Everything in Moderation

It has taken Anthony a lot of hard work to make WUWT the success it is, and success comes at a price, which in blogging terms means even more hard work. The recent changes at WUWT are intended to lessen the workload associated with managing comments, and more changes are promised, but so far so good.

http://onebigphoto.com/trolls-tongue-norway/

Troll’s Tongue, Norway (Source: www.onebigphoto.com – photographer unknown)

A high proportion of comments are now posted immediately, but, as many of you have experienced, certain key words, names, and phrases will trigger a comment to require moderation.

Anyone unsure about what is acceptable, check About/Policy.

Trolls beware – life on the edge is risky, and the delete button is an easy option.

Some people are flagging up comments as ‘going missing’. This means they’ve disappeared into the SPAM bin. As before, banned commenters and blacklisted subjects (by key word) still go straight to SPAM, along with true SPAM as flagged by the WordPress system. Those who’ve been banned, know who they are. For everyone else, all of this is automatic, don’t take it personally, and please don’t ask:

Moderators – my comment seems to have gone into the spam bin, please can you retrieve it?

That rankles. We waste a lot of time searching through the SPAM folder to retrieve valid comments and approving each one once retrieved. Sometimes there is simply insufficient time for fishing out comments. It would be preferable to move to a policy of a blanket delete of all SPAM, and that is likely to happen increasingly, especially at busy times.

WordPress explains why SPAM has become such a problem. Why do spammers do it?

Apart from because they can, the need to raise page ranking in search engines gives rise to the need to create a lot of links to a web page so the search engine thinks that page is important.

Just so you can see the size of the issue at WUWT, here is a peek inside the SPAM bin from earlier today. All of these are selling something or aim to entice traffic to one or more sites.

 

spam

Note the submission times. Often SPAM comes in FASTER than genuine comments. It is not unusual to log in to the blog and find 50-100 items – several pages worth – in the SPAM bin, however there’s a lovely button labelled “Empty SPAM” that does just what it says.

Poof! Gone in an instant! Deleted!

It can be frustrating to lose a comment, but please try to see it from the other side. If you do lose a long comment to SPAM that never appears, yes, that’s tough, but so is keeping on top of SPAM. Due to the risk of such losses, we suggest preparing long (if you must) technical comments in an external system and pasting them into the comment box.

We hope readers continue to help make the site what it is, and can bear the odd wrinkle as we cope with the blog’s ongoing success.

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Note: In trying to solve one problem I inadvertently created another. In response to this, and from other notes from readers, I have made a change to the SPAM filter that should help with this problem, let’s see how it goes.

Hopefully one this new comment system is well tuned I can implement other changes that are planned to improve tips and notes/story submissions, making WUWT more community oriented. In the meantime, I thank you for your patience, and I thank Verity for this essay. – Anthony

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37 thoughts on “Everything in Moderation

  1. Everything in moderation — Works for me; and thanks for the essay, Verity.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Now, about the 3 inches of snow we just got – do you have a spam bin or a delete button for that? Actually, the Goldfinches eating black sunflower seeds in the snow is a nice image.

  2. One suggestion: I accept that editing of already posted comments will not come [for whatever reasons – real or perceived], but if it were possible to delete a previous recent comment [perhaps within the last hour] that would not constitute the security risk that is cited as the reason for not allowing editing. Obviously that should work only for own comments.

  3. Thanks for the many times you have rescued my comments from the spam bin. I wasn’t aware it “rankled.” I will copy items before posting, from now on.
    However, supposing a comment does go to the spam bin; what then? I myself would look through the post to see if I could identify any “bad words,” such as h-e-double-hockey-sticks, or the name of a certain evil German leader. However suppose one can’t figure out what triggered the spam filter? Is there a way to alert the moderator to “incoming?”
    [Things referring to “fraud”, “con” and all related like items. “Denier” and allied words or phrases. Plus others that only crop up very rarely along with the whole NAZI thing you referred to. However as Verity says we all go through the spam bin regularly and recover otherwise acceptable posts. It can rankle when one or two of the regulars, despite knowing this, call on us to check in the spam bin because they may have had to wait a few minutes before seeing their contribution in print.
    Others call for us to carry out wholesale editing on their behalf which may be fine on a slow day but there aren’t very many of those and besides it really isn’t what we are here for. Proof reading before posting is always a good idea. Not only will you catch errors but you will also get a chance to tone down some of the more emotional posts ( not you Caleb, the generic you ).
    Still others put in a myriad of links and the spam filter thinks you are selling stuff. As Verity has shown in the spam emails they often contain dozens of links to Ugg Boots or worse and so get deleted. If you put in more than a couple of links it will go to the spam bin and be delayed.
    All that said, genuine posts will, generally, get through unless it’s a really bad day down in the engine room . . . mod]

