Saturday, 13 April 2013

The Lady Vanishes, Google’s chrome starts peeling off, Blogger comment moderation, a ramble.

Google is a fact of life now, as you are reading this blog which is hosted by Google you are using it at the moment.

Anyone who has had problems with some aspect of Google will know how difficult they are to contact and how difficult it is to get any problem sorted out.

On the day Margaret Thatcher died, I wanted to make some sort of response, love her or loath her, her passing is a milestone in our history, I didn’t think sending flowers would be appropriate, but wanted to do something that I thought she would appreciate,
This Margaret Thatcher at the Pearly Gates cartoon seemed to fit the bill, I guessed she would be familiar with the Rubens of St Peter commissioned by the duke of Lerma and that perhaps there were aspects of the cartoon that not everyone would follow.

Anyhow I figured that if she was looking. What? Up, down, across on the day of her death it would probably amuse her. The blog post with the cartoon in it has been far and away the most popular one recently, because the picture of the cartoon keeps appearing near the top of Google’s image search, but for some reason it then vanishes. This means things switch from hundreds of people looking at it to no one much.

Direct criticism of the cartoon from family and artist friends has been pretty odd; ranging from: “I recognise Margaret Thatcher, but who is other bloke?” to “Obviously I understand it, but I don’t think many other people would.” As far as this sort of thing goes; pretty good.

Anyway among the various cartoons that have come out since she died, I thought it was one of the best, so I was a bit disappointed that it keeps vanishing off of Google image search. As far as Google goes, I wouldn’t even know how to contact them to ask them why it keeps vanishing, if is it that I tagged it wrongly then I don’t know what it was I did wrong.

On to the Google Chrome browser, I had a problem with my laptop (windows 7) saying it didn’t want to shut down because I had programs running, as I had closed all the programs I was a bit mystified by this and then I discovered that it was AdBlock which isn’t really a program but an add on app for Chrome.

If you get this problem you may be surprised to know that Chrome’s default setting is; “Continue running background apps when Google Chrome is closed” you can turn this off by going to, settings, show advanced settings and unchecking the box next to “Continue running background apps when Google Chrome is closed”

I am too embarrassed to describe some of the other things I tried before discovering this.

On to the business of hostile comment, I have had several conversations with other bloggers in the last few days about hostile blog comments and frankly several are reaching the point where it is becoming difficult to continue blogging.

A major new problem is that there is now a lot of hostile and spam comment aimed at individual blogs or groups of blogs. This usually takes the form of copying either longer and complex previous comments or related subject matter from the web and posting it as a comment. Some of these comments are then modified by the spammer or hostile commenter and some are not.

In my case these either take the form of local history copied from other Kent history sites or previous comments that were complex.

Some of the Kent village's history forums seem to have large parts of them now taken over by porn spammers, so even quite innocent looking links can lead to something nasty.

I am now treating all bizarre off context comment from anonymous sources as hostile and spamming it.

Another aspect of this is the impersonation of frequent bog commentators, so all comments claiming to come from bloggers who comment as signed on bloggers, that are left as not signed on I am treating as hostile, so if you have a google or blogger account please be sure to use it.

On to other matters, a couple of pictures of familiar Ramsgate buildings undergoing change.    

I am still trying to understand the forthcoming KCC elections using the internet, when it came to confusing this lot from the Gazette’s website probably took the can until I realised the paper had mad some sort of ITC error


  1. Michael,

    Your point about hostile and obnoxious comments: I think this emanates from one person, especially where impersonation is concerned.

    I notice that in order to place a comment on 'wordpress' you have to give an email address. I realise that it is easy to obtain a false email address, but it does at least present another hurdle to the spammer.

    1. Could be John, but the hostile comment seems pretty varied to me, blogger does now give the option to restrict comment to open id, google account, word press and so on, which is what I often set this blog on when I am unable to keep an eye on the comments and I am considering using this setting for more of the time.

      The main hostile comment seems to fall into three brackets and assuming some sort of sane intention they are:

      Normal commercial spam, aimed at selling something.

      Comment with obscene content, I assume the intention there would be to report this blog in order to get it closed.

      Comment that may be libellous, I assume the intention here is that then the person leaving it would point the person mentioned to it, in the hope they would get this blog closed.

      Of course there will be a certain amount of comment that wasn’t intended to be hostile, maybe because the person leaving is just doesn’t understand the position they are putting the blogger in and there may be some comment left by people who have mental health issues, but from were I sit it all looks like an effort to stifle such free speech that exists on the local blogs.

