The GASP/Akismet Experiment

It’s not often I do an experiment based on a post I read on another blog but I decided it was time to give one a shot. In this case it was based on a post that our friend Ileane wrote (yes, she actually does sometimes write posts on here blog lol) titled 5 Popular WordPress Plugins You Need to Ditch Now! One of the plugins she talked about ditching was Akismet, which I’ve always kind of had a love affair with, and thus I had to confront her, nicely of course, about the recommendation.

Has the NSA spying gone too far?
greg lilly via Compfight

(Growmap Anti-Spybot Plugin) would get the whole job done without Akismet help. It was developed by Andy Bailey of CommentLuv fame who, interestingly enough, said in an interview I did with him in 2009 that most plugin developers shouldn’t start off by trying to go after Akismet, and years later that’s exactly what he did. šŸ™‚ I wasn’t really sure about it, but I told her I was going to experiment and write about it; this is that post.

A brief bit of history for the uninitiated. There have been a lot of people that have complained that Akismet does two negative things. It can put people on a negative list and thus always have every post of theirs showing up in spam or even being deleted before it ever reaches the spam filter. I’ve always said I had never noticed it and thus it didn’t impact me, but then Gail Gardner of Growmap did an extensive test last year on it and found that some of these issues might be true.

I still dismissed it because Akismet has always done a premium job for me, so it seemed. But I was compelled to do this experiment, and here’s what I’ve kind of come up with.

First, this week I’ve had less spam showing up in my spam filter than ever before. That’s both a good and bad thing mentally because often I had legitimate comments showing up in the spam filter, and over the past week I’ve only had one show up. I don’t know if this means it’s deleting legitimate people who it thinks is a spambot or if this week most of the people that comment have gotten it right.

Second, once I started the experiment I checked the box to allow trackbacks because I wanted to see how it handled them. I did get a lot of those in two days showing up in the spam filter, but not a single legitimate trackback so I turned it back off quickly enough. No trackbacks since.

Third, let me mention the spam filter. I wasn’t sure what would happen if I turned off Akismet and spam came in, but bad messages will still go to the spam filter, so that’s a good thing.

Fourth, if you saw my post about my comments problem you’ll see that I emptied a large folder through PhpMyAdmin that was holding all these statistics from my Count Per Day plugin, which I’ve also inactivated. When I went back I noticed my second largest file was something called wp_commentmeta, and it turns out that’s the file of everything that Akismet collects on comments it’s passed through and denied. Supposedly the WordPress program is supposed to empty that sucker here and there, but mine had never emptied over the years. Since I’d inactivated the plugin I was also able to empty that folder, and now I have so much capacity I feel like I need to start writing more. lol Yes, you can empty that folder safely, even if you’re still using it. And it seems there’s no files being created or filled up by GASP (which I’m still trying to figure out how I got ranked #1 on Google for ‘GASP anti-spybot’).

In my opinion, the GASP plugin has provided some peace overall to this blog, and that’s not a bad thing. I think I’m going to keep things as they are until I see there’s a reason to activate Akismet again, which I’m kind of doubting. And I’m going to do it on my other blogs as well. See, I can learn something from others. lol
 

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Taking Twitter Unfollows Too Personally

Some of you know that I don’t often read blogs I won’t comment on because of their comment systems, most specifically things like Disqus. Still, every once in awhile I get intrigued by a topic, and like almost anyone else I just have to check it out to see what the hubbub is.


by Martin Cathrae via Flickr

It’s in this vein that I read a post by Chris Brogan titled The Great Twitter Unfollow Experiment of 2011. He talks about making the decision to stop following all the people on his list, which was around 131,000, and how people literally freaked when he first made the announcement, then did it. Some people thought he hated them; others thought he was mad at them. Many decided to tell him he they were dropping him because he was dropping them. Frankly, it was kind of pathetic.

Why he announced it to begin with is interesting. I don’t know that I’d have felt I had to announce that I was unfollowing everyone. Truth be told, if he had just done it without announcing it probably less than 2% of the people who he was following would have noticed immediately, as some people have notification systems that tell them when someone drops them, and others would have just thought Twitter was messing with them when he followed certain people back because it’s been known by some people that every once in a while there are random drops of people.

Also, did you see where I mentioned that he was following 131,000 people? Folks, I have problems following the around 970 people I’m connected with on that level, so what the heck was he supposed to be expected to do with 131,000 people? I mean, that’s pretty ridiculous when you think about it, and he probably did what I did for the first month I was on Twitter, just followed everyone, until he got smart. But by that time the dye was cast; wow, 131,000 people?

