Archive for the 'Weblogs' Category

Referrer log roundup, the fifth

July 28th, 2006

It’s time for yet another post where I either mock (usually), or take seriously (rarely), search phrases people typed into search engines just in order to get to… well… here.

These are all real. People actually searched for these phrases I underline here, and for some reason one of the pages found were on this blog.

It so happens that I have a large amount of them lately, so I think I’ll split this batch. A few will come now, and the rest on another post in a few days.

before changing into another lane you should?
Signal. Actually, in your case, if you have to look for this on the Internet then you probably shouldn’t be driving, so it’s a trick question.

everybody is stupid
Yes.

INCONSIDERATE CO-WORKERS WITH LOUD RADIO
Buy earplugs. Otherwise you’re the inconsiderate co-worker who forces everyone to work without some music. Or, option two, find some music you like, and play it even louder. Or at least closer. Headphones work too.

friend loaned me their car i was arrested car was impounded how do i get a car out of impound
It’s the friend’s car. I’m afraid the friend will have to go to take it out of impound. Sorry, but if you hope to keep this a secret from your friend, well, life’s hard. On the bright side, maybe this will teach your friend that he, or she, needs a better taste in friends.

why eyelid flickers naturally
Normally for two reasons. The first is that it helps to keep the eye clean, and the second is that it keeps the eye moist. All important if you want to avoid serious eye damage.

LAPD recruit drug usage limit
I’m not sure, but I expect and hope that they put the limit at no usage at all. Yeah, bummer, I know. Looks like you won’t be accepted.

private viewing disqualifies my security clearance
Well, next time when you’re having a security clearance try not to view your privates in public.

what disqualifies you for a security clearance?
Private viewing, apparently. Possibly also drug-usage. Working for the other side is also a good disqualifier. Asking stupid questions usually doesn’t, though, so you may be in the clear.

“long hair” intelligence
Sorry, but so far there is no research indicating a relationship between intelligence and length of hair. Apart from the fact that subjectively many people feel pretty stupid when their hair is so long it drags on the floor and collects dirt, anyway. If you’re a bible reader, though, there is at least one anecdotal reference to a correlation between hair length and strength. But personally I believe muscles are a better indicator for that.

pregnant belly how they look like
Have you seriously never seen a pregnant woman before in your life? Seriously??

what does the acronym lol mean in webmail
I’m still Laughing Out Loud thinking about you getting an email with this and not understanding.

is it illegal to have homework in the summer?
No.

aria words
Your best bet would be to search in the Aria Database. They don’t have everything, but they do have quite a lot.

fully clothed porn links
Someone looking for porn with fully-clothed people… A little unclear on the concept.

REPUBLIC OF cHINA 2005+hotmail address
ways of making legistimate money on the internet
free emailer equipped bcc without any one notice another
+1 “email address of BUSINESS MEN”
Just three of these came from addresses in Nigeria. But we all know what they really want to do, right?

“how to send spam”
This came from Poland. At least they’re honest.

sure fire way to make my money grow
Sorry, dude. If I had one I would have used it myself. But a good one is to study hard, and then work hard. You don’t need me to tell you this, though.

how to annoy people online at aim with aim bots
You don’t have to annoy people with AIM bots. The AIM bots annoy people all by themselves.

I speak Hebrew/Latin to God, English to my friends, Italian to the ladies, Spanish to my maid, and German to my car
So Google is your friend, I take it, since you speak to it in English. Well, let me tell you, you’d get better results out of this friend if you’ll speak to it in a Language it can understand. For example, if you’re looking for a quotation, put the phrase in double-quotes. That will help immensely. Oh, yes, and speak to your therapist about speaking to your car, you need help.

quotes for idiots
quotes for idiotism
I have two right here.

marry is a lesbo
Thanks for sharing. And I was so looking to that date…

perfect women
You won’t find her on the Internet, you dork. You’re looking in the wrong place.

israeli salary in ILS
See, the surprising thing about Israel is that we have this really crazy economic system. Which includes some totally insane stuff like paying different salaries for different jobs in different places. Seriously. Not all Israelis earn the same. Amazing, eh?

killing cockroaches freezing
That will work. But if you already have the cockroach in a box, or a bag, it would be faster and easier to just squish it instead of putting it in the freezer. And there are some more hi-tech alternatives coming soon.

dark chocolate dangers
It tastes good. Which is a very dangerous thing if you’re trying to keep a diet.

secret phone code
The code is… No, wait, sorry, I can’t tell you. It’s a secret.

causes for 2005 minivan engine not to start “after frontal collision”
This is just a wild guess, but I think the reason the engine doesn’t start has something to do with it being smashed in a frontal collision.

Accidental Insulin sprayed in eyes
How did you manage to do THAT? I’m totally flummoxed. Insulin doesn’t come in anything that accidentally sprays. You’ll have to put it into a syringe, and drip it into your eyes on purpose. Which is totally pointless since it doesn’t do much of anything like that. I think the most important thing for you will be to try injecting your insulin when you’re not totally stoned, OK?

unhealthy for eyes to wear sunglasses all the time
No, it isn’t. Not unless you get actual glass lenses, stretch that “all the time” to include when sleeping, and then manage to roll over and break the glass into your eyes. But apart from that you’re perfectly safe as long as the sunglasses are halfway decent. Oh, yes, and as long as it’s not so dark that with the sunglasses you’re blind, because that can cause accidents too.

besides drinking “red bull” other uses include
Funny, I never figured this stuff to be drinkable. You’re way ahead of me in uses of it already, can’t help you, sorry.

The totally inept handling of spamming blogs by Blogspot (Blogger)

June 1st, 2006

Almost two weeks ago this blog received copious amounts of trackback spam. In two waves. The first included links to a wide selection of sites claiming to offer insurance. The second one was of identical trackbacks, all pointing to the same address, a site touting and extolling the virtues of the drug Phentermine.

And it wasn’t a stand-alone site, it was a Blogspot/Blogger blog. Not really surprising, at that. As a major service offering easy to use free blogs for anyone, quite a lot of spammers are using them to create fake blogs.

They’re aware of that, of course. They make it harder to automatic program to create a blog, as a way to reduce the amount of these splogs. But a real spammer can still manually create a new Blogspot blog, and use it as a fake page directing to a site selling the stuff.

Which was the state when I decided to take a peek at the site. A blog with one post, going on and on about the alleged amazing virtues of this drug.

They put very little thought into creating this blog, and everything was at the default settings. So comments were allowed. Three of them existed at the time, by three different people yelling at the blog owner to stop spamming them.

I was not the only target, it seemed.

Blogspot also adds a button to each blog, allowing readers to flag it as containing “objectionable” content. Which doesn’t really apply in this case, since what bothered me was the spamming context, and not so much the content itself. The content was also junk, but flagging it doesn’t have room for comments, so no way to tell anyone about the spamming.