    2. Sounds like your paranoia again Michael, you should maybe get it checked out.Presumably John is talking about himself and his insults, while Cllr Moores below seems to discuss everything but the 0% issue. It's a fairly serious point and he was Chair of that salary committee and corruption is clearly an issue at TDC.

    3. anonymous 10:38 pm

      So it's you - yet again. You are the kind of bore who's here today and here tomorrow.

    4. And sadly, John, for days and days to come. I am sure if he had a horse he would flog it.

  2. Ditto Michael.. this is now a real problem for all of us involved in blogging now I suspect!

    1. Simon I think there is a certain amount that Goole could do to make the problem more manageable:

      1 Would be a facility to stop notification emails for comments that Goole had spammed, this would mean one only got a notification for emails for comments actually published or put on the awaiting moderation page.

      2 Would be a facility to set moderation for anonymous commentators only, I hardly get any unsuitable comments from signed on bloggers.

      3 Would be to make the spam filter take effect sooner, I know from my conversations with Goole staff that they are aware that spam is becoming much more site specific with some spammers only directing their comments at one blog, but they don’t seem to be addressing this issue.

      From the point of view of your blog, I think that you are now the only serving councillor with an active blog, why anyone would want to stop elected representatives communicating with the public in a public forum beggars belief.

    2. Another wondrous spell check sub concsioua slip Michael, Goole for Google!!!

  3. For councillors who blog the problem is surely different to yours Michael.

    In a sense, even as reflected in libel law, a councillor operates as the hustings. If, for example, Cllr Moores blogged on the subject of Japanese swordfighting or Royal Marines service then it would be transparent that he is not blogging as a councillor.

    Defamation carries a one year limitation. For the good reason that a defamed person would feel sufficiently aggrieved to take immediate action.

    Using links from your past blogs Michael I came across a dispute, some four years ago, between Thanet Councillors Nottingham and Moores. No action was issued. It was handbags at dawn stuff. Other than that I have not found one example of an accusation of defamation being even pursued by way of public posturing let alone by action.

    I was quite shocked at the standard. One blog carried threats from Thanet "Gangsters" against a London gang called the Arifs. And declared the name of Thanet's "Cocaine King".

    And one skilful blogger was akin to Archie Andrews with not a soul knowing whether or not it was Peter Brough's hand up his jacksie. Eastcliff Richard.

    And bloggers form what appears to be unhealthy co-dependent relationships on Thanet blogs.

    For example one chap (or it may be two) seems concerned about the aquifer. Others get quite annoyed about this but, instead of reading up themselves, take the lazy co-dependent option of questioning the aquifer man. "Well are you saying the aquifer is contaminated or not". Do they expect Aquifer Man to reply "No, on reflection stand down your concerns you are too lazy to even research for yourself all is well"

    We watch for Top Cat. Then there is "Exclamation Mark Man". Then a Mr Hamilton who claims to cut through bullshit by, what appears to us, an astonsihing technique of even more bullshit.

    Then there are those who become inordinately vexed about people being named on blogs. But not a hint of apology when they, in turn, name a candidate for council and imply her political wisdom to be flawed on the basis she prefers to avoid Tescos. Excuse me but isn't Tory Cllr Moores opposing a Tescos ? Surely then if Louise Oldfield gets voted in Thanet will experience a modicum of cross party consensus on retail issues ?

    Thanet Blog watching is entertaining. It is spoiled by anonymous commenting. But here is a tip don't read anonymous comments.

    1. Then there are those that like to make long lists of criticisms against others...

      And anyway, Louise Oldfield shops in Tesco.

    2. Lyndon T Palmer,

      For my part, I became tired of the Manston Aquifer Man solely because of his constant gratuitous insults that accompanied his case about pollution. It was this aspect of his numerous posts that I eventually attacked. He has been pursuing me ever since in various thinly veiled disguises. This does not disturb me.

      I read you post with interest.

    3. There are many (good) reasons why people blog anonymously, and it is quite wrong to suggest that their contributions are the problem with blogging. Some occasionally use obscene language, which is unacceptable, but some "registered" contributors, such as Holyer, frequently post insulting and rude posts. Are they excused because they have put a name to their offensive offering? In my view they represent a much bigger threat, not least because they can easily deter others from writing anything at all.

      Equally, those who use an assumed name are no different from anonymous bloggers, except that their comments can be linked one to the next by their "identity".

