January 21, 2008

New Comments System

I have a new comments system on this site that, so far anyway, has shut down the comment spammers completely. Old posts were filling up with around 200 “comments” per day advertising hotels in China and “World of Warcraft gold.” Two individual spam robots broke my old system all by themselves. It was impossible to manually delete all that crap, especially when I was off the grid in Fallujah. Now you have to sign in with a Typekey account in order to post comments. Spammers don’t go to the trouble because they will be instantly banned and won’t be allowed back in even if they change their IP address and set up a new username and password. My banning capabilities are now fool-proof.

I’m happy with the new system. Not only does it prevent spam from even appearing, it’s also a lot easier to get rid of rude commenters for the same reason it’s easy to get rid of spammers. It’s so effective against trolls that I haven’t even had to deal with rude commenters at all. Apparently they are aware that this system makes it impossible for them to continue posting if I throw them out, so they don’t even try.

The only hitch is that many of my regular commenters are gone now. Apparently many of you don’t want to go to the trouble of setting up a Typekey account. I understand. It’s a minor hassle.

But look. It takes less than two minutes to set it up. Once you create your account, the same username and password will work at every blog in the world that uses this system. And you can stay signed in for two weeks at a time. It’s actually less of a hassle for you to post comments on my site now than it used to be. You no longer have to enter a six digit numerical code every time you want to post something. I got rid of that feature. Once you’re signed in, you’re done with the hassle for two weeks. The new system is easier for you, easier for me, and much harder for spambots and trolls. So those of you who disappeared because you’re afraid of new things, please come on back. We’ve missed you.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at January 21, 2008 9:06 PM
Comments

This is the internet. Nothing is foolproof. There is some fool out there who will prove it.

Posted by: Saint in Exile Author Profile Page at January 21, 2008 9:26 PM

You had me at "But Look."

It dawns on me that this will really interfere with my sock-puppetry.
(kidding)

Posted by: Lindsey Author Profile Page at January 21, 2008 9:30 PM

Saint in Exile:Nothing is foolproof. There is some fool out there who will prove it.

You don't know how the back end works. Mwa ha ha ha ha. It's better than you know, and it's 100 percent foolproof if I check one box and raise the security level up a single notch. I'll do it if I have to, and it won't be hard.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten Author Profile Page at January 21, 2008 10:25 PM

I didn't get in before because I was having trouble with typepad. It wasn't accepting my password at first, and it looks like email from typepad doesn't always make it past my spam filter.

Oh, well. Hi!

Josh Scholar

Posted by: Alpha Author Profile Page at January 21, 2008 10:26 PM

And yeah, sock puppetry will be a whole lot harder to pull off around here.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten Author Profile Page at January 21, 2008 10:26 PM

My Typekey still works!

Posted by: Yehudit Author Profile Page at January 21, 2008 11:06 PM

It's pretty remarkable how a small barrier like that... some folks just won't bother. Hopefully what you'll see is that there will be one comment an individual will really want to make that gets them to register, and from that point casual commenting is much easier. But until that day even a little barrier will keep many folks from bothering.

Posted by: ProtestShooter Author Profile Page at January 21, 2008 11:14 PM

Old posts were filling up with around 200 “comments” per day advertising hotels in China and “World of Warcraft gold.”

Most of the other high-traffic blogs deal with this by closing the comments after a certain amount of time has passed.

The only hitch is that many of my regular commenters are gone now. Apparently many of you don’t want to go to the trouble of setting up a Typekey account. I understand. It’s a minor hassle.

The nice thing about Typekey is that it's multi-site. Set up a typekey login, and it'll work on every blog that uses typekey. Much less hassle than remembering a username and login on a blog-by-blog basis. And all typekey wants is a valid email address. If you'd rather not give out your primary email address, send me a message @gmail and I'll send you an invite you can use to set up a spam-trap email account (altho typekey doesn't get you onto any spam-lists. I dunno how (or if) they're making any money off the service).