But everyone has an abuse team. Blogspot/Blogger must have too, so I figured I’ll go looking. They have usage policy, and they mention not liking these sort of things. But no obvious email address.

I tried to just send to an abuse email address. Most companies and services have them, user abuse at the domain . Well, Blogger doesn’t. They never thought anyone would be interested in reporting to them things like spam and abuse, it would seem. I tried, the message bounced.

Until I got the bounce notification a day has passed. So I decided to check back the site, to see if maybe they got the hint already by some other means, and I can stop. No such luck, it was still alive and well. The spammer erased the complaining comments, though, and blocked comments on the blog. Big surprise.

I still needed to report them. so I went back to the Blogger site to dig deeper. The main Blogger page has a link to their help section.

The help section actually contains this encouraging phrase:

If you can’t find what you need here, try asking the Blogger Help Group, or send an email to the Blogger support team and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can

I won’t ask the help group, since it’s not their job, and since that requires registration. I’m not about to register to a service just so I can do them a favour and reported someone abusing them.

I’d have been happy for the email to the support team. But no email address provided. I could have guessed that it’s support at blogger dot com. But after the abuse guess didn’t work, I decided not to waste my time with more wild guesses.

The help page did have a link to a TOS page. which is usually good, since they should provide a way to contact them to report abuse of said terms. Except that this page only had one thing to say regarding contacting them:

17. VIOLATIONS Please report any violations of the TOS via the Blogger Support home page.

With a link back to the general help page. The help page that doesn’t provide any obvious means of contact.

There’s nothing there like “Contact Us”, or an indication of what to do if you have an issue not covered in the displayed list.

Time for some creative thinking. What topics can raise issues that they didn’t think to already include in the help, and are important enough that they’ll have to provide some way for people to pose questions?

User login. People have to use the service. So I went there.

And there it was. One of the discussed problems was what to do if someone subscribed with an email address they’re no longer using, and forgot their password. And there’s a link to a form to report the problem.

Not at all an obvious connection, but it’s there.

This goes to a page asking for a Blogger login. Hmm… Again, I’ve no intention of joining and creating an account just so I could complain. But, and luckily there’s a but, there is a link for “Skip authentication”. Sounds promising.

This goes to another page. Now I had to choose between wanting to ask a question, and wanting to submit a feature request or suggestion. I wanted neither.

The correct answer, though, if anyone wonders, is wanting to ask a question. That goes to a help page, with a form, allowing to submit questions, and report TOS violations.

There’s another way to get there, BTW, besides looking for that login problem I found. For all the actual help topics, once you get to a specific topic, and not looking at an index or list of problems, the sidebar changes. And the bottom of it contains an “Ask Blogger” area, that links to the same place I got to from that post.

The top parts of the sidebar looks exactly the same, though, containing the same information. So it’s very hard to notice that something changed in a useful way down there at the bottom.

Not only that, but there’s one topic that doesn’t have the sidebar. The TOS page. This has a lot of text, so they present it in an extra-wide column, and they removed the sidebar to make room.

Normally, for the problem I was having, the need to report an abuse, this is the only topic anyone would have a reason to suspect has a connection to what they need. Stripping that link from the page, and even having a topic in it pointing elsewhere, that’s terribly inconsiderate and misleading.

Complex, and confusing.

But finally I did get there. So I sent them a notice (the copies here are stripped of the links, email addresses, and names):

Hi,

I have a blog which yesterday started to receive a large amount of
trackback spam with the links pointing towards
****.

Judging by a few angry comments already posted there, I’m not the only one
being spammed with this link as the address… Though checking again today
the angry comments were erased.

Please close that site and do whatever you can to stop that behaviour.

BTW, getting to this form to report problem is not trivial and there isn’t
an obvious way to get to it. You have to make contacting you easier.
Yesterday I instead opted to try sending an email to ****,
but now got back a bounce from it… Try to either have an email address
for reporting such problems, or have a clear contact link from the main
page, instead of having to go to the help section and through several
other screens.

Best regards

Seems clear enough.

I quickly got back an automatic reply:

Hi there,

Thanks for contacting Blogger Support. We will review your message and
respond as soon as possible. Thanks for your patience.

Sincerely,
Blogger Support

It turned out that as soon as possible was about three days. Yes, they’re that fast.

And this is what they had to say:

Hello,

Thank you for writing in regarding content on
****. Upon review of this blog, it appears that
the content in question has already been removed.

Please let us know if we can further assist you.

Sincerely,
The Blogger Team

Well, that’s good news. Except it wasn’t. Because the site’s content hasn’t been removed, just changed.

It existed, the splog in question wasn’t closed.

The spammer just changed tactics, adding to the page a JavaScript code that redirected anyone coming to the page into another site, dedicated for selling the junk. Going to the splog with JavaScript enabled resulted in getting to the spammer’s sales site. Going to the splog without JavaScript showed the splog with a much shorter post still talking about Phentermine.

There is no option at all to get to the splog site and get the impression that it was removed. None. This can only happen by not bothering to check it at all.

At least they signed it with sincerity. I was not impressed.

I sent a reply, doing their job for them:

Removed??

Changed, yes. Removed, no.

It’s still a blogspot/blogger blog, except that the main page contains a
javascript which redirects to a new site
*** , selling the same drug
that the original spam blog sold.

This is the script from within that blogspot page:

<script type="text/javascript"
src="http://www.blogger.com/js/cookies.common.js";;>
</script></head><script language="JavaScript">
var a1='win', a2='dow.', a3='loca', a4='tion.', a5='replace',
a6='("****";;)';
var i,str="";
for(i=1;i<=6;i++)
{
str += eval("a"+i);
}
eval(str);
</script>

This is a cute little script, by the way. Nothing amazing, but enough to bypass whatever attempts Blogger/Blogspot have to prevent users from sticking such address changing mechanisms into their pages.

This, I assumed, should be enough to catch someone’s attention, and have them do something about it.

Wrong assumption.

It has been quite a few days, and I got annoyed again and decided to check what is going on with that. I forwarded them the last message again, adding:

I didn’t get any reply from you on that one, but the blogspot subdomain is
still there, still active, though now redirects to another site selling
the same pill.

It’s over a week now that you’re hosting this spammer.

And I did get a reply this time. Wait, this may seem familiar to you:

Hello,

Thank you for writing in regarding content on
****. Upon review of this blog, it appears that
the content in question has already been removed.

Please let us know if we can further assist you.

Sincerely,
The Blogger Team

Yep, the exact same canned response as before.

Anyone else getting the feeling that they’re not as sincere as they claim to be, and that the review of the blog didn’t really occur?

I sent this in reply:

The content has not been removed, and this is the exact same response you gave my original message, when the content has not been removed either.

I didn’t get anything back.

