The Online Photographer

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Monday, June 04, 2007

Laid Low by the Spam-Fighting Robots

Well, wasn't that fun.

If you haven't heard, last Friday I got locked out of The Online Photographer. When attempting to post I got a dire Warning! message that informed me that Blogger's Spam-Fighting Robots had identified TOP as a spam blog (whatever that is...and please don't tell me, I'm quite sure I don't want to know). So for three days—thank the stars and the Blogger Team it wasn't more—I haven't been able to post here or to even tell you what was going on!

I've been almost ill over this. I feel I've worked hard for my traffic—you, that would be, and thank you—by giving you something new every day. In nearly a year and a half I don't think I've ever gone three days without posting new content. That was the original idea behind TOP—to give photo enthusiasts a place where they could reliably find something fresh.

And I have to say I've been pretty happy with Blogger for this purpose...up till now.

But apparently I have just run headfirst (and, yes, ow) into one of the major failings of a free-service site: namely, no Customer Service. I did everything I could think of to find someone to help—even tried to call Google in California. No luck. Good as it normally is, Blogger is a take-what-we-give-you type of arrangement. Don't like it? Tough tiddlywinks. Once I'd made the request for reinstatement, all I could do was wait. My only option was to sit on my hands. You can imagine how I felt when I heard the news (from reading in the Blogger Help forums) that TOP might have been out of commission for as long as a week.

I did get the "thanks for your patience" reinstatement this afternoon, and here I am posting again. Fine. But in the meantime, I did something I probably should have done a long time ago—built a new version of the blog, and registered it under my own domain name.

It's looking pretty rough yet, but I think it will end up being an improvement. See what you think: the new URL is (same as before, just without the "blogspot" in the middle there).

For now, until the DNS servers catch up with us, you may have to access the new site HERE.

I'll be interested to hear comments. And my apologies for abandoning you over the weekend—it wasn't voluntary, believe me.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, I for one certinly missed you. I thought maybe some of a personal nature had happened to you. Glad to find out it was just an internet snafu. I checked 3 or 4 times a day and finally you are back! Get your own domain and a paid server. I did, and I am very happy with the results. You will be too. Welcome back!!!

3:18 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Don't worry, we'll track you down everywhere you'd go. (was that scary enough?) ...and then we'll follow.
Good luck, Mike! Now it's the best time to say "keep it up".


3:24 PM  
Blogger chirpy said...

Just think how far you have progressed since your first blog. Change is tough - forced change really sucks. Keep the faith. You do great work for the industry and the end-users.

Ron N.

3:32 PM  
Blogger thechrisproject said...

The free/nonexistent service is why I just switched off of blogger. I've run into a few issues so far with them:
1) You used to not be able to see images that they hosted on other sites, which means that when I looked at my blogger blog in Bloglines, I couldn't see the images.

2) I can't post at work. It's a problem with the new beta, some sort of obscure firewall packet size issue that I don't feel like researching for them.

3) It's very hard to even tell anyone about your problems.

I created my own site, installed Wordpress on it, and imported everything from blogger. It got all my comments, old posts, and even my drafts. I was quite impressed.

3:40 PM  
Blogger David said...

The HERE link goes to

I took out the 'typepad' from the URL and it went to the 'correct' address

but perhaps not everyone will do that, and I don't know what the result would be in the longer term

3:41 PM  
Blogger David said...

Second comment

Good to hear/see you are back

3:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Whew, It's good to know you are still with us. One can only be concerned when nothing new shows up for a few days. It also made me realize this wonderful site, like my first pot of coffee each day, is another of my daily addictions. See you on the new site....

3:45 PM  
Blogger Jim Kofron said...

Well Mike, it certainly beats getting run over by a truck...

Good to see you back.

3:51 PM  
Blogger witek said...

looking great!
Don't know why, but reminds me 37th frame.
One point larger font for text-area would be great though.

4:13 PM  
Blogger Robin P said...

No, I didn't panic (at least not in the way I did when the Sunday Morning series finished), just thought "Mike must be having fun this weekend - he's only human after all, we can't expect him to post every day".
So, forgiven by this reader at least.
Hope you don't get into too much of a muddle setting up the new site and please make sure it will still be easy for us to post comments!

Cheers, Robin

4:30 PM  
Blogger Stan B. said...

Welcome back- thought you were accosted by some tripod wielding enthusiast...

4:31 PM  
Blogger Thiago Silva said...

If you're designing your own blog system, you might want to chek the Open-source Serendipity:

It allows you to host and edit a blog system without much code interaction. I've tried for a while, and it's really work to set up. You need a database system, like MySQL, on your server though.

4:42 PM  
Blogger DarkPenguin said...

Glad you aren't dead. Time to bookmark the new page.

4:43 PM  
Blogger Haaf said...

I'm guessing that a few days off line will probably not 'cost' a lot of readers. The addiction is too strong.
Glad you are back.

5:13 PM  
Blogger Mike Johnston said...

