Saturday, March 6

BlogExplosion 2010 Problems in the blogosphere

blog explosion

Anji, one of my co-blog-reviewer-approvers on blogexplosion, recently wrote a few posts on problems that we've been having since the loss of contact with the blogexplosion owners and senior administrator.
BlogExplosion: Problems logging in and surfing

This post is a message for her and all others who might be having the same concerns.

Anji, I did manage to locate some older blog posts about BE having this same problem sporadically over the years. It seems to occur every couple of years. 2006, 2007, Blog posts complaining of no support/admin responses and thumbnails not being updated, etc. Those posts correspond with changes in ownership and management.

I have a feeling that what has happened is our senior *volunteer* admin finally gave up trying to keep up, particularly in light of the fact that he was working for free -- He maintained the site. Dealt with server and script issues. Added new blogs. Updated thumbnails. Created new ideas to keep the site fresh and interesting (He did a great job there, but that had to be majorly time consuming.) Responded to emails. Checked every forum post and deleted the spam. Checked each site that received a *flag* for content. Responded to member complaints about other blogs or comments that had been left by members on their profiles.

I have a feeling that the straw that finally broke the camel's back was the constant complaints and gripes at him from us, the members. Complaints that 'admin' and 'support' were not responding to emails and thumbnail requests quickly enough. That sort of thing...

I know there were others helping him before, but they didn't appear to last long. I had no idea that 'admin' and 'support' was really just one guy, trying to do it all alone-- and for free, until you told me. He never said anything about it on the forum or in email responses. I think we all would have been a bit more patient had we known that. And a bit more appreciative of his efforts to keep the community happy and the site interesting.

I'm sure the in-boxes for support and inquiries are over-flowing with duplicate email requests sent multiple times by the same people-- and spam. I don't think he'll ever look in there again. I don't think he'll ever come back. He obviously got just as much support from LiveUniverse as we did. None. And he has a job and a family.

I think what will happen (as portended by the past) is that ?LiveUniverse? -- or current owner -- will eventually do a spot check (probably an annual or bi-annual audit of sorts, or to pretty it up for sale, again) to make sure everything is up and running. They'll see there is no senior admin and take back control of it.

They'll probably delete all of our approval accounts without notice--we just won't be able to login one day-- they'll clean out the support requests and admin emails (they know that there are thousands waiting for approval and more coming in every day, if someone needs support badly enough they'll send a fresh email when they see there's new management) They'll add new advertisements and apps. maybe even give the whole place a shiny new look.

Then suddenly a new admin group will appear. They'll set about fixing what needs to be fixed and BE will take off again with a re-newed enthusiasm...
until the next break down or sale.

Don't fret Angie Baby. These things are cyclic. We're just feeling the same stress that our 'admin' felt; like we're personally responsible for each and every member's satisfaction and all of the guilt that comes with not being able to keep everyone happy.

I'm kicking back and enjoying the time I have left to approve blogs.

Information For New Members

I'm thinking we should create a standard email we can send to new members as we add their blogs. Just to let them know that BE is in a holding pattern, and to be patient. That support is not currently available, and they should not make any site purchases until further notice.

But they should log into their accounts and go to 'surf member blogs' to start earning credits and that they need to go to the 'assign credits' page after each surfing session to move the new earned credits into their blog account. They can also choose the option to have those credits automatically assigned -- then they won't have to do anything except have fun surfing blogs and meeting new bloggers.

blogexplosion assign credits dashboard
(click to enlarge)

I'm making my predictions based on information from the web and in old newsletters I received from BE about how these problems occurred, and were resolved, in the past. I've listed the BE NEWSLETTERS that I think are significant, but you might want to read them all for their historic value. The changing personalities of the owners, admins, and the site as a whole.

Sept 28, 2004 Meet Thomas and Jeff: The guys who created blogexplosion issue their first email newsletter.
April 24, 2006 Blogexplosion Sold: BlogExplosion has been sold to Stephen Sartain.
May 3, 2006 Under New Management: Meet the new blogexplosion management Lewis Johnston and Stephen Sartain
June 9, 2006 Ooops and Ouch: BlogExplosion is up for Sale again
June 17, 2006 Blogexplosion Sold (Again): "The new owners are a large group." This is where the mystery begins... a large group of what?

I have one more piece of information I'd like to share for people who have submitted a blog at blogexplosion for review and have not yet been approved.

In 2008 the senior administrator and resident geek Chris created an algorithm to move those who are serious about becoming community members to the top of the approval list. Here's what he had to say about it on the forum.

Hi Susan

It sounds like you may have been caught by my blog verification algorithm. If a user does not attend (log in to) blogexplosion for more than 30 days their blog is moved to another queue.

The idea of this is to ensure only blogs with active owners are reviewed. With such a huge backlog I had to find a way to bring legitimate blogs to the front of the queue.

For an idea of whether it works or not there is still over 4000 in the queue waiting for their owners to come back.

They will not be processed unless the owners return and log in at BE -- because you came back your blog was automatically rushed to the front of the queue.