And the site was still there. Taking a better look at it (with JavaScript disabled, to avoid the redirection) I saw that the person created it made a few additional blogs with the same user. Two of which redirected (using the same trick) to online casino sites, and one which now is just an empty blog doing noting.

So I decided to once again forward it to them with additional comments:

Hi,

I took another look at the site, and it’s still there. There’s a javascript that automatically redirects to an external site selling the junk.

Loading the site with javascript disabled I was able to get it to show, now having nothing but a small placeholder post (the original longer post was erased). But looking at the blogger profile shows a total of four sites from the same author, one which is currently pointless, and two more which have the same automatic-redirection javascript, for casino sites ( **** and **** ).

I’m pretty sure that this is not a valid use of a blogspot blog as per your policies. Especially considering that these “blogs” were also there as the link source for a massive distributed trackback spam attack all over, but even just as they are now.

Please remove these, and if possible try to follow up on the people responsible, instead of just keeping this junk alive while sending me a message telling me that the content has been removed while it’s still there…

Thank you,
Yaron.

No response back from them yet. And the splogs are still there.

I really must remind myself not to attribute to malice anything which can be attributed to incompetency. But they must have some very incompetent people over there at Blogger support for this…

Context counts, even in spam blocking

March 15th, 2006

Different kinds of spam, while all being spam, are still different. As such, tools useful in limiting one kind are often not at all appropriate for another.

And lately one of those right tools for the wrong job is becoming very popular. In this case the DSBL list of open SMTP relays.

Open SMTP relays are basically mail servers set so that anyone could connect to them and send email messages through them. There’s nothing wrong with having a mail relay, but there is a problem with them being totally open an unauthenticated. They’re very popular with spammers, because the spam senders can connect to these relays and send their spam messages through them, instead of directly from their own computers.

Which is why things like the DSBL list exists. Mail servers can choose to check all incoming messages against the list, and if an incoming message came from one of those known open relays, they can treat the message as probably being spam. It won’t always be spam, but there’s good enough a chance that the false positive ratio isn’t too big.

The problem starts when people try to use the exact same list to decide if comments on blogs are spam. There is no real connection between the two. Blog comments are not sent as email messages, and do not transfer through those mail relays. And many of these relays are not intentionally so, but are rather just badly configured. Blocking email from them is legitimate, because they’re open to abuse. But blocking blog comments from them isn’t, because nothing on them indicate that they’re used by comment spammers instead of real people.

My problem isn’t with the concept of checking against problematical lists. There are alternative lists like the Blitzed DNSBL which are based on open proxy servers. Proxy servers are ones which allow to transfer through them regular web access methods, such as the ways used to post comments to blogs. And comment spammer do use these.

It’s just that more and more people are blocking against the wrong kind of list. They’re protecting themselves against the wrong kind of spam. Meaning that large majority of the addresses they block will be false positives. And that’s a bad ratio.

This is becoming a larger problem because it becomes easier to use. Many of the popular blogging platforms have plug-ins to fight spam. And a few, which are increasing in popularity, allow to check the IP address of the comment poster against such lists. And the DSBL list often comes on by default, for reasons I can’t quite grasp.

Pointless, and irrelevant. Fighting spam is good, but people should do it properly, not with the wrong methods. People sometimes don’t notice this, though, because these lists are often combined, including both mail relays, and some proxies. Which mean they may sometimes also block what people think they will. But using just a combined list is too blunt an instrument. It’s akin to blocking all English speaking people because there are spammers in the US.

Another thing which complicates using such lists, and blocking based on computers’ IP addresses in general, is dynamic addresses. Many internet users receive a dynamic IP address from their ISP whenever they connect to the internet. This means that when they disconnect, and then reconnect, they get a different address. And the previous address gets back into the pool of addresses, to be given to a different user.

If someone has a badly configured server on a home computer with a dynamic address, and it manages to get into such a list, that will not prevent them from sending spam (whether email, comment, or other kind), but will block other users of the same ISP instead.

The reason for this rant is, well, that this happened to me. More than once. I was blocked a few times posting to different blogs, because my IP address, my dynamic IP address that I possibly never used before that day, was included on the DSBL as an open mail relay.

And they were added to the list over either a single incident, or two incidents, which occurred no later than 2004. Someone had a server that allowed people to send mail messages, and because of that I was blocked years later from posting comments on a blog.

The first time this happened I thought it was a non-issue. But it’s becoming one very fast.

Yes, any form of automatically detecting spam will have false positives. But that’s not a reason to go with forms who will only happen to have non-false positive by pure luck. There are other ways to fight spam than methods who will interfere with legitimate users more than they will interfere with spammers

Referrer log roundup, the fourth

July 11th, 2005

Yes, it’s time for yet another post of some quality phrases people typed into search engines, which by some odd search-engine logic decided to turn them in the direction of this blog. Remember, folks, any of these underlined lines was actually typed into a search engine by a real person. Then followed by my own incredibly helpful and witty commentary. Heck, it’s always amazing to see what people are searching for on the Internet.

sex fully clothed
I suppose it’s technically possible (depending on how strict you are with “fully”), but, er… why?

free porn the cost nothing
There’s plenty of free porn on the Internet, but to expect it to also cost nothing is too much.

simple explanation why computers do not translate better from language to language
Computers do not understand context. Actually, computer translation programs do not understand, period. The programs can check words, and common phrases against a dictionary. They can do all sorts of wonderful calculations to try and estimate what is the meaning of the sentence, and which of many possible translations of each word is correct. But they can’t do it right. Language is too complex for anyone nowadays to be able to fully describe by a set of algorithms. Not to mention two languages.

let my daughter drive
Ha! Like I’m going to trust your daughter with a ton and a half of metal at high speed… I don’t think so.

bad things about north korea
You should be ashamed of yourself. If you go to the Internet to look up stuff about North Korea, at least start impartial and give them a chance. Yes, you’ll find plenty of bad things, don’t worry about that for a second. But why start with a negative attitude?

email addressbook of all google users
Those things are actually not published. A shame, I know, but there is a good reason for it. If there was a page with the email addresses of all Google users, then bad and evil spammers (not that there is any other kind of spammers) will use those address and send them spam.

how to send spam to yahoo inbox not bulk
For example, like this person here, who probably found email addresses of some Yahoo users instead. Listen, creep, your spam should go to the bulk folder. Actually, your spam shouldn’t go anywhere. You should stop sending spam. Seriously. If it’s hard for you to live without sending spam, well, that can be solved as well.

oversexed civilization
I wonder how Star Trek would have looked like if someone had made this slight change to the the opening text: “to explore strange new worlds. To seek out new life and new oversexed civilizations. To boldly go where no man has gone before.”

