17 February 2017

Stop Blogger Redirecting to Country-Specific URLs

I set up my blog in Malaysia about five years ago; I moved to Singapore and maintained my blog. Most recently, I came to Qatar.

My Blog address, as stated in the settings of my Blogger dashboard is:

Google, however, redirects Blogger blogs to country-specific domains.

For instance, if you open blogspot.com in your web browser, it will change to blogspot.co.uk if you are accessing the blog from UK, or, as in my case, when I was in Singapore, I had the address mrshollyexploringlearning.blogspot.sg, and now I have mrshollyexploringlearning.blogspot.qa.

For the past two and half years in Qatar, and for the years I had my blog before moving here, this has not been an issue. Until today. 

I submitted my latest Masters assignment on my university VLE, and, as I often do, wrote a blog post about it. I was able to access my dashboard, write, edit and publish. I previewed my post and then, when ready, pressed publish. All this was fine.

As always, I wanted to Tweet out a link of my latest post to my online PLN. When I clicked on VIEW BLOG to navigate to the specific URL for my latest post, I found I was locked out. I kept getting the message:
I was on my iMac, so I checked on my MacBook Pro. Same. 
I got my husband to check on his MacBook Air. Same message. 
I checked on my iPhone. Same. Until I turned off WIFI and used cellular - then I had access. This made me think it was my actual IP.

I read up on a few articles - some suggested it was my proxy settings, I needed to reset my WIFI etc. None of these proved problematic. 

Eventually, wanting to test the IP theory, I went into my browser history and found a blog I had accessed yesterday. My hunch was confirmed: When I clicked the link and it opened in my omnibox, it initially displayed with the ending .qa and wouldn't open, briefly showing the same 'This site can't be reached' message, as above. Then, just as quickly, the ending changed to .com - and the blog opened!

I figured the problem may be the .qa because country-specific redirection is done to allow selective censorship – this allows to easy censorship or blocking of a blog post, or other entire blog site, in one country but still allow access to them in other geographic regions.

I knew people had been viewing my blog today, as I could see my stats from the new post I had just published and people had already been viewing it, even if I myself couldn't!

This confirmed my feeling that content removed due to a specific country’s law will only be removed from that country - meaning I wasn't able to see it here, but people outside of Qatar were still able to view it. 

I decided that my easiest course of action was to remove or disable the .qa ending. 

I found an easy way to do it through a little bit of code written by Amit Agarwal.

If you want to keep the .com ending for your Blogger account, wherever you might be in the world, follow these easy instructions:-

1) Navigate to your Blogger Dashboard and choose Template. 
2) Click the  “Edit HTML” button:

3) Click 'Edit Template':

4) After the tag, paste the following code:

5) Click 'Save Template'.

And you're done! My shortened URL: bit.ly/mrshollyblog still works too.

Being able to share my teaching experience with other educators globally and locally is very important to me. I don't know why my blog stopped being accessible, I do know that changing it from .qa to .com made it accessible again. 

Thanks to:
“Prevent Blogger from Redirecting Your Blogspot Blog to Country-Specific URLs.” How to Prevent Your Blogger Blog from Redirecting to Country Domains, 15 Sept. 2015, www.labnol.org/internet/prevent-blogger-country-redirection/21031/. Accessed 17 Feb. 2017.

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