For nine and a half years I've been dull old diamondgeezer.blogspot.com, and now suddenly I've gone all United Kingdom specific. Excited, anyone?
And I haven't stopped there. I've also rolled out more than a hundred national variations, allowing my international audience to read the website that's best for them. Here are just a few of the new diamond geezer websites now available...
Did you notice the change? It's been this way since 11pm on Friday night. Surf here before that time and you'd probably have landed on diamondgeezer.blogspot.com. And then someone flicked a big switch somewhere, and suddenly everyone from a UK address was directed to diamondgeezer.blogspot.co.uk instead. No choice in the matter, no sneaking back to diamondgeezer.blogspot.com, because that would be too sensible. Instead now only readers in the United States are permitted to visit diamondgeezer.blogspot.com, and everyone else around the world has been lumbered with their own national-specific URL suffix variant. Identical websites, different names.
Yes, this is Blogger's engineers playing silly buggers again. They're rolling out a global system which allows them to censor blogs country by country, and they're very proud of what they're doing. Where national legislation requires it, material deemed offensive can now be blocked without having to place a blanket ban across an entire site. According to Blogger, "when we’re notified about content that either violates our guidelines or breaks the law... we will remove it, or restrict it in the country where it’s illegal." Country-specific blogspot domains, that's how any such lockdowns will be managed.
For the vast majority of blogs worldwide, this is a sledgehammer to crack a nut. I'm highly unlikely to run a series of posts detailing the abuse of human rights in Tibet, or to expose the Iranian minister who's been having an affair with his intern's sister's daughter. But Blogger has still deemed it essential to saddle me suddenly with numerous variants of my blog, all entirely the same apart from the URL.
It's not exactly commonplace to rename a website after the location it's being read rather the location it's being published. Some businesses do it to force would-be shoppers to see local prices. But surely it makes no sense to rebrand a blog after the reader's country, because that's just perverse. This is a blog mostly about London, so anyone surfing in from abroad and landing on diamondgeezer.blogspot.fr or diamondgeezer.blogspot.co.nz is going to be mighty perplexed.
Some bloggers have discovered that their comments system no longer works, because it assumes a single blogspot.com address, and non-American readers no longer see that. Other bloggers have lost plugins, again because they're tied to a particular URL which is no longer particular enough. And I'd estimate that 75% of my readers are now seeing diamondgeezer.blogspot.co.uk, even though that's not the web address I've embedded in nine and a half years of past posts. As usual Blogger have launched a change that optimises things for them, and them alone, and the customer be damned.
Thankfully there is a work-around, if you're interested, and that's to bookmark http://diamondgeezer.blogspot.com/ncr which will always redirect to diamondgeezer.blogspot.com no matter what. This “no country redirect” (ncr) will temporarily prevent Blogger from redirecting readers to the local version of the blog, apparently, and so far it seems to work for me. But it's a lot of unnecessary hassle for the average reader, and I doubt that the additional hassle of linking to http://diamondgeezer.blogspot.com/ncr/2012/03/sigh.html will ever be worth the effort.
In the meantime rest assured that the generic address diamondgeezer.blogspot.com will always work, even if it gets redirected mid-flow, so there's no need for you to update any links you might already have bookmarked. Not until Blogger do something else that's bloody stupid, that is, for which it can only be a matter of time.