Weblog Comments Near and Far Out

I'm coding this weblog myself in PHP and MySQL, writing software that I will eventually release under the name Wordzilla. A new recent comments sidebar on Workbench makes it easier to follow active discussions on old weblog entries.

Running a weblog with open comments attracts some unusual discussions when people using a search engine find familiar names in an old entry. For two years, Workbench has hosted an ongoing soap opera between the current and former spouses of Atlanta Journal-Constitution reporter Ron Martz.

The sidebar also will show how much comment spam I have to weed out, even though I refuse comments with three or more links and actively ban senders. In the last six months, I have banned 1,263 IP addresses used by spammers. They haven't gotten the message -- an additional 21,043 attempts have been rejected from those addresses.



It has occurred to me that a great blog
has the potential to foster a community
though it's comment system.

Maybe it exists but I'd love to see a
generic blogging platform that values
comments to the extent that the comment
become a forum of threaded comments like
the older bulletin board systems.

Slashdot is the closest community to what I'm thinking and Daily Kos might even be closer.

As you develop Wordzilla please consider
ways to keep interesting comment threads
alive for more than the typical 10 days that the blog post has "face life". After the post rolls away so do the threads of discussion and a lot can be lost. Re-commenting on intersting conversations and pulling the discussion forward to the front page might create this type of community and make a blog more interesting a vital for the reader.

Such a blogging tool would certainly be
a contribution to the art form and drive a lot more adsense revenue through encourging repeated visits because most blogs don't sustain long term conversations... just quick chats that flare and die. Many A-Listers have just
turned off comments.

One big feature I would love to see in a blog.

Integrated full support for vbulletin and invision power board.

I've used slash, movable type, and now wordpress for my own weblog. Slash was interesting, but had a lot of features I didn't want or need, and was really overkill. It seemed fairly fragile, too. Movable type was a lot closer to what I wanted, but had scaling problems as the number of posts increased, and then demonstrated the shortcoming of all non-open development projects when the owners dramatically changed the licensing terms in an effort to make money.

Wordpress took a little work to transition to, especially since I'm more familiar with Perl than with PHP, but now that I've made the switch I'm really happy with it. I was getting a fair amount of comment spam, and using different sorts of short-term solutions to try to combat it (short-term because they only worked until enough people were using them that it was worth it to the comment spammers to automate their way around them).

But version 1.5 of Wordpress got some significant attention to the problem, and since upgrading to that several months ago I've had no comment spam whatsoever. The system I'm using (which I believe is the default behavior in wp 1.5) works like this:

* Before you can comment, you must auto-validate with a real email address to get an account.
* Even after auto-validation, your first comment goes in the moderation queue, and has to be explicitly approved by an admin before anyone else can see it.
* Once at least one of your comments has been validated, you can post comments without moderation, as long as they don't contain a (configurable) number of URLs.

You can also maintain a blacklist of regular expressions that can't appear in the comment.

I feel a little bad about the initial barrier to participation represented by the email validation, but after inconveniencing both myself and my regular users for a long time in my efforts to deal with comment spam, I can live with it. If you can't be bothered to validate via email, your comment probably wasn't that big a loss anyway. That's how I rationalize it, at least.

Your realtime comment-preview feature freaked me out the first time I saw it, by the way. Pretty slick.

Rogers, as one of your zillions of fans, I'm intrigued that you will release blogware of your own creation. Can you tell us any more about it? How will it be different? Will I need to be a PHP programmer to template or use it? Will you write a book about it? Etc.

My goal for Wordzilla is a template-driven weblog publishing tool that uses HTML-style tags like Movable Type so non-programmers can adapt it to their needs without messing with PHP.

I still need to add a lot of features -- trackback, stories, user authentication, import/export, static pages, and template rendering. Also, the current user interface blows.

I'm probably another 3-6 months from the first release.

One big feature I would love to see in a blog.
Integrated full support for vbulletin and invision power board.

I very much like the first comment on Rogers' post, by MCD.

Nice to see something besides flamey rhetoric.

In MCD's egalitarian spirit, I would like to ask,

Just how vulnerable are the Internet's root DNS servers?

Someone said ten dedicated hackers could bring the Internet down.

I don't believe in the Evil Eye, so I'm not afraid to wonder why the Islamic terrorists haven't attacked them.

It seems so obvious. I mean ,if they really want to do some economic damage to the non-Islamic world, why not attack its living brain?

Perhaps the terrorists don't want to destroy their most effective means of communicating, or maybe they simply enjoy playing with those virtual houris too much.

What say ye?

The content of your show is great, I really enjoy it.

good article, it'd be nice if more of the headers linked off to more articles.

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