Thursday, January 5, 2012

It's Scary In Cyber Jail!

Google Images
To paraphrase the immortal words of Samuel Langhorne Clemens, better known as Mark Twain, "The rumors of my blog's death have been slightly exaggerated".

If you happened to stop by Tuesday afternoon or evening, looking for a recipe or maybe just to say hello, and instead found a screen saying "This Blog Has Been Removed" please allow me to apologize. Well, in all fairness, Google is the one actually making apologies at the moment.



I'd heard stories about this happening, but I was never really sure if they were true or just some kind of blogging urban legend. I can now say with complete certainty that it's not a myth, nor is it an urban legend. In fact, it scared the bejeebers out of me! We're talking "I need a xanax" scary.  The heart racing, mind reeling, what the (insert your favorite expletive) just happened here? kind of scary. I'll do my best to explain. I know that this might not seem important right now, but you might want to at least bookmark it, in case you ever find yourself in the same position. (which I sincerely hope never, ever happens)

Google Images
I'd been on and off the web throughout the day, popping in on a few blog friends to say hello or chime in on a topic. After I finished writing a comment at one of the blogs, I clicked the publish button as I normally would... and that's when things started to get a little hinky. Instead of the comment publishing as it normally would have, I got the Google log-in screen, pre-filled with my email address, asking me to enter my password.  It wasn't the first time this had ever happened to me, so I didn't think much of it. I now realize that I should have.

Once I'd entered my password, I was immediately re-directed to a screen that said "This is not a valid account".  Hmmm?  Again, naively assuming that I must have  inadvertently transposed the characters in my password, I went to an open tab in my browser, where I normally keep a Google search page on standby and attempted to log into Google. Again, I was re-directed to a screen saying that the account was invalid.  I decided to pull up my second blog and received the same response. That's when I started to sweat.

Google Images
From that point forward, my head was spinning. I couldn't understand how this was happening.  I now know how it happened, but I'm still a little fuzzy as to why. You see, there are these Google spambots that zip around cyberspace, hunting for bad guys. The bad guys in this case are the spammers. Apparently, if one of these little bots detects anything even resembling foul play, it confiscates the attached data, hauls it off and locks it up in the cyber jail, apparently until the owner notices that it's missing. Oh yeah... I almost forgot. They lock up any linked gmail and/or Google+ accounts too! Sweating a bit more at this point.

On the screen that resulted from my attempt to log in to my blog, it said that if I felt that my blog(s) should not have been removed, I should click on a link at the bottom of the page.  So I did.  And for the next twenty or thirty hours minutes, I clicked and typed until my fingers hurt, my head was pounding and my eyes were on the verge of bleeding. For some reason that I'm sure I will never comprehend, there's a three step process to have the bot's decision reviewed. By a human. Not the bot. They don't tell you who that human is. Or where they are. Or how long it will take for them to review your blog and make a decision. Starting to feel light headed by now...

Google Images
At the final step, (in Google Help Forums) I read several threads from other bloggers who also been through this hellride experience and the answers they received from various forum experts, all of which said that this was the end of the appeal line and whatever the decision was, it was final. I still don't know if these folks are part of the Google team or if they're just really knowledgeable techie people who have been helping folks like me get off this cyber roller coaster hell ride for a long time.

So I waited.  I paced.  I fretted.  I mumbled incoherently to myself.  I emailed (from an alternate email account) a couple of good blog friends (I sincerely apologize for sending what I'm sure were insanely spazzy emails, ladies) and explained what had happened. I don't honestly know what I thought they could do to help, but I guess I just didn't want anyone to think that I had suffered a minor stroke and suddenly decided to tank my blog.

I kept thinking about the fact that I hadn't backed up my blog in, ummm, forever! I wasn't even sure it would have mattered, if the review person decided that I was guilty of some kind of cyber evil doing and the sentence was banishment from the blogosphere for all eternity. By that point, I was so close to a full blown panic attack, that I finally gave in and took a xanax. Thank you Pfizer!

Luckily, that little miracle pill kicked in pretty quickly and I settled in on the family room couch, with my laptop and my alternate email account, for what could have been the next week or two as far as I knew. At some point, I dozed off and when I awoke three hours later and remembered why I was still on the couch and not in my comfy tempur-pedic cocoon, I brushed the sleep from my bloodshot eyes and woke my computer up from it's self induced privacy coma. I could barely hit refresh, because I wasn't sure I'd survive the disappointment of an empty inbox.

Much to my relief, (eventually) there was a message there from the Google Team.  I think I was actually shaking a tiny bit when I opened it. All I could hear in my head was my mother saying "Expect the worst and hope for the best".  It started out like this:

"We apologize for any inconvenience you may have experienced. The issue you described should now be resolved."


Following that, it said I could now sign back in to my Google accounts and in case I had any trouble doing so, they included a couple of links to change my password or contact them.  I can't even tell you how relieved I was when I hit that key and my blog popped up in front of me.  If hubby hadn't needed to get up and go to work in a couple of hours, I would have yelled Yippeee! right out loud.

Even after all of the stress and anxiety, I have to say I'm very grateful to whoever it was that expedited my review.  I'd seen threads where other folks who'd had this happen were still trying to get their blogs back, three weeks after they had been removed. So, if the knight or knightess? in shining HTML code who took care of this for me is reading this... Thank You, Thank You, Thank You !!!

I was so not prepared for anything like this to happen. So, if you take anything at all away from this post, let it be this: Please remember to back up your blogs, people! It could mean the difference between having a temporary delay in your blogging schedule, or starting all over again, from scratch.

To read about a very special gift that I recieved this year, click here

3 comments:

  1. Mary I am SO glad to see this resolved...wth is up with google these days? Have you thought about going to Word Press?
    Anyway- thats super scary...remember a few months ago when Blogger was eating everyone's most recent posts? Sheesh.

    Congrats on coming out on the winning end:)
    Tracy

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  2. I have had that password business happen to me a couple of times. I usually just get frustrated with it and go do something else. Makes me so glad I did....

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  3. Also SO GLAD that they fixed this for you in such a SPEEDY manner all things considered. I know how terrible stress can be. Xanax was a wonderful "lifesaver" but you can't live like that all the time.

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I love comments! I read every one and they truly make my day! I no longer allow anonymous comments due to increases in spam, etc. Since there are issues with G+ and Blogger Profiles mysteriously flipping back and forth, I know it can be impossible to control showing up as a no-reply blogger, but IF YOU SUBSCRIBE to the COMMENTS on this post (below) you'll get a notice about my reply via email! Thanks for stopping by and for absolutely making my day! XOXO

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