Friday, January 16, 2009

Return of the Native: Hardy Gypsy Scholar is Back!

Return of the Native
DVD Cover for 1994 Film
Starring Catherine Zeta Jones
Adaptation of Thomas Hardy Novel
(Image from Wikipedia)

Well . . . that was weird. I woke up Friday, January 9th, 2008 and couldn't access my blog. From here at my apartment in Korea, all I reached was an official Blogger site with a message in Korean that I couldn't understand.

At first, I assumed that my blog was simply inaccessible, perhaps due to high internet traffic, a slow connection, or some other technicality. However, when I checked my email inbox, I found several concerned emails by friends who could not reach my blog and were asking why they could only reach a message that said:
Sorry, the blog at gypsyscholarship.blogspot.com has been removed.
"Removed?" I wondered.

I tried to reach some official Blogger page to report the problem but found access impossible due to some sort of glitch with my internet provider at home. However, when I got to my university office, I was able to reach a site for reporting the problem. Since I had been sick with the flu and exhausted from the intensive teaching on Thursday, January 8th, when I had written a blog entry that I intended to post officially the following Friday, I wondered if I had accidentally pressed some fateful button that had deleted my blog, so I reported to Blogger that I had accidentally deleted my blog. Separately, my friend Kevin Kim, located in the States, helped report this problem just in case my message from Korea should fail to reach Blogger.

Upon looking into the problem further, however, I discovered that I was facing a bigger problem, for I found a webpage titled "The Real Blogger Status," where I learned that as of "mid January 2008, Blogger [had] started to do something about a major problem -- blogs established in BlogSpot, in massive numbers, for illegal purposes -- hacking, porn distribution, and spam distribution." Of course, my blog fit into none of those categories, but the timing of my blog's removal fit the date mentioned. Further down on the page, I found the problem: "Blog Removed For TOS Violation." The acronym "TOS" means "Terms of Service," and a violation was implied by the message "Sorry, the blog at gypsyscholarship.blogspot.com has been removed."

For readers who enjoy reading long, boring legal documents, go read about Blogger Terms of Service and Blogger Policy Content Boundaries. I had glanced over these when I first started my blog in 2005, but I now looked into them more carefully with an eye to my problem. I had to assume that Blogger thought that I had violated one of the "Content Boundaries," but I couldn't see how . . . aside from the many 'insults' that I had directed toward my poor, longsuffering Uncle Cran.

Clearly, this removal was a mistake.

The webpage titled "The Real Blogger Status" explains why this can happen:
As Blogger tries harder to reduce the population of illegal blogs, and based upon the massive size and deviousness of that population, more legitimate blogs are going to be falsely flagged as illegal.
My blog somehow got caught up in that flagging process. Perhaps somebody -- possibly Uncle Cran -- had felt insulted by one or more of my blog entries and reported my blog as an abusive one. A "Flag Blog" button can be found at the top of every blog hosted by Blogger, so reporting 'abuse' is as easy as a click on an icon. If a dedicated icon-clicker clicks away, perhaps my blog would be flagged as illegal.

But I'm guessing, and I really have no solid clue as to what happened.

I do, however, know whom to thank for getting Gypsy Scholar returned to the internet. Actually, I need to thank two people.

I should first of all thank Malcolm Pollack for his interest in my case. I know Malcolm only through the blogosphere, but we've become cyber-buddies due to our overlapping interests. Malcolm not only provided advice, he decided to contact a friend of his who works high up in the hierarchy at Google, the company that owns Blogger.

That friend is Mr. Bob Wyman. Now, I'd heard of Mr. Wyman from way back in my early history-of-science days at Berkeley, which takes me back to the early 1980s. Mr. Wyman received a phone call from Malcolm early this week and promised to see what he could do about getting my blog restored. He came through, and here I am.

Thank you, Malcolm Pollack and Mr. Bob Wyman. Thank you very much.

Now, I suppose that my latest Expat Living article, which appears in today's Korea Herald, is (ironically) already out of date:
Amputation of my internetic articulation
As the official "language" columnist for Expat Living, I am rarely without words, but since Jan. 9, I have been rendered speechless.

