June 8

The hands of a surgeon

8  comments

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.
[youtube]Dt-GUAxmxdk[/youtube]


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  1. You may want to see if you can “turn on” a word verification with WordPress….I use blogger, so I’m not sure WordPress has that feature or not. Enabling it on my blog really stopped the spam – I barely get any now, and what I do get had to be entered by a real person with eyes (rather than a bot trolling on autopilot through the blogosphere) to enter the word verification that’s a graphic, not text.
    Thanks Regina–
    I’ll check it out.  I tried it when I was using Movable Type, but it caused more trouble than it was worth.  I’ll see if WordPress has a plug in.
    Best–
    Mike 

  2. I would also like to add my voice to the chorus to say “thank you” for all you have done! My husband (Wil) and I have derived a lot of benefit from the Protein Power books and from this web site. I hope you will continue to write blog entries that can help us all to optimal health!
    Of course, you do not need to respond to this……

  3. Hey Mike,
    I’ve got an idea! Why don’t you set your filter to automatically send any comment that contains the phrases “artery-clogging cholesterol” or “heart-healthy whole grains” right into the pooper?
    LOL.
    Richard
    PS. Keep up the good work. I hate to see you waste time plugging through all that spam.
    Were that the spams were of the “artery-clogging cholesterol” and “heart-healthy whole grains: variety.  Unfortunately, they run a little more risque than that. 

  4. Maybe one of these spam filters can help: akismet.com, an automatic spam filter (seems to be included in WordPress by default since version 2.0) and recaptcha.net, word verification that also helps to digitize old books.
    The spam filter I now use is Akismet.  I’ll check into the other.
    Thanks–
    MRE

  5. I will fill my curmudgeon quota entirely on your list today, it seems.
    I recall, although as a recording, as it happened before I was born, a televised discussion between Buckley and…umm…not Chomsky, that other flabbier, more affeminate socialist pseudointellectual…ummm…oh, Gore Vidal, I think it was.
    Anyway, it was 1968, the year before your equally famous exchange. Buckley and Vidal were doing a televised set of discussions from the Republican convention, and at some point Vidal summed up a verbal, somewhat ad hominem retort, by referring to Buckley as a “crypto-nazi”, to which Buckley replied “Now listen, you queer, stop calling me a crypto-Nazi or I’ll sock you in you goddamn face and you’ll stay plastered.”
    Oh, here’s a link:
    When someone says “things were so much better, before…kids/politicians/mores/diets are insane now”, it’s almost always exactly what people have always claimed of “the past days”, and in reality things either slowly improve, or at least cycle back and forth every few decades.
    “These kids and their sexual, devil music” was said about ragtime jazz, and everything worth listening to since (note that it wasn’t said about big band “pops” jazz and 1940s pop music, both of which which I don’t consider worthy), same with every new game trend, every new batch of politicians, et cetera.
    Of course, as you know, it’s not that I’m saying the current batch are no worse, so much as I’m saying the past batches were no better. When it comes to coercive government, the glass is half empty, and has a gaping hole in the bottom.
    Ah KAZ–
    You’ve drawn me out. You make my point. Had Buckley said that of Vidal now, no one would have much mentioned it. As it was, it was huge, huge news because in those days civility reigned much more predominately than it does now.
    Thanks very, very much for the link. I’ve read about this exchange a thousand times, but I’ve never actually heard it until now.
    Cheers–
    MRE
    P.S. Once again you had to be rescued from the spam filter. Maybe the spam filter is trying to tell me something 🙂

  6. Dr. Eades, thank you for the site and the urging for civility. i was a trial attorney for most of my working life and witnessed/endured much of what you loathe. As you may appreciate, as a ‘fit” person, I had, more than I think I should have, a hard time enduring rude behavior from lots of slack fat and “skinny fat” people who nevertheless had very agressive verbal behavior. I share your disdain for the Hannity bullying and, as a progressive, feel equally put out by shrill reporting on the left side of the fence. Have all of your books and appreciate your work, Rick Strong

  7. Yes, I’ve started noticing when my posts do not immediately become visible to me as “waiting for moderation”, but just vanish entirely.
    I’m often tempted to send you a frantic e-mail warning you about it, lest my wisdom be lost to the ages.
    I think they’d probably cover that exchange just as eagerly today, if only because they’re the same hypemongers they’ve been in English-speaking America for 250 years. When Zell Miller said he wished these were still the days when you could challenge someone to a duel, it was eagerly reported as that he HAD Challenged Chris Matthew to a duel. Surely they’d jump all over the face-socking incident with rabid glee.
    Perhaps.  But, unlike you, I was around and in college in 1968 and remember the exchange vividly.  There was a huge to do about it, and there were even lawsuits involved.  And back and forth between the two in various magazines.
    I had never heard the report that Zell Miller supposedly challenged Chris Matthews to a duel.
    I was around in the 60s and I am, obviously, around now, and I can tell you for a fact that many, many things are much, much different today than then, so I don’t buy the idea that the more things change the more they stay the same.  There were doubtless earlier times in history when sexual mores and levels of civility may have been what they are today, but it wasn’t the 60s.
    Cheers–
    MRE
    P.S. This comment didn’t get nabbed by the spam filter; it came in the regular way.  So, I don’t have a clue as to why you don’t get the ‘waiting for moderation’ message. 

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