Bug in Google's Blogger costing sites traffic

Publishers with custom domains hosted on Google's Blogger blog-publishing service have been losing traffic for the past week due to a bug affecting how visitors get redirected from the Blogger domain to the publishers' own domains.

The problem hits when someone tries to visit a blog by going to its Blogspot URL, which follows the format: BlogName.Blogspot.com, instead of going directly to the site's custom domain.

Ironically, Google is among the publishers affected by the problem, as can be seen by attempting to visit the company's official blog for its Orkut social network through its Blogspot address: http://officialorkutblog.blogspot.com/.

Under normal circumstances, the visitor would be automatically redirected to the custom domain URL, which in the case of the Orkut blog is http://en.blog.orkut.com/

While the problem is caused by an issue in a Blogger system, its severity varies depending on which browser Web site visitors are using.

For example, internal tests at IDG News Service showed that visitors using Firefox 3 or Safari 4 will see a page that warns them they are about to be redirected to a blog that isn't hosted on Blogger. The page states that the site "has not been checked for spam, viruses and other forms of malware" and gives the user the option to proceed to the page or not. It's safe to assume that Web surfers with an average sense of caution will not click through to the site, considering the terse warning.

While this is bad enough, the situation gets even worse with Internet Explorer 7, which shows visitors an error page that says the browser can't display the Web site, giving the sense that the site either doesn't exist or is offline.

Publishers began reporting the problem on Tuesday of last week in the official Blogger Help discussion forum, and Google acknowledged that it's working on a solution on Wednesday.

The problem remains unsolved at press time.

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