Monday, October 15, 2012

Blogger pageviews reset to 0

Update: By all accounts, the pageview count has been restored. No official explanation from Blogger yet. 

I loaded my Blogger dashboard today and saw that all my blogs has their pageview count reset to 0. All of my blogs on Blogger had a pageview count of 0. Nada. Zip.
Yet I am not surprised. There are several reasons why this could have happened.
Let's first get out of the way the idea that crackers got into the Blogger system and reset all pageview counters for all of the blogs. They are several reasons why they would do this. First is for the ego-boost. Defeating Blogger means 'breaking into Google'. They might even enjoy thinking some of the brainpower at Google is now aiming in their general direction. They could also be possibly some Wordpress closet fans offended that Blogger is still around when 'the rest of the world has gone Wordpress'. Joomla and Drupal users, you're next. Perhaps these crackers were upset with Blogger. Why? Read on further down towards the end.
This could also be part of some spring clean-up gone awry. Blogger is known for some problems with dead and old blogs. Did you know that when you create a blog and delete it, the name of the blog can never be used again, ever. If you created, then deleted it because you had a fight with your cat but later wanted to re-create it after both of you patched up, you can't do it. So Blogger is  littered with dead 'space', names of blogs that were deleted and can never be re-used. It's probably time Blogger did something about it. And probably someone deleted one file too many.
Most likely this is the result of Google's response to efforts of gaming and spamming Blogger. I'm not just talking about backlinks buying or blogging groups that commit to visiting each others site a few times a day and clicking on ads. I'm talking about some serious efforts by crackers to pry into the Blogger system. The end game is likely the automated insertion of content into user templates. The content could be links to viruses, drive-by attacks or just phishing attacks. Drive-by attacks are when a malicious program is automatically downloaded when someone opens a web page. They don't have to click anything. It just does it automatically. Phishing attacks is when on a user is given a web page that tries to convinces them to part with valuable information like bank account PIN numbers. Both of these attacks are possible by inserting code into the user template. Now imagine what would happen if they inserted the code into all of the user's blog templates. Or the master template files that is used when you create a new blog.
I've also seeing a form of spamming on Blogger involving referring URLs. A Referring URL is the URL of the site the browser was previously on before it loaded the current URL. It's a fancy way of saying 'the site I was on which had a link to this site'. So, not only did the site had a link to the page or blog, someone actually clicked on the link to get to the page or blog. But since this is reported by the browser, it could really be anything. So some clever souls have been reporting spam URLs as the referring URLs. When a blogger clicks on the links to check who has been linking to their site, it will bring them a spam page or something even more sinister.
If Blogger has done something to prevent that from happening, that might have pissed off some crackers. More likely so if they were making money off from it. So breaking in and resetting everyone's pageview count, and making bloggers everywhere pissed off at Blogger/Google, seems to be a measured response.
It if was them at all. For all we know, it was Blogger who reset the pageview count on purpose. Anybody running Google Analytics on their site knows what I am talking about. The pageview count and the numbers reported by Google Analytics have long been far apart. But in the last few months, they have been growing further and further apart. So Blogger could have upgraded their code that counts pageviews to reflect numbers closer to that of Analytics.
Either way or any reason the pageview count is set to 0, I still love Blogger. I think it is the best platform for writers who are more concerned about writing. If I want to set up a blog on Blogger, I just register, create the blog name, set the template and start blogging. No plug-ins to set up or additional frameworks to install on top of the existing webserver system. There are a lot of nice template designs and if you don't mind losing some control, the dynamic templates offer an interactive experience to your  readers. That is why I have several blogs on varying topic (and varying degrees of updating).
Real bloggers would just shrug this off and go back to thinking of more ways to drive traffic to their blogs.

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