Sunday, February 10, 2008

Feedburner's FeedFlare™, the classic problem of Blogger's sidebar shifting to the bottom of the page, and my stupidity

Let me tell you a story, a story about my stupidity...

But before I start the story, I want to discuss first what I know about the classic problem of Blogger's sidebar shifting to the bottom of the page. This problem is very irritating if you let it get to you. You may want to punch the monitor of your PC or throw your laptop away. I wouldn't do that of course but I have been tempted to do that even if I love our PC and my laptop. Anyway, there are two possibilities why your sidebar shifts to the bottom of the page. Its either a post extends beyond its designated width or something in your sidebar extends beyond its designated width. The solution to this problem is to review the contents of the two columns, or three if you have two sidebars, and identify the contents that are causing the columns to expand.

Ok, here's the story...

I signed up for Feedburner so that I can easily manage my feed, see where my content goes after I publish it, know how many people are subscribed to, attract new subscriber and other reasons why people would sign up at Feedburner and burn their feed. As a new user at Feedburner, I'm excited to try out the services that they offer. I first tried out FeedFlare™, which allows publishers to easily build “interactivity” into the content they create, making it simple for subscribers to tag, email or share their content with others, and it turned out ok. After that, I tried out their Monetize services and which makes use of Google AdSense.

This is where my stupidity starts...

I thought that this service will display AdSense ads on the first post of my feed and it got me thinking, "Wow! Is that really possible? I can put ads on my feeds now? That's great!". I have installed the script that FeedFlare™ uses so I'm good to go, I just have to active the service. I activated the service not knowing that it doesn't display ads on the first post of my feed but it display ads on the first post of my site. I didn't know this at first because I didn't read the description of the service thoroughly. The effects of the services are not seen immediately so I took a break from my blog after that.

After 2-3 hours of break...

I visited my blog and I saw this horrible looking page. The sidebar space is still there but its content are all at the bottom of the page. It's still in its right arrangement, its not scattered and it has maintained its form. It is not just in the right place. I consulted Blogger's Help and found the answer, which is the one I discussed earlier before the start of the story. I also looked at the Blogger Help Group at Google Groups.

Here is where all that crazy debugging starts...

Having all that knowledge, I tested the contents of each column. I first tested the contents of the sidebar, removed some of the recent links or pictures I have placed there. After that I hit the refresh button just to see that there is no improvement at all. I then tested the column that contained my posts. I also removed some links and ads that I have put there. Ok, there is still no change. Then I tested my posts one by one as one of the users in the Blogger Help Group has suggested. I click on each permalink to see which post are affected. The first two or three posts are ok. Their individual pages shows the sidebar where it belongs. I noticed that there is this one post that causes some irregularity on the column. The contents of the column narrows down a little after that post. I clicked on its permalink and when I arrived at its page, the sidebar is at the bottom. I saved this post as a draft temporarily. I then reloaded the index page of my blog and my blog is back! It's back to normal! I'm so happy that time. I just decided to make that post a draft and show it anymore. I created a new post just to test if all things are fine and also to post that I have fixed things. I typed a sentence and publish it immediately. Then I arrived again at this horrible looking page! I deleted that post, created another one and publish it. The same thing happened. That goes on until I got to my 8th test post. I'm getting frustrated so I stop debugging it and take a break but I didn't deleted the test post so I can work on it after.

After 5-6 hours...

I can't sleep with my blog looking like that so I tired debugging it again. This time, I used Firefox's Error Console. I find two errors, the first one is an error concerning the script of FeedFlare™ and the second one is an error concerning the script of PayPerPlay. I first removed the script of PayPerPlay thinking that "Why would the script of FeedFlare™ cause all of this problem?". I reloaded the index page of my blog and saw that there are no changes. After that I didn't removed the script of FeedFlare™ immediately. I experimented with it. I move it from one line to the other observing if it will make a difference to the page but still no luck.

This is where the enlightenment comes in...

I still didn't removed the script and I logged in on my Feedburner account hoping to find the answer there. I activated some features of FeedFlare™ for my site because I noticed that there are no services activated for my site but I had the script pasted on the template of my blog. I reloaded the index page again and saw those the features and activated for my blog, the AdSense ads, and my sidebar in place! I'm surprised to because I didn't activated any feature of FeedFlare™ that displays ads. I read again the description of the Monetize services displaying AdSense ads because that is the only reason I could think why there would be an ad on my first post. I read it thoroughly then I said to myself, "How stupid am I for activating that feature even if I haven't read and understand what the feature does?". I deactivated the Monetize services but didn't solve the problem. I think the system is not updated instantaneously because when I reloaded the index page of my blog, the ads are still there and I want this to be fixed before I go to bed.

The end of this story is near...

I still didn't want to remove the script of FeedFlare™ because the features that I have put on my feed might not show up. I experimented with FeedFlare™ features and found out that if I activated features for my site, the sidebar will not shift to the bottom, but if I didn't activate any of it and I put its script on my site, then the sidebar will shift to the bottom. I then decided to remove the script hoping that it will not affect the features of FeedFlare™ for my feed. I reloaded the page saw that things are back to normal again! I removed the test post and publish again the previous post that was affected. I reloaded the blog again and its still ok! I also visited my feed and the features of FeedFlare™ I activated for it are still there! Hahaha! At last, I fixed it! I can go to bed now... ZzZzZzzzz...

The end...

Thanks you for reading. I know its very long for a blog post but I wanted to tell the story in detail so that you would not make the mistake I made or should I say the stupidity I made. I'm not a great story teller but I hope you understand my story. Just leave a comment if you have comments, suggestions, and/or violent reactions. Thank you again for reading.

5 comments:

gL3nnX said...

congrats na approved kana sa projectwonderful dude! :)

Maruel said...

@gL3nnX...

Salamat! Nareject kasi 'tong site ko before, hindi ko alam kung bakit. Buti this time inaapprove na! :D

Dapat pala gumawa na ako ng isang Wonderful Post para hindi dito mapacomment ang mga tao, haha! :D

Michael said...

yah but the thing is you still never got feedflare to work...you didn't really fix anything you just avoided the problem

Maruel said...

@michael...

I did got FeedFlare™ to work, I think... I just have to not place the script when there are no services activated.

Adelin Lok said...

Dude,
I need help here!
I have the same problem of the whole sidebar shifting to the bottom and it has been a few days and I tried what you taught in your entry but to no avail!

What's wrong with my site? If you're able to know what's wrong in just a glance (based on your experience), do let me know!

http://mytreasurestoyou.blogspot.com