I have a secret – this is not my first blog. After signing up to a well-known service, I quickly wrote my first post, stating very little more than my intent and to welcome any readers. I spent time customising my page, adding a lovely background using my own holiday photo, browsing the multitude of scarily named options available to me to see what was possible, thinking of the hundreds of amazing things I would add there and the attention it would receive. I got so excited, I even told a friend about it.
And that was it. One solitary post.
While you may think I lost interest, as I suspect many initially-keen, well-meaning bloggers do, you would be very wide of the mark. In fact, my first blog started on the 26th February 2016. It stopped on the 27th. Just before I started this one.
In my job, I infrequently get a chance to test complete processes. Paths through an application, of course, but I’d argue that was a different type of “process”. I’m thinking more a sequence of actions and events, sometimes with options and sometimes without, that leads a user of a product to achieve something through a comprehensive set of actions. Like a phone call support handbook, for example.
Outside of my job, I seem to encounter processes that make me want to cry. I often wonder if it’s me (jinxed), the way I approach things (tester mindset), a combination of the two (possible) or simply that companies never actually look at the rigmarole they’ve managed to create and call a process, apparently only to be experienced by their customers and not tested to see whether they make any sense or work.
Less than 24 hours after blog #1 was born, it was removed for me and I found my account unexpectedly disabled, labelled as having seen “suspicious activity”. Impressive hacking, I thought, given its brevity. I checked my email for some sort of explanation but found none. How curious. Already, my tester-sense was tingling – not only did I want my blog back online (I wanted to write post #2) but I also wanted to find out who did what, when, why and how.
No matter, they offered an account recovery mechanism. How could that go awry? This must happen all the time and I’d be back blogging within minutes. All I had to do was enter my (possibly hacked) account name and a phone number and they’d send a code to me for reactivation.
Hang on – any phone number? All you need is my account name, which apparently isn’t secure, and a phone number? Unless I’m mistaken, that’s not all that secure, now is it? Well, bygones – I just want my blog back. I entered my phone number, clicked send SMS (charged to me, of course) and deeper into the chaos I strode. My number wasn’t accepted. Apparently nor were any other numbers (or letters, ahem), leaving me with no front-door access nor apparently back-door access to my account.
However, for those having trouble with the random phone number back-door method, there was a link to some other support options to help me out, which lead to a page explaining why they wanted a phone number and that the SMS would be charged to me. No other support options then? That’s good. At least there was consistency – I was confused at the start and remained confused through to this point.
A short time later, I found a form I could fill in to reactivate my account. I like forms. I signed up to YouGov partly so that I could try clicking on multiple radio buttons or get sliding opinion bars into negative values, but I digress. After filling out the form (helpfully with white, unbordered text areas on a white background – finding them was fun) and taking great joy in the “add extra information here” section, where I naturally explained in depth what had happened so far, I submitted the form.
Instantly, I received an automated email rendering my “add extra information here” details redundant, informing me that a) my account had been reactivated and b) that the reason for it being disabled was that I had invalidated the Terms of Service. Woh, hold up – I did what? I thought you’d seen suspicious activity and had done something to protect me? How offensive can a “Welcome to my new blog” post really get?(*) So which is it – offense or suspicious activity? Who cares about my tester-sense now being on full alert, I thought, I’m activated again and now I can get back to my blog.
Except my account was still disabled. My blog still removed. My phone number still not acceptable. My Terms of Service violation still a mystery. My emails replying to the automated email going unread, unanswered and unpublishable here.
Thus, blog #2 was born. You’re reading it. I’m now happily ensconced within the warmth of WordPress. Thank you for taking me in from the cold. The cold, confusing, Tower of Babel into which I unwittingly stepped.
(*)In case anyone is curious, it’s the same “Welcome” post as used on this blog, in all of it’s wonderfully offensive, Terms of Service-violating glory. Go on – I dare you to read it.