Tuesday, June 18, 2024
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A short note on comment moderation and spam


I HAVE noticed, and responded to, several comments recently which have accused the site of censorship, and I wanted to explain, perhaps in a slightly different way, how commenting works for us.

There is a comment policy here and a good post on moderation here but I am still seeing queries about moderation so I thought I’d explain again.

Last week, I turned on a setting in Disqus which makes all posts with links in go to the moderation queue. The screenshot below explains why:

We had more than 100 spam links to bitcoin related sites in about an hour, and this time I caught it early. I can pattern-match the spam in Disqus, eg by flagging up all mentions of ‘baidu’ in this case, but I temporarily left it on, until the spam died down.

I have now allowed links again, but as you can guess, it is very much a game of cat and mouse, and if it happens overnight I wake up to a couple of thousand spam comments, which pleases no one, least of all me.

My part-time job at TCW (I have other clients to look after) is not only to maintain the server, keep the site safe and updated, create new authors and post the content, plus manage the auto posting to Twitter and Facebook, make sure the newsletter gets sent, plus various other tweaks, edits and fixes.

Only then do I tackle Disqus.

So if you post at 9 in the evening, and I get round to Disqus at 11am – that is why your comment is still in the moderation queue. Double this at the weekend.

Furthermore, the deleted queue often looks like this:

Two obviously poor posts which don’t add anything to the discussion, basically name-calling, which are going to stay deleted, and a really good post which the user deleted before I could release it – This comment has been deleted by the user and can’t be changed.

This is frustrating for the commenter, and for me. So is editing your comment before it is published by substituting the content with ….. or !!!!! or ?????? These I simply have to go through and delete.

Additionally, occasionally Disqus throws something it shouldn’t into the spam or the deleted queue – in the case of spam, usually a really long, often thoughtful piece; in deleted, it is sometimes just a glitch. The algorithm does its best but sometimes fails. It’s an algorithm. Sorry.

So please bear in mind that there is a busy human looking after the site seven days a week, keep comments civil and tasteful, and email if your comment somehow falls through the cracks and is not published. Also, do reread our notes on censorship here and the comment policy.

Thank you.

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