Welcome to Book Blogging 101, a weekly feature on Parajunkee’s View that answers your questions and strives to share great book blogging tips and some helpful hints to help you on your way.

There have been a few bloggers on twitter that mentioned their blogs were erased. Google just took them offline. Can they do this to me? – Scared Blogger User

Yes. They Can.
Some bloggers are learning the hard way about Blogger/Google’s TOS

Here is the story. You wake up one morning and log into your email account, gmail of course and for some reason when you try to log in it gives you a message:

Google Account DisabledUsers report this message: “Google Accounts may be disabled because of a perceived violation of either the Google TOS or product-specific TOS.” – ref URL page.

I have actually gotten the above message before and hooking up my cell phone worked in starting the page again. But in the process I couldn’t get into Blogger, Google Docs, Picasa — the list goes on, right?

But, others have been reporting much worse. Their blog completely gone, another message when they try to log in – that just says their accounts are completely disabled and it usually tracks to Google TOS violations. I know you are thinking what could I POSSIBLY DO that would violate Google’s ToS??? That is for porn sites, phishing expeditions and copyright violators. Well, here is the thing – a person doesn’t actually do the searching for violators. Google runs a program. So anything can be misconstrued, especially if your content borders on sketchy like this example on The Consumerist.

But, on top of just plain old Google TOS violations like supposed kiddie porn, inappropriate images, phishing or copyright violations, Google+ has entered into the picture and it would seem are on a mission to eradicate Google+ profiles that violate their TOS.

The two main ones that are being listed are:

You have to Use Your Real Name on Google+

You have to be 13+ on Google+

You might not know that you have to use your real name on Google+, you can not use your blog name, I can’t sign up as Parajunkee on my Google+ account. If Google suspects that you are not using your real name they will shut down your Google accounts and ask you to provide documentation like a scan of your ID or links on the web that prove who you are (what that might be I have no idea!). Reports even say that Google suggests if you want a fake name account to hop back on the Facebook train. LMAO

Then of course there is the age thing. Google of course doesn’t want to violate the COPPA restrictions so 13+ it is. Not 13+ they can take away everything from those internet savvy children. Thus, making 12 year olds cry and provoking posts like this.

I don’t think any of you are under 13 so I don’t believe that one will affect you, but I do know that many of my darling Google+ buddies do use their Blog names as their Google+ profile, then don’t get me started on my lovely author buddies.

And when Google finds you in violation of this Real Name policy, or some other reason – THEY SHUT IT ALL DOWN. You are frozen out of EVERYTHING. Well, some users. Others report they are frozen out of a few, like just Picasa (so all their images on the blog disappear). Some, lose their blog but can still sign into Google Docs. It is like a Google Poltergeist, just reeking havoc. It hardly makes sense and there isn’t a Google Number to call or quick response email. You have to submit a form – appeal the process, fun stuff.

What is worse is that there have been reports in tech boards that you’ll get deleted if you have multiple gmail accounts also – and I think a lot of us are also in violation of this. I mean I’ve created a gmail account just for a giveaway to help vet some of the emails I would be getting.

What To Do??

In light of a certain event in May that was dubbed Blogger Apocalypse, where Google updated some software that made Blogger go Bye-Bye and then another incident where domain names registered with GoDaddy and hosted on Blogger also went Bye-Bye, I decided it was time to start transitioning off of “Free” Google services.

Less reliance is good. You heard the term “All Your Eggs In One Basket” right? Maybe it is time to look outside of Google for some of your programs. Start backing up those Google Docs on your hard drive. Before Google Docs there was something called Word and Excel 😉

Maybe use Flickr instead of Picasa. I actually pay for Flickr service.

Assess if your Google+ account is really worth it. I know it was cool in the beginning being invited when all your nonblogger buddies were not included. But, is it working for you? Because I’ll tell you, I’m currently trying to push my Facebook Fan page. At least I don’t have to pretend. That is for my blog.

Then, the biggest of all. Your Blog. How do you view your blog? Is it just a hobby? If it went down for 12 hours would it really matter? If it disappeared tomorrow could you start over again with little headache?

When I asked myself those questions my first mental response went something like this:

Holy !@&*$$!!!!!*&!@!(&^!&@^#*!%@$%!!*^@$

There was no way I could go down for 4 hours much less 12. I have advertisers now. Downtime is bad! Not to mention people start to notice. When I went down a few months ago I signed into twitter and I had 10 mentions that there was no more parajunkee.com. That was one of those Holy!@^*&@ moments.

But, that is what happens with Free programs. It’s great because it is Free — but because it is Free, there is no support. By the following day I was running on WordPress and I was self-hosted. There still might be downtime but I can easily call GoDaddy and get results within minutes. This might not be everyone’s option though. $60 is doable for me. Basically my small bit of advertisers pay for hosting the site, my domain registration, my Flickr account and my Writer Program that I bought to go in place of Google Docs (don’t like Word). You have to think on what is right for you.

My Overall Advice for this BB101 Post

  1. If you want to keep your Google+ account, make sure you use your real name, if you are an author, DJ, artist, maybe while this cools out, use a Facebook Fan page
  2. Back up your Blog regularly, not the design, YOUR POSTS – you can do this by going to your DASHBOARD > SETTINGS > BASIC and at the top it says EXPORT BLOG (small links at top). It will take you to a page, click DOWNLOAD blog and then keep it on file and save it by date on your hard drive. I would suggest doing this once a month. Just In Case.
  3. Don’t become too reliant on one brand of software. Use Google Docs, but maybe investigate other document programs, use Google+ but also utilize Facebook, Twitter, etc.
  4. Don’t rely on only your gmail account, set up accounts in other programs and have your contact list backed up on your hard drive. Most OS comes with a contact program, save them in that, instead of just in gmail
  5. Pay attention to TOS rules, did you know my 18+ blogs — that you could be in violation of Bloggers TOS if you post things that show inappropriate content, sexual images, male genitalia?? You might think you are in the clear for having that Adult content warning, but if someone sees a penis on your blog and is offended they could easily report you…
  6. Think about what a downtime would do for you, maybe it is time for you to start paying for your service.

XO – Happy Thursday, Talk Less, Read More.

I can’t get to all the questions, but please ask your BB101 Questions here…bring it on.