Blogging

Comments, Commentors, Spammers and Mollom

LISNews has been running on Drupal for about a year now. Before that we ran on Slashcode for a few years, before that it was PHPSlash for a couple years, and even before that I did it all by hand. If you run (or read) blogs you know comment spam is a big problem. If all you do is run or read a blog you actually have NO idea just how bad it really is. I'd estimate about 80% of all POST requests to all the LISHosted sites are spammers. When I have LISNews on the LISHost servers I worked hard at fine tuning the mod_security rules to combat spam.

Within hours of moving to Ibiblio I could see they have very different rules, and I'd need to do something else. I'm actually surprised just how good my rules were working. So I turned on CAPTCHAs. I tried some images, reCAPTCHA, Math, and finally the basic text CAPTCHAs to fight spam. They also worked. A few weeks ago I got a complaint that the CAPTCHAs were getting in the way. This wasn't the first time, so I thought I'd try something new, I turned to Mollom.

I was shocked that within a day the number of comments went up. It's been a few weeks now, and I continue to be shocked at the number of comments we're seeing. Mollom is doing a decent job blocking spam, but more importantly it's letting more people comment. The bad guys are kept out (for the most part) and the good guys have a very low hurtle to get over. (Or at least I think so. If the current trend holds, then I'll be convinced that it is indeed Mollom and not just a coincidence). Two charts that illustrate what I'm seeing on this end -- Read More

Microsoft adds privacy tools to IE8

Microsoft Corp. today spelled out new privacy tools in Internet Explorer 8 (IE8) that some have dubbed "porn mode" in a nod to the most obvious use of a browser privacy mode.

A privacy advocate applauded the move, calling it a "great step forward," while rival browser builder Mozilla Corp. said it is working to add similar features to a future Firefox.

The Second Amendment

The other night something bad happened at the home of someone close to me. I'll tell you part of the story today, and I'll give you the rest of the story later in the week. I'm curious about how you think it ended based on your feelings about guns and gun control. This is one of those stories that people use to point out how right they are to be on whatever side they choose to be on. So here's the story, tell me your ending based on whether or not you're for or against having a gun in the house. I'm repeating this exactly as it happened last week. This house is located on an upscale, quiet suburban street.

A woman in her early 40s accidentally fell asleep on her family room couch Saturday night. She was watching TV, exhausted, she nodded off around 10pm. Several hours later, she was woken by a loud pounding on her front door. Confused, unsure of the time and disoriented she jumped to her feet, stumbled to the door and opened it, thinking it must be her son returning from being out at the movies.

She quickly realized it wasn't her son, but someone trying to get in the house. It turned out to be a thirty something year old man screaming "they're trying to kill me" as he tried to push his way into the house. She pushed back and managed to hold him off until her husband woke up and ran downstairs… -- Read More

Does a Critical Remark About Opinions Expressed By a Commenter or Blogger On Another Blog Constitute Bullying?

There's been a "big debate/kerfuffle/brouhaha brewing in the legal blogosphere" over whether re-posting someone’s personally identifiable comment made on another blog to your own blog post without first notifying the author and giving them notice and opportunity to respond, constitutes bullying in the blogosphere. Another issue embedded in this opportunity to respond matter is whether one should use trackbacks to ping a blogger's post when one criticizes the opinion express in that post. Links and our just launched online polls on both issues at A Kierkegaardian Leap of Faith in Social Media, Law Librarian Blog at

Lessons Learned After Twitter Blackout

Recently two librarians had their accounts torched by Twitter due to coming up in an anti-spam sweep. Their accounts were considered to have been false positives and it took time for access to be restored. Two librarians in particular, Connie Crosby and Patricia Anderson, were affected.

As an aid to others, Anderson has posted a lessons learned review. In light of the recent Gmail outage some lessons are worth considering in other contexts.

Toward a Global Liblog Survey

Toward a Global Liblog Survey: Walt Writes About a really neat looking project.

"So I’m just barely halfway through. If I average five blogs a day from here on out, I should be done with this phase around the end of September. If I average ten blogs a day, I’d be done in early September. My current target–taking into account Cites & Insights, columns, mental health, maybe a short vacation–is 50 blogs a week, which should get me through the whole list right around the time I turn 63..."

Cops sue to get names of bloggers

The head of the Memphis police department has sued to find out the names of bloggers who post information critical of his department.

The City has asked that AOL turn over the identities of AOL addresses that have posted to the blog noted the Memphis Commercial Appeal.

The First Amendment allows us the freedom to express our opinion about our government officials, what possible reason could the City have for needing the identities of the bloggers?

Infectious disease surveillance 2.0: Crawling the Net to detect outbreaks

"July 8, 2008 (Computerworld) While recent outbreaks of salmonella in the U.S. have made headlines, an automated real-time system that scours the Web for information about disease outbreaks spied early reports in New Mexico about suspicious gastrointestinal illnesses days before the U.S. Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention (CDC) issued an official report on the problem.

The system, called HealthMap, is a free data-mining tool that extracts, categorizes, filters and links 20,000 Web-based data sources such as news sites, blogs, e-mail lists and chat rooms to monitor emerging public health issues. HealthMap, which is profiled in the July issue of the journal Public Library of Science Medicine and is open to anyone, was developed in late 2006 by John Brownstein and Clark Freifeld. Both men work in the informatics program at Children's Hospital Boston."

Read the full article in Computerworld at:

Infectious disease surveillance 2.0: Crawling the Net to detect outbreaks

a difficult time, a difficult task

At Librarian.net there is an entry titled "a difficult time, a difficult task"

It opens with: I work occasionally as a fill-in librarian at a local public library that serves a community of about 5,000 people. This is the community I am moving to next month, up the road from where I live now, and while technically it puts me out of the “rural” designation, it’s still pretty rural. Last week and the week before there was a horrible tragedy that rocked the whole community. Short form: a local girl Brooke Bennett, went missing and her body was discovered a few days ago. The most likely suspect at this point is an uncle who is on the state sex offender list.

First off let me say that I’m quoting from news stories only. Our official staff position is “no comment” and I’m sticking to that. Here is why this is a library issue.

Full entry here.

Lawyer Seriously Slapped Down For SLAPP Attempt Against Librarian Blogger

We've covered the concept of SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation) suits plenty of times before. These are bogus lawsuits filed to try to bully a critic into shutting up. In one such case, involving an incredibly broad subpoena against a librarian blogger compiling information on the potential link between mercury and autism, a magistrate judge has seriously smacked down the lawyer who filed the subpoena.

Full article at Techdirt

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