Commenting Issues

So, hey, here’s a screenshot of one chunk of our recent spam queue. If you click to embiggen it, you will see that there is one actual spam comment in there. Additionally, there are comments by Plumcake of Manolo for the Big Girl and The Manolo himself, attempting to call me out for ripping Plummy off — which I didn’t do, and we worked that out in comments over there, but the whole kerfuffle was compounded by the fact that their comments never showed up here, so they thought something fishy was going on. (Note: in comments there, I said I never found her comment, but I just did — there was also a bunch of actual spam above and below this, and my eyes glazed over.) Below that, you will also see several “Hellooooo? What the hell?” comments by our beloved Tasha Fierce, who could not seem to comment on her own damned guest post, among other places.

So yeah, the spam filter is evidently having a hypersensitive week.  Usually, it does its job reasonably well, with only occasional missteps. But then there are periods when it just starts letting everything through, which are usually followed by an overcorrection period, during which it sucks a lot of non-spam into its gaping maw. This is one reason why the comments policy has included the following for a couple of years now:

Tenth rule: Be aware that if you posted a coherent, reasonable, and respectful comment and it didn’t show up, you probably got trapped in the spam filter, which I can’t control. I do, however, check it occasionally and release the coherent, reasonable, and respectful comments. So either relax and wait for that to happen or e-mail me (sometimes, when spam volume is high, I don’t even see the good comments), but either way, know that if you behaved like a decent human being, I didn’t delete you on purpose.

As always, I encourage everyone to familiarize themselves with the whole policy before they try to leave a comment.

Also, although this is not stated in the policy, it’s been stated numerous times before, and I’ll say it again: All first-time comments are held for moderation. This is why you never see drive-by trolls here, which is something most folks seem to appreciate. (And again, if you want to know what you’re not seeing, have a look at the Helpful Comments blog Sweet Machine was keeping up for a while. Trigger warning for pretty much every possible trigger there.) But the unfortunate corollary is, every first-time comment has to be released by a human being, and that can take a while. We currently only have two active mods, both of whom have lives and can’t be checking the queue every five minutes. So even if you’re lucky enough not to have your first comment eaten by Akismet, it could be a long time before you see it show up.  Like, possibly a couple days, if it’s a weekend and we’re out doing stuff and both sort of vaguely assuming the other one might be dealing with the mod queue. The good news is, once it does, you will be free to post in real time until such time as you piss us off and get banned.

I realize this is frustrating, and I’m sorry about that, but I can’t control the spam filter issue (and don’t routinely check it as often as I do the mod queue, although I will until it calms down again), and the first-time moderation issue is a necessary evil, so I can’t really do anything besides tell you what the deal is and ask for your patience. So that’s what I’m doing. Thanks for understanding.

20 thoughts on “Commenting Issues

  1. I sifted through all the golf tips and pr0n and hopefully have approved all the legitimate comments and the rest have gone to that great spam queue in the sky.

    In off topic news – XENA is now on instant view.

    *smacks own hand* bad snarky’s.

  2. if akismet eats a comment is there any way to see what it is? most of the spam my spam blocker blocks is pingbacks. i might want to see if there are actual comments in there, ha.

  3. @lemonadeandlemoncake, if you’re hosted by wordpress.com, then yes, you should be able to see everything that goes to spam from your dashboard. You should also be able to set it to allow pingbacks, though that might be meaningless while the spam filter is in this mood.

  4. Akismet’s been more picky than I like for me lately, too, and something tells me we have similar settings….

    I also understand the “not being right at the mod screen all the time” thing. I go back and forth on logging into WordPress from work. Usually it doesn’t take long for me to check on MY blog, but it’s still a) a distraction from work and b) increases risk that I’ll get “outted” at work. (Yeah, they know I’m fat, but most people don’t know the actual number, and I see no reason to freak them out unnecessarily.)

  5. I am glad the mystery has been resolved, but I really dislike the initial comment, and the subsequent blog post about it.

