So, here’s the deal.
Bloggers everywhere have for years been fighting the scourge of comment spam. I remember coming to the assistance of Jack Cluth a few years ago. His blog the People’s Republic of Seabrook updates rapidly, and he had several thousand posts to his name, all with open comments. At the time, he was also using a old version of Movable Type.
Though I could tell that he had a problem with netbots flooding his older posts with spam comments, I was still shocked by the depth of the problem I encountered when I opened up his site to clear things out. When I started the clean up, he had over 55,000 registered comments. After two weeks, that was down to just over 5,000.
That’s an extreme example, but it explains why I’ve been fanatical about eliminating comment spam on my blogs. The thought that my pages could, even for a moment, display inappropriate links to porn sites or viagra dealers offends me. It feels every bit like an act of vandalism. So I’ll have no comment spammers here.
Movable Type has improved its spam-catching abilities to the point where we were picking up false positives until I fiddled with the preferences, but I continue to get roughly 20 spam comment hits per day, and only 95% of them are automatically routed into the spam filter. So, without moderating all untrusted comments, there remains a possibility of spam getting through.
So, if you’ve been leaving posts here and finding that it can take a few hours before the posts appear, this is the reason why. It’s not recommended practice for those blogs hoping for a diverse and rapid discourse, however, so I’ve tried to give valid commentators a means of having their comments posted immediately.
One tactic I tried was using a plugin that whitelisted commentators according to their e-mail address, and for a while that worked (until, in theory, some comment spammer got smart enough to copy legitimate e-mail addresses into his or her spam comments). Unfortunately, the plugin broke when Movable Type moved to version 4.0, and the plugin developers seem not to be interested in updating their plugin to work properly. Fortunately, all is not lost.
Movable Type 4.0 dramatically improves the features available to bloggers in the fight against comment spam. One of these features is a greatly expanded user registration ability. Right now, users have a choice: if they wish to comment, they can comment anonymously and wait for me to approve their comment, or they can log in to a number of registration-verified systems out there, and I can approve the user to post comments immediately. This system works if you have a TypeKey, Vox, LiveJournal or OpenID account.
But what if you don’t have your own LiveJournal, Vox or TypeKey account? What if you don’t trust OpenID? How can you comment without moderation? Well, you could sign up directly with me. Movable Type 4.0 now makes internal comment registration possible, and here’s how you do it.
When you want to comment on a post, you are confronted with the option of signing in or commenting anonymously. If you click “sign in”, you are taken to the login screen. To sign up, make sure the right-hand column beneath “Sign in using…” is set to Movable Type (click on it). In the bottom right-hand corner of the login screen, you’ll see the link: “Not a member? Sign up!”. Click that.
This will take you to the “Create an account” screen. Enter the following options:
- Username - The ID you will enter in order to access your account. Choose something you can remember. For instance, if you are John Smith, enter john_smith. You will be alerted if your chosen username already exists.
- Display Name - This will be the name that will appear on your comments. Choose something distinctive, like “John Smith”
- E-mail Address - You will be sent a confirmation e-mail before you can comment, so please insert a valid e-mail address. The information can only be seen by the system administrator, which is me. I promise I will not misuse the information. The only question you have to ask is, if you trust me. If not, you probably should just back out now and continue to comment anonymously. The e-mail address is kept well out-of-sight of any e-mail harvesters and I don’t sell the information.
- Initial Password - You’ll need this to access your account, of course. Pick something secure that you will remember.
- Password Confirm - Re-enter your password so you can be sure you entered the first one correctly.
- Password recovery word/phrase - A word that you can remember, in case you forgot your password.
- Website URL - A link to your website. That way, anybody who finds your comments interesting can click through, visit your blog, and perhaps become a regular reader.
Click “Register” and your information will be processed. A confirmation e-mail will be sent to your account. Follow the instructions there, and you will soon be able to log in to comment automatically, though I may have to set you to “Trusted Commentator” status after your first post, so please be patient for a moment or two longer.
For those of you who don’t already have access to LiveJournal, Vox or TypeKey accounts, and who don’t wish to trust OpenID, this would be a good way to register yourself in order to comment instantaneously. You can trust that I won’t sell your personal information to the highest bidder. Indeed, you can see that there isn’t all that information available for me to sell.
Of course, if you simply don’t trust comment registration as a matter of course, or feel that the amount of time to create yet another commenting account is more than your time is worth, you can continue to comment anonymously. I am always interested in what everybody has to say. Just be prepared to wait a short while before the blog says it.
Snatching Defeat from the Jaws of Victory
Bill Casey continues to be Stephen Harper’s gift to the Liberals that keeps on giving. Macleans has a good summary of where things stand now.
But from this observer, here’s how things look.
- Bill Casey, Conservative MP, stands up for principle, and is pointedly thrown out, and then locked out of the Conservative caucus, even after the issues that caused the dispute were resolved.
- The Conservative executive council then proceeds to lay down the law to Bill Casey’s former riding association, telling them to choose a new Conservative party candidate, or else.
- The local Conservative riding association refuses to be dictated to, and turns to its local membership to display its mandate.
- The Conservative executive council fires the local Conservative riding association.
Now, of course, the reality is more nuanced. The executive council and the local riding association each have their own procedures, and their own slightly different mandates that have put them at odds with each other. At the same time, this government could fall any day now, and the Conservative party needs to have a Conservative candidate in that riding should that happen, and since the riding association won’t provide one, the rules are clear that one has to be imposed. Everybody is just doing their jobs, which is wisely the tack taken by party spokesman Ryan Sparrow.
But I doubt that this is the message that the Canadian public is going to hear. What this all still looks like is an act of vindictiveness, and a central executive imposing its will on the representatives of local democracy (that, in particular, is something that might touch a few hot buttons out west). And it’s just so stupid. If Stephen Harper and Rodney MacDonald can come to an equitable agreement, why can’t MP Bill Casey be accepted back into the fold?