Friday, September 5, 2008

Temporary Outage and Upcoming Changes

Outage
As some of you may have noticed, this blog was offline for a few hours.  I want to apologize and explain what happened so that you can make sure it doesn't happen to you.  This week, I have been trying to make this site a little more user friendly.  People have asked about supplies, so I created an Amazon shopping cart with a few different categories in it.  I then created the links you see in the upper left to link directly to those Amazon store categories that I set up. 

For a moment I need to explain about something called linkspamming.  There is a method of internet spam that unscrupulous marketer use where they create a fake blog, often called a splog, and they put lots and lots of gibberish on it.  Nothing that really makes sense, but within the gibberish, they include tons of links to a site where they sell stuff.  The reason they do this is that search engines will give you a higher ranking if you have lots of links to your site from other places on the web.  Basically, this is a way to artifically boost page ranks and get more traffic. 

Now, let's talk about Google.  Google has to have some way of stopping linkspammers.  But paying people to search for them all day long would not even come close to catching all of the spammers.  So, they created something called a SpamBot.  This is a program that constantly looks at Blogger blogs and scans for potential violators.  When it finds one, it shuts it down instantly.

Back to my Amazon shopping cart.  The SpamBot scanned this blog and found that I suddenly had several links to the same site.  Since that is one of the signs of linkspamming, they shut me down.  Needless to say, I was a bit shook up over this.  But the good news is that they provide a link for you to restore your blog.  Now, this does not happen right away.  All that restore link really does is notify Google that a human needs to look at the site and determine if it is spam or not.  The bad part obout that is that is can take up to 24 hours.  In the mean time your site is completely down.

So, now you know the story and hopefully you can avoid having the same thing happen to you.

Upcoming Changes
I am getting ready to make some major changes to this site.  In fact, it is likely that by the time you read this, the changes will already be made.  First off, the reason I created this blog in the first place was to provide lessons on drawing pencil portraits.  Over the past several weeks I have strayed from that and started getting into watercolor and various other media.  As of now, I am redirecting the blog's focus back to pencil drawing and pencil portraits will be the primary work done.

With the refocus I am also going to change the name of the blog to Pencil Portrait Lessons and the URL will be www.pencilportraits.org.  It is my understanding that Blogger, at least for a while, will continue to send traffic to the blog if people use the blogspot address that I have been using for several months.  So, if you have any links to my blog you might want to change them and if you are subscribing to my feed, you might want to resubscribe once the domain name is in place.  I plan to have all this done sometime tonight.

Other than that, I want to thank everyone for supporting me in this blog over the months.  At first it was more of an experiment to see if I could keep it going or not.  All of the support I get from you guys has shown me that I can.  So, I will be spending the evening tweaking this blog and making it what it should have been from the beginning.

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