The horizon is not so far as we can see, but as far as we can imagine

New CAPTCHA Added for Comments

Most readers never comment, if that’s you, ignore this missive.

The site went down today for a few hours because of a comment spam attack.

Comments that trigger the site’s spam filter will now be given a CAPTCHA to complete. If you complete it, your comment will go into moderation.

If you fail the CAPTCHA, your comment will be deleted immediately and permanently so that my ISP doesn’t shut the site down again.

So, if you are served a CAPTCHA, I strongly suggest you make a copy of the code (CTRL-C on a Windows machine) before filling in the CAPTCHA, in case you make a mistake.

Hope you’re all having a great Christmas week!


On Hate


Live Preview for Comments


  1. V. Arnold

    Hmm, testing. Bummer about the spambots, but sites like this go against the prevailing view, no?

  2. Ian Welsh

    Took me about 3 hours to fix, and 1hr 40 minutes on hold, so I’m motivated to make it stop.

    That said, most real comments never hit the spam filter.

    Just remember, if you do, save a copy of the comment, and you’ll be fine.

  3. V. Arnold

    Thanks for that clarification about what to C&P.
    No problem for my comment.

  4. Steeleweed

    Agonist had spam attacks of yore even though we require login to comment. Spammers were accessing WP’s trackback module directly.
    I renamed wp-trackback.php and ths spamming stopped.
    Of course, this precluded genuine trackback/pingback but we felt stopping the spam was more important.

    Good Luck

  5. scruff

    Strange… I remember seeing ‘On Hate” posted to Reddit’s “anarchism” sub yesterday, and it was the first of your posts to have received any comments. That place has become so intolerant of late, it makes me wonder.

  6. Oaktown Girl

    Sorry to hear about the spam attack and the time you spent trying to get it sorted. I don’t know how things are now, but back in the day, trying to post a link (no matter how benign) in the comments could send you to the spam filter until a moderator let you out. Sometimes even html stuff like block quotes or italics might trigger the spam alert. If that happens here I don’t think anyone will have to be stuck in moderation very long, as you seem to very on top of things.

  7. Ian Welsh

    Too many links will throw you to the comment spam queue, but I do keep an eye on it.

    71 spam since this morning, stopped by the CAPTCHA. That’s way more than in the past, I used to hardly get any, but nothing compared to the somewhat over 1K that hit the site yesterday.

    Only six comments on Reddit. Seem not to understand that you can be against something or someone without hating it. I do hope it wasn’t caused by Reddit, I have good memories of the place, though I’m not active any more.

  8. S Brennan

    Sorry to hear your grief Ian.

    FYI, while Joseph and I have not always seen eye to eye I review his blog at least a couple of times a week [Cannonfire] and I am sad to report he has had a heart-attack…but is recovering.

  9. Ian Welsh

    Ah, lousy news on Joseph. But thanks for letting us know.

  10. Comment verification is a pain in the ass. Thanks Ian for giving us the heads up.

    Happy New Year!

  11. CMike

    Not to change the subject but what would be involved with having a Preview feature? Then again having a copy of a comment that you’ve tested out at a blogspot site would come in handy if CAPTCHA were to deep six it when you tried to post it here.

  12. Tony Wikrent

    First, I hope you are having a happy holidays season. Second, regarding the spamtack: is there a pattern and / or source that can be discerned?

  13. markfromireland

    @ CMike December 28, 2015

    Ian would need to either install a plugin or install a new theme which included such a feature. I’d welcome such a feature and have it on my own site BUT there’s a downside. This site runs on WordPress and every bell hoop and whistle you add to a WordPress site involves extra processing generally (very broad brush here) either running extra database queries or something like jquery.

    Ian’s on a budget host and you can be very certain that they monitor his usage of processor and memory resources together with that of the other hosted sites on their servers. Once he goes over their limits which would be set very low they’d suspend his site – and indeed have done so very recently in response to a spam attack which is why Ian has had to install the CAPTCHA plug in. This isn’t unreasonable it is a cheap hosting plan and each spam comment irrespective of whether it goes through or not represents a ‘hit’ and thus uses resources.

    To get a more modern theme, and to add a few plugins Ian would probably need to change host which may also involve changing the registrar for his domain. That’s not a huge amount of extra hassle and expense but it does involve Ian in extra hassle and expense. And after all there’s nothing to stop you writing your comment in notepad or wordpad or similar and copying and pasting from that into the comment box here.

    Hope this helps.


  14. markfromireland

    @ Ian

    Spam attacks seem to come and go in waves. My son refers to them as “spam storms” which isn’t a bad analogy at all. If your experience is anything like mine you should find it dies off in a while especially as you’ve now got added anti-spam measures in place.


  15. cmike


    Thanks for the explanation. What I usually do, having lost a few long ones in the past, is to compose a comment in Notepad and paste the ones with a link into some sort of html tester like a comment field at a Blogspot site where I preview it, click back to the edit field there, copy the text if it worked, and then paste it into the appropriate thread here. My last step is to erase my tracks at the Blogspot site. With my earlier comment I was lobbying for a situation in which I could cut out the middle man from my process all together.

  16. cmike

    Broke with my procedure and ended addressing my comment to mifi instead of mfi. That should be the final failure that teaches me once and for all not to live on the edge by posting without previewing, but I doubt that it will be.

  17. Ian Welsh

    I need to upgrade to a mobile friendly theme. When that is done, I may see about adding preview to the comments.

  18. markfromireland

    @ cmike

    Assuming you\’re on windows there are lots of free editors that will allow you to create a link and test it.

    I use Notetab Pro which is a paid for program but I used the freeby version for years.

    Here\’s a list which will immediately go into moderation because of all the links (sorry Ian) of free HTML/XHTML editors that will do what you want:

    Aptana Studio 3
    jEdit HTML Editor
    Programmer’s Notepad
    Sublime Text 2
    SynWrite Editor

    Alternatively if you like a wysiwyg interface you can use Microsoft\’s free blogging tool LiveWriter:

    Download Windows Live Writer from Official Microsoft Download Center

    Write your comment + links in the wysiwy window then click the tab for html view and copy/paste. I use this product myself for blogging and have done for years. It\’s superb and I recommend it thoroughly.


  19. Oaktown Girl

    I love having the preview feature for comments, and if Ian can get one without too much cost or hassle, I’m totally in favor of that.

    Previewing comments is especially handy when you’re including any html such as links, blockquotes, etc. If you make one tiny typo your whole comment looks like you were trying to post while you were high. Then you have to post another comment to re-do and apologize for the messed up comment; but that’s kind of dicey because now you feel like you’re on the verge of singlehandedly clogging up what had heretofore been an elegant comment thread. Nevermind, that last part is probably just me.

  20. Ian Welsh

    You haven’t lived till you’ve lost a 2,000 word post to an accidental highlight and delete (with no reversal possible in WordPress’s editor.) Save frequently, children, save frequently.

    You guys have missed a few posts as a result of that. “No, I am not rewriting those 2K words). OTOH, I have rewritten a few, and usually they’re better for it.

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