Five O'Clock Somewhere

Welcome to Five O'Clock Somewhere, where it doesn't matter what time zone you're in; it's five o'clock somewhere. We'll look at rural life, especially as it happens in Rio Arriba County, New Mexico, cats, sailing (particularly Etchells racing yachts), and bits of grammar and Victorian poetry.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

When a Few Jerks Ruin Things for the Rest of Us

This blog was recently hit by an annoying piece of spam sent out by an automated system. I will not censor comments except in the event of content that I deem to be utterly inappropriate, such as obscene language. In this case, a comment was planted by an automated system, and it was an advertisement that made no reference to the post that it was supposedly commenting upon. I consider that to be as inappropriate as obscene language.

As I was going through the steps to delete that comment, I found a setting that I could apply to my blog to prevent automated systems from posting comments. Unfortunately, that method includes a verification step that I consider to be unduly burdensome upon people who are making comments, and might actually deter them from making comments. So for now, I’m not adding that shield. However, if the automated spam comments become too pervasive, I may have to. And that will be one more instance in which the antisocial behavior of a few people forces the rest of us to go through some additional, annoying hassle.

Telephone solicitors have also caused a similar effect. I no longer answer the telephone. I let the answering machine pick up (the first thing the machine’s outgoing message says is, “If you are soliciting, please add this number to your do-not-call list”), and then, if the caller isn’t a telemarketer, I will get on the line. Since the advent of the “do not call” registry, the number of telemarketing calls I get has gone down, but not enough for me to answer the telephone unless I’m expecting an important call. Even then, two thirds of the calls I get are from telemarketers. People who try to call me don’t like having to talk to a machine before they can talk to me (and some refuse to talk to a machine and hang up), but it’s purely self-defense. If I answered every single incoming call, I wouldn’t have enough time in the day to get anything done, because I’d be spending all my time and energy fending off salespeople. The telephone company, for a price, will allow me to block incoming calls from unidentified numbers – but why should I have to pay anything? I subscribe to telephone service in order to be in touch with the world, not to become a victim of high-pressure sales pitches.

So the score at the moment is Advertisers 1, Me 1. The advertisers won in the telephone issue; they’ve succeeded in making me change the way I use the telephone, so people who want to communicate with me have an extra hoop to jump through. (Funny thing is, probably the advertisers don’t consider it a win, since I’ve become less accessible to them!)

So far, however, they haven’t made me run for cover with the blog. And I hope they never do.


Anonymous jerry said...

There is a large and carefully-maintained black list of ip addresses and domains that spam-bomb comment systems. I suspect that blogspot is active in maintaining that list and uses it to filter comments, or you would be seeing a lot more spam than you have. Blogspot likely also monitors for activity that looks like it comes from an automated system and blocks those posts before you ever see them.

Some spam will still get through, but rarely twice from the same system. I agree with you that freedom to post is much more important than knuckling under to the spammers.

Wed Sep 14, 03:38:00 AM MDT  

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