Category Archives: Blogging

When Things Get Personal On Blogs

This is a rant post, and I’m naming names. I’m going to try to be fair, but if I’m not, part of me doesn’t care, but the other part almost apologizes up front; almost, that is.

black-man-rant

There is a post on a blog called Growmap that’s ranting against Akismet. Okay, Akismet might not be perfect, but I’ve been a major supporter of the program for almost 4 years, and I’m not going against them now. The writer, Gail, has done some testing and supposedly she has seen that some comments end up being killed by Akismet. Not moved to the spam folder, but killed overall.

Or so she says; one never really knows if a post was accidentally deleted by someone when they emptied their spam folder or if a post was deemed as being spam by the reviewer. I know many bloggers who say they never check their spam filter; that’s not good, but it’s their blog so life is what it is. I will say that in reading other posts of Gail’s that she tends to be very thorough, as much as one can be.

Anyway, she and a few other people have gone on a crusade against Akismet, even though Gail states that she doesn’t hate it. Okay, that’s fine. I put a comment on her post saying I support Akismet and was a major fan. It wasn’t all that long a comment, and it wasn’t the first (update 6/2015; she updated the post & removed all those previous comments, including mine).

However, the response I got was way out of proportion to my original comment, and other people were skipped; to me, that was intentional and personal, and I didn’t like it one bit. And me being me, well, I don’t demure from certain things, so I commented back, trying to temper my language (I don’t curse, but I can be kind of mean spirited at times when pushed), and I think my response was okay.

Next thing I know, I receive responses on this blog from two of her supporters, one writing from a place called Linda Christas, which is supposed to be an online training organization of some sort (no, I’m not linking to them). They’re supporting Gail, which is fine, but they wrote these long comments on a post of mine that has nothing to do with the subject matter I wrote about.

In my mind, that’s spam, and I don’t appreciate it, and I went to Gail’s blog and said as much. There’s a point at which things cross the line and get truly personal, and I don’t take that kind of mess kindly, especially when the people saying stuff are trying to hide, in their own way, who they are.

One of the people, a woman named Leone, wrote with the email address of this Linda Christas. There’s this woman who either really works there or is a scam of some sort who calls herself Dr. Ann. This person has posted comments on my blog and other blogs.

At first the comments seem to match up to the content. Then they go off topic and start this rant against Akismet. It seems Linda Christas is on a crusade against Akismet, and they’re trying hard to pull other people into the process.

If you think I’m the only one who sees this and is calling it out, check out this post on TechPatio titled Comment Spam, She’s Back: Dr. Ann Voisin From Linda Christas College. And if you want to see his first post on this person and this college, which was only days earlier, check this one out as well, titled Akismet Blocking Your Blog? No Way, Just a SPAM Trick!.

Of course my respect for this college is gone, especially since I just saw a post on their site, unordinarily long, ranting against Akismet, and frankly it parrots the same type of tripe I’ve seen coming from a few other places. At least Gail did a study of some sort, which I applaud her for (see, I’m trying to be fair here).

Gail also called me out on her blog asking if she’d ever written anything that I considered as spam on this blog and I had to tell her yes, the last time she visited, which was June 2009. So, this could color her idea in some way of what spam just might be. Her last response to me, before I got mad because of the other people who came from her blog to post their “threats” about not visiting this blog again, was not in attack mode, and I appreciate that as well.

I need to say this. I have gone on attack mode on other people’s blogs, so I’m not totally innocent here. However, if I do that, I do it for one of two reasons.

One, you don’t get to go after any of my friends without a confrontation from me; that’s what loyalty is all about, and if my friends don’t breach the rules of proper decorum in another place, I’ve got their back.

Two, you don’t get to get away with racist or misogynist or any other type of hateful speech and think I’m going to let it go. Too many people decide to turn the other way and let that kind of thing go by, and that’s why we end up with some of the problems we have in this world.

Sure, I don’t expect the majority to always step in to help fight these things because it’s not in their interest; they have nothing to gain by speaking out for those who they indirectly believe are less than themselves, even if they don’t express it. So, if anyone goes to Gail’s blog and reads my initial post and thinks I attacked her in any way, please explain to me how I did it.

So, I have no respect for Linda Christas and the type of people it seems to put out; yes, that’s an attack. If people representing them believe they can come into my house and spit on my rug, it’s not happening.

I left the other comment on my previous post, even though it had nothing to do with the topic; believe me, that won’t happen again, and if someone wants to cry censorship, tough. I pay for this space, and there are comment rules; don’t follow them, don’t expect anything extra-special coming your way on my part because you feel you have the right. That mess won’t be tolerated.

