Part of my daily routine here at Econsultancy is to log into the admin section of the site and run through the new blog comments.
The blog currently has an Akismet spam filter, which sweeps posts it deems dodgy under the digital carpet, but unfortunately it isn’t perfect.
Recently there have been a few comments about this unreliability, so I thought it might be handy if I clarified how the system works and why you might occasionally see a comment you posted disappear…
First of all, I love comments. I love constructive feedback. Keep it coming please!
I do get vaguely annoyed at non-constructive feedback, I think that comment snark is pointless. It doesn’t impress anyone or add to the discussion (and hey, it’s so 2006), but despite this, I’ll never remove your comment for being snarky.
In fact, it’s pretty tough to find anything that will make me remove your comment, unless you are being gratuitously offensive or personally attacking someone, which thankfully happens very rarely around these parts, because our readers are generally very lovely people indeed.
Why comments are ‘spam filtered’
You might sometimes post a comment and then see it vanish. Here’s why this might be:
- Akismet makes periodic ‘sweeps’ of new comments. It then relegates any it deems as spammy to the spam folder.
- If you’ve posted a comment with a weird screen name, or attached to a dodgy email address, it might get picked up and spammed.
- If you’ve included a large block of text, or multiple links, it might also be marked as spam.
- If you’ve posted multiple comments on numerous posts in a short period of time, you might be marked as spam.
And that’s it. If you’ve written a good comment, whether you agree or disagree with the article in question, I will absolutely not remove your comment. The blog exists as much to encourage conversation and help people as it does to drive traffic.
I want dissent, because that’s where creativity and insight come from.
With that said, do try to use your real name if possible. As in “John Smith”. NOT “John Smith, Head Director Of Headhunting at Headhunting sytems ltd”, tied to the email ‘firstname.lastname@example.org’.
Your name is not ‘Web Services Gloucester’. If you use this name, then it’s into the bin with you. If you are using a screen name then try to use something vaguely sensible-ish. Your Twitter handle is usually fine, whereas “Xgtykb345” probably isn’t.
Here’s a quick example of the kinds of problems this occasionally causes:
On March 12th we published this post: Five Pointless Discussion Posts.
Here are the comments:
The comment highlighted in red was picked up by Akismet.
The three underneath were not. However if we take a quick look in the back-end of the site we see that 149 other comments were also labelled as spam:
This is an exceptionally high amount, but it’s not totally unknown, and we often post between 15 and 20 times a day.
If you’ve been picked up and I’ve unspammed you then Akismet should ‘learn’ that you are not a spammer, but occasionally it takes a dislike to certain email domains and picks on individuals.
In addition, if a lot of comments appear on a post at once, it regards this as suspicious, which does go against logic somewhat as we often get flurries of comments after a post is tweeted or appears on an external site.
I do try to keep on top of this and have a run through every day to check, but if your comment on a post does vanish, please do let us know via Twitter or email and we’ll get it published live as soon as possible.
I’m sure I’m not the only moderator with this problem and we are looking into ways to make both posting and moderation more efficient and accurate, but I wanted to make it clear that there is never any political or commercial motivation behind comments being deleted, and if it does happen to you, while I realise it’s frustrating and can disrupt conversation, I’ll do my best to make sure your comment is published.
Thanks – and do feel free to comment!