A free society can exist in a terror-laden world. Here’s what you can do.
Phil Ringnalda has an interesting post about comments, moderation and spam. As someone who developed my own blog software (part of the interest in running a blog, as far as I’m concerned is in testing out my development chops), I thought long and hard about how to approach comments and avoid spam. My solution was more restrictive than most but works for me. Gated Community The reason I decided to first ask people to register before being able to comment was based on the observation of several online communities. Metafilter, Slashdot and Kuro5hin all opted for solutions that required registration first. Granted, requiring that people register requires some extra work and slows down the amount of people commenting but it’s based on the concept that most people that read a particular site are returning visitors. A look at my server logs shows that this may largely be the case: Generally, I get traffic from roughly the same ratio of sites to visitor. There must be a golden mean in here somewhere as to how this works. From there, I took one extra step, which is to require that people verify their email. TNL.net users are all verified based on an…Read More
There’s much discussion today about Microsoft’s legal problem with plug-ins. Most of the discussion runs around the fact that EOLAS claims to have a patent on plug-ins. But it may be good for Mozilla. Back when the patent was issued, Mike Doyle of EOLAS said in a message to www-talk, a World Wide Web Consortium mailing list that: Please note from our Web site that, in almost all cases, Eolas’ Weblet-related technologies will be licensed free of charge for noncommercial use. Well, looking at this, Mozilla could be in a very good position as the only browser currently not infringing. The other interesting thing is all of this is the fact that there seems to be some prior art. EOLAS may claim that they invented the method but it was available before they announced it and before they held the patent. The idea in itself was hardly new by the time they filed their patent. Much discussion (though I can’t seem to source that one) on some of the early web development mailing lists around 1993-1994 called for the implementation of an OBJECT tag instead of the IMG which was considered too limited (that tag itself being an invention created…Read More
Yesterday’s power outage left me without any chance to update most people but here it is. First of all, we are safe. Both Amy and I managed to get on Ferries back into the city and, after battling throngs of people, made it back home. As I write this, electricity is still out in our neighborhood (I’m using the laptop battery and a dialup line to make this update). Things seem relatively quiet and there is no news as to when we will get electricity back (hopefully soon) Thanks to the great work of the Dorsai team, this server, as well as my email system, is now back up. You can email me and I’ll get back to you as soon as possible which, right now, looks like it may be over the next few days.Read More
As I’ve mentioned earlier, I’ve recently received a piece of spam from the Dean Campaign. A number of people have written me asking if I contacted the Dean campaign. Yes, I have and I hope to get an answer. Based on further investigation, though, it looks like this could be a case of an over-eager volunteer. The reason I am going with that assumption for now is that, while researching the subject, I’ve learned of another case happening earlier this year. Based on the official apology on that prior incident, I suspect that this may be a similar case. A subsequent discussion brings up the interesting point of volunteers online and the difficulty in managing them. This might be an interesting point to investigate further as more of the campaigns are going to try to engage people directly via the online medium during this presidential campaign. A good starting point on this is to get your volunteers more familiar with Netiquette. While a bit dated, Netiquette by Virginia Shea provides you with a good grounding in the basics of online communication. Here are some basic things to watch out for: When sending a message, first check that the person you…Read More
The New York Times reports about changes to the White House email system that make it less user-friendly. After reading the article, I decided to take a look for myself and here are a few things which could help improve the system: First of all, a progress indicator should show how many more pages are required in order to complete the email. This would allow people to quickly understand that this may be a lengthier process than they expect and give them an indication of how close (or how far) they are to completing their communication. The mention of I want to write a supporting comment/differing opinion as the first item is a bad approach. While I understand that it will make it easier to quickly assess the level of support or dissent on a particular issues, the approach likes granularity and inspires instant suspicion of darker motives. A better way to approach this would be to include this as a later step in the flow, asking whether the writer supports or opposes the policy or other (the other category allowing for people who are not fully in support or dissent on a policy to offer suggestions). The next issue…Read More
I use a spam filter for my email. The reason I do is that my email address has been the same since 1994, and my previous email addresses still forward to the new email address. Back in those pre-commercial Internet days, sharing one’s email address was no big deal. Actually, it was encouraged. People were associated with a particular email address in Usenet discussions and email mailing lists, which represented most of the watering holes on the Internet. Unfortunately, as time went on, spammers appeared and then, those spammers started looking to Usenet when harvesting email addresses. This quickly turned into a nightmare as users like myself were faced with few choices: abandon email addresses that were used for a very long time, use spam filtering, or learn to live with a mailbox where more messages are spam than actual messages. However, I never considered the darker side of the problem. Apparently, a number of spam filters are starting to go beyond their original mission an filter legitimate messages. This is where it gets difficult: I hate spam but I also hate suppression of speech. By willingly letting an outside party filter my mail for me, I could be keeping…Read More