  4. Anthony, there appears to be a bug in your junk filter because I just get meaningless junk from the word: “690jh dasofhyn nhfsdhio hoihf nklufsdlje uou y hyu heq3f#’@f [ipi.

  5. Thanks for that Verity & Anthony. Quick question, if I wanted to draw the mods attention to something, how would I go about it now that my post wouldn’t automatically be moderated. Should I slip in a couple of rude words?
    REPLY: just put in :”Anthony” or “moderator” I have those set to hold for eyes-on approval – Anthony

  6. “Instant commenting” will increase the volume wich likely means the end of quality in the comments section. The good ones will be lost in the middle of a sea of petty chatter about one’s local weather and similar platitudes (including my very own comment right now).

  7. Anthony, may I suggest that your reply to Bloke down the pub be added to this Policy bullet:
    A spam filter is employed; some posts may disappear into it based on words, phrases, and/or links. If you feel you have been accidentally blocked, try posting a single one or two sentence comment to alert me and I’ll see if I can recover it for you.
    REPLY: a similar bullet already exists. -A

  8. For the Firefox users, please see the add-in “Lazarus form recovery”. It will sit in the status bar and record what you are writing into the form. If something bad happens, you simply navigate back to the form again, right click the text box, and you will be presented with choices about the text you want to recover. Pick the one you want, and your text is back. Very nice tool.

  9. Mod — Thank you for the hard work. I guess the frustration I have with other sites (including those run by Advance) is that my post will go “poof” and I can’t for the life of me remember what I wrote well enough to figure out what I said that was “bad”. In the Advance case, for instance, any posts with the word “(stuff sold by large companies represented by Snoopy and elk and such)” were deleted — which made it difficult to talk about legislation to reform that stuff. Oh, and you couldn’t put a URL up even if it was a generic cite, ie, government dot gov. Anyway, yes, if I’m hitting your @#$@# bucket, I’d love to make amends.

  10. Anthony, I meant that you should add to the aforementioned Policy bullet what you said to Bloke down the pub: namely, that using the word “Anthony” or the word “moderator” in a message will cause it to be held for eyes-on approval. That useful tidbit is not currently mentioned on the Policy page.

  11. Thanks for the “Lazarus” tip. I installed it and it works. Wish I knew about it earlier.
    I do type long posts in my word processor, then copy and paste — for the reasons mentioned. Though, Never had a problem with WUWT.
    I rarely have anything long to say on WUWT. Its been clear for many years (to those of us who have done/checked the math) that Anthropogenic Global Warming and CO2 build up are “non problems” from a global perspective. WUWT keeps that fact in front of the public — kudos. Anyhow, since I find the issue “scientifically settled” for me, there is little else to say.

  12. This isn’t something this site’s moderators could do, I presume, but it would be nice if WordPress allowed them to: Let regular users register as such (subject to moderator approval after they’ve made 25 comments, say). Then, if their comments go into the spam bin, let them be flagged or highlighted automatically, so moderators could see them more easily.

  13. Anthony, just for information, I notice there is a “WUWT” group on facebook. Is this official? Are you also on twitter? Is there another facet of WUWT?
    [Reply – Yes, please join the Facebook group. Twitter @wattsupwiththat ~Mod]

  14. I do not understand why people get “rankled” when posts do not show up. I post at Anthony’s pleasure. If he deletes one of my posts, C’est La Vie.
    Obviously, if I am in a huge slugfest with someone and a 300 word post disappears, I will ask about it. But I have not known that to happen in many years of visiting this site.

  15. Michael D. Smith, I second Allen63’s emotion. I’ve just installed Lazarus form recovery, and I thank you for the tip!
    Happily, I find that Lazarus form recovery 2.3 works just fine in combination with MrPete’s CA Assistant, which I now use per Physics Major’s suggestion, to get a “preview” button in Firefox.
    The preview button isn’t perfect, since CA Assistant apparently doesn’t know that WUWT removes some HTML, such as inline-pictures (<img src=…/>) and bullet-lists (<ul><li>…</li></ul>). However, it does keep me from accidentally failing to close my <a href=…>, bold, italic, etc. tags, which was a chronic problem for me.

