Blog Pile

Way Too High Comment Hurdles

Most bloggers want comments, eh?

After jumping through account forms, questionably readable captchas, how much is one’s spirit to comment crushed when a site mis-labels it as spam, and eats the entire comment. I was unable to overcome these obstacles yesterday.

This started when I read Graham Atwell’s post on Creativity costs money in Second Life… there is sure a lot of bandwagon hopping recently with heavy jumping on both pro and con wagons. And I have my own biases as well having been involved a year in SL activity with NMC.

So, respecting Graham’s previous writings, I spent some time, actually too much time entering my comments in his blog. There are multiple buttons on the web form- am I Anonymous/Join, Login, or just plain old Submit? So on first submit, I got bonked as it said I entered the wrong captcha. That’s strange, as it was moderately readable, and I am lousy typist. The second captcha was a bit harder to discern as 2 letters were pushed together. But I took more time with it. Bonk! Nope. The third time, I was even more deliberate.. typing…. really….. slowly… snapped a shoot for my proof:

Better results, at least the web site was chugging along, hopefully moving my honed words into the green light district.

But oh now, Wales, we have a problem, Now there is a box in the upper left accusing me of being a spammer! My comments that wer in the form are gone… fortunately, I was wary of something going south, so before I submitted, I had copied the text of my comment and saved it in a text file. The stinky spam box suggested I email for help to webmaster at

So I did, including the text of my lost comment.

A few hours later, my inbox had one of these…

and now this morning the mailer apparently tries to resend….

That’s it, the system has beaten me into submission. It should not be this hard to be a commenter, and such practices only knock the incentive out of an audience.

So I am left with leaving my comment here on my blog, where it is much easier for me to get it through the system… After all this time, I really care very little about the original intent of commenting…

Arggghhh – I spent a lot of time trying to compose a comment to “Creativity costs money in Second Life” and, got knocked back twice on a difficult to read captcha, and then accused of trying to spam your site. This is totally un-welcome to comment, and I’d hesitate to every try again.

The environments you described sounds like wnadering in SL– akin to evaluating the entire web by clicking through some randomly chosen web sites that turn out to be porn, get rich quick schemes, cat home pages, and text only rants.

Likewise, as a new environment, this might be the web in 1994, while looking at it with 2006 expectations of what it can do.

As far as avatars, it might seem narcistic to see people focus on avatar appearance, but the mode of identity selection is not fixed by the system to force one to “be something they are not” in RL, the subtext is what people do, not what the system does… a fair number of people seem to design a close mirror to their real selves, and others go the outlandish. I think it’s a mistake to paint this with a huge paintbrush of judgement.

Yes, Linden limits our last “names”, but with some learning of the ways textures and avatars work, there is no limit to what shape you can make– e,g,

I’d agree that a fair number of educators enter with a smaller leap of the environment, the case of seeing a lot of “lectures”, but there are numerous exceptions (spend some time hearing what people are doing on the SLED listserv. To see the kinds of things Librarians are developing on Info Island, the Space Science Musuem (my experience being there live for the space shuttle lift off spelled out what an active shared experience can be-, the NOAA weather simulation, the bio hazards training, virtual Shakespeare… there are activities here which give you a better taste.

Creativity need not have open ended capabilities- there is much creativity in working within limits; and I am not convinced that the opposite holds- a completely free and limitless environment does not necessarily produce more creative works. Many great artists worked with limited supplies. Environments like Hypercard had a limit of tools and functions, but people pushed it far.

Okay, I am sounding like an SL zealot, but I think it is way, way, way too early to pass final judgement with much definite-ness. And I am worried about LindenLabs ability to sustain this monster. Sure some open, shared standards might evolve (in 30 years?). We were asked why we chose SL over some of the other Virtual Worlds, and there was one primary reason– we could use it, explore it, NOW. Things learned here can go elsewhere.

Fortunately today. Sean Fitzgerald posted his much better crafted comments to his own site … so if the lessons is “Forget about putting comments i other people’s sites, just post them on your own” doesn’t that cut out a lot of the feedback/payback for blogging at all?

Don’t let your technology kill the commenter’s spirit!

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Profile Picture for Alan Levine aka CogDog
An early 90s builder of the web and blogging Alan Levine barks at on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person.


  1. Alan,

    I had a similar experience.

