April 28, 2008

Blogger Updates: Bug Fixes, Finding Help and Other Interesting News

Blogger has recently updated some elements of the system. Blogger Buzz announced some bug fixes a few days ago (which should solve a few of the problems we've had managing our blogs) and also a couple of interesting updates. Furthermore, it should be a little easier for bloggers to find help when needed thanks to a dedicated page which explains how the support system works.

Recent Bug Fixes

The most significant bug fixes include:

  • The "Add another image" link in the image upload window now works even before you have specified an image to upload.
  • Better predictability for auto-completion of labels in the post-editor's label field.
  • URLs in the Name / URL part of the comment form are now validated (this is a fix I've been hoping to see for some time!)
  • The draft / published / scheduled filters on the Edit Posts list now work reliably in Internet Explorer (read more about Blogger's post schedule feature)

For the full list of bug fixes, pop over to read the post on Blogger Buzz.

Finding Help

If you take a look in Blogger's help section, you may notice a new link in the footer:

Now I have to say that the link text here is a little misleading. There is no new email system to contact the Blogger team directly. Instead this link will take you to Blogger's contact policy page which thoroughly explains how to find help and support for your Blogger related problems:

This page will surely be welcomed by new bloggers who previously were unaware of the process for getting help. Also, this makes clear the instances when email help may be offered:

  • For login and blog access issues
  • To report abuse of the Blogger system
  • To report a bug to the Blogger team

All other support queries should be directed towards the Blogger help group or resolved by reading through the official Blogger help center instead.

If only Blogger would offer some sort of dedicated email support though: I'm sure hundreds of Bloggers would be incredibly happy!

Other News of Interest

CATCHPA Problems? Blame the Spammers!

Many Blogger users have complained about the problems deciphering Blogger's CATCHPA (Completely Automated Public Turing test to Tell Computers and Humans Apart). From what I have read on other sites, I imagine this is linked to spammers having discovered a method of bypassing the earlier system in order to create spam blogs, many of which lead to sites which infect our computers with spyware.

Blogger have been trying hard to reduce spam in Blogger hosted blogs in recent months, and it seems the increased CATCHPA protection may be an effort to counteract the automated spammers invading this free service and giving Blogspot a bad name!

However, this increased CATCHPA security does have its downfalls. As ThatGrrl pointed out:

They're awful. I couldn't read them [...] If you are using word verification this is what you are inflicting upon your commenters (or those who choose not to translate the word verification and don't comment). (Source)

Because of this problem, many Bloggers may opt not to use comment verification. After a few complaints, I'm wondering if Blogger Buster should remove this too..

It seems that CATCHPA is no longer a viable tool for deterring spammers, but we can hardly blame Blogger for that! Any free service which can be manipulated by spam-bots will continue to be abused, whether this is Blogger or any other free hosting service. I only hope that the Blogger team may implement a solution soon which will be of benefit to us all.

Blogger adds XFN Support

If you've read through the recent bug fixes page, you would be forgiven for having overlooked this new feature.

XFN (XHTML Friends Network) is a way to demonstrate relationships between the authors of web pages by adding rel="me/friend/sibling/spouse/etc" to links in your blog or in the head section of your template.

Blogger now automatically adds a rel="me" statement in your blog's head section which links to your Blogger profile page. This demonstrates that your blog is owned and maintained by you, which is helpful for services such as LinkedIn, MyBlogLog and Ziki which use and understand these XFN relationships.

I'm going to write up a full post about XFN annotations and their uses in the near future which I hope will offer you a better understanding of how this works and how it XFN links may be implemented into your Blogger templates. In the meantime, you may want to take a look at the XHTML Friends Network site which offers an easy to understand introduction to XFN.

I hope you have enjoyed reading this summary of Blogger related news and updates. As always, your comments and opinions are much appreciated!

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