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Sunday, March 29, 2009

Sorry for the inconvenience

I apologize for the fact that (hopefully) for the short term you will have to fill in one of those 'CAPTCHA' fields with nonsense collections of letters and numbers in order to submit a comment.  This is the only way to make sure I don't have to delete dozens of spam messages a day... something I've started having to do again recently.

I wrote to the folks at Typepad to complain about the small flood of spam comments I've been getting, and this was their unhelpful [canned] response:

Thanks for the note.   As you noticed, we changed the spam filtering
recently.  While this means a bit more spam is getting through right
now, over the long term, this will help to better train our filters to
identify spam from legitimate comments.   We do apologize for the
inconvenience.

Lets parse that, shall we?

"Thanks for the note." 

Translation: This is an automated response.  No actual human being will ever see your request for help. 

"As you noticed, we changed the spam filtering recently." 

Translation:  We lowered the shields on 'Starship Typepad' for reasons that only make sense to us. So now that we are getting flooded with complaints like yours, we've written this handy automatic response so we don't have to talk to you. 

"While this means a bit more spam is getting through right now, over the long term, this will help to better train our filters to identify spam from legitimate comments."  

Translation:  While this means you will be totally exposed to every spambot on the planet for the next few months, it is a lot cheaper to let you train our spam filters with your all-night comment deleting sessions than for us to go out and buy any of the perfectly good anti-spam algorithms currently available on the market. Suck it up and stop your whining.

So again, I apologize for the inconvenience that you will have to take an extra few seconds to fill in the CAPTCHA field in order to leave a comment.  I'm hoping that this is a temporary measure, and that my blog host will eventually get its head out of its nether regions and actually discover the meaning of customer service.

[Needless to say, if you are able to leave a comment without filling in a CAPTCHA field, let me know.  thanks]

Posted by David Bogner on March 29, 2009 | Permalink

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One word: WordPress (or is that one compound word)

Posted by: Avi | Mar 29, 2009 10:58:57 AM

There has got to be a reason why all the professional bloggers use wordpress - thank the Lord I started out with them - I would have no idea what to do if else. Nicer themes and easier to use than anyone - I cannot stress how awesome wordpress is compared to everyone else.

Posted by: Heshy | Mar 29, 2009 11:48:56 AM

I forgive you...for the time being.
;P

Posted by: QuietusLeo | Mar 29, 2009 12:26:09 PM

wordPress.....

Posted by: Hadassah | Mar 29, 2009 1:55:00 PM

Testing... Yep, there's the capcha...

Posted by: annie | Mar 29, 2009 5:23:49 PM

I feel your pain. Between the spam and inappropriate comments I have been forced to turn on comment moderation.

It is a major pain.

Posted by: Jack | Mar 29, 2009 8:17:44 PM

I feel your pain. Between the spam and inappropriate comments I have been forced to turn on comment moderation.

It is a major pain.

Posted by: Jack | Mar 29, 2009 8:17:45 PM

I just had to add one more...

WordPress

Love 'em, great filtering, great themes, just plain great.

Posted by: Jesse | Mar 29, 2009 11:34:41 PM

Never mind WordPress. I use Haloscan commenting and trackback, and spam is a rarity.

Besides, Spam ain't kosher. What's that Spam-like meat product that's so popular in Israel? We oughta use that to denote Spam on Israeli blogs.

Posted by: Elisson | Mar 30, 2009 4:37:24 AM

I'm reminded of this line by the late comedian Mitch Hedberg:

"An escalator can never break: it can only become stairs. You would never see an Escalator Temporarily Out Of Order sign, just Escalator Temporarily Stairs. Sorry for the convenience."

Posted by: Dave (Balashon) | Mar 30, 2009 9:39:22 AM

100mg x 90 pills $159.95 price

:)

Yep, there's a captcha.

Posted by: Karl Newma....er, Missouri Moore | Mar 30, 2009 10:28:34 AM

While I agree it's probably annoying that they switched their spam filters, the system really does work the way they say it does. All of the 'good' spam algorithms on the internet today work as online Bayesian classification systems, pretty much. That is; the system starts with a simple model of what constitutes spam. This model then is 'trained' by a significant number of inputs so it can refine its understanding of the relevant statistical distribution of words (e.g. a certain drug that treats a regrettable male condition often occurs in spam, but very infrequently in not-spam. Just how often this occurs can be determined using training.). The point being that the model will have a bad model of the ever-changing spam population that needs to be refined by training.

It doesn't mean they are lazy - they probably actually got a better spam filter (it uses extra layers of probability, better document classification, etc.), but it needs training. *shrugs* It sucks, and they should have had a much better transition IMO, but it's probably not gross incompetence or laziness on their part. That's how all of these models work, after all.

Posted by: matlabfreak | Mar 30, 2009 12:27:33 PM

Ellison - the Spam-like stuff is called in Hebrew: "loof" which is a bastardization of the English "meatloaf", a legacy of the British Mandate.
I don't know how much meat is in the can and it certainly doesn't resemble any loaf I've seen, but the name has stuck.

Posted by: QuietusLeo | Mar 30, 2009 3:40:17 PM

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