Saturday, January 01, 2011

Rogue Twitter/Google feedburner connection - a casualty of the Great Google Identity Integration Initiative

My Google Reader Share Twitter (re)stream is being updated -- but the posts are coming from a rogue Feedburner bot. None of my Google Identities have control of this feed burn. I think I've run into a bug related to the (covert) Great Google Identity Integration Initiative (GGIII) of 2011.

What, you may wonder, is the Great Google Identity Integration Initiative of 2011? Why do I say it's covert  (covert)? I'll provide some background before I give my take on this alleged bug.

The GGIII is covert, first of all, because Google hasn't named it, much less documented what's going on. Three Google articles provide some limited context (emphases mine) ...

More Google applications - Google Apps Help

After your Google Apps accounts are converted, your users will have access to most Google products. Previously, many Google products -- such as Blogger, Reader, and Picasa Web Albums [jg: and Feedburner] -- were available only in personal (consumer) Google Accounts...

Get ready to transition - Google Apps Help

... If any of your users have a conflicting account, they will be required to rename their conflicting accounts the next time they sign in to their personal Google Account...

... Any Picasa Web Album, Profile, or Wave usernames cannot be moved from an existing account to your Google Apps account

If your users used Picasa Web Albums with personal Google Accounts, they will not be able to reuse their old Picasa Web Album display usernames. They will have to sign up for new display usernames....

Known Issues - Google Apps Help

Reading between the lines there are two aspects to GGII ...

  1. Unification of usernames across Google properties where username is an email address. (example - So if this username is used for both a Google Apps account and a traditional Google Account then the two accounts will be unified.
  2. Tie all Google services to a Google Profile. This was recently mandated for all Picasa web album users, even paying customers. Not all customers were happy about this.

Phew. So, if you're still with me, this is what I think happened to a feedburner bot associated with That "identity" used to be split between a Google Apps domain (email, etc) and a true Google Account (blogging, feedburner). When I (carefully [1]) activated "More Google applications" for my Google Apps domain Google merged two distinct identities that shared a single "name"

  • - Google Apps
  • - Google Account

My guess is there's a bug with this process when a user has a Feedburner bot linked to a Twitter account using the Feedburner "socialize" feature. I think I have two feedburner services associated with, but one of them is unreachable.

I doubt there's anything I can do, I just have to wait for Google to fix this. In the meantime I've posted questions with somewhat different angles on two forums ...

See also:

-- fn --
[1] I expected problems. Since this is going to be mandatory in the next few months, including for our family domain where we have similar distributed identity issues, I chose to make a test case. I expected bugs like this.

Update 1/2/2011: The problem stopped. I suspect it was related to another Google identity of mine, and so this is probably not a Google bug ... (see below)

Update 1/3/2011: Mary, in comments, points out that this article has more details. It in turn references an article on "conflicting accounts" that tells us

Account merge and data move options : Basics and getting started - Accounts Help

Unfortunately, it is not possible to combine two accounts or to merge data.

Except that Google also tells us ....

Moving product data : Managing and using Google products - Accounts Help

... In most cases, it's not possible to move products from one Google Account to another ... This may change over time, so check back here for updates...

Right. Clearly, this is a flaming mess.

So what happened was that the feedburner configuration in my google ( account was vaporized when the transfer process destroyed that account's data, but it took a while for the bot to die. Hence the duplicates.

This transition should be avoided as long as possible. If you do make the merge I suggest:

  1. Give the old account a new email address (you'll have to dig one up somewhere).
  2. Delete the old account after you've gotten all your data out of it and after you've ensured that any associated blogs have an admin user with the new identity.


Mary said...

Nice post, tying together the Google integration actions.

I'm not sure about your comment re "Unification of usernames across Google properties where username is an email address. (example - So if this username is used for both a Google Apps account and a traditional Google Account then the two accounts will be unified." - my understanding, based on a post from Google ( is that Blogger users in this situation are asked to nominate a new name for their "old" Google account, and that that the two accounts will not be merged: they aren't, and never will be, the same account.

Have you seen something that says differently?

JGF said...

Thanks Mary, I dug deeper and added updates to my post.

Looks like Google isn't sure how this works. One post says the data is not merged, another says it sometimes is.

I don't think they bothered thinking this one through. It's a flaming mess, with enormous data loss potential.

I was right to experiment first with an account that I was willing to sacrifice. Most of the time users will want to follow the "rename" procedure -- that will salvage their old data.

I should have done a rename, then over time shut down the renamed account.

In my case I don't think any great harm was done, though I did vaporize the Gmail account (it forwarded anyway, so no data lost).