I agree, but my font size choices are "normal," "small," "smaller," "large," and "larger." The one I chose seems to be the best compromise....


5:47 PM  
Blogger Mike Johnston said...

You'll have to let me know what you think of the comments setup. I'm very used to Blogger, so it's kind of tough to guess how I'll feel about TypePad until I get used to it.


5:48 PM  
Blogger Mike Johnston said...

Right...with an M8 attached....(g)


5:49 PM  
Blogger Ernest Theisen said...

I thought maybe he has the flu or something or maybe he is out making pictures or maybe he really did join Mitts campaign staff. Glad you are OK. E

6:31 PM  
Blogger Mike Johnston said...

"or maybe he really did join Mitt's campaign staff"

LOL! Ernest, you crack me up sometimes. The icecaps are melting, not the other way around...(g)

No, I'm sure Mitt's a decent gentleman. Like his Dad. I'm supporting Obama or Edwards is all. I go back and forth--currently, Edwards' health plan proposal is the most intelligent and courageous of any health proposals I've seen, so I'm leaning toward him now.

I'd love to see a female president, just don't think it should be H.C....and I'd love to see a Mormon president, just as long as it's of some other country. (g)


6:38 PM  
Blogger Albano Garcia said...

You're in time to make a better choice: go WORDPRESS!!!!!!!!
It's much more customizable, it's easy to use, free (you just pay for the hosting service), backupable. Don't go typepad, don't do it!!!

7:12 PM  
Blogger robert e said...

It's going to be so much fun when those robots run the world...

Like barbu said, you're not going to lose us that easily, Mike. It's going to take a lot more than a glitch, a weekend hiatus or a move to get rid of us! Good to have you back.

7:57 PM  
Blogger Ira Crummey said...

Well, lead and I shall follow. I look forward to new posts on The Online Photographer and it has been disappointing to see the same page for so long, just glad to see you back.

As a newcomer to blogging I am also at the whim of Google, but hopefully I can actually get some visitors to my site before I get any problems :-) Sometimes I feel invisible!


8:00 PM  
Blogger Max said...

Sorry to hear about your blog problems Mike. I was wondering if something might have happened to you, glad that's not the case. I'm tasting some of that myself, suddenly today one hotmail account I have had for a long time started refusing my logons, it gave me a weird message at first about something being wrong with my password, but now it seems I've lost any chance of getting it back. Suddenly, all that free storage doesn't sound good at all when you fear somebody else might have got hold of it.
It sucks. I did hate Hotmail, but I wasn't planning to pull out on such a short notice, now it seems done.
On a comic note, when you loose your hotmail password, it gives you the option to resend yourself a new password to the same mail account for which you don't have the password, and obviously, can't check. How's that for black humor?

9:01 PM  
Blogger ShadZee said...

Sorry about all the trouble. I know how hard you've been working on this site.

But...with MUCH apologies...


Moving from Blogger (bad) to typepad (worse). That's not a great choice if you are after SERVICE! ;-(

You have your own domain, just find a hosting company (there are great many good ones) and migrate your content EASILY to Wordpress.

With Wordpress ( you get the ultimate in Open-Source Blog application. It's fast, reliable, has 1000 times more features (security, spam control, content management, add-ons, themes,...) than typepad.

Most importantly you can find 100's of qualified people to help you manage and debug the system IF you encounter problems.

Again ... YOU own your content and hosting. With HOSTED applications Blogger/typepad, they could pull the plug at anytime they choose!

I would be more than happy to set you up with a basic Wordpress blog to have you test it. Or even better you can go to and setup a blog (it's their HOSTED offering) and give it a try. It will be fully functional version and you could at anytime just move everything to your own hosting company.

Bottom line is that you WILL move to your own hosting setup. It's just a matter of WHEN. Just make the move once ;-)

I've also been working with a great hosting company (the best service in 10 years of doing internet stuff) that you could contact and work with if you choose.

Here is my Wordpress site:

9:32 PM  
Blogger Eddy said...

Great decision in the long run. In the short run I was just thinking how you/we can migrate the old posts over. Could that be automated?

10:33 PM  
Blogger George said...

As it's already been said, you wouldn't loose us that easily ;-) As a suggestion would you consider setting up an email list to announce changes like this one?


3:16 AM  
Blogger travis blanston said...

I'm going to second the Wordpress recommendation. I'm running it myself on my own hosting solution and I would never dare dabble with any 'we host it for ya for free' service, especially for a website of TOP distinction.

I believe it may even be possible to import your existing content from this site...

6:01 AM  
Blogger Mike Johnston said...

I don't know how.


6:56 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi there,

Cool stuff you got. Nice take, how did you do that?
By the way, let me show you some of my works

Many thanks

12:53 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I only had about two posts on my blog before it was "caught" by the spam robots and locked down. It was recently re-opened and I am overjoyed. Sorry that my life is just spam. *tear*

6:35 AM  

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