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Comments, Spam, Loyal Readers, and False Positives

posted by Bob Lawless

The many interesting comments left by our informed readership help make Credit Slips one of the best places on the Internet for informed discussion about debt and bankruptcy issues. The many spam comments make Credit Slips a less useful resource.

Our hosting service, Typepad, has tools to help us deal with the spam and recently rolled out a new service that has significantly reduced the amount of comment spam that I have been seeing on my blog admnistrator's dashboard. At the same time, this new service seems to be creating false positives, at least judging by a few comments I have seen from long-time readers and regular commenters asking what happened to their comment. If the spam filter screens out a comment, it never shows up in my dashboard to allow me to "un-spam" it.

If your legitimate comment disappears, I apologize for that. You might try authenticating with a Typepad account or rewording the comment slightly. The anti-spam service is supposed to be a learning algorithm and should get better over time. We do not screen out comments because they express a different opinion or criticize a blog post. I do screen out comments that make it through the spam filter but are still spam (e.g., "Very informative post. Click here for scammy debt relief services you don't need.") I also will screen out comments that are vulgar, profane, or are just personal attacks, but I can count on one hand the number of times we have received those sorts of comments since we started the blog in 2006.


Ah, your mother wears army boots!

(This is a test to see if the automated spam filter thinks this is a personal attack)

P.S. I have no firsthand or even hearsay information as to Bob Lawless' parents footwear.

Oh, BTW, the comments captcha, it's always blank. I have to click to view the alternate 100% of the time. Dunno if you know that.

And, is there a way to make the author field appear in the RSS? It's blank now.

Alas, now I need two hands to count.

Thanks, Steevo, for the feedback. The author name already is in the RSS feed. It does not appear in the Feedburner e-mails. I spent hours on the issue a few months ago, and it is just a Feedburner issue. We'll switch away from Feedburner at some point.

On the captcha, I don't know what could be going on. What browser are you using? Does it happen with a different browser? Send me an e-mail (rlawless-at-illinois-dot-edu) if you want to try to figure it out.

This is posted with IE to test the captcha.

FWIW, it worked the same with IE, the captcha box is blank but the alternate does work. One other difference I noticed is when posting with IE there was a blank image placeholder above the blank captcha box, that doesn't seem to be there in firefox.

Incidentally, I have many feedburner feeds that are going into my aggregator. The only one with that field blank is creditslips.

Livinglies is an example of one that uses feedburner and that author field is populated.

Crap . . . and I think I just violated our own comment policy. I get the same result. The problem seems to be described here: http://help.typepad.com/captcha.html. I'll try to change some code and see if it fixes things.

Thanks for helping me diagnose. On the Feedburner thing, I think it is a Typepad-specific problem and the tag Typepad uses to generate the author. I went around with their support as well as some forum posts. The RSS feed clearly has the author tag, and it shows up elsewhere -- Google Reader for example. It just does not come through in the e-mail.

Nothing like the spam filter that filters out information you want. Every now and then I run into that at work, people missing emails they really needed, and since I'm the IT guy I get to hear about it. Hope everything works out and the "learning" process is worthwhile.

OK, I changed the code, and the captcha seems to be working for me in both Explorer and Chrome. Let me know if it is fixed for you. Thanks for letting me know about the troubles. I wish Typepad had sent around a notice.

wordpress has an anti-spam plug-in from Akismet that works across all their blogs; if one disagrees at one blog & get marked as spam, your comments disappear elsewhere too..

i had to correspond with Wordpress & Akismet to clear up such a problem...

Testing the captcha code.

Well, that changed it greatly, the regular captcha box is there now.

I guess everyone was using the alternate, for a couple of years, and I was the first to bring that up?

Heh. Pretty humorous.

I had a fairly detailed response on the Social Security garnishment issue.

It was there and then just disappeared.

I'm not going to spend the time posting a bunch of cites if the spam filter is going to send it to the cyber circular file.

The comments to this entry are closed.


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  • As a public service, the University of Illinois College of Law operates Bankr-L, an e-mail list on which bankruptcy professionals can exchange information. Bankr-L is administered by one of the Credit Slips bloggers, Professor Robert M. Lawless of the University of Illinois. Although Bankr-L is a free service, membership is limited only to persons with a professional connection to the bankruptcy field (e.g., lawyer, accountant, academic, judge). To request a subscription on Bankr-L, click here to visit the page for the list and then click on the link for "Subscribe." After completing the information there, please also send an e-mail to Professor Lawless ([email protected]) with a short description of your professional connection to bankruptcy. A link to a URL with a professional bio or other identifying information would be great.