alcohol and its effect on mexicans
At first it makes them slightly happy, and slightly reduces inhibitions. Then it make them lose coordination, inhibitions, and several levels of intelligent. Add even more alcohol, and they may puke, and lose consciousness, not necessarily in that order. Proceed for a long duration of time, and liver disease may get into the fray as well. One thing, though, that works pretty much the same even for non Mexicans. Seriously.

scientific soap operas damage brain
That may very well be true. Certainly the thought of anyone making a scientific soap opera boggles the mind. Still, you may remain calm, there are no scientific soap operas airing these days. Nor will there be in the future, trust me on that.

round flat shoelaces conspiracy
Never ascribe to malice what can be explained by simple corporate stupidity. They are not out to get you. They are just out to get a quick buck, and are doing it badly.

idiotic research
It sure is.

us visa till 2010 but in cancelled passport
If you mean expired passport, that’s no problem. You just need to take with you both the new passport, and the passport with the visa. The official attitude is that “If you have a valid visa, simply carry the old passport with the valid visa on it with the new passport and present both passports at the port of entry to the US. Your length of stay will be limited by a validity of your passport.” If the passport was really cancelled, because your country doesn’t want to let you out, well, that’s a whole different ballgame, and I can’t help you there. Though, for a certain reasonable fee, I’m sure something could be arranged…

afraid to hang out with friends
Get new friends. Better yet, go check the dictionary definition of friend, it may enlighten you a bit.

cars made out of ordinary things
Maybe this guy could help, I certainly can’t.

No bulk folder appears on yahoo mail
That’s a bad interface design on their part. When you open a new mailbox, the Bulk folder doesn’t show up until there is an actual message caught that should be delivered to the Bulk folder. Then the folder is created, and stays put. It’s confusing, inconsistent, annoying, and took me some time to figure out myself at firs. But have no fear, many kind spammers are doing their best to make sure that the Bulk folder will be created for you as soon as possible.

siht of the witches
I’m afraid all the witches I asked have adamantly refused to tell me anything about their siht. Must be a trade secret or something.

shania twain’s hard nipples
Sorry, I like her for her voice, not her body. And, please, the women is married, let it go man, let it go.

Is it legal to keep strippers boyfriend from entering club
Depends. Some places give clubs full discretion as to which clients to admit. But business is business, so I don’t think that being a boyfriend of one of the exhibits is a good reason. After all, if the guy is willing to pay to see what he can see for free at home, that’s his problem, and the club’s benefit. On the other hand, there’s nothing illegal about making bad business decisions. On the other hand, other places forbid clubs from barring entry to anyone, and that would include the boyfriend. Check the relevant laws and regulation where the club is.

politically correct language of air crash
That’s a very touch one. I’ll try Avionically Challenged. Or, if you want a longer version, maybe something like consummate failure to maintain separation between airplane chasis and geographical terrain.

today is my birthday on 24th june i want what will happen this year in my life i want the details by astrologers
Thank you for providing all the details. I’m sure the search engine really appreciated it. One detail of your life I can already provide you with is that you didn’t find any relevant topic, because the poor search engine had to match too many irrelevant words. But that’s beside the point. Happy birthday! Now, since you’re a grown up, it’s about time to teach you something about life and the universe you live in. Consider this educational tidbit to be my birthday present to you. Here goes: Nobody, not even astrologers, not even vedic astrologers, not even vedic astrologer with a Ph.D. in vedic astrology from a science dept. in an Indian university, can predict the future. Especially not in details. Sorry.

Comment spam, SMTP relays, and chanuka/Hanukkah

June 8th, 2005

A couple of days ago I was going over some blogs I read, and came on this post by David Weinberger which actually touched on a subject I apparently know much better than him, the Hebrew language. Specifically, a mention he made about the word “chanuka” in Hebrew.

He got it pretty wrong by deciding it means lighten-up, and his first commenter got it mildly wrong by saying it means dedication. The term is more like the “warming” part of “housewarming”, the first acknowledged usage of something new (or at least the time when the usage is declared/acknowledged). It applies to new houses, and public buildings and parks, but also to things like cars, television systems, or even wines. Or, on a different meaning, it is chocked, when related to a female (Hebrew verbs take different forms for each of the two male/female genders).

Of course, the holiday Hanukkah is based on the same word, so it’s also possible the entire thing is moot, since I don’t know if “chanuka” in Swahili has a similar sound or not. Just being similarly written is quite meaningless, considering that I know the Hebrew word, at least, doesn’t really sound like an English speaker will tend to pronounce it.

So I decided to be a good little Hebrew speaker, and leave a comment on his blog post.

And couldn’t. I was caught by an overzealous anti-comment-spam device, which is even not suitable to serve against comment spam.

A little aside to the few readers who don’t know what comment spam is. You all know what email spam is, right? Incoming messages you never requested, trying to convince you to do stuff, or buy stuff, that you don’t need. Well, blog posts often have the possibility to leave comments on them. So it was only a matter of time until spammers jumped on the bandwagon, and made automatic bots (computer programs that can do many of repetitive tasks, like sending an email, or filling a form on a web page, quickly) that will leave comments which are not relevant to the post, but contain links to their sites. Often these involve porn, and card games, but the variety is as large as on the email spam.

Meaning that many measures are now tried and used in order to keep comments in blogs free of these comment spam messages. Some more elaborate, some simple. The method I use here is a very simple one, requiring anyone writing a comment to fill in an extra field. This works because those bots are automated to work against the basic and common ways comments work, and do not (yet) try too hard to go around variations.

There are many other methods, but Weinberger decided, IMNSHO, to be too smart for his own good. He tied the comment posting to a system that checks the comment poster’s IP address (The unique Internet address of the computer) against a central database, with a list of bad address used as open SMTP relays.

Another aside, about open SMTP relays. SMTP is basically the communication protocol used to send email messages. So mail servers send messages using SMTP. Spammers (the email spammers this time, not comment spammers) don’t want to use their own mail server, because then it would be easy to block their messages, and so they look for email servers which are open relays. Being an open relay mean that this mail server will accept a message from anyone, without any verification and authentication, and send it onward. This is a bad problem in the age of spammers, and email server operators are encouraged to configure their email servers not to do that.

One of the things that happened is that there are several central repositories, like the Distributed Sender Blackhole List, which contain IP addresses of mail servers which are suspected of being badly behaved in that regard. This allow other mail servers to check every incoming mail message they receive against that list, and refuse to receive messages from the suspected servers, since those message may very well be spam.

This of course has very little to do with comment spam, since those mail servers are usually not the same computers used by comment spammers to run their bots. So telling me that my own computer’s IP address is on the list, and that therefore I cannot leave a comment, is irrelevant here. Had I been trying to directly send an email messages, that would have been a different matter, but I didn’t.