I unfollow people on Twitter all the time. I run both Twit Cleaner and Friend or Follow. One tells me who’s not following me, which is a short list at this juncture since I unfollow most people who aren’t following me because almost all of them reached out to me first. The other one tells me if people engage others and the types of tweets they send out. Y’all know me; if there’s no possibility that someone I’m connected to will ever talk to me I’m outta there.

See, I don’t take people unfollowing me personally. I expect some people to unfollow me for one reason or another. Unless someone announces it on their way out I could care less. That may sound cold and direct but I talk about so many different things, and I do have my own political bent, that I know some folks who follow me won’t stick with me if their positions are different than mine. I do the same thing after all.

I miss people more on my blogs than I ever would on Twitter. It’s why I was so frantic days ago when the comments wouldn’t work on my blog. I know people came and I also see how comments have slowed up; some folks may not have gotten the message that things had messed up here. Still, I’ll write for whomever decides to stop by and say hello, offer a comment, or watch a stupid video I might put up. And since I haven’t put up a stupid video in a long time, I’m wondering how many of you have heard of Keenan Cahill, this 16-year-old YouTube sensation with a disease called Maroteaux-Lamy Syndrome who not only lip syncs to the videos of famous people, but actually gets the famous people to appear in his videos as well. Don’t believe me? Check this one out with him & 50 Cent; now that’s props!


 

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September 11, 2011; Ten Years Later

Today is the 10th anniversary of the most vicious act of terrorism ever on American soil. Four airplanes caused a lot of people to lose their lives; three of those airplanes caused mass destruction as well. And the world hasn’t been the same since.

A couple of days ago a friend of mine asked me why we couldn’t just move on, not necessarily forget but ease on the pain and move on. I said that this is a country that honors those who were killed mercilessly, who were caught up in the madness of someone else. That’s why there’s tribute for Oklahoma City; that’s why there’s tribute for the Lockerbie airplane bombing; that’s why there’s tribute to Pearl Harbor. And that’s why there’s tribute to those killed on 9/11/01. The pain may ease, should ease, but we’ll never forget; just not in our nature.

The video you’re about to watch, if you do, are my thoughts on what happened that day and what’s happened to the world since that day. It’s a much different place than it was 10 years ago. And I also honor and give tribute to some people, and have always been thankful, though it might be selfish, that I didn’t know anyone who lost their life on that day.

You might be surprised by one thing I say in the video after you see the links, if you visit any of these links that I post. First the video, then the links, from this blog and my business blog.

Are We Ready For The 9/11 Anniversary?

September 11, 2007 ā€“ Six Years Later

8:46AM ā€“ 9/11/01

September 11, 2001 ā€“ Iā€™m Still Mad

http://www.imjustsharing.com/sunday-question-your-thoughts-about-91110/

9/11/01 9 Years Later; Never Forget
 

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Ken’s Googlebomb Post – My Head Hurts

Last Sunday I got myself hooked into reading a blog post by Ken Evoy of Site Build It that was titled Proof That Google Has No True Googlebomb Algorithm. I have to say that I knew nothing about Ken Evoy other than being the top guy there, and I didn’t even know he had a blog until this post. After reading the post… my head hurt.

I have kept the post for a while now because I wanted to read it again. The first time I read it I actually knew overall what he was talking about. But it’s quite a long post, so much so that I’m going to tell most of you that if you’re not into technology and a lot of that kind of talk don’t even bother checking it out. I’m going to touch on some of this though, because it’s interesting stuff.

What the Site Build It folks were able to do was prove that the Google system could be gamed. They have all sorts of documentation from someone who made it their goal of showing just how they could fool Google and get to the top of the rankings right under Google’s nose, even telling people what was coming. Site Build It tried to tell Google what was happening and, instead of addressing it, pretty much ignored it.

I say “pretty much ignored” because there were a series of form letters Google sent to Ken, and apparently Ken didn’t like that. At one point Google seemed to tell them they were going to do something really positive, but then didn’t do a thing.

Let me step back for a quick moment, if I may. A “googlebomb” is usually where a bunch of people get together and create a ton of links to something to skew search results so they’ll take you to a specific page for a search term, whether they’ve earned it or not. The most famous google bomb (you can write it as either one or two words) was when you’d put in “miserable failure” and George Bush’s name came up; so wrong! lol

Another google bomb was perpetrated by John Chow when he was able to get something like 85,000 people to keep linking to his name to drive him up to the top in Google’s search engines and in page rank. At least at that time Google hated it so much they delisted his site (that’s bad), but for whatever reason it didn’t end up reducing his visitors, and he still made a ton of cash online. He’s now back on Google after a 3-year absence with a page rank and listing after they kissed and made up (pays to have a direct connection to Matt Cutts; but I digress…).

