Monday, 18 February 2013

Changes to this blog

I have changed the way that I am dealing with comments on this blog, this only related to anonymous comments and doesn’t affect anyone commenting using their blogger account, nor does it stop anyone who wants to preserve their anonymity from doing so.    

I think the main problem relates to the amount of traffic that this and the Thanet Press Release bog now gets, around 2,000 visits a day to Thanetonline and around 700 to Thanet Press Releases.

There are several different types of problem comment, I will explain below.

1 Commercial spam comment, this runs at around 200 comments per day, some getting through the automatic spam filter and some not, however on all 200 occasions I receive a comment notification email. Obviously this means that I can’t read all of the emails so I have had to turn this facility off. Before the current spam storm that has been going on for several months, nearly all of the emails related to comment that had actually appeared on the blog. My phone made an unpleasant noise when a comment appeared on the blog and I took some action, either deleting, spamming or replying to the comment as appropriate.

2 Obscene and insane comment, this seems to have no purpose and be akin to people writing on lavatory walls, although recent experience seems to suggest that some of this is commercially related. What starts out appearing pointless often leads to the same mad comment appearing at a later date with a link leading to either an infected and malicious site.

3 Comment which has content that may be libellous, in many cases it mentions real local people and I have no way of telling if the libellous allegations are true or false, apart form possibly giving up my life to investigating them, so the only thing I can do is delete them as soon as I see them. My guess is that they are a mixture of allegations that have some foundations in truth. Comments left by people who are just too stupid to realise that there are limits to what you can say in public forum. Comments left by people who would like to see my blogs closed down, so approach this by leaving comment that is likely to either attract a libel action or a complaint to Google who host blogger and have rules which if broken result in a blog being removed. Comments left by people with mental health or behavioural issues.                 

I had considered turning comment moderation on but frankly I don’t have the time or the inclination to vet all the comments. I guess like most of the other blog readers, I look at the blogs occasionally during the day, reading the comments as threads and trying to make sense of them, sometimes adding something myself, if I have the inclination.  

The comment management I do completely differently from a page that shows all of the published comment for the blog, the options here are, delete leaving the “this comment has been deleted by the blog administrator” delete altogether so it and any replies vanish completely and spam so it and any replies vanish completely.

The regular commentators who either use their own names or a pseudonym, John Hoyler, Tom & Tim, bloggers like Simon, Tony and Peter, Chris Wells and so on never leave comments that need deleting and I didn’t want to interfere with their ability to leave comment.

So at the moment I am going down the road of altering the comment permissions when I don’t have the opportunity to keep an eye on the blog. I tried it out last night, turning off the facility to comment anonymously while leaving the facility for signed on commenters to comment and then turned it back on this morning.

Early days of an experimental solution, but already I have had a large reduction in commercial spam.      

Any thoughts from blog readers about this will be gratefully accepted and I will take them into account.  


Half term week at the moment so I baked 36 cup cakes this is what was left of the by the time they had cooled and I went to photograph them.


  1. Michael, a sensible approach I think for, whilst many anonymous commentators add to a debate, there are those that seem to be there just to insult others or to make allegations against councillors and officers that they would not put their names to.

    The spam is yet another problem ranging from seeming compliments for your site but with links to some commercial enterprise or just meaningless filth. Presumably it must have some object but I doubt it is well intentioned.

    I hope you new methods are a success for it would be a shame to lose this site and the pleasure it affords to so many followers.

    1. Maybe a dindo ate your baby!

    2. No, I am sure it was a dindo, a sort of large half dog, half bird creature.

  2. Good idea, just keep the dreaded CAPTCHA away as it can put off genuine commentators (take note Tony Flaig, Louise Oldfield & others!).

  3. See you are still at it, Richard, naming councillors for allegations never proven in a court of law. It is only that they regard you as a silly old sod that they do not take action, but you would be wise to not push your luck too far. Don't get me wrong, I am all for exposing wrong doing in public offices, but you have been flogging this dead horse for years to no avail and it is time to give us all a break.

    Currently there are councillors far more damaging to the good of Thanet that you could be turning your talents to rather than still harping on about something you allege happened a couple of decades ago.

  4. Michael I think those who abuse the privilege are here to stay, "Rick" as we can see cannot help himself, I never understand given that he has so much to say he doesn't build his own website based on all the exotic conspiracies to which he is aware.

    I work on the basis that if something is off topic offensive then delete it, I've just removed a whole strand from my site.

    I believe that we all have a right to express ourselves, and that is why I post as tony flaig and not anonymous.

    1. Tony I would say when it comes to comment and the action you need to take at any particular time it depends on what you get and at the moment I am getting a bit of a storm.


Please note comments that may be libellous, comments that may be construed as offensive, anonymous derogatory comments about real people, comments baiting internet trolls, comments saying that an anonymous comment was made by a named real person, boring comments and spam comments, comments in CAPs will be deleted. Playground stuff like calling real people by their time stamp or surname alone, referring to groups as gangs, old duffers and so on will result in deletion. Comment that may be construed as offensive to minority groups is not allowed here either, so think before you write it, remember that the internet is a public place, that it is very difficult to be truly anonymous and that everyone who uses it leaves a trail of some sort. Also note the facility to leave anonymous comment will be turned of during periods when I am unable to monitor comment, this will not affect people commenting who are signed on to their blogger accounts. When things are particularly difficult on the commercial spam front I may turn comment moderation on for periods.

If you feel that someone has left a comment that is offensive and directed at you personally please email me (link on the sidebar) asking to have it removed, you will need to tell which post and the date and timestamp of the offending comment. Please do not reply to the offending comment as I will assume you continuing the dialogue as meaning that you want the comments left there.