Monday, January 23, 2012

Technical difficulties

We're having a little problem with our "NEPA Bloggers Updates" list on the sidebar. We first discovered it the other day, when we couldn't add (Not So) Lost In Thought to it. You can open the list to edit, and you can add as many new blogs as you want, but when you hit "Save" the system hangs while saving.

At first I thought there might be an issue with the fact that the name started with a non-alphanumeric character, but I created a new live-updating blog list on the sidebar and was able to add the blog to it without a problem. Then I thought maybe the problem had to do with the fact that there are 357 blogs on the list - maybe 357 is some magic limit. So I decided to do a little housekeeping: I created a "parking lot" of sorts for blogs that are not currently updating - these blogs lurk at the bottom of the list anyway, along with those unfortunate blogs without RSS feeds. (More on that later.) I added a handful of blogs that fell into this category, and then I attempted to delete them from the list. I selected a few for deletion, freeing up (I assumed) a few spots for blogs to be added. Then I hit "Save"...and the system hung again.

So. Can't add blogs to the "NEPA Bloggers Updates" list, and can't remove them, either. Not good. But at least we can add new blogs to the "Overflow Blog List" and add non-updating blogs to the "Non-Updating Blogs" list, until we get this resolved.

Meanwhile, there's another problem that I noticed a while ago that may or may not be getting worse. I talked about the issue here:

I noticed the other day that there seem to be a lot of blogs that have stopped live-updating and have fallen to the bottom of the "NEPA BLOGGERS UPDATES" list on the sidebar - including some that I know had functioning site feeds recently. Site feeds are automatically detected by Blogger, most of the time; usually, I just have to enter the blog address into the appropriate box, and Blogger will do the rest. (Sometimes, especially with Tumblr blogs, I have to append "/feed " to the end of the address.)

One of these blogs is Scranton Christmas Windows, which was our featured PA Live! Blog of the Week a few weeks before Christmas. For some reason, the feed is now pointing to, which will take you to a page full of html (or is it xml?) jibber-jabber.

Unfortunately, to fix this problem I have to delete and re-add each of these blogs. And while before I looked upon this problem as tedious, for the moment it is just impossible.

We've informed Blogger of this issue, and it may be a variation on a known issue regarding following and unfollowing. It could also be a template or table corruption, though Blogger's "new" format from a few years ago prevents you from seeing all of the site's html directly to get a visual sense of whether this is the case. It could also be an issue with the "New" Blogger GUI vs. the "Old" Blogger GUI, though I've tried fixing it using both. Finally, it could be a consequence of Blogger terminating support for certain antiquated blogs; perhaps we are linking to some of the unsupported blogs, and that's causing some of the problems. (I suspect this may be the issue with the feeds.) Whatever the problem, it is something that has developed since January 17, the last time we were able to successfully add a blog to the "NEPA Bloggers Updates" list.

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