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Saturday, 18 December 2010


Thanks, that helps as I'm a major offender--not the thing about the horses, but getting the error!

My problem is the comment box stays open too long. Actually I wish these comment boxes featured smart technology, as in locking-up everytime I put my foot in my mouth.

I've found this, as I tend to check my facts before displaying my idiocy to the World and so sometimes run out of time. I've sussed out the copy, go away, come back, paste routine, but then found that I have to make a change to the pasted item before I am allowed to preview. I just click anywhere on my words of, er, wisdom, put in a space, take it out again and the system is fooled.

You can tell I always proofread my words, as there are never any spellling or, punctuation error's or missing garbled or syntax or mystery dataphrases in this comments

Seriously, there's another error that occurs - the comment supposedly passes through, but there's nothing there. Just an empty space with empty brackets where the name should be. Unfortunately, it's one of those intermittent errors you cannot pinpoint to a specific set of conditions.

Actually, you can modify the page load timeout for commenters, but you will have to do like the rest of us, and track down some high-school geek who knows how modify the raw code.

"(you always proofread your comments before sending them—I know that because there are never any spelling or punctuation errors or missing words or garbled syntax or mystery phrases in anyone's comments)"

Do I detect a bit of sarcasm there? :-)

"Do I detect a bit of sarcasm there?"

I once got a comment in which the middle section appeared to be completely random letters. But there was something about it that wasn't *quite* random, so I tried to figure it out--it turned out that the typist had just gotten his hands shifted over by one space and had typed five or six words by hitting keys in the "right" relative position to each other, but that were of course entirely the wrong letters. And he sent the comment, and never even noticed.

Once I figured it out I was able to reconstruct the actual words that the commenter intended to type.

Things like that are not the best use of my time, though, no.


Does Typepad support some kind of anti-spam plugin? I use Wordpress and rely on Askimat for that service. It may cost money if you are running a "commercial" blog though.

"Does Typepad support some kind of anti-spam plugin?"

Oh, yes, and it's very good. It catches 99% of the spam that's sent to us. We would be completely overwhelmed, believe me, if it weren't for that--and if it weren't so effective. Overwhelmed to the point that there wouldn't be a comments section on TOP at all, no question. I'm not sure, but if I'm interpreting the data and the systems correctly, I believe we get about 9,000 spam comments a month. Far fewer than 1% of them make it through to me. Spammers are always trying, though.


Your approach to encouraging and moderating comments is not the only thing that makes this place special but is definitely one of its many strengths. Thanks for putting up the repetitive and onerous task of thwarting spam.

I constantly revisit recent articles for comments, learning a lot and laughing a lot — a big thank you to all you TOP commenters for writing such interesting stuff!

No comment :)

I seem to recall a story some years ago - perhaps an urban myth - where a blind writer submitted an entire novel with the hands shifted over one space. Supposedly the good editor corrected the entire manuscript.

I was taught at school to draft my work on scrap paper, and it's a habit I never got out of. On a computer it is now largely redundant, except for saving incremental drafts with increasing numbers in the filename, and the final version of a document under a completely different filename. For commenting on t'internet I tend to use an open word-processing window and then paste in only after review. Of course, the remaining grammatical, spelling, sense and intelligence errors highlight my innate inadequacies.

I'm also defiantly a sight-typist (unlike the touch-typist's "shifted letters" Mike refers to above), but I need to always check that I hAVEN'T lEFT cAPS lOCK oN by mistake. However, the shifted letters ruse is perhaps a more modern take on the Caesar code.

Thanks for explaining this, Mike. Some time ago, in attempting to comment on a column detailing someone's problems with wide-format inkjet printers, I had composed a rather long, and to my mind, very well written statement about my experience with a brand new printer. When I finally got through editing and proofing, I got the "We cannot accept this…" response. I got so angry I haven't written again until now. Your explanation puts things in a much different light.

I don't know why I took the rejection so personally especially since in my very first comment to TOP, I committed the gaffe of misspelling a famous photographer's name, caught it just as I hit the send button and sent an immediate correction. You made the correction in my first submission yourself instead of simply posting my two letters separately, sparing me some embarrassment. I thought that was very gentlemanly of you.

There's a lesson in here somewhere--probably, always use a pseudonym. (Please check that spelling.)

Bernard Carlisle

It was a great exercise for "the little grey cells" as Hurcule Poirot was say. :-) Not being a trained typist, I'd never have figured it out.

Poorfraed? Waht si taht?


...Also, all comments are moderated. That means I read them before posting them. And that, in turn, means that there is a delay between the time you posted the comment and the time it's published—a delay that might be two minutes, two hours, or even, very occasionally (as when I'm traveling) two days...

Why not moderate ex-post, by letting comments be posted in real time and then delete comments and warn or ban transgressing posters The effort on your part would be the same as what you now do ex-ante but would have the benefit of more interesting and deeper discussion. An objection could be that there are plenty of discussion forum on the web, but the counter-argument is that that they generally have a low signal to noise ratio, and there is hope for something better than that here.


Mike, thanks for the explanation. Not very IT literate nor do I have any idea what TypePad is.

Had my comments hanging several times but as you said, after refreshing the page it's ok.

Merry Christmas from the far east. May the wind of peace envelope every soul on the planet.

Dear Mitch,

For the simple reason that then all the trolls and psychopaths still get their moment in the sun, even if it's fleeting. It poisons the environment. And it makes it impossible to enforce, in any meaningful way, Mike's rules of proper discourse (e.g., no personal attacks, no ad hominems, no purely political or religious diatribes).

Even these problems aside, I can't see any way your proposal produces a "more interesting and deeper discussion." Unless your definition of "interesting" is "rancorous," as in, "may you live in interesting times."

On a practical level, I will only participate in moderated forums like this one. I have no patience for what passes for discourse in the unmoderated environments.

While I cannot imagine it ever happening, if the day came to pass that a policy like yours were implemented, I would stop writing my columns the very same day.

pax / Ctein

Dear Mike,

Please excuse my ignorance about the expression "seis Equis" - something about whales and the "European Quality Inprovement System" ?

Thanks, Tudor.

Thanks for the explanation; I was thinking that some sort of spam/content filter has started to go to overdrive and stopped accepting basically anything :-)

It would help though if the error message was a little bit less cryptic, say "your session has timed out, please reload the page". The current message is such that one is unsure whether one has ended up on some blacklist, or whether there's a technical malfunction or something else.

"Please excuse my ignorance about the expression 'seis Equis'"

Sorry, cryptic joke. Three Dos Equis (beers).


Which author?

"Comments are moderated, and will not appear until the author has approved them."

Seems like "author" might be the wrong word , I am the author of the comment. Editor , Management , or Mike might be better.

"Which author? 'Comments are moderated, and will not appear until the author has approved them.' Seems like 'author' might be the wrong word..."

It should say Arthur. The guy who approves comments is named Arthur.

Arthur Cratchit, great-great-great-grand-nephew of Bob.


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