Comments, Commentors, Spammers and Mollom

Submitted by Blake on Fri, 09/05/2008 - 13:30
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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

Does LISNews Need A Rule Book For Commentors?

Submitted by Blake on Fri, 09/05/2008 - 13:04

I'd like to read some more comments about comments. Should we have some kind of comment control @ Your LISNews? Recent posts at Lifehacker and The Consumerist (especially This One) make me wonder is there is something we can do @ LISNews to foster an environment open to dialog.

This could be as simple as filtering out words commonly considered to be obscene (something easy to do in Drupal, they call it a "Badwords filter"), or as drastic as instituting some kind of comments policy and then enforcing it by deleting comments. This would require some kind of "comments posse" that will run around deleting comments that don't fit into some kind of rule book we'd need to write, or something like that.

Personally, I don't know if we need to take any drastic steps, but you might be able to convince me to put a Badwords filter in place. I've read just about every comment left on LISNews for the past 9 years, so nothing bothers me any more. BUT, if a vocal minority of potty mouthed folks are scaring people away from LISNews, then maybe we should put some kind of controls in place. This might help bring new voices into our conversations. If new people decide that LISNews is worth their time, it can only make things better.

Cannot we speak like thoughtful adults and not drunken sailors?

Submitted by Blake on Fri, 08/22/2008 - 10:20

Got an email from an LISNews reader with some thoughts on how someone in particular writes here that I think we could all learn from:

I know we abhor censorship, but cannot we speak like thoughtful adults and not drunken sailors? Would you talk this way to patrons in his library? If not, why must we speak this way to professional colleagues?

LISNews On The New Server: Mollom & Ibiblio

Submitted by Blake on Thu, 08/21/2008 - 08:48
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I moved LISNews to the ibiblio servers a couple weeks ago, and since I can't mess around with mod_security rules there, I was worried about spam comments. I could see within just a day that the mod_security rules on LISHost were much more restrictive, and had blocked more spam than I thought. At about the same time someone complained about the captcha not working, so I though I might as well try something new, so I installed the Mollom module. "Mollom helps you stop comment spam, contact form spam, forum spam, fake user accounts, etc.

For Those That Comment - Beyond CAPTCHAs - Testing Mollom

Submitted by Blake on Wed, 08/13/2008 - 07:29

After our CAPTCHAs Discussion the other day I decided to give Mollom a try.

Mollom is a web service that analyzes the quality of content posted to websites. This includes comments, contact-form messages, blogs, forum posts, etc. Mollom specifically tries to determine whether this content is unwanted - i.e. "spam" - or desirable - i.e. "ham."

Please let me know if you have troubles commenting or using any of the other forms now!

Talk To LISNews: Why Do You Stick With Twitter?

Submitted by Blake on Mon, 08/04/2008 - 14:45

Last Week we asked "Tell Us: Why did you choose librarianship?"

This week I'd like to try and assemble audio answers from as many people as possible to a new question: "Why do you stick with Twitter?" Replies are needed by 0700 UTC on Sunday, August 10, 2008. (What is this in my local time?) Stephen will stitch them all together and release a podcast at some point in the next week or so.

Tell Us: "Why did you choose librarianship?"

Submitted by Blake on Fri, 07/18/2008 - 12:10

Over the next week or so I’d like to try and assemble audio answers from as many people as possible to our favorite question: "Why did you choose librarianship?" Stephen will stitch them all together and release a podcast at some point in the next few weeks.

I’d very much like to make this an audio project. To leave an answer to be included in the podcast, there are a few ways you can go.

If you are in the US, you can call 646-495-9201, enter extension 61340, and leave your answer.