I'm really extremely sorry about this, but henceforth I need to make people fill out a CAPTCHA box when commenting. I've held off as long as I thought I could. [See new Update below.]
I'm painfully aware that this is not ideal. "We apologize for the inconvenience" is such a stock phrase that it's almost white noise now, but...I'm sorry. I apologize. For your inconvenience. I know it's inconvenient.
The reason is that the spam filters are just not working well enough any more. I don't know what happened, but for a number of weeks now I've been getting large numbers of "real" comments mixed in with the spam, which means I have to laboriously comb through all the spam (and there are tremendous amounts of it) to save the actual reader comments buried therein. In addition to the regular comment moderation, it's just an onerous amount of labor. I figure people come here to read the posts, and this is just stealing too much time from productive work.
If this doesn't solve the problem, I'll have to make you register in order to comment. I really, really hope we do not have to go that far.
Sorry... (<—sincere apology).
—Mike, TOP Comment Moderator and Keeper of the Peace
P.S. May I just add that I loathe spammers with an unspeakable passion. They should all have their gonads cut off with machetes, and I say that as an avowed nonviolent pacifist.
UPDATE 2:30 p.m. Monday: Great news! (I hope.) I just heard from TypePad, and they are in the process of retiring TypePad Anti-Spam and switching to a premium outside spam-fighting service called Impermium. This is the Anti-Spam programming used by Engadget, Major League Baseball, CNN, ESPN, Wired, The Washington Post, and tumblr., among many others. I'm told the new system should be implemented "very soon."
So, hopefully, the CAPTCHA inconvenience will prove to be very temporary for all our commenters. And thanks to everyone for all your input, kind comments, and continued support. —Mike
Original contents copyright 2013 by Michael C. Johnston and/or the bylined author. All Rights Reserved. Links in this post may be to our affiliates; sales through affiliate links may benefit this site.
(To see all the comments, click on the "Comments" link below.)
Featured Comments from:
nige: "Blunt machetes...."
Jeff Grant: "Will this really help? I have been inundated with spam of late. The amount has increased from maybe 40 to up to 1000 daily.I hope that it settles down soon.
"And while I'm at it, that Captcha box is one of the almost illegible ones. I have seen some lately that are eminently more readable. Any chance of a change?"
Mike replies: Yes, the latest wave of spam appears to be giving the programmers fits. I've been patiently waiting for this particular wave to pass but it just keeps getting worse.
And no, I don't have lots of options as to what I can do about it. I'm limited by the TypePad template I use.
Greg: "I'd be curious for a poll on this because for me, I'd much rather register than having to go through CAPTCHA. I would suspect that most commenters here are people who are long-time commenters who are basically registered already. And this isn't to say one can't register through a nom de plum if they need some relative sense of anonymity."
Ken Ford: "Mike, I am a part of the moderation team for a very large music forum. We've found the majority of the spam problem comes from human shills— CAPTCHAs really only help at registration and can pose real problems with legitimate posters when overused. Don't be surprised if you see a formidable drop-off in comments; I'd personally rather see a registration scheme, it's less intrusive on the comment process."
Mike replies: Well, not so far—I woke up late today (worked till 4 a.m. yesterday) to find 61 new comments.
Rest assured, though, that I am watching carefully, listening to peoples' opinions, and working toward a solution. I'm waiting to hear back from TypePad with their recommendations, too.
Johan Grahn: "As an avid reader I admit to having no idea whatsoever how much work it is to moderate comments. Probably a lot more than I can imagine. And I really like the fact that 99.9% of the comments are good. I might not agree but they are very reasonable. And I don't have to filter them myself. I don't see silly nerd battles. So do whatever you have to do to keep the civil tone that is the signum of this site. It's a major factor that makes this site the number one site on photography. At least on this planet's internet. I want to continue to visit your friendly 'living room' and listen to all your intelligent, wise and beautiful guests! I second the motion to use a simple math question. It is easier to read than the other way. Maybe try that to begin with and see if it works."
Mike replies: The amount of work varies. It can go from quite light to pretty amazingly time-consuming (like it is today). I, too, enjoy the comments—I obviously don't get much from reading the posts, since I write them, but I almost always learn from, and am entertained by, many of the comments.
Another downside for me is that all the nastiness you don't see, I do see. But these days that mainly comes from newcomers who aren't familiar with TOP or our "tone." And there aren't all that many of those. They take a lot of time, cumulatively, because I need to be courteous to them in case they are actually nice people temporarily disguising themselves as a-holes. Sometimes, unfortunately, they are, indeed, just a-holes. :-)
I was going to give you a recent example, but why expose you to it? Goes against the grain.
Peter Filtness: "Mike, Whatever it takes to read and comment on TOP...it just hit me how often I read TOP and how many magazines I no longer buy. I now only subscribe to TOP (as of today) View Camera magazine and Birds Australia, so you're in good company...keep it coming...."
Mike replies: Thanks Peter, I'm trying!
Robert P: "Hello my name is Mbeke Ombwonyke, I have recently been given your details from a mutual colleague. It has come into my possession $60,000,000 which I am having in a bank account here in Nigeria but am unable to leave the country. If you could esteemed colleague send me your bank details I will assure you 50% of this transaction which will be converted into vintage Leica M cameras and then smuggled out of the country by camel mule. When arriving at your house, you only have to untake the cameras from the camel mule and place them on ebay and our mutual wealth will be assured. I look forward to helping us in this matter. Your ever present camel friend Mbeke."
Mike replies: [Homer Simpson voice]: Mmmmm, Leicas....