If it happens on this post, it might be tolerated, since I’m in attack mode, so to speak. But we’ll see. Meanwhile, I’m going to continue using Akismet, and I don’t care who likes it or doesn’t like it. People who use Disqus or Intense Debate know I don’t like those things, and yet they continue using it. Because it’s their right to use it, just as it’s my right to use Akismet. We can debate the merits of it; no problem. But when it goes further, when it gets personal… I’ll stop there.
 

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How To Tell A Post Is Spam

You know, I wouldn’t think that most people couldn’t identify spam when they see it. However, I’ve been to enough blogs and seen enough spam even on those blogs where people seem to usually monitor what’s going on in their comments area.

Heck, I know spam is getting pretty sneaky. Sometimes it’s hard to tell a good comment from a spam comment. If you’re not paying attention a new spam comment will show up on an old post, which is why I recently talked about making some posts private.

Still, you must be vigilant in fighting the great spam battle. If you don’t, not only will the spammers win, but those savvy visitors of yours that see you can’t tell spam from the real thing might decide to stay away. So, let’s see if I can help you out in some fashion.

1. Watch out for insulting spam. There are obviously trolls whose job, so they feel, is to make everyone else’s life miserable. Insulting spam is usually pretty easy to determine, though; it’s never on topic.

2. Watch for spam that’s not on topic. Maybe I should have started with this one, but I’m bringing it up now. There is spam that looks pretty good and you might miss it because you don’t read to the end. If a comment starts out intentionally evasive, it’s probably going to continue being so, or else it will introduce something that makes no sense whatsoever.

3. Set your spam filter to move a comment with even one link in it to your spam folder. Sure, every once in awhile you’re going to get a legitimate post in there, but what I’ve seen most often is someone following up a post with a link in it with a second post saying “hey, my post didn’t show up”, or something to that effect. I hope everyone checks their spam folders.

4. One line comments. Unless you know the person, you should probably just delete all of these anyway. Keeping something that says “nice post” is an insult to your blog, and is most probably spam.

5. Check out the email addresses. Most people aren’t using Hotmail anymore, but even if they are, if the name before “@” doesn’t make sense it’s probably spam. If the name you’re given is of one sex but the name in the email address is of another sex, it’s probably spam.

6. It used to be that spam didn’t come with images, but now it does. Make sure you read the comment instead of relying on the fact that there’s now a gravatar attached.

7. Now spam can come in your name. That used to be an easy tell as well, but some of the more sophisticated spam can read who the author of the post is and add it to their comment.

8. If the comment is written to the “webmaster”, it’s spam. Who really uses the term “webmaster” anymore anyway?

9. If the post is in another language and you’ve only ever written in one language, it’s most probably spam. Back in the day I used to copy some of those messages into translation websites to see if it was saying anything pertinent; just scrap it and move on.

10. Finally, if you’re not sure, even with these tips, you can always test the waters by sending an email to the email address. Write a short post saying something like “just seeing if this email is valid before I allow the comment on my blog.” If you get a rejection back, or heck, if you get nothing back, consider it spam and kill it. Even if it’s not really spam, if the person on the other end doesn’t respond, then they probably had no intentions of coming back to your blog, in which case you didn’t need their comment anyway.

I hope that helps. Of course, if you have Akismet on your blog it will help even more.

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Automatically Install WordPress Plugins

Man, the things you can learn. I’ve been using WordPress for over six years. There’s a lot of things I’ve learned along the way.

One of the best things about WordPress concerns plugins. They add functionality to most of the things we do, and when they work they’re great. When they don’t work we just get rid of them, plain and simple.

They’re easy to get to. Most of us will see something about one we want to try on a blog. I’ve written about many plugins on this blog including No Self Pings and All In One SEO; it’s not always positive.


I just learned something new about plugins. Turns out you don’t have to go anywhere to download one and then load it onto your site before you can do something with it. You can bypass all that noise and load it directly onto your blog through your plugins area in your administrative area.

What you do is click on Add New, and it takes you to a new screen most of you have probably never seen because I hadn’t. Then you use the search menu there to look for your plugin. If you know the name, you type it in there; if not, and you’re looking for a plugin that might do something specific, type that in.

You’ll come up with a list of plugins that pertain to your topic. If you knew the name of a particular plugin, it will be at the top. All you do is look to the far right of that plugin, click on Install, and the rest is history. All you’re left to do after that is click Activate, and you’re all set.

I can’t believe that all these years I’ve gone through the process of downloading a zip file to my computer, opening it up, moving the file out of there to my computer, having to upload… well, I’m betting y’all know the process as well. This is drastically simple, and it lends itself well to trying out a bunch of plugins and getting rid of them pretty quickly.

There you go; once again, we’ve all learned something new and easy; don’t ever try to say I don’t ever teach anything around here. 🙂

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Thoughts About The Images?

