Thursday, September 15, 2011

Surviving Google's Blogpocalypse

I attempted to login to my Google Apps version of Gmail one day and was instead presented with a page I couldn't circumvent. Over 20 checkboxes, several tabs that didn't look like tabs, and a lot of confusing options. Eventually I was able to access Gmail again.

The next time I attempted to login to Blogger however, things went poorly. As it turns out this transition does not have a migration path for Blogger/Blogspot, so you have to migrate manually.

Migrating manually is not obvious or easy. Here's the steps I had to take - maybe they'll help others:
  1. Choose the option to create a new personal Gmail account for your blog. You'll need to go through the usual Gmail signup process where you create another username, another password to remember, and have to enter another arbitrary security question.
  2. Login with the new Gmail account. You can signout of your existing account, or do this in an Incognito window or another browser to skip the logout step.
  3. Now you have access to your blog again! ...but you don't want to have to use this other random Gmail account to edit it every time.
  4. Get to Settings > Permissions
    1. In the old look: Under the blog name, click Settings, then the Permissions tab.
    2. In the new look: Click the blog name, click Settings, and look under Permissions.
  5. Click Add Authors, and add your old Apps account - except - you can't just add it normally - the operation just quietly fails with no open invite, no indication the invite went out, no email, and no indication of an error. Instead, you need to use an alias for your account. If you have multiple domains associated with your account this is simple - use one of the alias domains. If you don't, you'll need to create an Alias for your user in the Domain Admin, then invite that Alias.
  6. Check your email for the invite, and accept.
  7. Come back to the incognito window (or, sadly, logout and login as the ephemeral Gmail account you created). Get to Settings > Permissions again, and now change your invited self to Admin instead of Author.
  8. You can finally return to using Blogger the way you always did before Google ruined your day.
I'd like to point out that this transition really should have been entirely under the covers - as a user, I login with my Google Apps email address to edit my blog. I want to keep doing so. That Google is going through a major systems changeover shouldn't require me going through all of this trouble. If the transition is going to be mandatory, it should have waited until all products could be migrated automatically. Instead a lot of non-technical users had to deal with this insane process that offers no support.

Google is notoriously poor at customer support. I actually recall standing at TGIF listening to a Googler ask the founders why customers are pushed to post their problems to Support forums no one reads, getting no response unless an employee happens to take it upon themselves to look into it, or it makes it onto the front page of Slashdot. Sergey Brin's actual response was, "Well we shouldn't resolve these issues by having a big customer service department. We should resolve them by writing better code." I really should've grabbed a mic and described a metaphorical situation in which a farmer starts closing the barn door after his cow wanders off, but alas.

This is the support thread for this problem: It's safe to assume no Google employee will ever respond to it, let alone read it.