As of that date, or possibly even Thursday the 8th, my blog, "Gypsy Scholar," no longer exists on the internet. Try visiting it, and you'll receive this alarming message: "Sorry, the blog at gypsyscholarship.blogspot.com has been removed."

Most readers will find this message less alarming than I do, and some might respond with complete equanimity if not utter indifference. Well, such is the way of the world, and I accept its ways, for I am no more indispensable than any man whose blog's demise entails no corresponding demise of the world.

Some online friends of mine knew of my bloglessness before I did. Malcolm Pollack, who maintains his own fine blog, "Waka Waka Waka," wrote an e-mail of proleptic commiseration: "When my site goes down even for an hour or two ... I completely freak out, and feel existentially paralyzed ... (and) too small without it."

My cyber-friend's words sparked some uncharacteristically serious, cyborgian thoughts of my own concerning the extension of our selves through internetic articulation.

"I know exactly what you mean," I told him, "by being suddenly small, contracted to ... (a) mere physical self. Interesting, isn't it, how our identities have expanded to encompass so much. I feel as though something has been amputated. More precisely, it's as though most of me is now missing, (as if) an expanded body that made 'quasi-sensory' contact with so much else out there has been surgically removed. I feel no physical pain, but a deep sense of loss."

Malcolm agreed: "Yes, that's a good way of putting it. Through my website I have an extension into this other dimension that encompasses, in principle, the entire human community, and for the feeling when that's taken away, 'amputation' is not too strong a word, I think. It is as if a sensory organ had been removed, or something. It is extremely uncomfortable and distressing."

Minus my blog, I am thus even less than wordless with irony. I am a far-less-articulated, much-reduced self, an entity something like Newton's God minus His sensorium of space. Without the internet space as sensorium for my blogiated self, I lose much of my power, my presence, and even my much-vaunted benevolence. Indeed, I feel, deep within my bowels, the definite stirrings of malice toward whoever bears responsibility for the disappearance of my blog.

But whom to blame?

Perhaps a Maxwellian Demon, working for greater order in the internet, found cosmic justification in blocking my blog? Or possibly, some Orwellian Big Brother found political justification in reasons of state? Or maybe some unwell individual disgruntled by one of my posts reported my blog as a hate-speech site? Or just possibly, some purely stochastic cybernetic oscillation occurred, thereby placing the onus on nobody in particular?

I simply do not know.

As a language columnist, however, I consider myself duty-bound to offer a few choice words of merit that might subtly express the finer shades of my feelings: Great profanated balls of execrating dysphemistic maledictory cacophemisms!

I know, I know. Profanity is a sign of poor vocabulary, of a weak mind trying to express itself forcibly.

Well, I did warn you that I was speechless.

Jeffery is a professor at Ewha Womans University and can no longer be reached through his blog Gypsy Scholar at gypsyscholarship.blogspot.com - Ed.
Malcolm saw this article before I did, and wrote:
Now I'm famous! Thanks. As for that maledictory eructation about your "feelings" toward the end of the piece: I should remind you that ladies, and children, read this paper too.
I felt chagrin at the rebuke:
Oh, you saw that article? I had no idea that you subscribed to the Korea Herald! But if you're famous, then so am I. How famous am I? I'm sorry about the profane language at the end of the article. It just kind of slipped out. You know how it is . . . words picked up from one's parents when they stub their toe or hammer the wrong nail.
I'll try to restrain myself in future Expat Living columns.

I'd like to say a few kind words for Google, the company that owns Blogger (as noted above). I appreciate much of what Google does, for I rely upon their services daily. I use Google's Advanced Search Engine, Google Books, Google Scholar, and various other of Google's services, and I am very happy about these conveniences. Without Google, I would be unable to pursue my scholarly career here in Korea, for the hard-copy resources that I would need are largely missing.

I am a bit concerned, however, about the recent problem that my blog encountered. Let me be clear. Google has the legal right to remove a blog without warning at any time for any reason. That right is quite clearly stated in the agreement, and I am not complaining. One can hardly complain when Blogger is free and the conditions so clearly stated, but I think that I must, with some regret, look for a different host for Gypsy Scholar and actually pay for the service under different conditions that offer more protection to me and my blog and more recourse if a problem should occur.

