As a part of my new resolve to not spend so much time responding to comments I decided to be more diligent in going through the stuff caught in my spam filter. I would never have believed the amount of spam that targets blogs. I get plenty via my personal email, but it’s barely a fraction of what comes on this blog.
I get about 400-500 spam ‘comments’ on this blog every day. I have a pretty good spam filter that weeds then out from the real comments and corrals them in their own space where they wait patiently for me to deal with them. Which I can do with the click of a button. One click and they’re all deleted forever. Problem is that the spam filter occasionally grabs real comments and puts them in with the spam. Once in a blue moon a spam comment worms its way into the ‘Comments awaiting moderation’ queue, but daily a real comment or two end up in the spam file. Which means that I can’t just hit the button and banish all the spam to spam hell. I have to go through it all to harvest the real comments before clicking the ‘Delete’ button.
Which might sound like an easy task, but it isn’t. The spam filter I have lists 50 spam comments per page, so I have to scroll down the page looking for valid comments, then go back to the top, hit the button that takes me to the next page, scroll down that page, back to the top, and so on. It would be nice if I could go through a page, then delete all the spam comments on that page, but it doesn’t work that way. It’s all or nothing.
So, I have to go through page by page, and when I find a legitimate comment I put a check in the little box next to it that says ‘Not Spam.’ Then, when all the boxes are checked, and I’ve determined that all the rest of the spam is really spam, I click a button at the bottom that says ‘De-spam marked comments.’ All these legitimate comments then go not to the ‘Comments awaiting moderation’ queue, but are treated as already-moderated comments and go into the comments queue of the post they were intended for. I then have to go into the ‘Manage comments’ file, pull them up, mark them as ‘awaiting moderation’ and herd them back to where they belong. Then I read them, respond to them (in the old days, anyway), and approve them. They then end up on the post where everyone can read them.
Here’s where the hands of a surgeon come in. Late yesterday I was going through the spam and came across several comments that were stuck in there. I duly clicked them as ‘Not spam,’ then fumble-finger-dly (or maybe fumble-brain-dly) proceeded to delete all the spam before hitting the ‘De-spam marked comments’ button. I realized what I had done as soon as I did it, but it was too late. All the marked comments along with all the spam vanished. I was going through so quickly that I didn’t register who the real commenters were, so I can’t even tell you. But if you commented yesterday and your comment isn’t posted, you got deleted with the spam. And I apologize. Please resubmit.
This may happen again in the future – although I’m going to endeavor to not let it happen – so if you comment and your comment doesn’t show up in a reasonable amount of time your comment is probably languishing in spam hell. Please resubmit.
In the almost two years of writing this blog I’ve refused to post maybe three or four comments. All were either profane or were vicious personal attacks on other commenters. These are the only reasons I refuse to post comments. I’m a big believer that the art of civility is dying, and I want to do my part to keep it alive. So, when you comment, avoid four letter words and personal attacks, and you’ll be posted.
To show you how civility has disintegrated over the past 40 years take a look at the video below of a fascinating debate between Noam Chomsky and William F. Buckley that took place during the Vietnam war. These two men loathe one another and have political views that are entirely at odds. And it’s obvious as you watch. But the debate is never marred by shouting, name calling, ugly innuendo, and the talking over one another that is the daily fare of such debates today. Watch this and compare to Sean Hannity and the rest of his ilk – both liberal and conservative. I don’t know if these recent bumpkins are simply a product of the lack of civility that surrounds us today or are one of the driving forces behind it. For my money, however, I would much prefer to return to the Buckley/Chomsky version that was alive 40 years ago.
On another note, this debate is amazing as much for the content as for the civility. The content applies very much to where we find ourselves today.
The hands of a surgeon