I deleted everything off the service in early 2010. It claims I have one, but, checking into Blogger (and yes, this is what it looks like on my computer), I am told I have none.

Google Blogger

   I know, bugs happen all the time. Even on Lucire, which strangely became inaccessible for some moments last night (thank goodness for Cloudflare, which served cached versions). I’m going to bite my tongue on Google today since I’ve already discussed the above errors (and far worse privacy breaches) in previous posts.
   I’ll simply reflect on the humorous, non-scientific observation that if you are Scottish or German, Facebook and Twitter have it in for you today.
   Bit like how being Geordie gets you fired from the Murdoch Press.

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Rupert Murdoch has it in for Google more than I ever could


Rupert Murdoch
Monika Flückiger/Creative Commons

And people thought I was de-Googling my life or being mean to Google. What about Mr Murdoch and his entire firm?
   We all know his comments about how he wanted to block Google News’s bot and had spoken out against that. While little happened on that front with the exception of The Times going behind a paywall, it does appear that MySpace now blocks Blogger and Blogspot.
   This thread from a MySpace user on the Google forums was fascinating to read.
   If you attempt to link to Blogger via MySpace, this is the message you’ll get:

Sorry, you have reached a link that is no longer accessible due to one or more of the following:
—A reported spammer site
—A reported Phishing Site: A site designed to trick the user into giving up user name and passwords.
—A site which contains malware
—A site that currently contains a lot of spam
—The user entered HTML syntax was inaccurate.

   MySpace responded to the user:

We’ve recently discovered that BlogSpot pages are being used by spammers to send spam, so all links to that site have been disabled. Although you or your blog may not be associated with or linked to spam or spammers, to protect all MySpace Profiles from spam, phishing, and online scams, all links to BlogSpot are blocked.

   When he pushed more, asking, how on earth a blog could send out spam, MySpace replied:

BlogSpot pages are being used by spammers to send spam, so all links to that site have been disabled. Although you or your blog may not be associated with or linked to spam or spammers, to protect all MySpace Profiles from spam, phishing, and online scams, all links to BlogSpot are blocked.

   You might think: who cares about MySpace? But it is a very interesting, though perhaps not the best thought-out move, from this News Corp. subsidiary, that will likely wind up annoying legitimate users. As much as I dislike Blogger, I have to agree with the MySpace user’s queries: how on earth could linking to Blogger allow Blogger to send spam back to MySpace?
   Still, everything I’ve said over 2010 about Google is nothing like an instruction from Rupert Murdoch—and this perhaps shows just how much the firm is prepared to get into Google’s way.

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McAfee did good: a software company that didn’t jerk me around in ’10


A new computer arrived at the office, Firefox 3·6·13 was installed on it. Boom goes the dynamite (thanks, Jen—since I watch very little television I had no idea of this reference). It wasn’t the ‘unmark purple’ bug, either (sample size so far: 1).
   It’s a different set-up to the rest. For starters, it has both Chinese and English OSs. The fonts are installed differently—it’s using no font management software. I intentionally kept it different because, stupid me, I keep wanting to give Firefox the benefit of the doubt!
   I’ve been trying to give it a go since v. 1. With the new computer in, I’ve been going back through our archives to see if there were some programs I had to install. I found Firefox 1 and 2—neither of which, you might recall, passed my typography test (neither does Opera 10·63 or the new 11 that my Dad uses, but that’s another story).
   Firefox 3 was just such a godsend that it’s a shame that it became a crash-prone program after 3·5. It just seems a shame to abandon it after they did some really good work on kerning pairs, alternative glyphs and multilingual support.
   Where there’s a gripe against Mozilla, there’s one against Google. At left, Google Dashboard continues to insist I have one blog. Not to my knowledge: I haven’t had a blog on Blogger for nearly a year. So, just what private information of mine have you held on to, Google? I wrote to you, snail mail, to say I disagreed with your terms and conditions for this service.
   Its brand, in my mind, is in the toilet: I read the official version of why we had to merge our YouTube and Google accounts, and my entire reaction was one of scepticism.
   But, refreshingly, I am very happy with one program. As I installed McAfee on to the new machine, I had to note that it’s only had one major fault over 2010. It’s run largely faultless, or with only very minor niggles, for a considerable amount of time. Given that McAfee is a huge security suite, which I have had my fair share of problems with—including sarcastic tech support idiots earlier this century—it really looks like they listened to a lot of our gripes. It is not perfect, but at least it doesn’t crash four times a day, or slows down to such a crawl that I have to have a second computer on just in case. The one time I had to go to tech support, I had a volunteer (Pete) who was courteous and professional—quite the contrast to the deliberate obtuseness of Google.
   McAfee, in my book, you did good. From someone who has used VirusScan since 1989: keep it up.