    When I clicked on the validation link, I got a message saying the comment had been approved. I waited and waited, but it never came through.

    I was struck with the frustrating lesson that I had no control over my comments, and no way to make my views known to Attwell.

    Not being a blogger myself, this prompted me to come up with a solution I had complete control over –

    I’ve learnt the lesson of taking ages to create well crafted posts or comments, only to have all my good work disappear into the ether, so I’ve also learnt to save a copy into Notepad just in case.

    Hours later, I did a little test and was able to post to Attwells blog. I could edit my test, so I was finally able to leave my comments.

    On your comments… it is very much like the WWW circa 1994… a great mass of websites and people weren’t too sure where to start. An understanding of what’s out there and how to find it through search engines, directories and recommendations has taken a decade to develop to where we are today.

    What some critics are doing with Second Life is a bit like throwing a dart at the WWW and complaining when it hits a porn site… which is probably likely!

  2. This is the second time this has happened to me today… once also over at Leigh Blackall’s new blog –

    WordPress picked up the period at the end of my link and made it part of the URL!

    Here it is again –

    How ironic on a post about technological stuff-ups! :-)

    [editor note- this was corrected in Sean’s earlier comment. For what its worth, software code for determining what is a URL and what is not is rather tricky (MS products nearly always grab a parentheses), As a rule, I avoid including URLs in sentences with proper punctuation, either leave off the period, or put the URL on a separate line]

  3. I feel lucky to be back amongst the ranks of bloggers who don’t get spam. I don’t need to moderate comments, or present captchas or anything else. On a previous blog I got so much spam that it shut down my hosting server – even with all kinds of spam blocking – but now I never see spam. Too bad there’s no middle ground, where I could have more of the readers I used to have, and all of the spam I currently have.

  4. Spam shall find you, have no fear, David. Enjoy the quiet repreive while it lasts.

    I consider it a tattered badge of honor, and I know plenty of others who make my spam load seem like minuscule muse turds.

  5. I’ve been keen to comment on Graham Attwell’s site in the past as well but it all looks way too complex – what platform does he use, because it looks very unique – so I haven’t.

  6. When I tested the comments I entitled the test ‘Is this thing on?’… when I saw it worked I was given the option to edit the comment title and content. I changed the title to ‘I suggest you take a closer look before passing judgement’ and re-entered the comment. However, the comment is still entitled ‘Is this thing on?’ from the main blog page, so there is no real indication that my comment is there.

    It’s also worth noting that the permalink to his later post – ‘More on Second Life – Convince Me’ returns an error, so we can’t even link directly to it.

    Alan, you say ‘This high level non-functionality of the blog is surely a way to non-promote the product, eh?.’ It’s also a way to give the impression that an open dialogue is not sought.

  7. You have more persistence than I, Sean ;-) However, I admit maybe being overly critical, as on more than one occasion my blog, websites, etc have failed in functionality miserably (the most repeat commenter on CDB gets spanked by SpamKarma 2 after 200 some comments, and I cannot figure out why– D’Arcy, maybe try w/o the apostrophe in your first name).

    In the spirit of holidays, and general aiming to give folks a chance, I’ll give some slack to Graham Atwell and maybe he will attend to his comment issues.

    That said, never underestimate the cost to users of web sites if for whatever valid reasons, you make them jump hurdles to participate.


  8. Thanks for confirming. If I can only figure out how to hack SK2 or get the attention of the Evil Genious Dr Dave, you can have your postrophe back

  9. Hi – thanks to all of you who tried to add comments – and yes I like comments very much. I now the problems – can’t even get the system to work myself to reply to your comments (when they get through).

    Problem – I think – is that as spam got ever more prevalent the systems developers added more layers of security to the extent that teh system is broken.

    Am talking with them about how to solve it……

    NB for those curious the system is called Knotes and runs in Plone.

  10. Thanks for commenting in Graham, and best of luck sorting out the spam barriers.

    Just remember folks, that the Great and Powerful Google, who publicly pledge “Do No Evil”, provides the entire incentive for spammer’s activity.

    So, as you waste time moderating comments, trying to get captchas or other tools working, or just give up in desperation, that perhaps the Great Google Minds could come up with a scheme that would punish forever a bestiality site that inserts links to itself in some poor educators blog. That is evil in my book.

    Someone really needs to start a public campaign and remind them that in its current practice– Google Rewards Evil.

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