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Friday, December 01, 20061164985933

Blogspirit's Incompetent and Inhuman System Administration

Back in the day, I was very happy with blogspirit. They took care of the heavy lifting required for blogging, letting me focus on writing and building a community. However, over recent months blogspirit's service has become less and less reliable. Below is a review of blogspirit's comment feature written by Curtis of Phatic Communion:

Note: this is a comment left at TDAXP — rather, an attempted comment, since once again I am apparently barred from leaving this comment on Blogspirit. This time, an old Blogspirit Phenotype is being expressed: I hit SEND to post the comment, and I’m instantly redirected to the front page of TDAXP, without the comment being posted. This has happened more than once with this comment, so I’ve given up.

I’m tempted to create a new category for Phatic Communion, TDAXP Comments, and utilize the trackback feature for connecting these to individual posts on that blog, since I’m apparently able to leave trackbacks to TDAXP. Such a method would be queer indeed, because I’d be establishing a new kind of social interaction, I think — unless some other blogger already dedicates a portion of his own blog to posting comments intended for another specific blog. The format might need tweaking. The problem for me is that ‘commenting’ is a slightly different intellectual format than posting ripostes or highlights as a new post.

More specifically: Dan’s Blogspirit setup does not allow HTML formatting — which has always been an irritation for me — and this limits speech. Odd little notations must be created when commenting at TDAXP, e.g. using asterisks to express emphasis and posting full links as footnotes or interjections rather than linking text. So the following comment to “Growing Pack Behavior in Juvenile Homo Sapiens” will be revised here on Phatic Communion to HTML-formatting and thus in that particular only will not match the comment I intended to leave but may therefore be more legible.


I agree with everything that Curtis is saying.

This is sickening. Blogspirit suffers prologued, partial, outages of service and doesn't bother to inform bloggers that this will happen, is happening, or has happened. Horrid service like this is why I admire Dreamhost, the service that hosts Jim River Report. They have technical snafus too -- everyone does. But unlike blogspirit, Dreamhost has the basic human dignity to let its customers know what is going on.

Comments

so, are you going to stick with them?

i'm sure this didn't happen to Curtis, cuz he's a pro, but i had a similar phenomenon this morning. i commented and saw nothing. but when i reloaded, it was there. fwiw...

Posted by: Sean | Friday, December 01, 2006

The big advantage of blogspirit is that there is so little legwork involved -- I started with it because I didn't want to mess with computer things back in December '04 (I just finished an exhausting master's thesis in computer science and didn't want to touch code again). Right now, I'm working hours in grad school that don't allow me the time to fiddle.

But blogspirit is doing its best to make change.

Posted by: Dan tdaxp | Friday, December 01, 2006

Sean:

I'm not a computer pro, but I do have an idea about your experience. I suspect that Blogspirit, or at least TDAXP on Blogspirit, loads dynamic pages: they're built as-needed from a database which includes a template and the data on the page. Compare that to the way my blogs are set up, with static pages that are only built when they're edited. With dynamic pages, different browser setting will make a big difference, and pages may 'load' from the cache; new info, like a comment, will not show up until later visits or after hitting refresh.

I've noticed that about TDAXP. (Sometimes ZenPundit operates the same way.) I've also wondered if this is why commenting in general screws up. Perhaps user-info (which never saves for me although I click "Remember Info") is not sent with the comment and Blogspirit therefore rejects the comment?

Dan:

Usually my problems with commenting only occur with longer comments. I've wondered:

1. Is it the length?

2. Is it a result of odd-character detection, such as dashes (double-hyphens) or asterisks or some combinations of these or others? I use these quite a bit, to get around the anti-HTML feature of Blogspirit.

3. Is it a result of adding too many links (last time, it was only two.)

What I don't understand is why short comment never seem to have this problem.

Posted by: Curtis Gale Weeks | Friday, December 01, 2006

Hah! Case in point. This time I left a longish comment here, was sent to the "verify" page (which only happens sporadically, not for every comment), came back here and see the comment hasn't posted. Perhaps it will post in "a few moments" (hours, days, centuries!)

