October 12, 2006

A Note on Rejected Comments

Justin Katz

We've had enough readers email to ask why their comments have been rejected that it's worth offering a preemptive explanation.

Since we're constantly inundated with automatically generated comment spam, we employ a variety of solutions to cut down on the amount. One solution is to close down comments and trackbacks after a certain period of time. Another is to compare comments to a list of suspect phrases and URLs.

Because our list of banned text allows a limited number of entries, the challenge for us has been to ban the broadest phrase without capturing words that readers might legitimately write. Unfortunately, as we've recently discovered, this challenge is made all the more difficult, because the software doesn't differentiate between punctuation and spaces.

If a comment of yours to one of our posts is rejected, a flashing red error message will appear that will end with the suspect text. A case in point:

Your comment could not be submitted due to questionable content: Host Com

In this case, the problematic series of letters is "host com," as in "host communications," because "host.com" is banned.

I've plans to change our software, but there are no fixes that are simple enough for me to implement quickly. And I simply haven't had the time to take the care necessary for a more integral — and therefore more perilous — set-up. In other words, the option, for the time being, is between living with the occasional error in comment rejection and risking a complete collapse of Anchor Rising's software that I haven't the time to fix expediently.

I apologize for any inconvenience, but I've had to choose the former.