Monday, August 30, 2010

Spammers, And The New Comment Moderation System

The new Blogger commenting system has been in place in many of our blogs for just over two weeks. Some bloggers, who moderate using the new system, have started to notice a marked decrease in spam, hitting our Published, and Awaiting Moderation, queues, as the filters are trained. Other bloggers, who do not moderate, are observing the opposite.
Since the new commenting system was started, my blog is getting twice as much spam as before.

Oddly enough, both results were predictable. As we identify spam comments, found both in our Awaiting Moderation and Published queues, we are helping to train the collaborative spam filters for everybody. This causes the first result, the decrease in spam.

However, the spammers will not go away without a fight. Nobody wants to return to their day job
Can I super-size your order?
once they have found the (current) path to easy riches as an Internet affiliate marketing consultant. So what to do?

The solution for some spammers is to work harder. Since not every blogger has elected to moderate comments, not every blog is using the new comment moderation system. Those blogs remaining, which are not moderated, are easy targets for the spammers. Just turn up the heat, and double the amount of spam to the blogs that are not moderated. Other spammers, not caring that they are being ignored by bloggers using the new system, will simply increase total traffic, everywhere. Besides attempting to post more spam to our blogs, spammers will spend time causing confusion in online forums.

If you do not moderate comments, you should expect that the spammers, seeing that your blog is a productive target, will double (maybe, quadruple) their attention to your blog. They have to make up their losses, somewhere. Conversely, if you do moderate, and as the filters are trained, you're not going to care that the amount of spam in your Spam folder has quadrupled. Out of sight, out of mind.

If you're like me, and you do surf the Spam folders when you're bored, you may even find comfort when looking there. Every new piece of spam, in the Spam folder today, represents the effort that you and others made, yesterday.

Moderate, or else.

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Monday, August 23, 2010

Opportunities Presented By The New Commenting System

Now that the new commenting system is a reality, many blogger are learning that the filters provided in the new system need training. Until the filters are trained, we will continue to see unwanted comments in our "Awaiting Moderation" folder.

Before the new system was provided, many of us who moderated comments may have gotten used to simply moderating when we had nothing else to do. We would let comments "awaiting moderation" pile up for days, before selecting and "Publishing" or "Rejecting" each one, in turn.

With the new system, what we decide may make a difference to someone else. If enough of us "vote" a given comment to be spam, other folks, later receiving the same comment, may see their version of the unwanted comment go straight to their "Spam" folder. That's how a heuristic moderation system should work. Conversely, other folks, promptly moderating their queue, may cause some of our unwanted comments, later received, to go straight into our "Spam" folder.

In other cases, some legitimate comments may be detected as spam by the classification process. You may want to check your Spam folder occasionally, and select "Not Spam" for those legitimate comments that are there. This should make the classification process more reliable for everybody.

The bottom line is that, the sooner we moderate and click "Spam", the sooner that other bloggers will see relief. And thus encouraged, other bloggers should do likewise.

The thing to remember is that the total amount of work done, by each of us, will be the same - however we moderate. Moderating 100 comments will take us the same amount of time - whether we moderate in batches of 100, once (and late) - or 10 comments, in 10 batches (and promptly). The difference is that the sooner we moderate, the sooner the filters should be trained.

Long term, the only people hurt by us moderating more often will be the spammers. And our readers will benefit, by seeing their comments, awaiting moderation, published sooner. This will make our comments more active, which will be good for all of us.

And that should make all of us (except the spammers) feel better.

Just remember, the new system is not optional. Everybody has to work together, to make it work.

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Sunday, August 22, 2010

Diagnose Blog Hijackings

Occasionally, content that we don't recognise may show up in our blogs. There are several different ways that the bad guys may have, in getting their unwanted contributions into our blogs.

If you read the latter article, don't find an explanation to your immediate problem there, and conclude that your blog has been hijacked, try not to panic. First, verify who has control of the blog in question. Go to Settings - Permissions, and examine the list of blog members. Do you recognise every administrator and author on the list?

If you have access to the Permissions list, and have the "Add Authors" button, you still have control of the blog. If so, the blog has not been hijacked. Now, you have to find out what has actually happened, and ensure that you retain control.