Anyway, what it’s all boiling down to is, in his own way, Ken is going for his own google bomb, though he wouldn’t call it that. He’s trying to rally the troops, who would be us, to support his cause by going to this link and joining him in kind of a protest. He’s also declared that he won’t write another thing on his blog until Google fixes this algorithm.

I have some takes on this; otherwise, why would I have written this much?

One, Ken has a pony in this race which slightly colors his anger here. Seems there were some folks who google bombed his company with negative reviews, not because they didn’t like him or the company but because they wanted to prove they could do it. That doesn’t sit well with him.

Two, I can’t understand how not writing any posts on his blog will help push his cause. To me, if I had a gripe about something I’d want to write almost every day about it, or at least often. Who does him not writing on his blog anymore help? Google won’t care, people reading his blog that agree or disagree with him won’t go back because they’ll have no idea how long his boycott is, and thus his message will get lost.

Three, I’m not sure all that many people will get enthused enough to join a movement to get Google to take care of this problem of google bombs. I mean, Google did take away the page rank from this blog for a little while, but my posts were still showing up on Google, sometimes in the top spot for certain terms (you want to see something neat?

I could say more, but I think that’s enough for the moment. I guess I’ll just put the question out there and ask who’s angry enough at Google to even think about joining a movement against them? Actually, I hope you go check out what he wrote, but be warned, it’s almost 5,800 words. Good thing I speed read! šŸ˜‰
 

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When Comments Won’t Show

I’m writing this a couple of days removed, but hopefully I can help you out so you don’t go through what I went through. Of course, not everyone will be able to do this, but at least the information might be helpful.


by Steve Ryan via Flickr

On Sunday I heard from our friend Brian Hawkins on Twitter. He was telling me that he was having problems posting a comment to this blog. He thought something was missing, so I went to take a look and said everything looked fine. I even checked on 3 different browsers. So he tried it on a couple of browsers and it just wasn’t coming up properly for him. He said he’d try it at his brother’s the next day.

Monday morning I looked at comments and wondered why I wasn’t seeing any new ones. Remembering Brian’s comment the day before, and seeing that he’d sent me the comment he had wanted to post, I decided to go to one of those other browsers to post it myself. It took me to a 404 page. That was freaky, so I came into this admin panel to try to post a quick comment of my own; that wasn’t happening either, as it just kept disappearing.

Now it was panic and research time. From 8:30 in the morning until around 8:30 in the evening, with a few breaks to eat, I tried as many things as I could. Nothing was working. I even called my hosting company to see what they had to offer. They gave me some erroneous information that it had to be that my databases had gone beyond capacity. I went in and cleared one, which was really huge, and that didn’t get it done; I’m going to come back to that one in a minute.

During this time a couple other people had tried to help me, but without success. I finally went to the WordPress.org forum, because my host said it had to be their issue, and I posted the question, telling everything that I’d tried. Someone came on and started making suggestions. Some I’d already tried, but others were somewhat interesting.

They involved going into the control panel of my account on my host and getting into the PHPmyAdmin area, something I forget about because it’s not a place I have to go often; matter of fact, it’s probably been a couple of years. It was also where the hosting company had said to go and delete some files, so I was a bit skeptical.

His recommendation was to run a repair on the files I was having problems with. There were two files dedicated to comments, so I checked the box next to both of them then ran repair. It went pretty fast and gave me a positive report. I came back to the blog, posted a test comment, and all was right with the world once again; whoo hoo! šŸ™‚

I’m writing this post because the information wasn’t anywhere else until I asked the question. Even though someone else who might end up with this issue might find that post in the forum, I figured why not write it up here as well; might save a lot of time later on. And I take this time to thank both Brian and Dan Lovell and someone called Esmi on the forum for helping me on this.

Now, back to the file I emptied. That file was related to the Count Per Day plugin I added last September. It seems that it collects tons of information and never gets rid of any of it. It had collected information to the post where the file had grown to 88MB; that’s huge. When compared to the next largest text file being only 5MB, you can tell it was out of kilter.

Many hosts don’t allow the data within an account to get larger than 100MB, and mine was around 147MB. So, clearing that file out freed up tons of space for me. Just something else to consider if you start having some issues with databases.
 

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