Web Publishing

We Have Always Been at War with Comment Spammers

This site continues to get 10-30 comment spams a day, along with the occasional comment to an old post that makes it worthwhile to continue offering the opportunity for reader feedback. I'm thinking about switching to a comment form in which the only way to add bold, italics and links is to use buttons that add the formatting in a markup scheme that nobody else on the planet uses. Comments that use HTML or Markdown would be rejected. Coming up with oddball and ultimately futile anti-spam ... (read more)

Remembering Leslie Harpold 10 Years Later

Today's the 10th anniversary of the death of Leslie Harpold, a friend who died on Dec. 7, 2006, at age 40 in the middle of a brilliant run as one of the first and best web essayists. Before there were blogs and social media silos the web was full of personal sites, hand-coded in HTML by people who had no idea what we were doing -- because there were absolutely no rules or expectations. Leslie's creativity flourished on that vast undiscovered canvas. Most of Harpold's work is no longer online, ... (read more)

First Post On This New Web Server

Six months ago I retired a web server I had been using for 11 years. I commemorated the occasion because I was paying for a server to host my sites that had become a museum piece. Linux is so good at running Apache, MySQL and PHP that your hardware can become a decade out of date without performance becoming an issue. My other two web servers were almost as old. The company I use for hosting, SoftLayer, recently offered me a deal to upgrade. A sales rep told me, "After reviewing your account we ... (read more)

My Web Server is Older Than Your Web Server

This post is dedicated to the dedicated server I just shut down. A single Linux box at a server farm in Dallas was for many years the center of my one-man media empire. Over time I moved sites and services off of it, but it remained the home of my weblog ... (read more)

Subscribers I Lost When Google Reader Died

Back in July, I noted how many RSS readers my sites had. I figured that the July 1 closure of Google Reader, by far the most popular feed reader used by my visitors, would show up in the stats at some point and I wanted to quantify the change. The subscriber numbers didn't drop for a long time, but it appears they finally are reflected in the analytics on FeedBurner, the service I use to deliver feeds. Here's the past and current RSS reader counts for my sites and the percentage drop: Drudge ... (read more)

New Retort Feature Dies Horrible Death

After banning the same person more than a dozen times from the Drudge Retort, I decided to experiment with a new site feature this afternoon that turned into a failure of epic proportions. I'm documenting it here so that other people who run online communities will avoid making the same mistake. Throughout its history, the Retort has attracted a small number of users who delight in creating a large amount of trouble. They want to prove that no moderation system has ever been devised that can ... (read more)

Why Leslie Harpold's Sites Disappeared

Leslie had a special kind of magic. But today there's no trace of her sites. As long as those sites were up, her brand of humanity was alive, pure, unedited and quenching. The availability of her writing made her slightly less absent. Sad isn't really an appropriate construct for missing Leslie. And sappy sentimentality wouldn't please her at all. But that writing should remain on the Internet. Those sites should never come down. They belong here like Leslie belonged here. Immortal. -- a ... (read more)

Dear Derek Powazek: SEO is a Legitimate Profession

I'm a huge fan of the web designer and magazine publisher Derek Powazek, but I couldn't disagree more with his rant that calls all search engine optimization (SEO) a con game: Search Engine Optimization is not a legitimate form of marketing. It should not be undertaken by people with brains or souls. If someone charges you for SEO, you have been conned. ... The problem with SEO is that the good advice is obvious, the rest doesn't work, and it's poisoning the web. I tried to respond on his blog, ... (read more)

Running an Online Community's Better in Moderation

Robert Sayre has joined my comment moderation crusade: I try not to delete comments, really. But I don't feel sorry folks who've taken the time to write something like "What the ---- are you talking about?" and left it at that. That sort of thing will be deleted. A regular part of my life lately has been catching hell from Drudge Retort members who don't like the site's moderation policy, which has shifted over the years from non-existent to lax to capricious to hardass. I feel like it had to ... (read more)