Monday, 20 February 2012

Comments policy

When I set up this 'blog, I chose the setting which allowed anybody to comment, anonymously or otherwise, no word verification, nothing, I also allowed people to delete their own comments if they changed their minds, because the right to remain silent is as important as the right to free speech. I enjoy the debate in the comments as much as the actual posting, so I wanted to make it easy for people to comment, it is sometimes a right old faff logging on etc.

So much to lofty principles.

I started getting a lot of spam comments after a couple of years, at which stage I added the word verification thingy, which reduced the amount of spam comments by half. Sometimes that thing generated quite nice words, which added to the fun. A couple of weeks later I added comment moderation for posts older than seven days, which reduced spam comments to tolerable levels, two or three a day - I could never understand why some people set up comment moderation for all comments from the day they set up their 'blog, it takes all the fun out of it. I (and presumably most people) get very few genuine comments on posts older than seven days, so approving them - or waiting for them to be approved - was no big burden on me or thee.

A year or so ago, Blogger set up some auto-spam filter, which worked surprisingly well, it would send over half of spam comments straight to spam and only about one in a hundred genuine comments, which were easily rescued.

So far so good. Some 'bloggers have abandoned the Blogger comments function and gone over to using Disqus - because that enables you to block trolls and have threaded comments - but I don't really like that one (some offices have a function which won't let people use it at work, pah, in any event, I'm not that enamoured with threaded comments) plus I'm not very good at all this Internet functionality malarkey. Actually, I don't really mind trolls (yes, that means you, Comrade Fuckov), it's all part of the rich tapestry of the internet and I have, with misgivings, deleted about half a dozen of the most vitriolic ones over the four-and-a-half years I've been 'blogging.

Recently, Blogger abandoned the old word verification, which usually worked on the first attempt and replaced it with this nonsense:I noticed it on other people's 'blogs but didn't realise that mine was doing it until somebody complained about it, it is truly a pain in the neck, you're lucky if you get it on the second attempt.

So I turned off the word veri a few days ago and was promptly bombarded with spam comments again. Three-quarters needed moderation (because they were on posts older than my new shorter time limit of four days), which is easy enough, but it still wastes quarter of an hour a day telling Blogger that spam comments are in fact spam comments and checking and deleting the ones that slipped through the net.

So my latest move is to require people to log on, using Google, LiveJournal, WordPress, TypePad or AOL Instant Messenger*, but at least you don't have to bother with the word veri as well, people are probably better at typing their own passwords than battling with the illegible crap pictured above, and I've set comment moderation for posts older than seven days again

I apologise for the extra faff logging on. Please note it is not about filtering out genuine comments - be they for or against whatever I said - it's about reducing spam, so let's see how it goes, it's a trade-off between reducing spam and not getting a good debate going, I suppose.

* If you have never got round to setting up one of these accounts and you are in a hurry, I'd recommend WordPress. I once set up a whole 'blog using WordPress and it only took me about ten minutes, so getting a basic account is probably the work of two minutes.


JJ said...

I often wondered why most of my comments went missing! Thanks Mark.

Curmudgeon said...

I did exactly the same - turned the word verification off following a complaint and was then bombarded with spam. So it went back on again, even though it's a PITA.

However, on mine at least, the anonymous comments are often the best, so I don't want to move to making everyone log in.

A K Haart said...

I agree - the new word verification is a real pain. I don't get much spam so I'll see how it goes.

Mark Wadsworth said...

JJ, hopefully.

PC, true, but it only takes a few seconds to set up a Google account and you can choose any old pseudonym you like.

Mark Wadsworth said...

AKH, have you turned it off? It was on twenty minutes ago, i got the screen shot from yours.

Dick Puddlecote said...

Fair enough :)

Anonymous said...

better see if my old Wordpress thingie works then.

Robin Smith said...

Keep up the good work.

My view on moderation is that if you need it the system is not working. Same as regulation of anything.

So any kind of moderation is a matter of objective opinion or personal judgment. "state control"

That is, your trolls are anothers objectivity.

So it does not work. If it worked people would respect it in the same way as they would discussing it in the pub. . . much more highly. But they do not evidently. Observed fact.

Internet is wonderful for exchanging information.

Terrible for exchanging ideas. One has to do that in person.

Mark Wadsworth said...

FT, clearly it does.

RS, there is a big difference between trolls (targeted personal abuse) and good old fashioned spam, i.e. advertising other web sites. That's what all this is about, preventing the 'blog from getting clogged up with spam.

Curmudgeon said...

I wouldn't regard ads for V1@gra as someone else's objectivity.

Anonymous said...

The automatic spam filter on Wordpress is great - almost 100% accurate. No wierd word verification images, and no spam either. I wonder why Google/Blogger can't do as well?

Mark Wadsworth said...

C, me neither.

AC, it's too late, I'm with Blogger for the duration.

Robin Smith said...

MW Really? You try telling them that. What you will be doing is passing judgement.

Not bothered too much but you have accused me of being rude when I have not. And supported other people who have been definitely rude.

But the point is that Internet is hopeless for political dialogue. Social media has placed politics into reverse. Because it cannot be policed. And it is abused badly.

Beware of wishful thinking.

Mark Wadsworth said...

RS, you are being rude, as you presume to tell me that I can;t tell the difference between "spam" and "direct personal insult".

Robin Smith said...

MW There you go. Perfect.

You are offended because I have pointed out that you are making judgement's and masking them as objectivity.

What is rude about that? I'm pointing out observations of your own words. (see trolls)

Its your problem.

Mark Wadsworth said...

RS, I suspect that your blog hasn't been going long enough or moved high enough up the rankings to get any spam, you'll know what it is when you see it.

Curmudgeon said...

I have created a poll on the subject for my blog, see here.

Curmudgeon said...

Another bollock that Blogger have now dropped is to remove the option for following comments by e-mail, unless you select the embedded comment form for your blog.