Thursday, November 10, 2005

Handling Spam

When this little blog first was launched, I had some ideas about how things would go. What was it John Lennon wrote? "Life is what happens to you while you're making other plans."

You plan one thing, something else ... usually unrelated but always way different ... happens. And blogging is no different.

Spam, for instance. And comments in particular.
Before this little blog started, at many of the blogs I frequented, there were many other blogs talking about comments. And folks were not just leaving comments, but the topic of the comments was comments. Much discussion was on the deleting of comments.

At the time, many of the blogs I visited were subject to off-topic comments. And some bloggers considered it spam. And that was my first exposure to comments considered spam. So, in my mind way back then, I equated spam with off-topic comments. And, personally, I didn't see a big problem with it. Whatever got folks talking was good, in my opinion.

But some bloggers didn't feel that way, and some went so far as deleting the off-topic comments. Which caused a stink. And generated comments about comments. So now you know what I was talking about a couple of paragraphs earlier.

Anyway, because I felt that off-topic comments weren't that big of a deal, and because what I thought of as "comment spam" was actually "off-topic comments" then I actually said to myself, "If I had a blog, I wouldn't care about 'comment spam.'"

My, how things change!

Now, I understand that comment spam is something else entirely. And I have no problem deleting it.

Oh, you'll find the occasional comment promoting some gambling site, trying to sell you Viagra or Cialis, inviting you to see the Hot Black Chicks, promising Barely Legal Teens, and offering videos of gay horse sex.

But I usually catch those and delete them.

Lately, however, I've had help. Since this little blog is now running under WordPress, I've been able to install some plug-ins that help with spam.

Right now, we're using Spam Karma 2 to filter out comment spam. And, boy does it ever!

Actually, it does too good of a job, sometimes. Let me explain.

Spam Karma checks each incoming comment and TrackBack. (More about TrackBacks in a minute.) And each incoming comment is checked based upon different criteria. And these criteria do a pretty good job of filtering out the spam.

But, every so often, it catches one it shouldn't. But, it's going to a moderation queue, and I can review it later and either approve it or delete it. So, if you leave a comment that doesn't show up for a while, now you know why.

Oh, about TrackBacks.

Well, you remember when I said earlier that I didn't see a problem with off-topic comments? Yeah, well, that was then. Having seen off-topic comments from the point of view of a reader and a writer, I came up with what I thought was a way around the issue.

If the topic of the post is, say, the Supreme Court, then the comments should be related to that, or perhaps to another comment in the thread. Anything else is, as far as I'm concerned, just another form of comment spam.

But that doesn't mean that the person who left the off-topic comment didn't have something worthwhile to say.

But, if a commenter has something completely off-topic to say, it's quite rude, in my opinion, to attempt to hijack another blog just because you want to talk about something else.

So, how do you weigh something worth reading/discussing against violating etiquette by going off-topic?



Yes, TrackBacks.

If you want to talk about something other than what's being discussed ... do it on your own darn blog!

You don't have one? Go start one! If what you have to say is that important, say it on your own blog. Blogger is free. It's easy to do. And you can control what's said there!

Oh, but how do you get the word out? Well, this little blog offers Open TrackBack posts every day. And others do the same.

So, you can leave a link to something you think is important. Now, here, we do Open TrackBacks a little different.

If the topic is "Open TrackBacks" or "Articles of Interest" then all TrackBacks show up on the home page as part of a list of links (also called "Inline TrackBacks"). Other topics like "Headline News" and such, they don't show on the front page. Most other sites make Inline TrackBacks the default for all posts. I used to do that here, but I didn't like the idea of people using Headlines or other types of posts as Open TrackBacks. I mean, I usually offer three Open TrackBack posts a day, and that's enough. More than most.

It's considered bad form to leave more than one post on an Open TrackBack. So, I offer three a day. I think I've gone above and beyond, and my conscience is clear.

Anyway, if someone wants to pimp something they've written, they don't have to resort to off-topic comments here at this little blog. They can leave a link via TrackBack at one of the Open TrackBacks (or Articles of Interest) posts.

Of course, there's always a catch, right? Right!

It's a huge breach of etiquette to leave an TrackBack without linking to the post you're "TrackBacking." And many bloggers don't like it and won't tolerate it.

I'm one of those bloggers.

TrackBacks are an exchange of links. You can list your link here, but you got to have a link to here on your post.

If you want more about the background of TrackBacks and their actual purpose, read this.

So, what's all that rambling about TrackBacks got to do with spam?

Well, remember I said we're running Spam Karma 2 here? It not only checks comments, it also checks TrackBacks. And, if it can't find a link in the TrackBack post, it catches it!

So, if you've left a TrackBack and it didn't show up, check to see if you forgot (or just failed) to link to the Open TrackBack post.

Now, sometimes Spam Karma catches stuff that shouldn't be caught. It's not perfect. Nothing is. But it will hold the TrackBack in queue for me to approve or delete. And I'll do one or the other. Sometimes, if I have time, I'll drop an e-mail explaining what happened. But not usually.

Anyway, Spam Karma catches TrackBack spam. And I like it.

Now I got to go make a donation do Dr. Dave.

1 comment:

  1. Roll the dice

    Today's dose of NIF - News, Interesting & Funny ... It's Stop the ACLU Thursday (+ Open Trackbacks)


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