A new look for the blog

If you frequent this blog, you will notice a minor change in the look of the individual posts. I’ve changed the way comments are handled.

One of the downsides of operating a blog is dealing with the spam comments. It doesn’t start out as a problem, it just grows over time.

When I launched the site in the fall of 2012, I was happy to get any interaction, even if it was a spam comment. I had Akismet active, so getting a spam comment or two wasn’t a problem. Every few days I would log-in to the blog and clean out the 10-15 comments that had built up.

As traffic grew over the last year, the spam problem got worse – to the point of becoming a nuisance. If I let the blog sit for a week, I would open the dashboard with over 7,000 spam comments. There were points during the day where I would get 5-10 spam comments every minute or two! It was flat out ridiculous.

There were so many spam comments that I couldn’t review them in case legitimate comments were tagged improperly. I would just go into the comment section and empty the spam folder without doing any review. It was the only way to keep the back-end of the site manageable. It also meant that my existing spam solution wasn’t working. I would have been better off not allowing comments at all. Something had to be done.

I decided it was time to try a new spam solution, so I installed Disqus. What a difference since making the change. The number of spam comments has been reduced to virtually zero over the last month. I’m back to a situation where I can actually manage comments on the site.

Disqus is really easy to setup. You simply sign up for an account on their site and follow their download instructions. For a WordPress blog, it’s as simple as loading in a plug-in and following their setup instructions. Best of all, just like the Akismet personal plan, it’s free.

One of the unfortunate side effects of using Disqus is that it does require you to validate your email address with the service the first time you post as a guest, or you can log-in with a social account like Twitter or Facebook. I could change this requirement in the Disqus settings, but my goal is to keep the spam to a minimum. I realize that this may be an inconvenience, but it’s the only way that I can keep the spam problem under control and not accidentally delete comments you may try to leave.

Over time, I hope that this will lead to an improvement in the interaction on the site. So far, it has only led to a massive reduction in the number of spam comments. It’s a welcome relief, even if it means adding a little overhead to the commenting process.

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