If you see an unknown administrator listed there, did you install an accessory improperly? If you see an unknown author, did an invited author maybe create a second account or invite a friend, without your permission? Can you trust all of your administrators?

Try to do better, in the future, with maintaining access to your blog. But doing better starts with first diagnosing what you did wrong.

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Saturday, August 21, 2010

Blog*Spot Connectivity In Jordan

A few bloggers in Jordan - apparently customers of the Orange ISP - are reporting inability to access Blog*Spot URLs, with no apparent problem with non Blog*Spot, Blogger, or Google.

We have a problem rollup in Blogger Help Forum, where the problem is being explored.

If you are affected by this outage, please confirm your location, the name of your ISP, and the scope of the outage. Explicit confirmation of each individual detail, by each blogger with a problem, helps Blogger Engineers to focus on the problem - and not on speculations.

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Wednesday, August 18, 2010

New Comment Moderation System, And Difficulties With Moderation

As the new comment moderation system gets deployed on more blogs, we are seeing a few reports of problems moderating using email. Some bloggers report inability to moderate, without having to sign in again, repeatedly, to their Blogger accounts. Other blogger have observed that some comments, selected as "Publish" or "Mark as spam", seem to remain in the current queue also. In some cases, bloggers have selected "Publish" repeatedly, with no error provided.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Challenges Presented By The New Commenting System

Now that we are seeing the new Blogger commenting system rolled out through the majority of our blogs, some bloggers are seeing problems with the "spam" / "not spam" classification of some comments. While the training process is in progress, and the system is still "learning" which comments are spam - and which are not spam, we are going to see some legitimate comments dropped into the "Spam" folder. We will similarly continue to see some spam comments published (with moderation not enabled), or dropped into the "Awaiting Moderation" folder (with moderation enabled).

Until the system has "learned" your standards, you would do well to moderate comments for a while (even if that's not your personal preference). Periodically, scan through the "Published", "Awaiting Moderation" and "Spam" folders, looking for comments which are in the wrong folder. In the first two folders, check and select "Spam" for those comments which you consider spam. In the latter folder, check and select "Not Spam" for those comments which you do not consider to be spam.

If you find your self significantly disagreeing with the system, as to which folders your various incoming comments are being dropped into, continue to scan, and correct. Only, by your doing this, will the system learn your personal standards. If you stop moderation, and continue to find comments that are being mis classified, according to your standards, you have only yourself to blame.

Just remember, the new system is not optional. Everybody has to work together, to make it work. And we need to moderate sooner, not later.

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Friday, August 13, 2010

The New Commenting System Is Being Rolled Out, Blog By Blog

Many bloggers are enjoying the new ability to "Mark as spam" any offending comments, with the anticipation that shortly similar comments will be routed directly to the "Spam" Comment folder. Other bloggers, who do not see "Mark as spam?" are asking
How do I report these comments?
Blogger has told us that the new comment moderation system is not yet rolled out to all blogs, as this is being done on a blog by blog basis.

If you don't yet see a "Mark as spam" link or selection in your comment moderation queue, rest assured that you will, soon. And later, you'll stop seeing the typical "Nice blog" spam - unless you go diving into the Spam Comments folder.

Be patient, your blog will have the new system shortly - if it does not, already. And if your blog does offer you this ability, use it. The new system depends upon your input - it will not know what should be put into Spam directly, without votes from you and others like you. And remember to use it frequently, and promptly, for best results.


(Update 8/17): A discussion today suggests that some blogs may not be getting the new commenting system, if comment moderation is disabled. If you are waiting for the new system, and your blog does not use moderation (possibly intentionally), enable moderation. Select "Only on posts older than" and give it 90 , 180, or 365 days. That will give you unmoderated posts, for anything but very old posts, and possibly give you the new system.

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Sunday, August 08, 2010

Cumulus "In Your Language" Multi Lingual Translation Expands To 11 Languages

Last week, Nitecruzr Dot Net and RobertosBlogs Dot Net together announced the new Cumulus "In Your Language" non English translator gadget, which support blogs published in any of 7 different non English languages. Now, we have added 4 more languages - Arabic, Chinese (Simplified), Japanese, and Portuguese - to the supported population.

