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Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Being down about Blogger being down

Over the weekend there were a few outages by Blogger, which affected most blogspot.com blogs. This was, naturally, of great concern to many. However, during the outages, I was being kept updated via RSS feeds from Blogger's Status page. I had found this page some time ago, and thought it would be a good idea to subscribe to the RSS feeds, so that I could remain automatically updated of any outages or changes. I was happy to be receiving updates about the outage as they occurred.

Most weren't so lucky, or so happy. Most people didn't know that Blogger has a status page, and therefore were left without any information on the outage (or any outage in the past). In fact, Liz at successful-blog.com had absolutely no idea what was going on. To all intents and purposes, there was nothing produced by Google or Blogger that gave her any information. It was unfortunate that she looked everywhere except the only page that mattered, the status page.

In an open letter to Google, she wrote,
I realized last night that, as a Blogger blogger, I am a guest in your home or should I say a captive visitor. Darn, I thought I was a welcomed customer. What made this clear was when you locked me in my room and forbade me access to my stuff.
While I can understand Liz's frustration, along with many others, I think her analogy is a little too strong. I think the following, based on what I think could be Google's response, may be more appropriate.

"We provide you with a free service. At no cost to you we provide the hardware, maintenance and even personnel to allow you to do mostly whatever you want, and even make money from it should you want to. We charge you nothing for this. We do not provide our house to you, and therefore you are not a guest in it. Neither are you a captive visitor in this place. You're free to go elsewhere should you want to. If you paid us for this service, you would be considered a customer, but since you do not pay us anything, you are simply a user of our free service. Since you get this from the kindness of our hearts, we reserve the right to upgrade or provide maintenance of our free service at any time that is suitable for us. We will try to provide you with as much advance notice as we can. We understand that you created the content in your blog, however because you use our servers, for free, all content is legally ours. We just allow you to keep it there. That's why we can shut it down if we don't like what you're doing. We do thank you for your feedback, and we will do what we always do, which is use our experience to make our services better. However, we hope you will understand we aren't perfect, and neither is our hardware. We will do the best we can for you, but you need to understand that you get what you pay for. We will, however, do our best to make that worthwhile for you, as your continued usage of our services is obviously to our long-term benefit. Thank you for your time, and we do apologise for any inconvenience."

That's not only what I think Google would say to us, but what I think is a reasonable response from them. I have no high expectations of supreme quality from a service that I pay nothing for. I believe in the adage that you get what you pay for, and I'm eternally grateful for getting a high quality service for nothing. And yes, I do believe it's a high quality service, considering the work that they put into making sure millions of blogs are accessible every hour of every day. Except for outages and maintenance.

I work in IT, and I know that even services that are paid for are not infallible. I also understand the biggest issue in Liz's post was that she couldn't find anywhere that notified her - and the world - of what was happening. I can certainly appreciate that it wouldn't take much work to add the Status blog's link in obvious places, like the Blogger Dashboard, and I believe that Google should do that asap. I also think all Blogger blog authors should subscribe to the RSS feed, just in case.

Just my two cents worth. :-)

Posted on 2/07/2006 06:32:00 PM Backlinks

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Blogger ME Strauss said...

In answer to your email question, Alan, I don't mind what you wrote. Though you did leave out a bit. That I don't blame the IT guys and that I think that Blogger's users wouldn't know to look in an RSS feed. My problem is with the guys at the top, who make the IT guys, who are heroes in my book, do their own work and the work of a customer service team to the pain of the IT guys and the pain of the Blogger users. Technorati finallay figured out that wasn't a good idea. Hopefully Blogger will too.
Liz at Successful-Blog. :)

2/07/2006 11:37:00 PM  
Blogger Terrence said...

I agree with your post. I think that we have come to expect too much for too little. We want the best of everything and what it for nothing. I agree I thing Blogger is a good service. I personally don't use it, but I have my reasons and none have to do with Blogger being bad, just it not being my best choice.

I also working in IT and know all about change and maintenance windows. How ever where I am we have an advantage that Google does not, we service only internal customers and only in one country (mind you quite a few time zones). In any case we are not a 24/7 house. Our servers have a logical down time window. Google does not have this luxury. They service a world wide audience, and thus don't have a logical window. This means that regardless of when they bring the service down to do all the things that keep the site up the rest of the time, keep our data safe and make the service better, it will be an inconvenient time for someone.

I must however comment on one of your statements, regardless of the fact that Google provides the service for free they do not own the content. The creator still owns it. But that being said, I doubt you will find service guarantees anywhere on Blogger and I would expect them to have one.


2/08/2006 02:49:00 AM  
Blogger Alan Howard said...

I stand corrected by Blogger's Terms of Service, with the most relevent term being:

Pyra does not claim ownership of the Content you place on your BlogSpot Site. Pyra may quote or reproduce small portions of your content (if you have made it public) in order to promote your BlogSpot site and/or the BlogSpot service, but only on a fair-use-type basis.

You acknowledge that Pyra does not pre-screen Content, but that Pyra and its designees shall have the right (but not the obligation) in their sole discretion to refuse or remove any Content that is available via the Service. Without limiting the foregoing, Pyra and its designees shall have the right to remove any Content that violates the TOS or is otherwise objectionable. You agree that you must evaluate, and bear all risks associated with, the use of any Content, including any reliance on the accuracy, completeness, or usefulness of such Content.


8. MODIFICATIONS TO SERVICE Pyra reserves the right at any time and from time to time to modify or discontinue, temporarily or permanently, the Service (or any part thereof) with or without notice. You agree that Pyra shall not be liable to you or to any third party for any modification, suspension or discontinuance of the Service.

2/08/2006 06:42:00 AM  

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