Posted by: rosignol Author Profile Page at January 22, 2008 12:39 AM

This is fine. Like commenting at Jihad Watch or Atlas Shrugs.

Posted by: Jauhara Al-Kafirah Author Profile Page at January 22, 2008 5:20 AM

"Nothing is foolproof. There is some fool out there who will prove it."

Yes, there is no such thing as foolproof anything. "foolproofness" of each security system is always based on cost/benefit relationship. And in this case I'd agree with 'foolproof' status.

Look at it this way. Would you bother creating new email account in order to create new TypeKey account to post single comment, have it deleted in short while and be banned so you will have no choice but to start whole process all over again just to post one more comment? Hardly.

Posted by: leo Author Profile Page at January 22, 2008 6:16 AM

This is just so you know we are out here reading your blog.

Posted by: OldSarg Author Profile Page at January 22, 2008 7:30 AM

I like the idea of being identified to the owner of a BLOG. Should keep the crazies a bit saner.

Posted by: Gene Author Profile Page at January 22, 2008 7:51 AM

Hey Michael

Good that you fixed this, hopefully it will last sometime before some bot cracks it.
Bot writers are Ba******.
Anyway, getting internet back around the 6th February will be commenting more often :).
Its been around 7 months without internet. heh.

Posted by: kodder Author Profile Page at January 22, 2008 9:37 AM

I have never commented here before, but have read you for some time. I just want you to know that I appreciate what you do and that here is one other person in the mix.

I am glad that you have elected to strain out the trolls and spammers.

Posted by: Johnnie Author Profile Page at January 22, 2008 12:18 PM

As an Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom veteran, I really appreciate your hard work. The war I left, is not the war that is reported on in the press. Being able to get the "real story" from guys like you and Michael Yon has been invaluable to me.

Posted by: CDR Kurt Author Profile Page at January 22, 2008 1:11 PM

Well if it takes a typekey registration system to stop trolls and bots, sign me up.

Keep up the good work Michael.

Posted by: james Author Profile Page at January 22, 2008 3:46 PM

Sweet.

Really, I don't see the problem, here.

By the way... anything interesting happening in Lebanon? ;p

Posted by: Nate Francis Author Profile Page at January 22, 2008 3:54 PM

Dang, now where am I supposed to get my World of Warcraft gold?

Love your site. Keep up the great work!

Posted by: Rob Fairbank Author Profile Page at January 22, 2008 4:01 PM

Michael:

I use Opera as my main browser, and for whatever reason the TypeKey scripts for signing up or logging in won't work with it, regardless if I have it claim to be Mozilla or IE. So, to leave a comment I fire up Moz, which I am happy to do as all the trash that was filling up your comments section was getting a little much from my perspective - I can imagine what it was like from yours. Its impossible to carry on any kind of reasonable or sane discussion on most of the net, am glad you've taken steps to enable it here.

Posted by: H. Short Author Profile Page at January 22, 2008 6:22 PM

Hi Mike, glad to see that you're still allowing comments, and happier yet that you're safe. Looking forward to more of your excellent works.

Posted by: Paul MacPhail Author Profile Page at January 22, 2008 8:54 PM

I think some people are just not willing to risk reasonable degrees of accountability.

Posted by: Patrick S Lasswell Author Profile Page at January 22, 2008 9:12 PM

Well commenting on commenting isn't the most exciting thing to do on a blog. Traffic will pick up when your long awaited articles get their due press. You do great work with a large and loyal network of readers and contributers. Don't cry too long.

Posted by: Kevin China Author Profile Page at January 22, 2008 10:07 PM

Hi Mike,
Glad you've removed the hassle and can concentrate on what you do best! Thanks for the info, pics etc.

Posted by: alison Author Profile Page at January 22, 2008 10:40 PM

I already have a Typekey account so it's no problem! I don't come here very often. As a matter of fact, I haven't been here for a long time; but you, Michael, are truly one of the best of the bloggers! Thanks!

