Infrequently Noted

Alex Russell on browsers, standards, and the process of progress.

sick

Home sick today. Can't think, can't sleep, can't breathe through my nose. Blah.

One thing that's making my day a little happier (besides NPR and some wonderful tea) is Gimp.app. I've been a huge fan of the GIMP (2.0) ever since I loaded up one of the RC versions at my last job and realized that I could fix a lot of the UI problems I had with it by dragging the tabs around. The path tool is now fixed, and it's nice and quick. It's nice to have it now for the Mac too. It's only available under X11, which I'm always running anyway because Kmail is still my mail client of choice. Can't wait for GTK2 to be native on OS X.

DUH!

Ok, I've gotta be like the dumbest person ever to not think of this before:

So PageRank (and the derivative that Google uses now) is susceptible to comment spamming in blogs because of the trust relationship that is created between the domain serving content and the linked-to domain. Blog comment spam that targets Google abuses this by re-weighting the links into the "target" domain and giving it un-earned weight (leaving the more general debate about the "earned" weight of blogs aside for now).

So here's the thing: take away the incentive, take away the relationship, load all comments from a "sacrificial" domain and make sure any reference between the "loader" domain and the comment serving domain is tenuous at best (perhaps with JS or some other google-bot unfriendly mechanism). On this point, I'm not sure whether or not Simon's redirect trick is essentially similar, but it would be a requirement.

The point here is that we don't really want to discourage the spammers from posting (we'll deal with that through baysean filtering or some other means), but we want to remove at least this incentive to spam.

On the spam-for-other-reasons front, I just mentioned baysean filtering, and I think that's what is going to have to "win" (or something else that can adapt quickly, think spamassassin). To this end, running comments from a central service that can host the baysean/regex engine, serve you your comments as an IMAP folder (for integration with Thunderbird), and otherwise manage all aspects of your comment problems seems to make a lot of sense to me.

So what says the blog world at large? Would you pay a couple of bucks a months for this? or would you allow someone to put google ads next to your comment system in remuneration for hosting it? Or does something like this already exist and I missed it?

oddpost

Yahoo bought oddpost. Methinks gmail is getting on someone's nerves.

Yet another DHTML UI (presently) goes big-time. Congrats to the oddpost guys.

weekend

What a wonderful 4th weekend. Our original plans for the weekend fell through, but I can't complain. Instead of going to a quaint town in Wisconsin for the fourth, we accepted a last-minute invite to a Giant's game. Noah had club-level seats, so we weren't suffering (although I did eat too much cotton candy).

On Sunday, we drove down to Santa Cruz/Capitola and spent the day on roller coasters and watching fireworks. Fireworks along the California coast are kind of ammusing since they look kind of like colorful heat lighting behind the cool fog that rolls in after sunset. Sunday we drove down to Monterey and went to the acquarium. The drive was beautiful both ways, the otters were great, and both jennifer and I are a little more burned than when we started.

Planning is completely over-rated.

comment spam

So there's a lot of to-do in the blog-app world about comment spam, and here's what I don't get:

Blog people seem to think their messages are any different than anyone else's. Why?

Now that there are interesting and usable approaches to dealing with spam at the edge nodes (baysean filtering seems to be winning the day for those that have it), why can't the same approaches be applied to blog comments? What makes a comment entry so different from a comment on a blog?

I argue nothing.

I fully expect to see the Thunderbird plugin for comment spam filtering any month now.

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