Last November I wrote a post titled Do Images Increase Readership? At the time, I had 7 posts in a row with some kind of image on them as an experiment to see if it increased my visitors any, because I’d read on some blogs that talked about increasing visitors that it helped. I doubted it, but wanted to see what would happen over a 7 day period.

Of course, nothing happened, because I thought it was a pretty bogus recommendation. But the comments ranged from my not doing the test long enough to the images not being really relevant to the conversation. That had been part of my point way back, that just because you put an image on a post didn’t necessarily mean it was relevant. I even remember Dennis and myself talking about it, with him saying he could put any word into Google and come up with an image, and my saying sure, but that image might not match up to the content of the word you put in.


Mirror Image 1998

Anyway, most of this month I’ve had some kind of image in almost every post. Some have been from Imagekind, where if you clicked on it and decided to buy it, or any other pictures on the site, I’d have gotten some money out of it. Those are the pictures with the titles, just so you know. Some have had direct relations to the topic. And a couple were there because I liked how they looked; so sue me.

Has readership, aka, visitors increased? Well, to tell you the truth I don’t really know. That’s because, for some reason, starting around April 13th traffic and visitors suddenly spiked in coming to the site based on that article on cleavage I wrote near the end of January. As you saw in my last numbers report, that post is killing every other post I have, and I have no real idea why. It’s skewed my numbers so much that I hope there’s not a bot that’s locked onto it in some fashion that will end up hurting the blog later on. That page is averaging more than 60 visitors a day even now, and has actually reached 100 visitors a couple of times; outstanding for what I considered a throwaway post of sorts. I’m trying to figure out new ways of monetizing it. lol

So, in lieu of trying to decompress all the numbers, I’ll just ask you what you think. Is it breaking up some of the text at least a little bit, have you found it intriguing, or is it getting on your nerves, or you’re totally ignoring it, because you see the same sort of thing on other blogs?

adidas World Cup 2010 MLS Glider Soccer Ball

Price – $14.73








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My Gripe With WordPress.com Blogs

Some of you remember back in 2008 when I wrote about my gripe with Blogger blogs, which is owned by Google. Back then, I said my main gripe had to do with trying to write comments on those blogs, where you either had to register for the site so you could get notified of comments, or you could choose one of the other options and never know that someone had responded to a comment.

Now I’m going to gripe about WordPress.com blogs, and I have a minor gripe against them. Once again, it’s the commenting gripe. With WordPress.com, you can comment on the blogs and potentially get a notification. Why do I say “potentially”? Because if you click on the box that says you want to be notified of comments, like you’d do on my blog, you immediately get this email that asks you if you want to subscribe to comments. Well, if you didn’t why would you have clicked on the box?

On this blog, which is self hosted, I already have that selected, so if you get anything in the mail from me it’s because you commented, and you can decide to unsubscribe from comments at any time if you please. On WordPress.com blogs, you have to check the box, so one would assume there wouldn’t be any questions that you wanted the blog comments.

To be somewhat fair, I will say that I know why they do this. It’s a double opt-in system, verifying that the person whose name and email address that’s been used is the same person who actually wrote the post. It’s known as a double opt-in as opposed to a regular opt in because you initially had to check the box to tell the blog that you wanted to get comments. For some blogs where you don’t get a choice as to whether you want to check or uncheck a box, you might still receive a message asking you if you want to subscribe to comments, but in that case you didn’t really opt-in the first time, hence it’s not a double opt-in system. You really wanted to know that, didn’t you?

Anyway, with this system, if it gets a bounced email back, it knows to move the comment to spam. If someone else’s email address was used, certainly that person wouldn’t want to receive any more responses, but in this case the concept is somewhat flawed. At best, if someone forged a person’s email address and that person gets the response, they’d have to follow the link back to the blog, see the posting, and request that it be removed because they didn’t write it. I wonder how often that sort of thing really happens.

In my mind, one uses a double opt-in system if they have an automated email system set up for something like subscribing to a newsletter, since spam email can easily get into that, or some “friends” will do a drive-by subscription as a joke on a friend. But for a blog, I really can’t see the reasoning behind that.

Still, I have to admit that I’m more apt to comment on a WordPress.com blog than a Blogger blog because at least I can choose which of my 3 blogger personas I wish to use. But I must admit that I never subscribe to the opt-in email that shows up. Occasionally, if I’m so predisposed, I’ll pop back to a blog that I’ve commented on to see if it ever got a response, but that’s mainly only for friends of mine. For the rest… I guess it’s a one and done most of the time.

I wish WordPress.com would address that, or at least make it an option for their users. I get that it’s free, but does free mean it has to restrict what some people can do? The fix is probably in the paid version on that site; does anyone know for sure? I will say this; I’m glad it’s in the free software version for those of us who pay for our own hosting.

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2010 Mitch Mitchell