Mark One Up for the Spammers

Album Cover: Wincing the Night Away

"It's like I'm perched on the handlebars of a blind man's bike."
The Shins / Spilt Needles

Posted on March 28, 2004 9:13 PM in Miscellaneous
Warning: This blog entry was written two or more years ago. Therefore, it may contain broken links, out-dated or misleading content, or information that is just plain wrong. Please read on with caution.

Tonight, while appropriately rolling through my blogroll, I read Asa Dotzler's latest post and was quickly reminded of Jack Horkheimer's "Stargazer" show that I used to see on PBS all the time when I was a kid. I was fascinated by that show, I think moreso because of the theme song than anything else (PBS seems to have a knack for finding shows with good theme songs...think Red Dwarf), but the space facts often intrigued me as well. This reminiscing, in turn, led me to try and post the following comment on Asa's blog:

My only question is, were you wearing a Members Only jacket when you wrote this post?

Amusing, I thought. Since I didn't know if Asa's blog supported HTML links, I decided to preview my post before submitting. That's where a simple, funny comment went terribly wrong. After previewing my post and finding that the HTML links were allowed afterall, I hit the submit button. I was presented with the following message:

In an effort to curb malicious comment posting by abusive users, I've enabled a feature that requires a weblog commenter to wait a short amount of time before being able to post again. Please try to post your comment again in a short while. Thanks for your patience.

It didn't make any sense to me that simply previewing my post would count as anything that might exclude me from posting for a "short while" (which up to this point has proven to be more than 20 minutes...and counting). However, I quickly remembered that Asa has had trouble with commenting in the past (most often due to MozillaZine problems that he has no control over) and even more recently has had problems with comment spamming – so I don't blame Asa.

However, this is a perfect example of a case in which spammers have won. Because some troll went and digitally vandalized Asa's site, he in turn had to come up with some solution to keep it from happening, which then ended up keeping me, an innocent blog reader, from making an innocent comment. Even though my comment was nothing more than a joke, the problem is not a small one. When I decided I should contact Asa personally to let him know of the problem (i.e. counting a post preview as an actual post is erroneous), I quickly learned that my only method of contacting Asa – without scouring the web for another method, at least – was via comments. Why? Most likely due to the fact that the other, much older breed of spammers – those who prefer SMTP as opposed to HTTP – keep him from making any other form of communication available to his blog's visitors.

As small as this one case might seem, it is nonetheless another in which the spammers have won.

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