Saturday, January 15, 2011

Hack. Hacks. Hacked. Nope, didn't do it.

We all know that I happily write HPFF for entertainment, and that it really cooks my grits (grinds my gears?) that sometimes I get a chapter taken down or refused because I didn't mention in a disclaimer that the "lyrics" I used weren't really a song and I'd just made it up (I never use anybody else's work), or I didn't explain that whatever magazine I was supposedly quoting didn't actually exist (I make up my own sources to avoid this problem). Apparently, to protect their asses, you have to explain everything, and after six years of writing for them, I've gotten pretty good at disclaiming everything that could possibly need a disclaimer up at the top of each chapter. It's annoying, but I do not fail.

The website that I happily write my HPFF for has two versions of an editor. The Simple Editor, and the Advanced Editor. Naturally, when they first started using the Advanced Editor I was all gung ho for it. But after three chapters written and posted to the so called "Advanced" Editor, I found that it had a major flaw. It interpreted every double spacing between paragraphs as a single space, and therefore when submitted for preview before submitted for publishing it would add two more spaces between each paragraph automatically. If you found a mistake and went to edit a second time, it added two more. Therefore I would wind up with four, six, or eight spaces between each paragraph that I would have to go back and delete one by one. If I didn't put any spaces between my paragraphs because I knew it would automatically do it, it would refuse to let me preview the page. It was a headache, to say the lease.

No matter how hard I tried, I could never, ever manage to submit a perfectly formatted, easy to read, no unnecessary lines of nothing chapter with the Advanced Editor. And while the Advanced Editor was an awesome time saver in so many ways, like simply selecting the Italics setting when I wanted to use it, and having a button I could press once and the whole page would be immediately justified and the text would line up beautifully, it caused more problems than it prevented.

After three chapters of fighting with the stupid not-so-Advanced Editor, I switched back to Simple Editor where I happily coded everything myself in HTML. And we're talking really simple HTML that I use for my chapters. It's not like I was building a website or anything. I was using basic alignment, text, and page break codes. I wasn't even changing the color of the text or anything. And while typing your own code is often times irritating, it's far less irritating than dealing with "Advanced" Editor.

Until just ten days ago, I have never made a mistake in my coding. I never realized that leaving a mistake in my coding could be a problem to anyone but myself, and while I pride myself on always triple checking my code before I submit anything to be published, I knew it was only a matter of time before some little error slipped by my check and something would happen. Presumably, I would accidentally leave half a page in italics when I only wanted one word Italicized for emphasis.

I couldn't figure out why my newest chapter hadn't appeared on the site despite my publishing it ten days ago, and this morning when I went to check to see if it had appeared suddenly, I found a message in my inbox and a note on my chapter posted "Not Approved."  When I opened the message, I was furious.

"Jan 14 - You have open bold and italics tags at the end of your chapter which are messing with our formatting. Hacking is against the terms of service." And it was followed by the usual option of editing the mistakes or deleting the chapter from the archive. 

I am, at this moment, undecided about which part makes me angrier. The fact that it was a simple Coding error that the Beta could have fixed herself in less than thirty seconds without having to bother me about it, or the fact that they accused me of hacking because I forgot to close a simple code.

Hacking? Let me just say this. If your website has such simple coding that a simple < i>< b> open ended code  can completely and totally fuck with your format, then how does your website function at all? Far more sophisticated computer users than myself could easily do more harm than that with a more complicated design to hack, and I'm being harassed for forgetting to close Italics and Bold? 

If I wanted to hack the website to mess it up, I would not use the account that I've had for six years. I would make a fake account that I didn't care about and I would use that to mess everything up. And I would make everything HUGE and turn all of the font like hot pink or something. I wouldn't just put everything in bold italics. That's got to be the dumbest hack ever.

Adding lye to my already exposed irritation, they then had the nerve to make me queue my chapter for seven more days rather than have it immediately available to the public to make sure that I fixed the hack. 

Outraged, I sent a scathing reply to the insult because it was clearly an accident and not an intentional hacking, and because I didn't need to be put on hold for ten days to explain the little error. If it took them ten days to figure out why the formatting was messed up then they need to get a new team of people to run the website. I should not have been kept waiting for more than two days, and I certainly shouldn't be subjected to a seven day wait for an unintentional interference.

And we're not even talking website wide formatting interference. It could not POSSIBLY have effected any page other than the one that would have showed my chapter. I fail to see why they went all Nazi Gestapo on me for it.