Once the queue drops to less than a 30 day backlog all blogs will be reviewed in the order they are submitted



Currently Reading: What Will Happen in Eragon IV by Richard Marcus
Look for the review soon on my blogcritics writer profile page.


Anji said...

What you’ve written fits in with my memory of events too. The cleaning up part is interesting. When people were having problems logging in and surfing a while back I wrote to all of the oldies who’d helped in the past, I also posted quite a lot on the forums. It seems that no one got my PMs, except you, you seem to have had an email but I’d like to bet you didn’t get the PM. The information about the problem I posted on the forums disappeared too. If what you say is right, it could be very good news. I do hope they are cleaning up so that interested parties can have a look around and see how everything is running.

I still think that Badmin found himself locked out one morning. I discovered that a lot of people were doing work for LiveUniverse and were continuing with that work even though there was a probability they wouldn’t get paid. Not as dumb as it sounds considering I’ve been approving blogs as a volunteer for just over 2 years now.

As for the blogs that were taken out of the queue because the owners hadn’t logged in for some time. It’s a long time since I’ve noticed a blog submitted outside the time range of blogs at the moment. In the past I used to see dates as far back as two or three years. They could all be floating around somewhere – or deleted.

Last piece of news is good. The program for approving blogs is working very smoothly at the moment. Last night I managed to get through 100 in just over an hour!

cooper said...

I remember joining BE in 2005 or so shortly after that the frequent buying and selling of it occurred'

Some entity or person would purchase it - thinking to make money while others worked for them for free. That is the reason BE stopped going forward and got stuck in time.

I think it unlikely, as much as BE was great for me when I first started, that anything will happen or change with BE unless people stop doing all their work for free.

Joanna said...

Well you are correct, sorry I know this post is for Anji. I also remember the events of 2006. I would love if someone bought BE that made money, I don't care about that it's not my business, but was also concerned about making the site good and keeping up with it.

I do agree that one day we will wake up and not be allowed our approving abilities. It wouldn't surprise me at all.

ted de stratford said...

Anybody thought of a concentrated campaign, i.e. bombarding Live Universe with emails, tweets, raw sewage etc?

T - Another Geek Girl said...

Anji, you're right about the email, just a link, no message.

I'm still managing to approve, though I haven't been able to get through 100 at a time.

I do wonder what's happening with the deleted postings. I wonder if it's a spam deleting algorithm or the human touch. If it's human they need to touch a bit more. Like answering emails.

T - Another Geek Girl said...

coop, I think you're right about that. The previous owners hired people to do the work. Obviously they were making money. The site set up hasn't changed, they must still be making money from the ads etc. I wonder where it's going?

T - Another Geek Girl said...

Joanna, the post was to Anji, but not only for her.

If the site went up for sale it would be strange that they're not answering emails.

The one thing I had considered, but hadn't mentioned was the server usage. The site has to be running on a server somewhere. I can see how they could have purchased the domain name for a long period, but hosting services cost money. Eventually the service will shut it down without payment.

If it's not hosted externally, then it's running on somebody's server. I don't see how it can run indefinitely either way.

I guess another possibility is that the whole site might just go down. An unwatched server could crash or go dark if no payment is made.

That leads to another possibility for contacting the owner (maybe liveuniverse already sold it and the new owner isn't running it, just collecting ad revenue?) if we can find the web hosting company we might be able to get a new contact person.

We'll have to look into that for sure!

T - Another Geek Girl said...

Ted, we've tried the emails and even phone calls. Tweets I'll have to look into. Raw sewage is a definite possibility.

There used to be live chats and live support, but that seems to have gone dark.

There also used to be a radio show. I'll have to check that as well.

I love the work you're doing to save Shakespeare. I'm doing my part to keep his words alive as well.


Rae Macklyn said...

WOW, I really had no idea about any of this...I found this post (and obviously your entire blog) by following a link from Anji's while surfing BE. I submitted my site for consideration just about, or probably more than, a week ago and was wondering what's up with the approval process; I mean, I have some fairly "out there" and strong opinions on my blog, but it is regularly updated and contains no advertising (which is always kind of nice to run across!). :-) I've been a serious blogger since 2005, though I abandoned my original blog after 4 years for personal reasons. Seriously, if there is anything that someone like me can do to help with reviews and whatnot, I'd be more than happy to help out...just give me a shout!

Dirty Butter said...

I ran across this post while trying to find what was going on with BE. We've been on BE since 2005, but I recently changed urls for our blogs and can't get them approved. At least now I know why.

I'm sorry to hear that the admin was working for free. BE is a huge undertaking. I ran a toplist I created, Blogvillage, up until a couple of years ago for free, and I finally had to "give it away" to one of our members. I just couldn't keep up with all the work it entailed. And that was an extremely minor undertaking compared with BE.

I'll continue to surf from time to time through BE to keep my login active, and to build points for the future, but I won't hold my breath, either.

Thanks for the peace of mind.