Posted by: TeachESL Author Profile Page at January 23, 2008 5:59 AM

Hey Michael,

Okay, you convinced me to sign up a Typekey. I still think you are on the wrong track on Iraq. :)

Posted by: The Good Democrat Author Profile Page at January 23, 2008 6:31 AM

Two things.

1) Just signed in using the Opera browser with no problems.

2) Where will I go to find out about WOW gold now?

CujoQuarrel
Keep up the good work

Posted by: CujoQuarrel Author Profile Page at January 23, 2008 8:34 AM

Once in on comments, can I suggest again you explicitly comment on what Muslims say about abortion.

I think most, or all, elected Iraqi Muslims are pro-life.

Posted by: Tom Grey - Liberty Dad Author Profile Page at January 23, 2008 10:19 AM

Tom, abortion is a provincial American topic. It doesn't come up in the Middle East. Neither does global warming or much else that Americans concern themselves with domestically.

I would be surprised if even five percent of the Arab world favors abortion rights.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten Author Profile Page at January 23, 2008 11:25 AM

Michael, your blog is a great window onto our neighbours for someone who lives in Jerusalem and devours the Israeli press, but is eager for more from a reliable source.

I too am amazed when things actually work on the Internet as they should. It's all done by 1s and 0s apparently for those who believe.

Posted by: AviL Author Profile Page at January 23, 2008 12:02 PM

Michael --
Hey, my typekey still works!

If you have a minute, any idea what Hezbollah is doing creating the repugnant publicity about 2006 Israeli remains, all of a sudden? Or any of your far-flung sources in the region have a notion what's up? I don't buy the media explanation that Nasrallah is just desperate for attention.

Thanks

Posted by: AZZenny Author Profile Page at January 23, 2008 12:36 PM

I hope the new commenting tech helps because the rest of the site seems to work nicely, to a user anyway. I think you and Mike Yon are good test cases for the citizen journalist model so if it can succeed I think you two will show the way. I donate from time to time so maybe I skew the result toward a positive conclusion, but hey, it's the undiscovered country, yes? (surreptitious Star Trek reference alert)
I know you held a vote for where to report from next and Lebanon wasn't first, but I think your work there is quite revealing. Any chance you can drop in for a week or two on your way into/out of Iraq next time?
Also, the road trip you took w/ your friend thru Turkey into Northern Iraq/Kurdistan seemed like great fodder for an Indie movie, no? Has anyone else suggested this?
Best regards,
M -

Posted by: Mike Author Profile Page at January 23, 2008 12:41 PM

Registered and still here, just busy rewriting a script to handle the new comment format...

Posted by: double-plus-ungood Author Profile Page at January 23, 2008 6:20 PM

I've been reading your site for some time, but have never posted a comment. Just wanted to say thanks for letting us know how it's really going over there. Keep up the good work and stay safe.

Posted by: Booscoots Author Profile Page at January 23, 2008 6:42 PM

"great fodder for an Indie movie"

Dear lord, who could possibly play Sean and pull it off? The mind boggles... :)

Posted by: Lindsey Author Profile Page at January 23, 2008 7:21 PM

CujoQuarrel: I don't know why I can't sign in with Opera; it worked fine with TypeKey a few months ago on another blog. I've upgraded to 9.25 since. Perhaps some of my Preference settings are the cause but I don't know what it would be. I've tried changing Opera's Idenity and using the Mask function, but neither makes any difference.

This is somewhat ironic as I switched to Opera from Netscape a long time ago, as I could never get Netscape to log onto Yahoo Mail. But all in all its a minor problem as Moz works fine.

Posted by: H. Short Author Profile Page at January 23, 2008 10:02 PM

Moz? Surely you mean FireFox, the actual new Mozilla browser. Works everywhere except on a few sites MS has paid off to exclude everything but IE, especially on video replays.

Posted by: Brian H Author Profile Page at January 28, 2008 3:29 PM
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Winner, The 2008 Weblog Awards, Best Middle East or Africa Blog

Winner, The 2007 Weblog Awards, Best Middle East or Africa Blog

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