  16. When I moderate I personally review every spam post, and save the few legitimate comments. Then I hit the “delete all spam” button, and approve the saved comments. It isn’t fairt to delete someone’s comment just because an unknown word or phrase put it into the Spam folder.

  17. Moderators:
    As someone who often been moderated and who has been given a ‘time out’, I write to provide my sincere thanks for all you do.
    Moderation on WUWT is excellent. A wide range of information, views, opinions, and emotions are displayed. This is unique in my experience of blogs. And it derives from the excellent moderation policy and its excellent application by the moderators.
    This excellent moderation is why WUWT has won the award for Best Science Blog each of the last three years.
    The success of WUWT has required alterations to the excellent moderation. I can only hope this does not alter the nature of WUWT. Time will tell.
    And if those alterations induce more of my posts ‘disappear’ then so be it. That is a trivial price to pay being able to read the variety of posts which WUWT displays.
    Moderators, the changes have been made necessary by the success earned by your superb work. Thankyou to all and each of you. More power to you.
    Richard

  18. John F. Hultquist says:
    “Actually, the Goldfinches eating black sunflower seeds in the snow is a nice image.”
    One early spring day many years ago I had a front yard with a dandelion jungle, most gone to seed. I opened the front door to leave for work and immediately saw around 100 Goldfinches group feeding on the seed. They were so light (or my dandelion trunks were so strong!) that they could “perch” on the dandelion stems to pick the seed off. I just quietly sat on the porch and watched. With a sight like that whats late for work matter!

  19. “WordPress explains why SPAM has become such a problem. Why do spammers do it?”
    “Apart from because they can, the need to raise page ranking in search engines gives rise to the need to create a lot of links to a web page so the search engine thinks that page is important.”

    But WordPress (I think) automatically inserts the rel=”nofollow” attribute so no link juice. I maybe wrong so apologies in advance. Do a right click and “View Page Source” on the page and the attribute is there. Wiki does the same I think.

  20. Note to commenters. Get Lazarus add on in Firefox. It saves your typed words. Just righ click on the Leave a Reply are, choose you last type up and voila, it is inserted back from the dead. Maybe then edit out what may have chcked it inot the Spam bin.

  21. Sheesh! Let me say that again.

    Note to commenters. Get the Lazarus add on in Firefox. It saves your typed words. Just right click on the Leave a Reply area, choose you last type up text and voila, it is inserted back from the dead. Maybe then edit out what may have chucked it into the Spam bin.

  22. Some people are flagging up comments as ‘going missing’. This means they’ve disappeared into the SPAM bin. As before, banned commenters and blacklisted subjects (by key word) still go straight to SPAM, along with true SPAM as flagged by the WordPress system. Those who’ve been banned, know who they are. For everyone else, all of this is automatic, don’t take it personally,

    Well that is the problem right there. It seems that it should be possible to keep 3 separate buckets using the 3 separate items you just outlined …
    (1) banned commenters
    (2) blacklisted subjects (by key word)
    (3) true SPAM as flagged by the WordPress system
    At least that’s how I would do it. Naturally if this is impossible (3 separate buckets) I’m spinning my wheels.

    and please don’t ask:

    Moderators – my comment seems to have gone into the spam bin, please can you retrieve it?

    That rankles.

    I suppose it might “rankle” moderators but you are forgetting something here. On our end we do NOT get any message that says: “comment sent to moderation due to keyword trigger, please be patient!”. What we get is, wait for it, NOTHING. That rankles. People that are new to this will then actually waste time retyping and/or resubmitting and then finally get the “duplicate comment detected” feedback. Lots of wasted time all around.
    For several years now I would immediately send a 2nd message (with a ‘please do not post this’) asking a moderator to find the post. This made sense on our end where we got no feedback in the first place. Now it sounds like you’re telling us that one thing HAS changed (“don’t rankle us with a request”) and one thing HAS NOT changed (posts still get sucked into the black hole from a keyword without feedback).
    One of the moderators has in fact gotten snarky with me over this exact scenario implying I was impatient (what?) when on our end we are dealing with no feedback whatsoever to know what happened to a post. All I was doing was pointing out that a non-SPAM post was now mixed in with the SPAM. Wasting time arguing with a snarky moderator also rankles. 😉

  23. If you put in more than a couple of links it will go to the spam bin and be delayed.

    Is it possible to allow regular commenters’ multiple linked comment automatically added. Like an auto screen based on a ‘trusted’ user? For example I don’t recall ever posting any spam, so can me email and screen name not be automatically allowed. Do you see where I’m coming from?