      All this said, if anonymous blogging is REALLY seen as such an issue, then simply ban anonymous contributions. Of course for those blog-owners who obsess about numbers of comments, that will bring the totals down quite markedly.

    4. Anonymous 2:23 pm,

      You state that there are a number of good reasons why some people blog anonymously. In which case give me three, preferably including your own.

      Michael has explained elsewhere why he cannot automatically blog anonymous comments.

    5. Reasons why people blog anonymously:
      1) To ensure that the debate is about the issue and not about personalities. As soon as the blog-trolls know who you are they start dragging up other things you have been involved in as a way of avoiding dealing with the points you have made. If they don't know who you are they can only deal with what you have said. I'm guessing that this is what irritates the likes of John Holyer so much. He and his cronies never deal with what has been posted. Instead, they engage in endless (and largely inaccurate) speculation about the anonymous posters' identities. Just think how personal it would get if they knew who I was.
      2) They work in occupations which do not respect the right to a private life or a private opinion. Believe it or not, big brother has truly arrived and people now lose their jobs over the most innocuous comments. The best way to protect yourself whilst commenting on contentious issues is to post anonymously.
      3) So that you don't make yourself a real-life target for the loonies who infest these blogs and can't accept that other people have a right to a different opinion from their own. If they don't know where you live they can't get you.

      Having complied full with John Holyer's request I now have a request for him. Will you stop posting this incessant stream of garbage? Go and find something useful to do with your time.

    6. Anonymous 7:21 pm,

      You simply cannot resist being obnoxious, can you. For you crave the attention it brings. It excites you. Without it your life is meaningless.

      I know very well who you are. You are the kind of bore who is here today and here tomorrow.

      But you should not despair. If they can make penicillin out of mouldy bread, they can surely make something out of you.

      I pity you.

    7. 7:21, whereas I had some sympathy with your employment reason for blogging anonymously, being in the same position myself, now that you have retired from the civil service surely that no longer applies. As for hiding, well living in Ramsgate Belgravia (slight play on spelling) you are already exposed if any of us were so bored as to want to go round knocking on other bloggers doors.

    8. Have you all noticed the latest Thanet blogging game that involves outing our fellow bloggers. There are those who play detective seeking to identity anonymous contributions by a combination of style, content and grammer, others who want named contributors to be someone else and then, the most supercilious of all, that expert of fellow blogger psycho-analysis, Lyndon T Palmer. This gent, evidently perpetually regretting he was not born the other side of the pond, sits in judgement on our efforts, exposes our flaws and gives us all names like 'Exclamation Man,' 'Aquifer Man' or, in a play on names 'Top Cat' presumably for Tom Clarke.

      OK, some deserve to be outed, particularly a certain concealed councillor who pops up spouting venom against the same people all the time, but really they are the minority. It is a democracy, blogging provides entertainment and sometimes folk make interesting contributions whilst others can be quite funny.

      The big upshot is, instead of knocking fellow bloggers personally, why not just ignore anything you do not like. I am as bored with aquifers, Deal bombings and 0% salaries as the next person, but I can resist attacking the blogger. Indeed, I would suggest ignoring bores is the best way to make them go away.

    9. A few years ago I was involved with a campaign which involved a company. The shareholders of the company didn't want any negative publicity and so they flooded blogs and the like with false positive information. In essence they were trying to boost the price of their shares by lying. One particularly obnoxious individual had 23 pseudonyms and was making hundreds of comments and postings every day. He was eventually exposed and, as I recall, even the most ardent supporters of the company were shocked by the extent of his activities. What I learned from this episode is that wherever money is involved, there are people who will go to extraordinary lengths to get their hands on a bit of it and to protect what they have invested. I am not concerned by the anonymous contributors. If you read anonymous 7.21 he makes some valid points. I am more concerned by the obnoxious response of John Holyer, who would have us beleive he once held some sort of important position in Whitehall. No wonder the country went to the dogs.

    10. anonymous 6:42 pm,

      You will never be able to live down to your reputation. Take the lies out of you, and you'll shrink to the size of your shoe; take the malice out of you, and you'll disappear. I leave you in your fantasy world. I pity you.

      [By the way, you have misspelled 'believe'.

  4. It would seem that some of the worst offenders when it comes to puerile and obnoxious comments don't understand that we are talking about them.