I would hazard some advice to Google. Offer bloggers an option of paying Google to host their blogs, and if the conditions are good enough, serious bloggers will pay. I would prefer to pay Google and stay with Blogger than go to the trouble of moving all my files to a different blog host, and I suspect that other serious bloggers with Google would prefer to do the same.

Just a suggestion.

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29 Comments:

At 10:42 AM, Blogger Rob said...

Glad to see you back in business. It could happen to anyone so I'm glad you've documented how it might be solved.

 
At 10:45 AM, Blogger Conservative in Virginia said...

Jeffery, paying doesn't guarantee anything. I once used a free photo site and later paid a small fee for the service. Well, they must have been asking for those small fees because they were running low on cash (or maybe they didn't ask for enough of a fee). Anyway, soon after, their creditors came in, shut off the power, locked the doors and that was that. Much later the new owners of the site tried to sell people their photos back. I had back-ups, but many poor souls had no other copies of their photos. What a mess.

Of course, Google is in much better shape financially than some small outfit. But you still should make your own back-up of anything you really wouldn't want to lose.

We moved our family blogs from Blogger to a private server (which we pay for), but still take backups.

Blogger has never been a great product. Google bought it and has tried to fix it, but there are still problems popping up, no doubt due to mistakes made early on in the design process. FWIW, I've not been able to leave comments on What's the Rumpus? for a few weeks now, though tech guru Scotty says she made no changes.

 
At 10:47 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Welcome back nephew!
In spite of your occational "dissing" of your poor, crippled, intellectually deprived uncle, I still you in high regard, and take back the comments in the previous blog. You are highly intellegent. Also a real wit....the person who said that was only half correct was wrong, in my opinion. You have advanced to at least 75%.
Looking forward to future reading on your endeavors and witticism.
Cran

 
At 10:50 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Should have said, "I still hold you in high regard....."
Sorry about that.
And it wasn't me who reported you, even though, as you indicated, there might have been probable cause on my part.
Cran

 
At 11:42 AM, Anonymous Charles said...

Yay! Dr. Doom is back!

I'm glad to see that Malcolm's connections were able to pave the way to your return.

 
At 11:53 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Rob, thanks. I don't know if everybody can go through Bob Wyman, but perhaps Google will figure out a way to smooth the process of appeal.

Jeffery Hodges

* * *

 
At 11:57 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Thanks, CIV. I'll be checking with Malcolm for advice on this blog hosting issue.

I don't know what's wrong with Rumpus, if anything. I sometimes have difficulty accessing that blog, but I think that's due to my own location in Korea or something to do with my Korean internet provider.

Jeffery Hodges

* * *

 
At 12:01 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Uncle Cran, thanks for your kind words . . . even if they are part of a backhanded compliment. As for your vow that you didn't report me, I'll take you at what your word's worth.

Jeffery Hodges

* * *

 
At 12:04 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Charles, it's good to be back. But why am I Dr. Doom? Am I some Marvel Supervillain?

Jeffery Hodges

* * *

 
At 12:38 PM, Blogger Malcolm Pollack said...

We are all very glad to have you back, Jeffery! We missed you.

Now look both ways when crossing the street, and don't sleep with the fan on, and we should be enjoying your posts for many years to come.

 
At 1:00 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Malcolm, I've very glad to have my sensorium back...

Jeffery Hodges

* * *

 
At 1:34 PM, Anonymous Christopher said...

It would have been tragedy had your blog permanently disappeared, since it contains so much valuable information, creativity and artistry. The deletion of your blog would have been like a book-burning of antiquity.

You were like the character in Kafka's "The Trial" - found guilty of something, but he couldn't find out what.

Yours is a cautionary tale for anyone on Blogger who doesn't store backup copies of their postings.

I haven't been doing this, but now will.

Let's hope you don't have this experience again.

 
At 1:37 PM, Anonymous Michael S. Pearl said...

