Where have all the comments gone?

You may have noticed a rather sudden dearth of reader comments in this space of late, presumably resulting from a decision I made about a week ago to restrict comments to “registered” readers only (registration is free and relatively painless, but still a barrier).

I put up this reg-wall simply to deal with a flood of comment spam that regular mechanisms in place to prevent it – the reCAPTCHA and the Akismet – were no longer sufficiently capable of holding back. It seems that dedicated “fleece blanket” and UGG boots sellers are willing to pay people to make somewhat-reasonable-looking comments – “Great post… I too am interested in Tim Horton Donuts nutritional information” – and jump through the reCAPTCHA. Matt Haughey has more on this phenomenon; it’s annoying and something that I imagine someone is hard at work building tools to try to help combat as I write.

Feel free to register to post comments until I come up with either the energy to spent 10 minutes every day doing battle with the fleece blanketeers or to implement another defensive system (What about peiCAPTCHA? Commenters have to ask a question the answer to which only Prince Edward Islanders would know – What did Boomer wear on last night’s Compass? or If you drove up east to go to the beach would you be more likely to run into Leo Cheverie or Leo Broderick?).

In the meantime, thanks for your patience.


Jane's picture
Jane on March 5, 2010 - 23:58 Permalink

I registered, duly, then wussed out of commenting. This is my usual pattern — not a result of the new system, which is fine by me. I will probably wuss out of commenting under this system about as often as I wuss out under other systems on other sites.

bmann's picture
bmann on March 6, 2010 - 08:44 Permalink

A couple of suggestions:
<li>use Mollom, which is best of breed (and also has blacklists) — you will still have some comments swoosh on through, but not very many</li>
<li>set new accounts to NOT require email verification — folks have already jumped through a captcha to create an account, and then they can get right to commenting, rather than wait for email to arrive etc. etc.</li>
<li>install something like RPX, which at the free level allows people to use Twitter, Google, Facebook etc. etc. to login to your site with</li>

Looking at the user list, it actually looks like you’ve got some spam users (BudgetBlankets, really?).

Fight the good fight!

Peter Rukavina's picture
Peter Rukavina on March 7, 2010 - 19:16 Permalink

All pieces of good advice; I’ve now implemented the first two, and am reviewing the third. Thanks. (Oh, and the BudgetBlankets user is no more. Shame on them).