Moribund Type

Second, the category trackback feature, where, for instance, I can configure my blog to automatically ping the Austin Bloggers web site anytime I post a blog entry in the Austin category is nice. I've yet to see another blog tool that supports that out-of-the-box.

The final reason for sticking with Movable Type is that I'm too lazy to re-do my templates. I haven't run the same blog design for the past three and a half years because I love it so much. I do it because it works and I'm too bloody lazy to update.

So several months back, when it came time to do server updates, I chose to upgrade to Movable Type 3 rather than migrate to a new blog platform. The thing about the update that had me most excited was the new anti-spam capabilities. Now, after several months usage, I'm a lot less enthusiastic.

I was glad to see that comment (and trackback) moderation was added in Movable Type 3, but it's not worked as well as I'd hoped. In fact, I've turned it off on my blog, resorting to the old "clean up after-the-fact" behavior.

The first problem is that I want regular readers to be able to post comments directly, without moderation or any delays, but for all practical purposes the only way I've found to do that is through Typekey registration, and I won't do that. I won't force my readers to register, and I certainly won't do it with a third-party service. What I want is a way to say, for instance, if a comment is posted by Adam or Adina or one of my other regular readers, then just post it; and if a new reader stumbles on my blog and leaves a comment, moderate them only the first time.

The other problem is that the Movable Type comment moderation mechanism effectively converts comment spam to email spam. That reduces the spam annoyance, but it's still plenty irritating. Just ask my girlfriend who has been suffering upwards of 30-50 comment moderation messages a day.

This is all too bad, because there is a silver bullet approach to comment spam: force commenters to preview prior to posting. That simple step appears to be completely effective against all current comment spam 'bots. This measure could be defeated by more sophisticated "screen scraping" bots, but in the spam war it's good enough to stay just one step ahead.

I did find a Movable Type plugin that did just this, but I wasn't happy with it. Among other things, it included a CGI that tried to rewrite portions of the Movable Type installation (yikes!), which failed on the current release. Also, the mechanism it used was a text checksum, which forces the commenter to preview the exact text they want to post. I didn't want to force the person to do another preview just because they corrected a small typo. I just want to ensure they've been through preview once, to weed out the posting 'bots.

So, I did my own. It's called Force Preview and you can find it here. The method I chose was that when the commenter performs preview, they get a secure, hidden token that permits them to make further changes and submit a comment on the given entry.

If you are one of the few remaining schmucks (like me) still using Movable Type, I recommend checking it out. It has completely eliminated comment spam from the blogs I host.

Comments

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re: Moribund Type

Chip,

I'm still using MT as well, and the only spam I get now is trackback. (I should just turn it off like everybody else does). What was wrong with the "MT-Keystrokes" plugin in your case?

re: Moribund Type

Mike - I found that plugin here: http://overstated.net/projects/mt-keystrokes/

From the description, it looks like it ought to be reliable and unobtrusive in most instances.

My concern with that plugin is that you won't be able to post a comment if Javascript isn't enabled in your browser. This may, for instance, have a negative accessibility impact. I'd prefer that a site degrade gracefully when a client can't do Javascript.

re: Moribund Type

You make some good points. I don't think Movable Type is dying a fast or slow death by any means at this point. Drupal has some advantages for community sites, but I haven't seen any advantages for running a personal or small group site.

The static/dynamic issue is an interesting one. We use a combination of the two on our site, and would probably switch the setup on the fly if we found ourselves dealing with a slashdotting or Digg front page.