Stemming the spam

One of the features I particularly value on WordPress has been the ability to have fairly open comment threads on my blog posts. In the past Askimet used to keep these spam free and people were able to submit comments fairly freely.

Over the course of this year though, comment spam has been getting vaguely more sophisticated. The most common spam has been backlink SEO spam that consists of reasonable emails and pieces of genuine comments mixed with product keywords and generic praise.

This kind of spam seems to be massively problematic to detect. Large numbers of comments have been made to historic posts that presumably have ended up ranking well in Google.

Moderating that stuff has been a chore and if I am away from the internet for any period of time the comment were on the site for a while and this seemed to be encouraging more. I presume the bots are smart enough to detect when their comemnts have not been deleted for more than eight to twelve hours and then they pile in.

The only reasonable way forward seems to me to be switch on someone kind of pre-moderation. I’ve gone for the mildest level of control that seems to work, namely that the first post by a user will now be moderated but once someone has a valid post they will be able to post freely.

This seems to strike the right balance between allowing people to tell me I know nothing about Clojure, Scala or Javascript and avoiding people having to sign-in to post comments.

As for the creators of these ingenious bots, a decidedly slow handclap; well-played.


Why I don’t Blogger much any more

On the weekend I tweaked the blog a bit and I decided to replace the useless archives widgit with the sexy new tag cloud. No-one ever used the archive links so I think it is a more helpful tool to let people find things on the blog they want. Having done that I thought I would go over to Blogger and do exactly the same with some of my older blogs.

Nothing going. Blogger has introduced blog tags (after WordPress categories but before WordPress tags) but looking through the widgits I cannot add a pre-made simple tag cloud.

It is a story of stagnation and one that makes Blogger more and more irrelevant for me. It was the first blogging site I signed up with and I love loads of other Google applications. The people who make things like GMail and Calendar should be pointing out to the guys at Blogger how quickly they are falling behind in both function and utility.

WordPress has a vast amount of information on who is visiting your blog and why, what pages and posts are popular and what people are searching for when they visit the site. Google Analytics could do exactly the same job but you have to do the hard work yourself. You have to put the Javascript into Blogger and check the stats in Analytics. Now naturally there are privacy issues in joining up these services but if I want to view an integrated set of data on my blog (as I can in the market leading software) surely it should be made easy for me to do.