  5. On some blogs there is no provision for commenting anonymously. You either have to be registered with blogger or you have to sign in with a name, whether assumed or otherwise. So it does seem possible to block "anonymous" comments. As to why people post anonymously, there are some elected representatives, clearly, who post locally on an anonymous basis. I imagine that they do not want the hassle that can come with their comments being misinterpreted or manipulated as obviously sometimes happens. Some may not have the time to follow up on every challenge and may be concerned about the impression that will be left. Others may be in sensitive areas of employment where there are restrictions on what they can engage in publicly. Others may have been exposed to threats either from other bloggers or from blog-owners or a lesser form of intimidation. Some may be in the same camp as those who would not want to hold their hands up and speak at a public meeting. There are other reasons, I'm sure.

    My point is that it is not always anonymous contributors who behave badly, and are the cause of embarrassments on blogs. Registered and named contributors - and some blog-owners - are often the worst offenders. But again, if the prevailing view is that anonymous bloggers are not welcome, block them - as it DOES seem possible to do.

  6. Eastcliff Richard is a Nazi paedo. I'll see myself in court.

  7. Anon 4:43pm,

    I cannot bring myself to trust anyone who chooses to blog anonymously, particularly when they are politicians. However, I do agree with you that no all anonymous posters behave badly. I will also confess that I occasionally enjoy crossing swords with the bad ones, especially the Manson Aquifer Man in his various guises.


    Is it possible to automatically block 'anonymous' comments?

    1. John I can set blogger in various ways and yes I could stop people blogging anonymously if you define this as commenting without filling in any sort of form.

      Of course there are degrees of anonymity with boggers like me and Simon Moores who are known individuals being at one end, as both of us have business addresses published online.

      Next down the line are those like you who have a google id linked to a long lived blog and some continuity, I guess with most of these the real person behind the name wouldn’t be hard to find.

      Then we have the people who have consistently commented under signed in id name, like Tim or Tom.

      Then those using other types of account to sign in, this is another allowable setting on blogger, Live Journal, Wordpress and so on.

      At the bottom we have those people who put their name or pseudonym in the name box when commenting anonymously or who may be identified by the nature of their comments, or those who just remain anonymous with not nametag.

      These are increasingly tangled up with blog comment abuse, commentators with some malicious intent pretending to be them and so on. Several of the 0% Aquifer Man and the Rick comments, have been lifted and re-posted with additions, like obscenities relating to the royal family recently and I don’t think it likely that they had anything to do with this, it just isn’t their styles.

      I would say a real problem with this is that the uk libel laws put the blog owner in a position where they may be held to account by a libel posted anonymously on their blog. It would be very easy to lift one of these comments and insert a deliberate and provable libel, followed by either legal action, or a complaint to Goole, which would be likely to lead to the removal of the blog.

      You have to appreciate that there may be some people who would like to see some blogs removed.

  8. I do believe the building with scaffold was derelict, but is now being turned into something useful for the community. The only problem is, it's being funded by some DFL's.

    How dare they come to our town, think they are part of the community and start bringing empty properties back to life.

    Do they have no morals? Surely if they have only lived here for years they have no right to come here and start making improvements?

    1. Great, perhaps they'll do something useful in Margate too?

  9. Margate is awash with investment and new businesses. Lots of creative types being creative. Building a great big supermarket next to the seafront is so Thanet.

    1. I wonder how long it takes before a DFL becomes a local? Am I a DFL after 28 years? Whatever, I've done more to promote the place in a positive light than all those anti-Tesco lot put together!

      As for "creative types", I'd much rather see "uncreative" busy superstores creating jobs & bringing shoppers in thanks very much... oh & Louise, just because you're attempting to be elected doesn't mean that you can't sign in to comment! ; )

    2. Peter, how good to see you campaigning with passion for something you evidently believe in, instead of those sarcastic old one liners. With you all the way on the Arlington Tesco and I am sure if I lived in Margate I would want shot of that tatty arcade, generally run down first impression from the station as well as having somewhere sizeable to shop instead of dragging up to Westwood X.

      Sadly, you have Louise and over my side we have the Red Hall. In Ramsgate they have 'No to Night Flights' so, whatever our Thanet shortages, we are well stocked with NIMBYs.

  10. Jingle bells, Margate smells, Ramsgate blows it away. Oh what fun it is to deride poor Margate every day!

  11. Well as I see it the pagan mist will always win no matter who is altered by the sub standard deity. As James Halibuts once observed "altered state do alleviate monograms." However apart from jewelry the free state of nerdy will always triumph.


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.

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