Jan 11

Blogger woes

Blogger has been experiencing problems lately. For a couple of days this week, publishing (the step in which new content you’ve posted is actually copied from Blogger’s database to your Web site) was only intermittently available. Blogger’s servers were overloaded, and as a temporary measure, rolling blackouts were implemented: only half of the users could post at any one time, with the ability rotating every five minutes. This situation was resolved by the installation of new servers, but it was unnerving for those of us who depend on Blogger to maintain our sites.
Today publishing seems to be unavailable again — trying to do so generates an inscrutable error message. The online help page says that this can be fixed by logging off and back on, but I’ve tried that and it doesn’t work. There is some kind of software problem that will have to be fixed at Blogger’s end.
Such problems are always corrected, but it sometimes takes a day or so, because Blogger is currently a one-man operation. Evan Williams does an excellent job of keeping the service running, if you ask me, but he can’t be on duty 24 hours a day. This is why I wish Blogger were not operated as a free service. Evan may be able to pay the operating expenses with the money he gets by selling ads, but how long can he continue to run Blogger by himself? Eventually he’s going to have to hire some help, and that will require more money. Personally, I think he should charge for blogs that don’t have ads, even if they’re not hosted at blogspot.com. But perhaps he believes that will drive away his users, which would reduce the amount of interesting content, which would reduce traffic, which would devalue the ads and cost him revenue. And he might be right.
But at the very least he should make it easier for his users to give him money if they want to help support Blogger. Why not implement a “tip jar” like the ones Glenn Reynolds and Virginia Postrel have? Right now, the only way to give Blogger money is to pay $12 a year to have the banner ads removed from your blog, but those ads only appear in the first place if your blog is hosted at blogspot.com. If your provide your own server space (as I’m doing by hosting my blogs at Road Runner), the ads never appear, so you can’t pay to get rid of them.
I’ve been grumbling about this to myself for weeks: I want to give this guy some money, but there’s no way to do it! But there turns out to be a loophole. You can get rid of the banner ad on any blog; it doesn’t have to be your own. So I paid to remove the ad from Jen’s blog. Victory at last! Now let that be a lesson to you, Blogger. The next time I want to give you some money, don’t try to stop me!
Oops. I just realized I was so intent on beating the system that I never bothered to tell Jen what I was doing. Maybe she liked those banner ads. I hope she doesn’t get mad at me.