Monday, May 03, 2010

Commenting on the commenting

Somebody asked me this question via a comment to a recent post:

"Do you filter comments? I understand you would not post comments that are nasty or rude or full of profanities but what about honest questions? I sent a comment regarding making a living at 1/2 and you have not posted it yet. Please post or just answer as I am truly curious."

I was about to submit my answer via a responsive comment, but then thought maybe I should make it a post instead, since more people will see it this way.

I publish nearly every comment. The most common reason for rejection is something that is obvious spam--and there are several of those a day. Other than that, nearly everything goes through. A couple of times I have rejected a comment that I thought was genuinely libelous, in legal terms. But the total number of comments I have rejected for reasons of content other than spam in 3 1/2 years is less than 10, I think. It's really rare, and when it happens it gives me ulcers, because my general goal is to publish every comment, and when I feel a need to violate that personal policy, it bothers me.

(Incidentally, over the last year or so I've also seen the rise of a comment phenomenon that has puzzled me. There are comments submitted that have no relationship whatsoever to anything I have posted, but yet contain no links or obvious advertising key words. My best guess is that these are "fishing expeditions" from spammers. I.e., they are looking to see which blogs publish comments willy-nilly. They can then later search for their weird text strings, see who published them, and target those blogs for the real spam. I have zero evidence for this theory, but it's the only logical thing I can figure might be the case. After the first few of these that I let through, I decided to categorize them with the spam, and reject them.)

Blogger's comments feature has been wonky the last couple of months. It's fairly common that I only get notice of a comment being submitted days or even a couple of weeks after the fact. Also, when I log onto the administrator page, it will tell me something like "13 comments waiting to be moderated," but then when I click on the link to take care of them, none show up, or maybe just one or two. I have no idea what that's about. Perhaps there are some that have been submitted that are in limbo. On some other people's blogs on Blogspot, I have noticed that there is a discrepancy between the number of comments that a blog post says it has, and the actual number that show up when I click on the comments link. I suspect there is some deep and widespread malfunction in Blogger that is responsible for all of this, but I am clueless what it might be.

If you submitted a comment and it doesn't show up within a day or two, most likely there is some technical malfunction, and you should try submitting it again, if it matters to you. I know that's inconvenient, but I know of nothing I can do to resolve the glitchiness.

Another relevant point: People ask me lots of questions via comments, and I don't feel particularly compelled to answer them. There's no formula; I answer if I have time and inclination. Sometimes I don't think a question is very interesting or important. Sometimes it's something I've addressed before, perhaps many times, and a reader just hasn't seen that content. Sometimes people ask personal questions that are none of their business. Sometimes people ask for advice about poker or their lives or their upcoming Vegas vacation, and I just don't feel like investing the time to give any sort of worthwhile response. It may sound cold, but it's just not my job to take on that role.

Finally, people occasionally use the comments to contact me about something, when they really don't want the comment published. That works--as long as you make clear that it's not for publication. But generally it's easier to use email. The email address is and has always been listed in my "profile" there in the left-hand margin.

So that's the whats and wherefores of how the comments go.


Anonymous said...

So......What about the living from poker part. Just saying. Love your blog.

Anonymous said...

So are you saying you never got my original post?

T.J. said...

There are lots of "fishing expeditions" comments these days. They are hoping that you set your comment rules so that once a comment by an author is approved that all his other comments get auto approved. Then he can spam your site with links and hope you do not notice.

Anonymous said...

I for one appreciate you posting all comments when possible. This shows you are willing to show the criticism as well as the praise. Keep up the good work.

SirFWALGMan said...

I have the same guidelines as you except I disabled Anonymous posting. If some clown wants to post something that is fine but I want to know who the clown is.. Obviously people can setup multiple fake accounts but if they are that interested then good for them.