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Karlonia Battles Spam, Adds Enhanced Commenting Features

December 21st, 2007

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comment-spam.jpgAfter several months of being a very minor issue, the problem of automated comment spam suddenly became a significant problem on this blog approximately two days ago. Comment spam, which had been arriving at a very manageable rate of 2-3 messages per day, sharply increased to 5-10 spams per hour recently, prompting me to search for some kind of solution to this in order to avoid being overrun by irrelevant information and dubious outbound links.

Fortunately, I have found something that seems to be working so far. It’s called WP-SpamFree, a WordPress plugin that effectively blocks comment spam that comes from automated “bots” by taking advantage of the fact that most of these bots are not equipped to process JavaScript or cookies, features that most Internet users have enabled by default. Moreover, it is able to block spam without having to resort to turing numbers, captcha, challenge questions, or other “features” that are likely to annoy visitors who wish to make a legitimate comment. If a user happens to have JavaScript and cookies turned off, the plugin is supposed to prompt the visitor to turn these back on before posting a comment.

I managed to get the SpamFree plugin installed a few hours ago, and so far it seems to be working; there have been zero comment spams during a period of time when I was previously receiving at least 20. The only disadvantage that I can see with this particular solution is that it is designed to prevent spam from bots but not human comment spam; however, I can effectively deal with the latter through vigilance and prudent moderation. Meanwhile, you can read about the details of WP-SpamFree and how it works at Hybrid6.com/WebGeek.

Comment Enhancements:

While I was searching for an effective anti-spam plugin, I also looked through the WordPress directories and selected a few other plugins that should enhance your commenting abilities here at Karlonia.com. Here is a brief summary of the new features:

Live Comment Preview: This allows you to see the text of your comment in real time as you are typing it out. The previewed text will appear below the comment box where you are actually typing. Now you can make any necessary edits or corrections to your posts before having to press any button to preview or submit the comment. I have installed this plugin as a replacement for the old Filosofo comment preview where you had to press a separate “Preview” button to see what your comment would actually look like after posting.

Subscribe to Comments: When viewing an article, it is now possible to subscribe to its comment thread with your email address so that you can follow any comments made by other visitors about that particular topic. You can also “manage your subscriptions” to change the email address where you want to receive comment notifications.

Edit Comments: In case you managed to miss some typos before posting or forgot to add some important content, you can now go back and edit your comments for a certain length of time even after they have been posted. For now, I have set the time limit for comment edits to 24 hours (from the default of 15 minutes- this seemed much too short). This setting can be adjusted if necessary.

Upcoming Additions:

Contact Form: This is something that really should have been done several months ago, but somehow I have managed to keep putting it off in favor of SEO research and content generation. Fortunately, I have already found a plugin that will allow me to easily insert a contact form into any page, so now all I need to do is write the page content and test it. Once this is done, you will be able to submit articles to the site (yes, you will be able to include your link and author bio) or send me other messages that you may not want to publish in the comments section.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ): Another one of those “business website standard” things, this will be useful for explaining the answers to common questions that people might have about the various topics covered here. I can also use this to address questions about procedural issues such as commenting, article submission, social bookmarking, using the sidebar widgets, and my overall blogging policies. Of course, if you have any particular question that you would like me to address, you can always mention it in the comment section here and I can include it in the FAQ later if it seems appropriate.

Glossary: Not all professional sites have this, but I have read some articles that have recommended its inclusion as a way to explain technical or niche terms to newcomers. It can also serve as an additional content page that can be added to over time and provide another gateway for people to reach the site through their favorite search engine queries. As with the FAQ idea, if there are any particular words or phrases that have been used in this site’s content but that you just don’t understand the meaning of, please feel free to mention these below because there is a good chance that other people need to be informed about it also.


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