If your blog is published in any of these languages, you can now provide dynamic translation of your blog or website, by your readers, into any of the other languages, using the Google Translator engine.
We hope to add additional languages, as need and resources become available. And, we'll add to the target languages, for all source languages, as Google expands the base of their translation engine.

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Friday, August 06, 2010

Third Party Templates, Yet Again

Recently, we have seen a few reports from bloggers who have a blog with a "Cutest Blog" template, who are mystified by the PhotoBucket icon
This image or video has been moved or deleted
and discussions such as
Have a photobucket icon appearing in the middle of my blog that says a picture has been deleted.
are common in BHF: Something Is Broken.

As I've written before, many third party template providers may become victims of their own success. And some times, the template providers intentionally remove wallpapers which they host using PhotoBucket or other fourth party content hosting. Either way, your blog is suddenly left looking very plain, with no wallpaper.

Some bloggers have reported success, by refreshing the code, from the "Cutest Blog" website. Others have simply removed the template - sometimes by removing an HTML gadget, which was installed as part of the "Cutest Blog" install process.

That is, unfortunately, a risk that you take. Try a designer template instead, if you want to avoid the third party template blues.


(Update 8/13): From reading a comment received today, it appears that the "Cutest Blog" updates were planned, and warned. Updated code, referencing their new content host, should be available on their website.

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Thursday, August 05, 2010

Adding A Link To Your Blog Post, Part 2

Adding links, in blog post text, is one of the most basic tasks in creating hypertext content - and it may be one of the most subtly misunderstood too. Like the inability to add a link using the Blogger Post Editor, the ability to correctly specify the link target is frequently seen
I created a standard HTML link
<a href="www.website.com">Link</a>
but when you click the link Blogger turns the link into this
blogaddress.blogspot.com/www.website.com
What is going on here?

Some bloggers do not understand HTML / HTTP syntax, and that's the problem here.

If you specify a link target as "www.website.com", most hypertext content editors will qualify the target with two elements.
  • The protocol, i.e. "http://".
  • The base URL of the website being edited, i.e. "blogaddress.blogspot.com".
giving you
blogaddress.blogspot.com/www.website.com

Instead of typing
www.website.com
type the link target as
http://www.website.com
and you'll be OK.

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Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Announcing Cumulus "In Your Language" Multi Lingual Translation

Just a bit more than 2 years ago, NiteCruzr Dot Net became a part of the world wide culture, by providing an easy to install translation bar, for blogs published in English. That's a start, anyway.

What "we" (the "English" speaking population of blog owners) don't always realise is that neither the entire world population, nor the entire web population, speaks English. The English language isn't the most commonly spoken language in the world - nor is it even number two. Blogger blogs are being published in many non English languages, and bloggers need to support that reality.

Now, Nitecruzr Dot Net, in partnership with Robertosblogs Dot Net, announces the next step in multi-lingual blogging. Cumulus In Your Language now provides multi-lingual translation from any of 7 non English languages, to any of the other provided languages.
If your blog is published in any of the above languages, check out the Your Language translator gadget installation procedure in Cumulus - EN. Other languages will be added, as demand and resources exist.

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Having A Blogger Blog Removed Or Restored, After Death Of The Blog Owner

As I've written a few times, your blog is yours - forever. Generally, "forever" is equivalent to eternity, or as long as Google stays in business. In some cases, when a blogger passes on to the next life, the survivors left behind may decide that it would be best, for all concerned, that one or more blog(s) left behind should be discontinued. In other cases, the survivors may wish to continue the blog, as a memoriam.

Blogger will support this need, as long as the survivors can prove their close relationship with the deceased blog owner. This is most easily done, by providing a proper copy of a legally issued death certificate. With the death certificate available, post a question in BHF: How Do I?, and wait for contact with a Blogger Support person. Blogger Support will inform you how to transmit the death certificate to them, using a legally recognised medium.


(Update 2012/07): Blogger has enhanced these requirements, to allow them to exercise both compassion and due diligence, and legitimately allow survivors to assume control of blogs left behind.

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