There is of course another problem there, that my personal computer’s address was on the list. This is because we get from our ISP a dynamic address, meaning that it changes from time to time, and goes to other users while we get a different one from the pool. It’s possible to get a static address, but this costs more, and isn’t necessary unless you are running a server that people on the outside need to be always able to find. Or simply put, the address was blocked because someone else on the past (They had one incident, logged at February 2004) sent an email message he shouldn’t have…

Overall, like I said, a very real problem, but a very wrong solution. I sent him an email message about this, but due to his big problem of comment spam (his blog is high profile, so a very popular target) he feels that using this is justified. He was nice about it, and offered to go and take my address of the list himself. But I can talk to dsbl myself if I want to. And I don’t want to. Both because this is a dynamic address, and because it’s a non-issue. Apart from his blog this only prevents me from running my own mail server. I have no intention of running my own mail server in the foreseeable future, though. So I declined the offer, explained my position again, and that was that.

Spam vs. SPAM

June 8th, 2005

Nobody much cares about the proper way to write the term spam, and the actual relation between all those pesky spam messages and the food SPAM. Except of course for SPAM maker Hormel, which after a few lawsuits gave up and also decided to take it easier, requesting only that SPAM will be capitalized appropriately. Those pesky messages should be referred to in lower-case – spam, and their food in upper-case – SPAM.

And like I said, nobody pays too much attention, with people mostly writing it in whichever way strikes their fancy.

Today I noticed a blog post, about some unrelated joke, in which the author mentioned both kinds of spam/SPAM. He decided to be nice and civilized, which is very nice considering that like I said nobody much bothers these days, and to take the extra step of writing them differently.

And then went straight ahead to capitalize them all wrong, with SPAM (food) written as spam, and spam (messages) written as SPAM.

I’d have left a comment, but there is only so much you can do with blogs that require registration in order to leave one, and don’t even provide an email address.

Strange indeed

June 6th, 2005

To each their own definition of strange, I suppose. And those definitions often don’t match at all.

One of the things I would consider strange is if a department, inside a company, would decide to start a blog for the purpose of internal department communication, as a sort of group messageboard. Well, it may not sounds incredibly strange presented like that, since group blogs are indeed a way for several people to communicate at the same place. Right?

But what if it’s not a small company, but a department inside a very large company? And what if the blog isn’t private, but public? What if it’s even run inside an external free blog hosting platform like Blogger, and not by the company? What if this mean that the department using it in fact does everything where everyone can see them, and where they have no control over the infrastructure, despite coming from an organization that can certainly afford to hold their own collaboration severs and infrastructure? Ah, now it becomes a bit strange, does it not?

Even more strange, that working like that for about three weeks, this marketing R&D department of Masterfoods USA, among several posts on their blog about their own activities, and several links to outside reports about their company in the media, has just one outbound link to what is an unrelated post on a personal blog. Linking, in fact, to the third of my posts where I go through interesting referrer lines in my log files, because they think that it’s strange.

Strange, right? Even very strange. Left me quite mystified for a while there. I must admit that originally when seeing the post subject of “Dave, this is strange”, it had a very strong flavour of 2001: A Space Odyssey. If the poster had been named Hal, instead of John, I would have been sure I was being had by someone.

Until it hit me, these people probably think all these blog things are a nifty and cool new idea, or something like that, but don’t really get everything involved. It is for example quite possible that they think their Blogger account is private just because they selected not to publish it to search engines, or something of the sort. They won’t be the first, but then again the other cases I encountered were people who did not have a company IT department to consult with.

And with little understanding of web related issues, they may not know what I meant by speaking about a referrer log. In which case I must agree that that post would seem very strange indeed. And of course the reason they hit mine, instead of the myriad other people who cover their own interested referrers caught in their log files, is that this post of mine mentioned something that got caught in a search they ran.

This group is obviously someplace related to their Mars chocolate department, so they may have got there by searching for Mars, or maybe for Cocoavia. And had an understandably hard time understanding my odd sense of humour in a bunch of seemingly unrelated topics.

Well, John and Dave, if you get to this post as well, here’s a short explanation about referrers. When you click on a link inside a web page, your web browser (That’s the program used to see web pages, Internet Explorer in your case, I’d expect) goes and fetches that new page to show you. So far so good, right? Well, when it does that, the request that goes to the new website, asking for the page on the link, also contains other information besides the link you request. One of these bits of information is the page that you are coming from, where the link exists. This is passed in what is called a referrer header of the request.

And what is that good for, why do people check these? It’s interesting to know where and how people got to your page. So many websites, including lone blog operators (and your own website admin in the company, if they talk to Marketing, and have a clue), tend to go over their server logs, or other statistic providers they use, and see things like what pages people wanted to see, and what was the referrer. That is how I got to your blog, because someone (Dave?) clicked the link there to get here, and so your blog came as referrer.

The main use for that is the search engines. When people run a search in a search engine, the keywords searched are listed in the result page URI, which is then passed as referrer. And it’s interesting to see what did people searched for to get to your page. And this is what these referrer log roundups of mine, and many others, cover. All the highlighted lines there are what people actually went and searched for on places like Google or Yahoo search.

I hope that helped. It’s certainly been a strange experience all around.

Referrer log roundup, the third

May 5th, 2005

Yep, it’s time for another review of some of the more interesting search terms people have used in order to get here, of all places. Overall, it’s amazing what people search for on the Internet, and even more amazing what search engines think they’ll find here:

does yahoo lie about your account
Of course they do, all the time. But they call it Marketing, or Public Relations, so it’s alright

vodka
Try your cupboard dear. Or, since you came looking for Vodka on the Internet instead, try looking inside your stomach, I bet the content of the two empty bottles laying on the floor next to you is right there.

sex relation with aunty
Yes, we have a repeat offender. I keep telling them that this is the wrong place, and yet they still come. First someone wanted aunty to show her private parts, now they want sex… Now, I’m not saying it’s actually correlated, or actually means anything, but this one came all the way from Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates. Just saying.

husband fails polygraph test miserably
That doesn’t mean anything. Polygraphs are notoriously unreliable and meaningless. Then again, maybe he did have sex with that women.

catherine kwik-uribe mars phone
I was trying to figure out what Kwik-uribe means in Martian, and if Catherine is ET wanting to phone home… But then I recalled that chocolate company called Mars, with a Catherine kwik-uribe working for them. What a let-down. Although the same one got hits on the other chocolate company mentioned there, namely complaint on Cocoavia, and target customer cocoavia.

go naked at home
Sure. Feel free. Unless you live in Mexico, you can wear whatever you want at home.

hotmail gives israelis 2mb
Yes, that’s completely true. But stop taking things so personal, they only give 2MB mailboxes to everyone who isn’t from the US (or Puerto Rico). I tell you, those Israelis are a touchy lot…

mean bulk folder
Someone went looking for a mean bulk folder. We know it’s not a spammer, since they usually try to avoid them.

