Troubleshooting Your Blog, and the 450

I’ll be blunt here. Blogspot / Blogger hosts millions of blogs, and has millions of worldwide customers. You send in a complaint to Blogger Support, about your blog, and it goes into a long queue. And if it’s just YOUR problem with YOUR blog, that’s where it will likely stay. Problems affecting multiple blogs, and problems affecting multiple Bloggers, or customers, get higher priority. That’s common sense.

So, if YOU notice a problem with YOUR blog, it’s up to YOU to troubleshoot. Now, I’m a desktop support technician, and I preach diagnostic procedure. Constantly.

Note: This article started out when the 450 error became a problem. It should be common sense, though, to apply it to all problems affecting your life as a Blogger. It’s actually a Blogger specific adaptation of Solving Network Problems – A Tutorial.

Here’s where multiple observations is essential. If you see a problem with your blog, do any of your friends see the same problem? Do you see the same problem with your friends blogs?

You also have to understand the concept of cache. When you view a webpage, if it’s one that you viewed recently, there will likely be a copy of that webpage stored on your computer. To save bandwidth, you may be viewing the copy on your computer, and that copy may be out of date. You may have to force your browser to load an updated copy, by holding down Shift, and hitting the Refresh button in the browser toolbar (or hitting F5).

This is essential when diagnosing any problem with Blogger. When you (or a friend) view a page (blog) from cache, and a publishing error has just happened, or a publishing error has just been corrected, and there is an old copy of the page cached, the results will be inconsistent. This explains why not everybody sees a problem with your blog at the same time.

Now the customer, and server, population for Blogger is immense. I am guessing that Blogspot uses at least 4500 servers to host the millions of blogs that they have. So the fact that your friends may or may not see the same problem on your blog, or you may or may not see the same problem on your friends blogs, is not in itself definitive of a worldwide Blogspot problem. But it can help us develop a procedure for diagnosing your problem.

There are several major items involved in any problem.

  1. The content (the text that you typed into your post, or the template) for your blog might have (gasp) coding errors. This will affect everybody who views your blog, until you fix your mistakes. And, if you haven’t done this yet, backup your blog. NOW.
  2. The database where your blog is stored might be corrupt. This problem may affect other blogs, and other Bloggers. It will affect other folks viewing your blog, if they don’t have a good copy already cached on their computer. If your problem is not part of a major outage, republishing your blog, which takes the source text (item #1) and rebuilds the blog into a web page, may resolve this.
  3. The server which serves Blogspot content to you may be having problems. This will affect your ability to view multiple blogs. Other Bloggers using this same server will have the same problems. With 4500+ servers, it’s possible (but not likely) that you may know somebody else sharing your server. If your problem is not part of a major outage, clearing cookies and changing your server may resolve this.
  4. Your computer, or your network, may have problems. I work with these sort of problems, and know how tricky they are to diagnose. This will only affect you. It may, or may not, affect your access to multiple blogs. This should only affect your computer, though any other computer may have similar problems.
  5. The cache of your blog, and other blogs, on YOUR computer, may contain bad content from any previous existence of any problems. This should only affect your computer, though any other computer may have similar problems.
  • If both you and your friends see a problem with your blog, there’s a good chance that any fixes that affect only you won’t have too much effect. Here you need to concentrate on items #1 – #3, from the above list.
  • On the other hand, if you have multiple friends viewing your blog (and here is one example why having friends is a good thing), and nobody but you sees any problems, items #4 and #5 are more likely suspects.
  • If some friends see problems, and others don’t, it’s still more likely that the problems involve items #1 – #3.
  • If you see problems with your friends blogs, and your friends see those same problems, it’s likely an outage at Blogspot. Maybe Blogger Status will acknowledge the outage. Don’t hold your breath, but look there anyway. Send in a report, but again, don’t hold your breath.

OK, let’s translate the above sermon above into a usable procedure.

  1. Check Blogger Status. Check Real Blogger Status (here). It’s possible that the problem has been noted already. Check the online Blogger databases – Blogger Knowledge, and Blogger Help. Check the online forums – Google Blogger Help, and Blogger Forum.
  2. Note that both Blogger Status and Real Blogger Status provide Atom feeds. If you use Syndication / Atom, you may find this convenient.
  3. Are you, and your friends, having problems viewing your blog, and other blogs? If the problems are just yours, or if they involve multiple blogs, pray, then clear cache and cookies on your computer. If this helps you, let your friends know, and have them do the same (if they are affected).
  4. If your friends see the same problems with your blog that you see, chances are that step #3 won’t fix things by itself. Did you just post something, immediately before the problem was noted? Go back and verify what you just changed. Correct the problem, if necessary, and republish. If you get an error from publishing, proceed to the last step.
  5. Did you make a change in the blog content, from step #4? If so, clear your cache.
  6. If you have executed all above steps, and you or your friends still see problems, then it’s time to seek collaborative analysis.
    • File a report with Blogger Support. Wait for the botmail.
    • Reply to the botmail, objectively pointing out that none of the suggested references – neither the online Blogger databases – Blogger Knowledge, or Blogger Help, or the online forums – Google Blogger Help, and Blogger Forum, offer any help.
    • File a description of the problem, what you’ve done to date, and the botmail problem number, at Blogger Forum and at Google Blogger Help.
    • Look in the forums for others with your problem, or for any helpful suggestions. Let others know that you are having this problem. Note any correspondence with Blogger Support, and note your problem number. Links between your thread in one forum, and the other, are not a bad idea either.
    • Check back in Blogger Forum and at Google Blogger Help, for comments to your posts, regularly. Be prepared to answer questions. Crosspost updates to the other forum.
  7. If any of the above steps help you diagnose or resolve the problem,
    1. Say a prayer of thanks to the deity of your faith.
    2. Backup your blog. Having a local mirror of your blog can be very useful.
    3. Sign my GuestBook – Please. Knowing that this blog is of use, or not, motivates ongoing additions and improvements.

If you’re having a problem, don’t just drop it on Blogger Support. Involve Blogger Forum and Google Blogger Help, too. Update all 3 groups, regularly, when suggestions are made by any others. Be patient and persistent.

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One Response to “Troubleshooting Your Blog, and the 450”

  1. CameraDawktor Says:

    Awesome adivce, I linked to it today from my PLZ Save My Blog page. You rock!!

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