I was excited when we upgraded Movable Type a few months ago, because I thought it would solve all my comment spam problems. I was tired of having to weed out publicly visible comment spam all the time. I would be able to moderate comments easily, and I had heard that once a person commented the first time, he/she could be cleared to comment without moderation thereafter. I figured I could ban any of the worst comment spammers.
It turned out that the latest version of MT is totally crappy for handling comment spam. You can moderate comments before they appear on the site, but unless you are requiring users to have TypeKey accounts, you can’t ban spammers or anything like that. (Or if you can, the documentation and UI are so crummy that we could not figure out how.) I didn’t want to require that commenters register for TypeKey accounts; I don’t have one myself and I hate making people register yet another time on the Web just so they can comment. As a result, I had to deal with 100-plus spam comments a day, clogging my In box with email notifications and requiring I clear out the comment queue.
I tried to make the comment filter more restrictive so the spam comments would all go in the MT junk folder, but as a result the legitimate comments from many of you ended up in the junk folder and had to be weeded out manually. I am sure I missed a few, and threw away some perfectly fine comments that I didn’t see, and I apologize if yours was one of them. I had more than 500 junk comments in my folder just last night … after cleaning them out last week. It was a complete mess.
My fiance Beau noticed how frustrated I was and promised to look around for some solution. I was an inch away from disabling comments altogether, because wading through so many spammy ones for a few good ones seemed barely worth the effort. Beau found out that although the latest MT code was advertised as being even better for designing plug-ins, few people had created their own plug-ins. He wanted a plug-in that would force a comment preview, which wouldn’t be too annoying for users but ought to stop spammers. He ended up writing a plug-in for forced comment preview himself, which he activated on this site earlier today.
What this means for you: When you leave a comment, you now have to preview it before you can post it. Click the Preview button after you write your comment, make sure everything’s okay, then hit the Post button. Comments are still moderated, so after you post your comment it won’t be visible until I activate it. However, if I’m online it’s easy for me to activate the comment as soon as I get the email notification.
Since Beau has activated this plug-in, I’ve had no spam comments whatsoever. I hope this works in the long term. You cannot imagine how happy and relieved I am today. Again, if a previous comment of yours got lost in the comment chaos, I’m sorry … please don’t take it personally. And feel free to post all the comments you like, as long as you are not advertising some dubious product.
(And if you’re a MT user and interested in the plug-in, I’m sure Beau will post the code somewhere soon. I’ll keep you updated.)