All the latest information on the newest glitches and crashes making your game a little more entertaining, along with articles about how to do various semi-game related things to help you or your neighbours.

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Blank Posts - All the info we have...

[Please Note: We will attempt to update this post when we know anything new.]

UPDATE 3: 13/08/14 - They're still pushing, the second workaround that's come to light pretty much blows any suggestion it might be Zynga out the water so at least we can all finally get down to actually kicking Facebook.

Last I heard one of the top guys in the team was going to be discussing things in person with the department in Z that deals with Facebook when he was in San Fran if things hadn't improved, which they obviously haven't. That's on top of the fact the devs themselves have been pushing their side of things with that part of FB.

On top of that there was talk of being able to possibly circumvent that section of Facebook or access it in a different way, although that might mean a fairly intensive platform alteration.

Obviously we can use the fix-it bandaid on the Zynga Support side of things but all that does is give them numbers to give to FB, we can also use the "Report a Problem" bit in Facebook itself although I don't know how useful it'll be.

It is trouble, it is annoying and it has been going on far too long, but I guess the problem is while a few games are having it (it's not just PT) it's a small percentage, and while PT having issues is huge for the team and big for Zynga as a whole, it's just one of thousands of apps for Facebook.

UPDATE 2: 07/08/14 -
PLEASE NOTE: We have a workaround HERE if you use Adblock Plus.

UPDATE: 07/08/14 - Just a small update. Zynga are still pushing FB for a fix, the general cause has been tracked down on FB's end but now the problem is having to find the cause for that cause... Think of it like having a broken nose, you may know someone hit you, but you still need to find out who... and why.

Zynga are also looking if there's any technical things on their end that would bypass the section of Facebook that is causing the problem. It may not be feasible however, we have to remember whole sections of the game rely on fitting in to Facebook's framework.

It is not being forgotten, it will not continue indefinitely, and right now the team at PT are nearing simply invading FB HQ with some pitchforks and torches and staging a coup... which if it happens, we'll be sure to get pictures...

I know what's most frustrating about game issues might be when you're feeling like you do0n't know what's going on or aren't really in the loop regarding it.

So, with blank posts being such an issue we thought it might be good to collect all the information we know into one post, to give you as much data as we can. Some of this might be techy, but we'll look to make the whole explanation as simple as possible.


This is a simple enough point as I'm sure we've all experienced them by now. Some game posts, when published are showing up minus the box of game info containing the clickable stuff.

That's the part we all know.


When it happens varies wildly, it's not specific posts all the time, it's not certain times of day, it does appear worse if you hurry through posting but even that doesn't tally up elsewhere, including with what appears to be the issue. This is truly a random variable.


OK, so now we get down to brass tacks... why is this even happening?

The simple answer is... Facebook is forgetting it's a game post and instead it's posting as a status, breaking it.

If you're nerdy like me you can even see it clear in front of your face in the page code. Each post on our timeline comes with a series of little identifiers, and one of those tells the site what type of post it is. A healthy post is labelled as a "PlatformAppUserActionUnit" or in other words, a game post. A broken post is a "StatusMessageUnit" or, in short, a status.

All the different types of post in Facebook have a different way of being put together. A status is "built" one way, a photo another, a game post another way entirely, so as Facebook is posting them as a status, we then lose all the game info that a status not only doesn't have, but CAN'T have, there's nowhere for it to go.

We can see on these two posts the difference, one is a working game post and the other is a broken post, both for the same item, Basic Coordination.

The highlighted stuff on the left are sections that ONLY appear in a game post, so is thrown out by Facebook when it posts a status instead. As you can see the text is still there (even if it is just a full stop) so SOMETHING carried over, just not the bits Facebook thinks it didn't need.

Think of it like packing a suitcase, if you're going to Siberia you probably won't include the bikini, if you're going to the Seychelles you might leave the snowshoes at home.


So, whose IT department need to be rushing around... well, to work that part out we need to look at how posting actually works, it seems simple but it's four steps that are spread between a pair of different companies.

Step 1 - We click the post button in the game.

Step 2 - We then confirm the posting via the popup window.

Step 3 - This then hands over to Facebook and gives us the preview window where we can select privacy and write a comment.

Step 4 - Hopefully posting...

Where these posts are breaking is between step 3 and 4. At step 3 the game has handed over all the info Facebook needs and FB knows what it should look like, it knows it's a game post and everything is hunky dory... but before it reaches step 4, Facebook has lost all of that.

That's not to say everyone isn't working together. We're collecting info, Zynga are collecting info, and then Facebook is getting all that info.

What now?

We keep everything crossed, and keep collecting as much stuff as we can and forwarding on.

We do at least seem to know the very basic level of why it's happening, but now it's a case of why is THAT happening... and that's how it'll get fixed, you keep finding signposts that point you to somewhere else until finally there's no more signposts, just a big "You Are Here" arrow hovering over the main cause.

As you can hopefully imagine reading that, it's not as simple as some may think, it's not one single thing that's a button press or a misplaced comma away from being perfect, so it'll take work, but work IS happening, every day and as a priority.

It WILL get fixed, and hopefully it will be soon.