Time to tell Yahoo! what you think
I agree. Go right ahead and do it! What are you hanging around here for?

very scary ordinary
And look, it even rhymes!

free porn nothing needed
I wonder if this was a comment about how nothing else is needed if you have free porn, or a complaint by someone looking for free porn, finding nothing, and saying it’s needed.

“nature magazine” subscription id crack
People looking for serial numbers and cracks for games, and other computer programs, I’ve seen. Happen a lot. Why pay for software you can copy, after all, right? But here we have someone looking for a crack for a subscription ID for a magazine… That’s new.

odd comparison
Indeed.

ask jeeves different eye surgeries procedures
I only have one thing to say about that one, the search was made on Yahoo, not on Ask Jeeves.

That’s it for this time. The rest weren’t nearly as entertaining…

Bloglines search problem

April 26th, 2005

Well, I think it’s fresh news. Tried to run a search on some feeds in Bloglines, and got back the following:

There is a problem with the database. Please try again later

This happens both when searching only on the feeds I’m subscribed to, and when running a general search. I do hope they’ll sort it out soon, they provide an excellent service, and it’s a pity that they have such problems.

Good luck on sorting it out.

Crediting inbound permanent links

April 18th, 2005

A few days ago I noticed an incoming link from Evan Schaeffer, who runs the Notes from the (Legal) Underground blog. He seems like a nice person, despite being a lawyer, and very often manages to be interesting, funny, and entertaining.

Before I start, thanks, Evan. Seriously.

Now let’s start. The incoming link wasn’t for a particular post here which he found
interesting, however, but as a round-up of other blogs that had a
permanent link to his own. Which got me thinking (ergo this post) about
the concept. Of course, I don’t really have this as a concrete problem,
since nobody has any permanent links to me on their blogrolls (yet?),
but that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t form an opinion.

On a side-note, he’s been on the blogroll here for months, and he has been doing these thank you posts for quite some time (this one is #16), so I’m not entirely sure why he got to me now. Not that it matters, either way.

What interests me is why is it interesting for him at all. Had he
been linking to me, that would have been interesting for me. My blog is
quite small, nobody knows about it, and I’m (happily) a very small fish
in the pond. And while he doesn’t quite run the most famous blog on the
planet, he’s much bigger and much more well known than me.  So
from my POV, a permanent link
there may mean something, as unexpected as it may be. But why should he
be interested enough in anyone linking to him? I’m tiny, I won’t get
him almost any hits, and we’re far enough apart in our areas (He has a
legal blog, I have a general mishmash sort of things) that it will
probably not even benefit any of his readers that may follow his post
to here. Linking to the small legal blogs I can somehow get, but not
quite me.

So this is a matter of policy, or principle, then. Acknowledging a
permanent link, because it’s proper, or something. Which I don’t quite
get from this angle as well. I’m not adding anyone to my blogroll in
order to be recognized, but because I think they’re interesting. That,
by itself, is really no reason for them to pay attention, or care, at
all. I don’t mind or anything, of course, quite the contrary, but it
doesn’t mean I agree with the rational behind it. Someone specifically
saying something about you, sure, pay attention, in the cases where
what’s said has some added value. But someone just thinking you’re
interesting? When it’s not a matter of the specific someone being a
somebody? Next thing you know, I’ll get mentioned by Volokh (had to pick at least another legal one, of course), Schneier, or Raymond Chen.

OK, enough with that, onward to the story. Yes, there’s a story.

See, I didn’t notice it in the first place because I was searching
for inbound links, or because I got a hit from there (Though that what
clued me to the exact source. I did get several hits through since, and
nobody seemed interested enough to be a returning customer, which just
strengthen my point). It’s because I got a hit from del.icio.us (note to self – try to add another post of del.icio.us and Furl
sometime in the near future, and put my links some place, just in case
someone may care for the things I find interesting, but not interesting
enough to post).

A hit from an on-line bookmark service (social, or otherwise) means
someone finds me interesting enough to keep the link. Since I’m quite
small and totally unread (sorry to my two regular readers), I do care.
At least, care enough to see if it’s easy to know who, and what else
they find interesting. So I went to take a look what else the
del.icio.us user called TES is interested in.

Lots of law-related blogs, it seemed, and I didn’t know how my own
blog came into it. What seemed odder was the cataloguing system. You
can assign various tags/keyword for stored links/bookmarks. And these
tags are supposed to be relevant to the site, and help you find it
later. But the tags there seemed too artificial, like someone was just
grouping links, by order. My first thought was that it was a very
clueless person, that totally missed the idea behind tags, and is just
trying to give sequential numbers as some peculiar way of keeping
order…

So I shrugged, and moved onward, only to later see two hits, from
the same address, one from the same del.icio.us user, and one from Notes from the (Legal) Underground. Aha.

Now, that way of saying I linked to you, by posting a link
and then following the link, is quite common. I don’t do this myself,
due to the same reason that often I don’t think whoever on the other
side would be interested, and in my case it feels like a cheap way of
pushing busy people take a look at my drivel. Sometimes I do, though,
but only if I think what I wrote is relevant, and if I can’t do
something like send a trackback (when it’s about a post, not a blog, of
course. Can’t trackback a blog). But it’s legitimate, and in this case
it certainly served it’s purpose.

Which just leaves me wondering, does TES stand for Thanks Evan
Schaeffer ?  Or a mistyped attempt at an initial TEST of
del.icio.us that got reused? Or something else?

OK, this is getting to be too much rambling even for me, so that’s it on this subject.

Referrer log roundup, the second

March 24th, 2005

Another month, another bunch of odd search queries that brought
people here instead of some place useful. Well, for some of them, I
doubt there is some place useful.

Still, let see if I can help, in case they’ll come back again. So what have people been searching?

how to increase hotmail mailbox size
Easy, move to Puerto Rico. Or to the US.
Then wait, and pretty quickly they’ll upgrade it to 250MB. And while we
don’t condone this behaviour, rumours have reached us that it’s possible
to lie to hotmail regarding your location. Or to put it differently,
maybe you can feel like you live in the US in spirit…

On the other hand, Go open an account on Gmail to get 1GB today, or
Yahoo! Mail, to get 250MB today, and be upgraded to 1GB pretty soon…

email address of business men in ghana 2005
I know
it’s sad, but there are quite a lot of business men in Ghana. Lots and
lots of them. And the most amazing thing is, they don’t all share the
same email address! No, seriously! Not in 2005, not before, and
probably not in the future.

download jag episodes
On some parts of the world
this may be of questionable legality. I really cannot recommend doing
it, well, not unless you want to see JAG and don’t happen to live where
it’s broadcasted.
Rumour has it that there is quite a difference
between looking for old JAG episodes, and getting brand new JAG
episodes. For the old ones, try eMule, and just search for the episode name and number. For the new ones, you’ll want BitTorrent (Azureus is a good client). Then go to one of the sites offering listings of new TV episodes, and get the torrent file.

chauvinist behaviour blog
Hey, I may not be an avid feminist, but let’s not go to far with it, OK? Wrong address!

teenagers-behaviour
That’s easy. Mad, crazy, and uncontrollable. Nothing to it.

workhours of population in egypt
Morning till dusk, like the rest of us?

some people think driving is fun
Yes, some people
do. I’m not one of them, but you’re right. If you want to search for
them, however, may I recommend leaving the computer, and getting on the
street?

math attention grabbers
How about:

Proof!!! 1+1=3 !!!!

