Cleaning Up

Cleaning up
As some of you may have noticed, the site is a shambles. Sure, it looks okay, but it’s now cobbled together from a pre-existing theme, ever since my old theme wasn’t going to work with the new Drupal upgrade. Since updating I’ve been inundated with comment spam. This is ironic, since I upgraded Drupal because I was getting comment spam.

So for the foreseeable future, I’m shutting off comments on this site. Sorry about this. I’m hopping on a plane in less than twenty-four hours and do not have the time to deal with this right now. The site itself needs a total overhaul at some point soon, but hopefully comments will be back long before then.

In the meantime, you can contact me by mail (allvishal at gmail) or on twitter.


The Perils of Overzealous Spam Combat

spam combat gladiators!In case you never noticed, there’s a ‘Recent Comments’ column in the sidebar, and the more astute among you will realise that my comment has been sitting at the top of the pile for quite a while now. At first I thought it was just my readers being polite and staying silent while I ranted and raved about hot army women, haunted dream homes, and the unsexiness of the modern caveperson. But, pretty-much every reader of this blog is a blogger themselves, and we’re a chatty lot. It was unusual to have no comments for weeks.

I decided to test the system out, and lo and behold, ran across a host of problems, all of which had to do with a malfunctioning captcha system (a ‘captcha’ is a test to find out if you’re a human and not a malicious spam program, by asking you to answer a question only a human could) . Hmm, malfunctioning is not entirely right, because it seems to have been behaving a little too well.


In order to combat comment spam, I have been using a drupal plugin that generates a random type of captcha test (maths, odd word out, etc.) and this part of the plugin seemed to be causing some problems. It would not accept answers even if they were right, and even after repeated attempts the submitted comments were automatically being marked as suspected spam.

The conundrum here is that if I turn it off entirely, the blog will — within hours — be inundated with comment spam. This is one of the main reasons I’ve reluctantly had to turn off trackbacks entirely, as several thousand were coming in daily, being marked as spam, and then just sitting there (unpublished, but still, quite annoying). I could have turned on moderation of all comments, but I don’t log into the site several times a day, and that would interrupt the flow of proceedings. Part of the fun of having a blog is seeing conversations develop while you aren’t around.

I have therefore reduced the captcha test to one type, and this seems to have solved the problem. It does mean that the site might a bit more prone to comment spambots that learn or just brute-force their way through, but I’d rather have to clean up a few unwanted comments a day rather than have my puny human meat-things be impeded in expressing their views.

Of course, there are always niggles, so do leave a comment and test the system out (remember to solve the captcha before pressing ‘post comment’!) and let me know if there are any problems (via email, at allvishal [at] gmail [dot] com).

Take that, evil machine overlords.