  24. richardscourtney says:
    April 15, 2013 at 1:14 pm
    Moderators: As someone who often been moderated and who has been given a ‘time out’, I write to provide my sincere thanks for all you do. Moderation on WUWT is excellent.

    I’ll drink to that! Thanks, Anthony and Mods!

  25. I had no gripes before (even though I was sniped sometimes), and I have no gripes now.
    Keep up the great work.

  26. Unfortunately, the WordPress system has its limits. I have to say, having moved my own blog from Blogger, WordPress gives much more flexibility with comments, but don’t forget that high volume blogs like WUWT push the system. The guys at WordPress are adding greater flexibility and more options with great frequency.
    @Allen63, Thanks for the Lazarus tip. I’m sure that will be useful to many.
    @Jimbo, sadly for the multiple links thing it is not possible to discriminate for regular commenters.
    @Blade, there is a single SPAM bucket – WordPress system, not changeable. I take your point of frustration about comments just disappearing into the SPAM bin. It happens to me too and you do think “Huh, what happened?”.
    The point is that, when moderation needed more than a light touch, both comments and spam built up and the comments got priority. Moderators look in the SPAM bin when they have time. All the pages of spam have to be checked (method as described by West Coast Moderator) and it doesn’t really help to see a comment that tells you there is a legitimate comment in the SPAM bin as it is a case of “I’ll get to it as soon as I have time”. The new system should free everyone up to check more readily.

  27. First, sincere thanks to all moderators and helpers who contribute their time and skills to making WUWT so informative and enjoyable for readers.
    Thanks also for clarifying some of the challenges you face in managing the workload, and while nobody likes losing a post or not being sure what happened to it, I think it is reasonable for us to do our part by keeping copies of our deathless prose if it so important to us. Posters above have suggested ways of doing this.
    And I am grateful to find out why an innocuous post of mine went straight into moderation yesterday – it was because it had the “A” word in it, although it was used in the nicest possible way! To avoid this happening to this post, special thanks to “A” – he knows who I mean …

  28. Spoke too soon – my post of a few minutes ago has also gone into moderation. What am I doing this time?

  29. West Coast Moderator>
    “When I moderate I personally review every spam post, and save the few legitimate comments. Then I hit the “delete all spam” button, and approve the saved comments”
    I hope you’ve spotted the race-condition there.
    On another note, what spam filter does WUWT use? Akismet, I take it? Some people claim much better results with other WP plug-ins, but then I assume that’s been investigated, right?
    [“Race condition” ??? Not-the-East-Coast-Mod Mod]

  30. Dave [April 16, 2013 at 10:16 am] says:

    West Coast Moderator>
    “When I moderate I personally review every spam post, and save the few legitimate comments. Then I hit the “delete all spam” button, and approve the saved comments”

    I hope you’ve spotted the race-condition there.
    On another note, what spam filter does WUWT use? Akismet, I take it? Some people claim much better results with other WP plug-ins, but then I assume that’s been investigated, right?
    [“Race condition” ??? Not-the-East-Coast-Mod Mod]

    Dave is likely a programmer (or an electrician), it has nothing to do with other things 🙂 I suspect he sees a possible failure vector in that procedure where one moderator “review[s] every spam post” but by the time that is complete new entries may have arrived and deleting all spam may result in non-reviewed comments vanishing into the ether. But I’ll let him explain what he meant.

  31. I’ve been commenting here for 4 or 5 years now. WUWT opened my eyes to the AGW scam even though I was beginning to smell a rat with the exponential growth of improbable scientific claims and hysterical headlines in the printed and transmitted media.
    It is good to see my comments appear immediately and it enables me to respond to other posters quickly if I feel the need.
    Thank you for the trust you’ve put in our behaviour. I hope I live up to expectations. Finally thank you for this excellent blog. You fight for sanity in a world gone mad with AGW alarmism. Viva common sense!

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