That ought to grab some attention!

glasses contacts weaken vision conspiracy
It’s not really a conspiracy you know. It’s also not always true.

  • Up to the age of seven, anything that prevents you from seeing
    clearly can have terrible effects on your vision, since the brain is
    still learning to use the eyes. Put glasses, or contacts (for little
    kids?! Contacts?!) that you don’t need, and it will weaken your vision.
  • Reading glasses will weaken your near vision. It’s like wearing a
    cast. The glasses reduce strain from the muscles contracting the lens,
    the muscles will become weaker, and you’ll need a higher correction for
    your next glasses. On the other hand, if you can’t read without the
    glasses, it doesn’t really matter, does it? So not much of a conspiracy.
  • If you put contacts, and don’t clean them, or don’t take care of
    them and disinfect them, or let a foreign body come between the contact
    the and cornea without feeling it, you’ll damage the cornea, and maybe
    more. This will weaken your vision. But that’s not a conspiracy, that’s
    tissue damage. And you’ll only have yourself to blame, since you should
    have worn glasses instead of contacts.

legal issues of smoking
Too many of those to cover
here. For some obscure reason it’s perfectly legal to smoke cigarettes
on most countries. Go figure. Maybe the tobacco industry just has very
strong political clout.
Smoking in public places is forbidden in
many countries, but the definition of public varies, and most places
circumvent it by designating special smoking areas, and expecting the
smoke to stay in place just because it’s told to. The law for some
reason accept that an imaginary border line can stop smoke. Maybe
lawmakers were smoking something a bit stronger when coming up with
those things.
And recently there have been legal fights over the
ability to fire workers for smoking. For privately held companies, it’s
probably legal.
Beyond all that, I wouldn’t know why hurting yourself, and the innocent bystanders around you, should be legal.

mckennitt loreena oops greensleeves lyrics
Oops?! I mean, the rest of this search is fine, but "oops" ?! Seriously?

pirate in malacca trait
Sadly enough, there is a
trait for there being pirates in the Malacca straits. I don’t run the
Indonesian navy, so don’t blame me. I suppose this trait comes from
there being money in it. Make it too dangerous, and the trait will go
away.

bullying neighbours windows privacy
If you want
windows privacy, you don’t need to bully your neighbour, until they
avoid looking. There is a new patent, state-of-the-art, recently
imported from Japan, available in select electronics stores, called
curtains. Buy curtains, put behind the windows, and there you have it.
Windows privacy, and no need to bully the neighbours.

Referrer log roundup

February 24th, 2005

All sorts of people arrive through the search engines (Mostly Yahoo! and Google, with very few hits from MSN and AOL, and a negligible amount from Jeeves, if anyone is interested in the statistics) looking for various things.

Some, surprisingly enough, actually find them here, despite the
relative rarity of posts I have here. Some, on the other hand, do
not… These are the latest ones worth mentioning (Yes, this does mean
there are ones who are not, or at least not enough):

tsunma
I have a post dedicated to this, but so many people come looking for tsunma (why? why?), that I’ll mention it again. The word you are looking for is very probably tsunami.
Unless you’re Ms. Tsunma who is doing ego surfing, in which case I’m
sorry to tell you that I haven’t written anything about you so far, and
very probably won’t in the future. Nothing personal, quite the
opposite, I just don’t know you or anything about you at all.

rubber girl india
I considered adding her in here,
it was very tempting, but I decided I’m not flexible enough. You may
want to try in places located in, you know, India…

rockport shoelaces
Got a few of those. Another proof that those things are a problem. I even posted a link to a possible solution,
so I hope everyone found what they wanted. A pity they needed to find
it here instead of the official Rockport website, which doesn’t mention
any problem with their shoelaces.

aunty showing sex parts
Not around here she isn’t!
I
do have an aunt, but she isn’t featured on this blog, and she doesn’t
show her sex parts. Not to me anyway. And I’m very grateful for it, too.
Also,
may I recommend trying to find sex parts of someone who is not your
aunt? It would be a lot more legal in most places. Seriously.

underground hacks for security alarm keypads
And
I’m supposed to just publish those on an Internet-accessible weblog?!
Are you nuts?! The police have computers too, you know. Not that they
know what to do with them, but they might someday, and there’s no
reason to draw them here.
Now, for the right price, I may just be
able to arrange something. Contact me in private. If the price is right
enough, I may even not pass your message to the aforementioned police…

mozilla thunderbird not sent shut down started
Are
you talking about a computer running Windows? Well, sorry to disappoint
you, but all running applications are notified when you try to shut
down. Really. This does include Thunderbird
If your version of Thunderbird ignores the close notifications then you must be doing something wrong. Try upgrading to the latest version. It works. And I never had a problem with it on shutdowns.

goverment home based buiness
Government is not
a home-based business. Government tend to be quite large, and are
usually run from very large and sprawling complexes of office
buildings, not homes.
Unless you’re in a dictatorship, you can run those from home.
As a dictator, you can even allow yourself not to spell government and business properly, and none of your subjects will complain. That’s a big big plus for you.
On
the other hand, if you’re really looking to start your own government
home based business, in your own little country, you may start by
getting a country. The rest will just tend to follow. The economic
advisers, to help you run it like a good business, can come later.
Priorities are important.

yahoo desktop search hebrew support
That’s an easy one. Yahoo! desktop search no Hebrew support.

yahoo mail problem
I think this is too technical
for me, with too many details. Very hard to know which of them are
important and relevant to the problem you describe.

greensleeves lyrics lorena mckennitt
It’s Loreena
McKennitt, not Lorena. Spelling it right may make it much easier to
locate lyrics. Try it sometime. Otherwise you will only find lyric
sites that can’t spell authors names, and we can all guess how well
they will spell the lyrics themselves…
In any case, this isn’t her song. It’s an old song. Try to run a search for "lyrics greensleeves". You’ll find lots of results. Many of them good. Promise.

Yaron Davidson
Yep, people were searching for me, by my name. Two of them. Yippee!

     
  • Were they my old friends, deciding to see if one of their friends
    have a web presence (I only told two about this blog, one apparently
    doesn’t quite know what a blog is and so paid no attention, the other
    probably doesn’t have the time to come visit too much, not that I can
    blame them as it’s not that interesting here) ? Nope, none of those.
     