  1. I'm sure it was an automatically generated message, and like all such things on the internet, they always grossly overstate the case. I guess you could call it, "Erring on the side of caution", but whenever it's happened to me, it always evokes that same response. I know how you feel. It's like the TSA calling you a "terrorist" just because you forgot that you left your nail clippers in your bag.

    I've had some issues with spacing with Blogger's post editor, by the way, especially if I try to add images while still writing the post. I quickly learned that that was a big mistake. Now I add the images last. Not that I'm saying that has anything to do with your problem; I'm just rambling. I wouldn't even know where to begin with the HTML format, not even for something simple like that. So at least you can give yourself a big pat on the back for being more computer literate than I am. That isn't saying much. I used to program a lot of games in Basic on a C64 when I was a kid. Some of them were quite elaborate. My family actually expected me to grow up and become a computer programmer, but I lost interest in it. Now, I might as well be a caveman for all I know about current programming.

  2. P.S. I know you were talking about a different site. I even know HPFF stands for "Harry Potter Fan Fiction" I'm not as think as you drunk I am.

  3. I know that coding is imperfect and mistakes happen. But I went back and checked the Terms of Service just to see what exactly fell under "hacking" and what I found was that there no mention of hacking in the ToS at all, and furthermore that there were absolutely no term listed that mentioned anything about incorrect coding. It did, however, say that the Staff could alter mistakes in anything submitted or published.

    I think that the Beta that intercepted my minor mistake was too freaking lazy to fix the problem, but knew she couldn't approve the message if it interfered with the formatting, so she made up a bullshit reason (again, NO mention of hacking in the ToS though it's specifically mentioned that I violated the ToS in the message) and sent it back to me after making me wait a uselessly long time to do it. And because it got sent back I now have to wait like an ordinary mortal in the queue to make sure I fixed it.

    Now that I know that I did not violate the letter of the ToS, nor the Spirit of it, I'm sending a second e-mail with a copy of the first and a copy of the ToS asking for her to specifically highlight the article I have supposedly infringed upon.

  4. Good luck. Seriously. One reason I became disillusioned with message boards was having posts deleted by moderators for bogus reasons.

  5. This must be the "screwed up formatting for online posting" week! How stupid is that? I'm putting this website on "the list" that we put Blogger on this week, and they'd better watch it from now on, or it's curtains for them! I'll bring the beat down myself! WHAM!

  6. She said, "I mis-worded my explanation. I meant that it violates the article in the ToS that refers to extreme grammatical and punctuation errors that might make it difficult to be read and enjoyed. Even though it is neither a grammar or punctuation error, it applies."

    Yeah. There is no way you can possibly stretch "coding error" to "so badly written that you can't understand it." All it did was put their options for reviews and rating in bold and italics. It didn't make anything difficult to read.

    BULL HOCKEY! is all I have to say on the matter. She's just pulling excuses out of her ass, now. Pardon the language.

    Candice: Yup. They are now officially on the List. Although how we would extract revenge on Blogger for their formatting errors, I'm not sure. But it will be pretty easy to have revenge on HPFF. All it takes is a little HTML coding. :)

  7. @Candice: I checked out your post to see what you were talking about. I think you ran into the same thing I was referring to above. Whenever I tried to include images in the post as I was writing, I always ran into the same problem, no spaces between paragraphs or too many spaces. Now I go through and put the images in last, after everything's written. I think the images screw up the HTML code. I would suggest going back and editing the post. Switch to HTML view. You'll probably find a line of code like this:

    span style="font-family: Georgia,"Times New Roman",serif;"span style="font-family: Georgia,"Times New Roman",serif; (I had to take the "< >"s out or they wouldn't let me post this comment, but you get the idea.)

    ..between each paragraph. Delete it and leave a single blank line instead. Hopefully, that helps. Hopefully it doesn't screw up your post. I don't really know what I'm talking about, so exercise extreme caution.

  8. @Bryan: Thanks for the tips, really. I was SOOO confused as to why Blogger would betray me in such an erroneous fashion. It's good to know that there's a relatively simple explanation for the whole thing.

    However...I'm lazy and I will more than likely be leaving the post as it is. BUT I will most definitely be more careful about how I add pictures in the future. Thanks again! :)

  9. Chanel: I honestly have no idea how we could avenge ourselves upon Blogger. Don't worry, I'm sure that between the two of us we'll come up with something really horrible to do in our fierce vengeance...Bwa-Ha-Haaa!!!

    For now, I'm sure my scathing rant and virtual kick in the balls was probably enough for this particular offense. But they'd better watch themselves in the future, that's all I have to say!


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