Posted by: Curtis Gale Weeks | Friday, December 01, 2006

Oops, there it is!

Posted by: Curtis Gale Weeks | Friday, December 01, 2006

Curtis,

don't know. i've noticed similar funky behavior on Tom's site, but haven't pinned it to a 'why'.

Posted by: Sean | Friday, December 01, 2006

Sean,

I'm only making a guess about the dynamic page loading. I've noticed a similar occurrence at TDAXP whenever I've moved between pages. The list of recent comments in the right sidebar sometimes will have, sometimes won't have the most recent comments, and it's obvious something weird is happening when I've already seen an updated list and then, moving to another page, the list is old again. At ZenPundit, I'm in the habit of hitting 'refresh' when reading the site, when it's active, because sometimes new comments show for posts and sometimes they do not even though new comments have been made. These things sometimes happen with new posts as well and listing of Recent Posts in the left sidebar here on TDAXP.

It's very odd behavior, and the only explanation I've had for it is the dynamic loading of pages, perhaps a browser or browser-specific cache-loading conflict. Dunno.

Posted by: Curtis Gale Weeks | Saturday, December 02, 2006

Curtis:

yes! i've had a strong suspicion re: browser/cache issues, including the current dysfunction of TypeKey on Tom's website since the 'upgrade' :-(

Posted by: Sean | Saturday, December 02, 2006

Here is blogspirit's latest reply:

"Hello,

I don't think we have a broken comment system.

I don't know how he can be redirected to the main page, he should go on the control comment page or just posted.

Our antispam blocked more than 800 comments the last 5 days on your main blog, so all seems to work like it should."

Posted by: Dan tdaxp | Monday, December 04, 2006

Let me add one more to your list...TDAXP always prints funny/incomplete for me.

Posted by: purpleslog | Friday, December 08, 2006

And another one: comments can be delayed for a looooooooooooooong time. I penned a reply to Phil [1] which is still not up. This sucks. Not only is the discussion being put off, but comments by Catholicgauze and Sean relate to what I said.


[1] http://tdaxp.blogspirit.com/archive/2006/12/07/open-thread.html

Posted by: Dan tdaxp | Saturday, December 09, 2006

On printing: I almost never print anything from the Blogosphere. Don't know why, exactly, except maybe it's because I always think I can go back to read, or save a download of the page, etc. But it would probably make careful study of multiple sources a lot easier, now that I think of it!

On the logistics of printing Internet documents: There's some odd CSS trick to reading the type of 'output,' so that when a printer prints a page a different CSS style sheet is used, making everything come out neat and crisp. Maybe a few more tricks. But I don't know much about them. For instance, I think you can style the page so that the printed copy will omit the sidebars and only print the main content.

On comments being delayed a long time:

http://tdaxp.blogspirit.com/archive/2006/11/29/mccain-lieberman-2008.html#c1312410

Posted by: Curtis Gale Weeks | Saturday, December 09, 2006

I just posted one here, but don't know if this comment will appear before it, long before it, or after it.

I was referencing something to the effect, "Waiti a moment" means "wait a moment." :-)

Posted by: Curtis Gale Weeks | Saturday, December 09, 2006

Curtis,

Blogspirit's become laughably bad. Currently I have two comments in the ether [1] [2]. Will they ever be posted? Who knows. Blogspirit tells people about ongoing comment problems /after/ they fix it, meaning there is no way to know what is going on.

I started tdaxp on blogspirit because at the time blogspirit was considerably friendlier than blogspot. I think it's obvious that's no longer the case. Blogspirit is a now a great example of user-hostile design. [3]

[1] http://tdaxp.blogspirit.com/archive/2006/12/09/classrooms-evolved-part-iii-deliberative-learning.html
[2] http://tdaxp.blogspirit.com/archive/2006/12/07/open-thread.html
[3] http://tdaxp.blogspirit.com/archive/2006/11/25/advent-adr-560-an-example-of-user-hostile-design.html

Posted by: Dan tdaxp | Sunday, December 10, 2006

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