  • Were they random strangers looking for someone else by the same name? Nope.
     
  • Where they nice friendly people I met on-line who want to know some more about they guy they’re chatting with? Well, almost
    Of the large group of people who recently came to know me on a certain
    group/forum, the two that came here looking for me are exactly the two
    who apparently really didn’t like me. Not the curios ones, not the
    actively friendly ones (and of course not the silent masses). Only
    those I managed to pissed off.

Tells you something about people, no?
Here’s an added fact, then: Guess among the people of this group, who
did I went to do on-line searching for (before, and so independently of,
seeing those referrer logs) ? Yep, you guessed right… An interesting
psychological insight… People only take the time to look for info
about people who annoyed them, or people they think they annoyed. Where
everything is nice and cosy, we’re all (For the sake of this argument,
assume I’m human enough to be included under the "people" category)
content with leaving well enough alone… Lazy buggers the lot us.

TypePad and the rel=”nofollow” Attribute

January 24th, 2005

There’s a lot of noise and discussion
about the new rel="nofollow" attribute that can be now added to links
in order to prevent search engines from giving a higher rank to the
destination (a gross simplification, but it has been all said in other places).
The idea was to reduce the incentive for comment spam,
and most (All? Depends how big is big) big search engines and blogging
platforms embraced this in an incredibly short duration.

Only that, as with most things, the advantages come with some
disadvantages. Since this is a TypePad hosted blog, and all they said
was that they implemented it completely, I decided to ask them about
making it an option, and let their users decide.

The short version is that they say they made it effect all comments
on all posts on all TypePad blogs in roder to get a quick result (which is a bit odd, since it will
take time to achieve an effect. It doesn’t prevent anyone from making
comment spam, just gives them less of a reason to want to, in the long
term. But the sooner it’s done, the sooner the results, so alright), and will think about making it an option. They’re rather vague,
and don’t give a definite answer or time estimates.

I hope they’ll come to their senses soon and understand that control
should be with the blog writer, and that giving limited choice is not a
good idea. With the amount of comments I’m having here myself, this
isn’t a real problem here, but I still don’t like not having an option.
It’s certainly an argument for not staying with TypePad, though not a
compelling one for me at this time.

Here’s the whole correspondence.
First my original message. I
tried to be nice, and to ask a general question, since after all this
is rather new, and I wasn’t entirely sure what they’re doing, or not:

Hi.

I wanted to know if you plan to make the "nofollow" attribute on
comments links an option instead of compulsory, and if so then how soon?

Making in on by default for all user is alright, but making it an
automatic decision is not. As any quick look around the web, or even on
trackbacks to your own blog, will show, this idea has merit but also
some problems.

Installing some complex system that allows to choose which
comments/commenter/links will get the nofollow attribute, and which
won’t, is understandably complex and could take a lot of time and
effort. But at least making it a global yes/no choice of the user who
write/own each blog shouldn’t be a technical problem.

It’s true that the effect of the attribute is weaker if it’s not
globally adopted. But still, deciding for all your users to adopt it is
a bit harsh. Many people don’t yet seriously (if at all) suffer from
comment spam, and have comments, and commenter, that they would be
perfectly willing to reward with the minuscule addition to search
engine rankings.

If you did implement it as an option, I apologize. But I just went
through all the settings and configuration pages and did not find it. I
didn’t actually made any comment with a dummy link to check, but you
officially announced that you started implementing it for all users, so
it seems likely I can take you at your words on that. Even if the
announcement was premature, it didn’t come with a mention of an option,
so it’s still worth letting you know that at least some of your users
things you should…

Yaron.

Here’s the response I received:

Hi Yaron,

Thanks for taking the time to let us know your thoughts on this new
feature. We’ve turned it on for all accounts to get it working right
away against spammers. In the future, we will look at adding more
options for how this works, but we wanted to get this part of it
working to help protect our users who are getting a lot of spam.

We do block tens of thousands of comment spams a day for our users
that are hit by comment spammers. So from what I gather from our team,
this could help our users who are getting spam from commenters that are
trying to improve their page rank by posting seemingly legitimate
comments. The commenters of this type may realize that they are wasting
their time. Of course, there are a lot of variables going on here, and
I don’t know all of the issues that made our team decide to make this
change. These are just my observations so far!

Again, we appreciate your feedback, and look forward to adding more options to make all of our users happy!

Have a nice day,
Kristine

I find it odd that
the customer support rep claims to not quite be in the loop, and not
know what the development team is doing. Six Apart are not a a large
company that should have a sprawling bureaucracy…

I didn’t receive anything that describe their actual intents and
plans, so I figured it’s worth it to let them notice that they do have
users who care, and ask again about their future intentions.

hi, Kristine.

Of course this has a good chance of helping "users who are getting
spam from commenters that are trying to improve their page rank by
posting seemingly legitimate comments". There’s not much argument about
that. That’s the all purpose after all.

The problem is that it would to a similar extent hurt people who are
posting really legitimate comments, and removing some of the incentive
for them to spend their time. So less search ranking to people that
actually contribute, and less reason for them to make the investment of
commenting on blogs that use this new attribute.

I’m not saying it’s a bad idea. What I’m saying is that it should be
up to the blog owner to decide if they want links in their comments
deprecated or not.

Starting it on all your hosted blogs straight away as a sort of a
stopgap method is alright, but you really should provide users the
ability to turn it off for their blogs if they want to…

Thanks for your response,
Yaron.

This is their second response:

Hi Yaron,

Thanks for your feedback, we do appreciate you taking the time to
let us know what you are feeling on this new situation. We are letting
our team know that we do have users who would like this option – I know
that they are looking at some options surrounding this, but I don’t
have a timeline on that yet. For now, we just wanted to get this in
place, like you said, as a stopgap measure.

Thanks again,
Kristine

Very polite, not very informative. They do claim to look at the
issue, and that they’re not entirely settled. And admit that they are
aware users would like more control (Can I say "duh", or would it just
be childish?).

I don’t particularly I like the disconnect, or sure about the
reason. I assume they try not to commit to anything until they make up
their mind. But if that’s the case they should go out and say so. It should not take them that long to decide, after all what
I’m saying is that they need to provide an option, a measure and
mechanism of control, not that they need do drop the idea.

Still that’s what they have to say now, so I’ll just wait a while and see what, and hopefully not if, they actually do.

I sent a simple thanks for the response, and decided not to keep
pursuing the issue right away. I don’t have any point to raise that I didn’t already,
and that they’re not aware of. It doesn’t seem likely they want to
provide any further information, or make any commitments right now. So
keeping on it would just be badgering, which would be justified and for
a good cause, but not likely to be a good idea or to help any.

If nothing changes, I’ll try opening the issue again, a bit louder.
I would also have more information to point them towards and to quote,
to illustrate that they are indeed being (more than) a tad unreasonable.