August 5, 2008

Google Locks This Blog As Spam ?!?

I'm a big fan of Google and their approaches and rely on many products:
  1. Google 411 at 1-800-GOOG-411 (free directory assistance; now in Canada)
  2. Google GrandCentral (your own free phone number which people can call without even knowing your number)
  3. Google Search Engine (to find stuff)
  4. Google Mail (where you can save every email you get forever)
  5. Google News (for news selected by algorithms instead of editors)
  6. Google Blogger (where this blog is hosted)
  7. Google Analytics (to track web traffic)
  8. Google Feedburner (to send you new posts by RSS or email)
  9. Google Notebook (to capture snippets of the web)
  10. Google Maps (to verify directions from my GPS navigator)
  11. Google Picasa (for photos)
These products are getting increasingly integrated, which makes them even easier to use. And there are others that I don't currently use much.

What Went Wrong
I ran into my first ever problem with Google on Friday night, the start of a long weekend. I got an email saying this blog might be spam. I checked message to make sure it was real. It was. Here's an excerpt:
Your blog has been identified as a potential spam blog. To correct this, please request a review by filling out the form at [link].

Your blog will be deleted within 20 days if it isn't reviewed, and you'll be unable to publish posts during this time. After we receive your request, we'll review your blog and unlock it within two business days.

We find spam by using an automated classifier. Automatic spam detection is inherently fuzzy, and occasionally a blog like yours is flagged incorrectly. We sincerely apologize for this error. By using this kind of system, however, we can dedicate more storage, bandwidth, and engineering resources to bloggers like you instead of to spammers. For more information, please see Blogger Help:

Thank you for your understanding and for your help with our spam-fighting efforts.
The message is pleasant enough, but still unnerving. I clicked on the link and waited impatiently for reactivation.

While Waiting
While you wait, you can draft blog posts, but not publish them.

The Issues
The reactivation, took place two calendar days later on Sunday. This is faster than the commitment of two business days (which would have been Tuesday). However, I missed my schedule of posting early on Sunday morning. Surprisingly, Google didn't send an email to say my account was reactivated. I only found out by logging in.

Here's the scary part. What if you're on a long vacation and can't reply withing 20 days? Your blog gets deleted!!! You could have your blog hosted on your own site, but there are other issues
  • requires technical knowledge
  • may be less robust
  • costs money (your credit card might expire or get suspended while you're away)
Why Use Google?
There are many reasons to use Google products. Since they have the most popular search engine, using their other Google products may give higher rankings in searches (certainly can't hurt). There are ongoing enhancements and since Google's offerings are web-based, you skip the hassle of installing upgrades. What's more, Google's tools are completely free. There's no obligation to show any advertising.

What does Google do about potential spam blogs hosted elsewhere? Maybe they get removed from Google web searches without warning. At least I got a friendly email. So I'm sticking with Google until I decide to start spamming for real!

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