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Hints of Google’s privacy misbehaviours in 2007


I did my last edits to this blog’s pages that had resided on the old Blogger service today, before decommissioning them from the service. After today (in theory, since the updating stalled twice as I wrote this), you will not be able to make any more comments on posts written before January 1, 2010.
   In doing so, I discovered a very interesting post: my moan about Google Web History on October 1, 2007. It turns out that was the day I switched it off, until Google decided, in its wisdom, to turn it back on again. In the same post, I mentioned how I was unhappy that I was signed up to Orkut and Google Groups without my consent.
   Anyone who thinks Google’s recent misbehaviour is new is (as I was) mistaken.
   Back in 2007, I threatened to shift this blog away from Blogger, which I did not carry out for two years due to busy-ness.
   The silver lining then, as now, is that at least Google has the guts to tell us under what means they were collecting our private data and allow us to opt out (in theory). But the point, surely, is that we should not need to opt out, if we have never opted in, to these services.
   The more things change …

Photograph by; CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

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Beyond Branding Blog removed from Blogger today


As of tonight, the Beyond Branding Blog, where I first cut my teeth blogging, is no more.
   The posts are still there, but no further comments can be entered on to the site. The nearly four years of posts remain as an archive of some of our branding thought of that period.
   The blog had a huge number of fans in its day, but as each one of us went to our own blogs, there seemed little need to keep it going. Chris Macrae and I were the last two holding the fort in late 2005. Since January 2006, no new posts have been entered on to the site. No new comments have come in a year.
   Google’s announcement that it would end FTP support for blogs in May spurred me into action, and I advised the Medinge Group’s membership this morning that I would take it off the Blogger service.
   I altered the opening message to reflect the latest change.
   I was very proud of the blog, because it was the first one I was involved in. It was also the first I customized to match the look and feel of the rest of the Beyond Branding site, which I designed in 2003. While the design is one from the early 2000s, it has not dated as much as I had expected.
   Beyond Branding’s core message of transparency and integrity remains valid, so while the blog is no longer updated, I think the book remains relevant to the 2010s.

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What might happen to the pre-2010 posts on this blog


Google will cease to support FTP publishing on Blogger on May 1, extending the previous deadline of March 26 by a few weeks. As this blog’s posts between 2006 and 2009 were done on Blogger, it means that you will not be able to comment on them after a certain date.
   It probably doesn’t matter, anyway: I have noticed that very few comments come to posts older than three months. Readers will confront dead ‘Post a comment’ links.
   The reason? With the end of FTP publishing, Google says it will migrate the 0·5 per cent who took the trouble of hosting our own material on to its servers. Given that I don’t trust Google with my private information, and with the support on its forums about as delightful as Darth Vader’s breath, I am choosing not to allow the company to migrate this blog’s 2006–9 data on to its machines. Rackspace over Google any day.
   So before the May 1 deadline—possibly even this month—I will take this blog off the Blogger Dashboard, whereupon commenting on pre-2010 posts will become impossible. That way you won’t need to put up with me moaning about how Google took this blog’s data wrongly.
   I am enquiring now (since the FAQ does not address this issue) on how best to remove the blogs from the transition, while ensuring the old data remain where they are. Ironically, I have put this question on the Google support forums (let’s hope for better service this time—they were never able to answer my Beyond Branding query about our missing home page, and the Social Media Consortium matter you all know about), and on the Blogger Buzz blog, which Rick Klau writes on.

PS.: As expected, no joy from the forums (anything that’s out of the ordinary seems to be ignored), while Rick Klau responded within a day (this man is a saint). He wrote: ‘You don’t need to delete anything, but if you do your remote files will not be affected in any way. The archival blog(s) will continue to be viewable by the world.’ Thank you, Rick.—JY

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More Google privacy breaches in Reader?


Tonight, I removed every single blog I followed—including my own—from Blogger. My de-Googling continues. I’ve also taken myself off as an author on some Blogger blogs as of tonight, as an intermediate step of ending my association with Blogger altogether.
   I had hoped that deleting my Blogger reading list would get me off the Google Reader service, which I never (knowingly) signed up for. As mentioned recently, Google decided that my following blogs on Blogger would mean (a) it would open a Google Reader account (it was in its help pages, which I did not read—I argue this should have been on a terms and conditions page); (b) allow others to begin following that account; (c) prevent any removal of my Google Reader account, even when I did not want one.
   You would think that deleting everything associated with Google Reader would allow its removal, but no. In fact, I was rather disturbed to see the following: feed recommendations in Reader.

Google Reader recommendations

   Among the recommendations is my friend Sharon Haver’s site, Focus on Style, and another from Condé Nast’s
   Normally I would not have a problem with seeing either of these, if I was an avid Reader user, but it begs the question: if I have turned off all the sharing of my data in Google, to the point where the company claims to no longer knows my preferences, then how does it know my preferences? How does it, in this case, know that I have interests in the fashion industry? Or is everyone on the planet interested in fashion, according to Google, and these are its default recommendations?
   After all, Google itself states that it compiles these preferences based on the following:

It takes into account the feeds you’re already subscribed to, as well as information from your Web History, including your location.

Well, Google, not only have I switched Web History off (twice: once on launch and once after you turned it back on without telling me), I have no feeds.
   Which must mean, I assume, that turning stuff off in Google does not mean turning stuff off in Google. Google might say you have Web History turned off, but I am wondering if that’s just more BS from this company.
   It might have decent blokes like Rick Klau working there at Blogger, but the rest of the company seems dodgier by the day to me. We’ve already had tech support guys who know very little about tech or support (those six months probably were what kicked off my de-Googling), we’ve had the whole Buzz débâcle (Harriet Jacobs, a.k.a. Fugitivus, mentioned in that post, has since shut her blog to unregistered users after, presumably, abuse was sent to her), and now, it seems that Google spies on you.
   The 2010s will see the début of some form of portal site, but it definitely won’t be Facebook, and, at this rate, it won’t be Google.
   And that’s a shame. I like some of the things that Google has offered me over the last 11 years, but its behaviour of late, and its ill-thought technologies, remind me of another American giant. That’s the one that people in the 1990s picked on a lot: Microsoft.

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