Andy Forgrave’s comment to my blog post yesterday inspired me to write this one.
I hate when that happens. If someone is kind enough to offer a comment to a blog post, then the least that they should expect is that it appears immediately. There are a number of schemes available to ensure that comments that are made are legitimate and not just spam. Sadly, spam or just inappropriate comments are our online reality.
Dealing with this phenomenon takes on various forms.
- using a service like Akismet (which this blog does) to flag things that are deemed inappropriate by its artificial intelligence agent. Then, I have to go in manually and approve them. Comments that are OK appear immediately. Of course, this is a challenge to spammers to try and beat the system
- using a CAPCHA that asks you questions that require human interaction before posting. The current fad includes identifying street signs in an image divided up into sectors or to ask the user to do a little mental mathematics before proceeding
- holding comments until the author has determined that they are legitimate. That’s sad because there is a delay before posting and it imposes extra work on the blog host
- disabling the ability to comment all together
- using an approach like Stephen Downes does by commenting on his own site and then linking back to the original. I’ll admit that influenced my approach to This Week in Ontario Edublogs
I think you’ll agree that there are advantages and disadvantages to each of these approaches.
But this is our reality. I went into my comments sections for a couple of examples.
Good, approved, and you can enjoy them right now
Bad and are sitting in my Spam folder
I didn’t include the actual comments. You can read the legitimate ones on the blog. The others use references to religion, illegal sales, stupid comments about asking for help and costs of setting up a blog, and more. I didn’t include them here because that would be helping their cause.
The bigger concern is all the link shortening that’s going on. With legitimate replies, you know that you’re going to go back to their blog or website or something. When a link is shortened by goo.gl, you have no idea where you’re going until you get there. That’s always a risk and it’s nice that they don’t appear on the blog.
What to do?
Right now, I guess we just shrug our shoulders. All of the techniques that are in operation are good but they have their limitations. They have changed the whole blogging experience and, as Andy’s comment notes raise a certain level of frustration.
I’m open to ideas. Is there a better approach or are we in a holding pattern until something better comes along?