Web site scare

posted 10 May 2015, 07:50 by Dominic Thwaites   [ updated 10 May 2015, 07:59 ]
This morning I thought my website was scuppered for days if not weeks. I was very distraught. The site means a huge amount to me not just because it represents my contact with friends, family and colleagues but also because it is where I send everyone I meet to get a "handle" on me. Not only does that forge further contact but it is also a key gateway for donations to Honeypot.

So the thought of the site being unavailable made me feel totally despondent about the whole venture. As the morning wore on my investigations made me ever more pessimistic that google would rectify the matter any time soon. It was, for me, a bitter blow.

I have a full mailing list of around 300 people that I have told about my venture. I sent out a message to the lot declaring the disaster. I have to use this list sparingly as this is sending unsolicited messages.

But the result was that quite a few people wrote back expressing concern and offering help. I'm very grateful for the support from Simon, Ken and Adam. My family also came to the rescue offering help and support and Jacoby even exported the whole site (I had edit access) and got busy with hosting it on Amazon!

But at 11:30, joy of joys, google unblocked it! Why they blocked it will, I suspect, forever remain a mystery. But I have a hunch it is to do with the emails sent out to people who have subscribed to my blogs. I use MailChimp to do this and a few days ago those emails started to be caught in people's spam folders. And when I tried a link inside the mail, the browser brought up a big scary "suspected phishing site" notice. Enough to put anyone off!. So I think the links that MailChimp had (which go to their google servers, as it happens) caused my site to be blocked by google.

I'm not now going to re-issue a "all is well" mail to all those 300 odd people, they'll find out if they want to. I guess the sliver lining is that they all got a reminder on me!

Google blocked the site because they deemed their terms and conditions had been broken and that this action could happen to any site hosted on google servers (not just using their google-sites infrastructure, I suspect). Its scary the (automated) control they have and my lesson learned is not to use google as a hosting site! At work we use Google Docs extensively and a year or two back we found a critical business document had been "blocked" for similar reasons. There was absolutely nothing fishy about this document and it took some time to get it unblocked.

I just hope it will not happen again. But I'm happy to say I'm back on the water again and making way for Arbroath tomorrow.
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