Friday, March 17, 2006

Google lockdown: why I won't trust them with my data

A bad day for Google's Blogger and me, and a bad day for Google's Blogger and a lot of clients!

Earlier on 3/16, when posting a tech note, I got a Google/Blogger lockdown notice:

Your blog is locked

Blogger's spam-prevention robots have detected that your blog has characteristics of a spam blog. (What's a spam blog?) Since you're an actual person reading this, your blog is probably not a spam blog. Automated spam detection is inherently fuzzy, and we sincerely apologize for this false positive.

You won't be able to publish posts to your blog until one of our humans reviews it and verifies that it is not a spam blog. Please fill out the form below to get a review. We'll take a look at your blog and unlock it in less than a business day.

If we don't hear from you, though, we will remove your blog from Blog*Spot within 10 days.

Find out more about how Blogger is fighting spam blogs.

I filled out the form, and about 10 hours later the blog was available for posting again:
Re: [#422278] Non-spam review and verification request:

Blogger Support

Your blog has been reviewed, verified, and whitelisted 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. Thanks for your patience, and we apologize for any inconvenience this has caused.
But, when I tried to post from the 'renewed' blog I got a nasty error message: "001 EOF while reading from control connection". Shortly thereafter the blog was completely offline.

Incompetence related to "whitelisting" me? No, there was a coincidental hardware failure at one of their major server sites. All of my blogs were inoperative, though only Gordon's Tech was completely unavailable. Several hours after the failure they finally admitted it on, about a day later the blogs were up again.

I'm not happy with Blogger -- on either account. I don't blame them for the hardware outage, but I do blame them for being very slow to confess they had a big problem. Much more problematic is their approach to the spam blog investigation.

They should have given me a warning notice "we think you're a slimy spammer", asked me to complete the review request, and then waited to do a shutdown until after a negative review was performed. A pre-emptive shutdown and secondary restoration, "guilty until proven innocent", is the wrong way to go.

Sure, it's a hobby blog that's mostly used as a way for me to document what I do. But what if this were a part of my livelihood? What if it was a file system operated by Google? What if it was my Google wordprocessing service? What if it was my small business email service?

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. If Blogger starts requesting you recognize an image when uploading an article then you're on their watch list ...

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