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Transparency: Better Than Annoyance

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Written by Basil on 08/26/2004 7:30 PM. Filed under:

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Some of WordPress‘s features to control spam in comment and discussion areas trip you out. Unfortunately, some annoy you till dead.

Requiring my email address tops my list of annoying bugs features purporting to limit comment spam. I already get tons of gooey, sticky email spam in my Inbox; I want to limit what I get in the future, thank you. Only my closest friends and associates need my email address, and most of them already know it. If they do not, they can use my handy-dandy email form to email me. If I think them worthy of a reply, then — bingo! — they have my email address. Requiring me to reveal my address annoys me when I know the owner of the blog and frightens me when I do not. Once you have my address, what exactly do you plan to do with it?

Adding to the obvious privacy issue, one must ask: What exactly is requiring an email address supposed to do? I find just as many spam attempts with email addresses as without. Additionally, legitimate comments from readers wishing not to give me their address are usually worth it. (See the privacy issue in the previous paragraph.) Plus, it usually seems not to matter if a fake address is provided, like

Another annoying bug feature is holding all comments in a queue until they are moderated. This is not nearly as bad as the previous feature, but it slows down conversations. Some of the best conversations in blogspace explode in seconds. Good insights can be lost when a moderator loses track of time. This is especially the case on a blog like mine, where sometimes days elapse before I get a chance to moderate.

The best spam killer is holding comments in a moderation queue if they match certain conditions. There are two ways WordPress checks for conditions that look like spam:

These catch nearly all the spam I ever get. If I start getting spam with a new word, I go back and delete the comments (very easily done with WP’s new comment moderation interface), and I add the word to my no-no–list. Easy, and transparent to users. Transparency++

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6 Responses to “Transparency: Better Than Annoyance”

  1. Jim N. Says:

    Good grief… do you really go through all of that? Not to proselytize, but on SquareSpace all email address are hidden in some fashion. If you want to email a commentor, you’re provided with a secure form so that you don’t know their address. I think this prevents spidering as well, and thus keeps spam down.

    As far as comments, SquareSpace allows me to block IP addresses. I’ve only gotten ‘bit’ once by rude people who put nasty things in my comments. I deleted the comments and went into the ‘manager’ and banned the ‘wildcard’ of their IP address. (i.e., if their address was 135.56.345.345, I banned 135.56.345.*).

  2. basil Says:

    Yes, I think on WordPress as well the default is not to display the email address. However, there is no guarantee that my address will never be displayed once I’ve given it out. I’m sure SquareSpace’s developers, while sensitive to the privacy issue, have similarly made it possible to require the email address of a commenter. You just don’t have it enabled. I could be wrong.

    BTW, props for not requiring anything but my name, Jim.

  3. Chris J. Davis Says:

    The more than (n) links works until you get hit with 698 spams that only contain 1 link like I did on Tuesday.

    Bottom line the only sure fire way to stop spamming is to moderate all comments. I am going to write a little function that easily allows you to delete all comments based on user input, ala phpMyAdmin which should help with mass deleting of spam.

  4. DrBacchus Says:

    Moderation does indeed require vigilance. While I personally think that it’s worth it to avoid the spam and the negative-karma-by-association of sharing my Google ranking with scum-of-the-earth types, I’m sure this is not for everyone. I’d personally rather have a comment withheld from my site for a day or two than have pornographic links from y website for that same day or two.

    And, Chris, yes, a feature to let me “delete comments that contain foo” would be a very welcome feature.

  5. Jim N. Says:


    Nah, the only thing required is a name of some kind. I haven’t enabled or disabled anything.

  6. Anonymous Says:

    And, see, I don’t even need that! —Basil