Jeffery,

Can Malcolm get Google to provide compensation for depriving me of one week's forth of Gypsy Scholar? Just between us, I was out of town and nowhere near a computer for half of that time; so, if it makes it any easier for Malcolm, I am willing to settle with Google for something a little less than the full week of enjoyment.

Michael

 
At 1:56 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Christopher, thank you for your kind words, and I too have learned wisdom from this experience.

Jeffery Hodges

* * *

 
At 1:57 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Michael, I suspect that Malcolm would be interested in cutting a deal. I suggest that the two of you get in touch.

Jeffery Hodges

* * *

 
At 2:45 PM, Blogger Hathor said...

I am glad you had connections. I had posed a complaint to Google,which took several weeks for them to reply and when they did it was if they misread my complaint. It was later addressed, but I guess someone with more clout than I complained.

There is an option in Blogger that allows your post to be backed up in ones gmail. If for some reason you have to revise or edit, that wont be sent to gmail.

I have my domain on my ISP, but can not find the size of my blog to move my entire blog. Don't know if I have enough space. Tried to find help from Blogger Groups, no response, so I gave up.

Find a host in the US. Domain name is cheap. You can still use Blogger software and Blogger will do the file transfer. You have the option to transfer your entire blog, although Blogger will still maintain you blog on their server.

 
At 2:55 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Thanks, Hathor, I'm continually astonished by how little I know about Blogger, the internet, and computers generally. I rely on people like you and Malcolm for advice.

Jeffery Hodges

* * *

 
At 5:26 PM, Blogger Kate Marie said...

Again, so glad to see you back, Jeffery! I missed your voice in the blogosphere.

CIV, I'm so sorry about the comments on Rumpus. You mentioned that problem in an e-mail, if I'm not mistaken, and I've done nothing about it yet, probably because I feel like I haven't slept for about three weeks. I'll have Sadeeq and Scotty see what they can do -- they're much better at this stuff than I am.

I'll e-mail you.

 
At 8:49 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

KM, I'm glad to be back.

Jeffery Hodges

* * *

 
At 4:46 AM, Blogger Al-Ozarka said...

I'm glad my daily ritual of clicking over here will no longer be in vain!

I deleted my own blog once...e-mailed the blogger crew and within a week they had me back up and going. It surprised me, actually.

I am thankful for the blogger service and appreciate Google for allowing me to have a medium.

 
At 4:52 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Daddio (Al-Ozarka), I have friends who 'hate' Google, but despite my recent little problem, I can hardly complain since I accepted the conditions for receiving a free blog -- though I think Google should actually pay me for all this work...

Jeffery Hodges

* * *

 
At 10:55 AM, Anonymous Charles said...

I have no idea why you are Dr. Doom, but you are. I think it's the hat.

(I cannot be held responsible for any damage, mental or otherwise, sustained while attempting to understand the way my twisted mind works.)

 
At 10:58 AM, Blogger Sperwer said...

Welcome back! Glad that's over. Did you get any further information regarding the possible reason for Google's removal of your blog about which we speculated?

 
At 11:04 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Charles, whew! That's good. I feared that you might be alluding to my metallic exoskeleton.

But 'hat'? I don't wear no stinkin' hat.

Jeffery Hodges

* * *

 
At 11:06 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Sperwer, I've received no word on that, so all we have are our more-or-less-plausible speculations.

But, of course, we're right.

Jeffery Hodges

* * *

 
At 4:45 PM, Anonymous Jeff said...

Woohoo! Welcome back.

One bit of technical advice: there's an option in Blogger that allows you to export and archive a copy of your entire blog as (if I remember correctly) an XML file. Doing this gives you a backup for your own purposes, and I think you can later upload that file to a new blog if you relocate or this one accidentally gets deleted again...

 
At 5:22 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Thanks, Jeff. Is a computer's memory adequate to a blog with so many posts as mine?

Jeffery Hodges

* * *

 
At 8:30 AM, Blogger Deogolwulf said...

Welcome back.

 
At 2:26 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Thanks, Deogowulf. Good to be back.

Jeffery Hodges

* * *

 

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