  6. It might be belling the cat in terms of finding someone whose judgment and temperament you know well enough to make the call, but have you considered recruiting some person or people to just mind the queue without taking on the full responsibilities of blogging? If you don’t want to open the can of worms of appointing another actual mod, you could make it very low responsibility: watch the spam queue, release first time comments that aren’t saying anything controversial or prefaced with devil’s advocacy. I’d rank getting another person to mod my comments among the best decisions I’ve ever made.

  7. Hello to the Kate!

    Many thanks for clearing this issue up, and many and profuse apologies from the Manolo for his intemperate remarks.

    Let the Manolo tell you, if there is one thing he understands it is the commenting issues. The spam filters are the terribly imperfect solution to the plague of spam commenting, but unfortunately, the only feasible one for the popular blogs.

    And now, let us make the group hug of reconciliation!

    Besos!

    Manolo

    P.S. You are indeed most super fantastic!

  8. @Kate, ah! now I see! I thought that Akismet was eating comments other than the ones in my spam filter.

  9. @Alexandra Erin

    Usually, I work the night shift, but this last couple of weeks of managing three other blogs, life, H:LOTS, movie analysis and 101 requests for diversity training/expert diversity candidate search assistance has kind of kept me away from my duties, since the sliver of daytime I like to call “bedtime” has essentially been moved back to night.

    With panel season about to be in full swing and starting guest blogging duties at Bitch Magazine, I’m hoping to get my ass back on my old schedule and will definitely be here more often to babysit the moderation queue.

    On my own site, I am tending to find this problem a relief, since I spam 99% of what comes in for mod anyway, due to just preferring not to read walls of text and just wanting to tackle comments from known entities (to me). I suspect at some point I’ll need to rethink the way I roll in terms of comments, but for now, I’m happy to have WP do my dirty work for me.

  10. I feel ridiculous that I have a silly squee going on because now SP and MFBG and MSB are back on non-hatin’ terms.

    On topic though: I had the weird experience where I saw some posts when I clicked in from one link on an e-mail, and then on the next link they were gone, and on the link after that, they were back. Serious computer hiccups!

  11. @Deborah, yeah, I think there happened to be one of those spam comments on the MFBG post itself. I was wondering what was up because I hadn’t seen that type of thing before. So irritating.

  12. I’m thinking it has something to do with this new spam people are getting that copies & pastes existing comments. It is maddeningly hard to clean out.

    Oh! I didn’t even know that was a thing. I saw that there was a copy of OTM’s comment over on the Manolo thread, in fact, but just assumed someone was getting amusingly meta with the whole plagiarism theme.

  13. Comment Moddin’ Snarky’s Style.

    – Set a timer for 30 minutes
    -objectives: track last three posts, respond to anything, check mod queue.

    Snarky’s tips for speediness:
    1. Shorter comments (more on that in a second)
    2. Timely responses to existing material
    3. Judicious use of links

    Snarky has the pointy eye (keratoconus) and synesthesia, which at times makes reading walls of text really difficult. So when I’m clearing the queue my first inclination is to just get as many through the queue before my eyes say, “NO MORE PINK Hs!!!” and that means go for quantity and not always quality. (though I’m not suggesting these are mutually exclusive things)

    So since I read everything, weigh whether or not it’s going to cause hurt feelings, harshed mellows, and then decide if so, would that be the worst thing ever? I also give preference to people responding to FRESH content and not spammy links responding to content from 2 years ago in order to get their boots on the ground and spam the hell out of us.

    Anyway, all of this takes me a bit more time.

    And this is only my way of doing it.

  14. This is one of the few places I ever read comments, and I love the comments almost as much as the posts. Thanks for your harsh but fair policy, and the time it takes you to enforce it! It makes this corner of the internet oneof my favourite places to be.

  15. Personally, I think the way WordPress does this is a weak spot in an otherwise very sensible platform. It’s very very easy to set up a bot which will attack WordPress blogs, so you need a spam filter. The problem is that spam filters are not fully reliable.

    There are methods which would make it very tricky for bots to post in the first place. You’d still have to moderate your comments, of course, but at least you could be sure that everything coming through was from a human being. I’ve been doing a little research on this, and some of the methods used are both imaginative and useful. (Some, of course, are inaccessible to blind or otherwise disabled users, but there are some fully accessible bot-blocking methods.)

    TRiG.

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