| October 1, 2010 5:00 pm

imageNote: The regular programming of this website has been interrupted to complete due to the need to complete the Open Source Writing book.  I fully intend to pick things up, but I must first send a finished draft to my editor/publisher.  Though I have been more responsible in the past month, meeting the deadline is going to be very rough.

I haven’t wanted to do this, but I’ve decided that I need to implement a commenting policy.

In the past few months, I’ve noticed a significant uptick in the amount of spam that I’m getting on this website.  In and of itself, this isn’t a terrible thing. When a website gets a lot of traffic, it tends to get more spam and I’ve had more traffic of late.  Plus, Akismetdoes a very good job of getting most of it.

There is a category of spam, however, that is driving me nuts.  It’s the spam that appears to be written by a person, but is actually deposited by a spam bot.  These types of comments are generic, usually complimentary, and appear generally human.

But even though they appear plausible, such comments cause problems.  About a month ago, I got fooled by one (which linked to a Russian porn site) and didn’t delete for several days (yes, I’m in a deep period of self-loathing).  That particular post now gets between two and three spam comments a day.  Worse, many of those comments get through Akismet, which means that they end up in the comments RSS feed.  This annoys me at a very deep level.

No, really.

The presence of spam on a personal website is like finding cigarette ashes on your couch.  It’s unsightly, violating and sends the wrong message to visitors and guests.  (I don’t smoke.  If I did, maybe I’d feel different about it.)

For that reason, I’m just going to start deleting any comments that look like spam.  Or comments that I find annoying, unseemly or derogatory.  (For that matter, if I don’t like you, I’ll probably delete your comments too. It’s my house, and I can be as capricious and arbitrary as I want.  If you want a right to express yourself, get your own blog.  There’s a lot of providers and most of them are free.)

With all that said, I’d like to clarify something.  I don’t like deleting comments written by people.  Some of the best stuff on this website came in response to a comment (or an email).  And I like interacting with like-minded individuals.  It’s actually why I continue to play and experiment with things and to post ramblings here.

Nor am I opposed to the idea of self-promotion.  If you have a blog post, piece of content, or product that is relevant to something I’ve written about, please say so.  I just re-discovered Dropbox because of a virtual friend who gave it a plug.  Sharing stuff is what the Interwebs are all about.

For that matter, insults and flamefests can be fun, too.  Just because something is derogatory isn’t a guarantee that it will be deleted.  Scathing takedowns delivered with wit and poise are very welcome.  Hell, they’re positively encouraged.  If you detest the sight of me, or the sound of my voice makes you nauseous, please share.  Bonus points if you use obscenities from more than one culture.  Just be sure to use periods and paragraphs.  Calumny without style will be deleted, or mocked.

And if I know you in real life, I’m not above sending your stupidity to friends and family.  With commentary.

But I digress.

Here’s my policy:

If a comment looks like it was written by a machine, it will be deleted.  If you write to me and can satisfactorily prove you are not a machine, I might restate the comment.  In such cases, though, you really should answer an important question:

Why do you write like a machine?

That is all.


2 Responses to “A Rudimentary Commenting Policy”

Rob Oakes wrote a comment on October 1, 2010

And before anyone in the peanut gallery can bring it up, let me just clarify one thing. Yes, I’ve always wanted to finish a posting with “That is all.” Neil Gaiman did it once, and I thought it awesome.

I have now done it, and it is indeed awesome. But the impulse is out of my system and it shall not happen again.


Rob Oakes wrote a comment on October 7, 2010

An addendum to the commenting policy. This is an English language blog and while I love the fact that many of the readers are located in other parts of the world, I will delete blog comments that I can’t understand.

This means that you must post in one of the two languages I can read/write. These are English and Spanish. (While I do speak some French, my knowledge is so pathetically limited as to be practically worthless. As a result, French comments will be sent to the spam bin.)

If the comment is written in a language I don’t understand, or a non-Latin based alphabet (I’m looking at you, Russian spambot), it will be sent to the spam bin. I’m not trying to be rude, but rather, I’m trying to assure that everyone can join in the conversation. (And, I neurotically assume that when other people use another language in my hearing that they are talking about me; moreover, since they are trying to be secretive, I assume that the conversation isn’t positive.)

Care to comment?