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Articles about this blog and web site.

The Wisdom of Dumb People

I'm told that in this way new web 2.0 world we're supposed to trust to the wisdom of the masses. User-generated content! Crowdsourcing! Digging and tagging!

That's great, except for one small thing: 50% of those people are below average—or worse! Trust to the wisdom of crowds? I'd rather trust to the wisdom of smart people.

I have a feature on my website that asks people to "rate this article". After about a year, I'm ready to declare the experiment a failure.

I've tinkered with the algorithm. I think I have the formula right, but the results are still bogus. All I've done is create a mechanism that identifies which articles are most visited by spammers. (For some inexplicable reason, spammers often click the rating widget before posting their link for penis pills.)

I know it's out of fashion, but I like it when smart people help me make choices. We have a name for those smart people: we call them editors.

Get Social

A note, primarily to my readers (both of them) who follow this blog by RSS.

I've added a bunch of social network badges to the sidebar of my site. If you know me, feel free to friend me or stalk me or whatever it is you kids do these days.

Rate this Post

Thanks to Holidailies, I've been blogging a lot lately. I think I've had some pretty good posts. Unfortunately, I think those posts are getting harder for people to find, given the overall amount of posting activity.

I thought it might be nice to highlight some of the more interesting posts. One approach would be for me to flag the posts that I thought deserved attention. Another is to let my readers decide which posts are more interesting.

Since I recently moved to the Drupal content management system, it's possible for me to add new functions to the site such as content rating. So, the other day I added the fivestar module so visitors could rate my blog posts. Then, I setup a custom view of the most popular blog posts.

Blog Reloaded

Yesterday marked the start of both Holidailies 2007 and my new blog. Yesterday I talked about Holidailies. Today, it's the blog.

In an unrelated coincidence (as opposed to those other kinds of coincidences), my five year blog anniversary just passed. My enthusiasm for blogging remains as high as ever—in the theoretical sense. In practice, my web site was growing crufty and so to was my posting.

Holidailies 2007 gives me an opportunity to address both.

First, I hope the "one post every day" goal of Holidailies will rekindle the regular posting habit. I'm a firm believer in not saying anything when you have nothing to say, but I think I've got more than one or two posts a month in me. I hope Holidailies will reintroduce me to the blogging habit.

Second, the last major change to my web site was five years ago, when I added a Movable Type blog to my static site. The blog opened up my web site to a torrent of new content. The pace, however, has slackened this past year. I hope that modernizing my site by moving to a complete content management system (CMS) will have a similar effect.

Twiddled Privilege Bits Get Me Thirty Days

It appears I'm signed up to do a lot of blogging over the next thirty days. I didn't really plan on being here. What's worse, with this lame meta post, I'm not off to a particularly auspicious start.

Holidailies 2005 begins today. That's a collaborative writing project that Jette started five years ago. The idea is that online web writers get together and post one entry a day, every day, over the month-long holiday season. It started as sort of a marathon for online journal writers.

Apologies to RSS Readers

People viewing this blog via RSS may be seeing recent articles reposted. I'm converting the site from HTML 4.01 to XHTML 1.0. I've made markup corrections to a lot of articles, and the updates may be appearing in your RSS stream. Sorry for any inconvenience.

Comment Author Email Addresses Enabled

A week ago I disabled links to email addresses for comment authors. Tonight, I enabled them again.

When somebody leaves a comment, I don't spam spiders harvesting their email address. Movable Type has protections against this, but they don't work. So, I stopped publishing those addresses while I worked on finding a technique that is effective.

I think I've got that technique now. I'll leave a comment on this posting. You can view the source to see what you think.

I'll publish the code here once I have a chance to finish testing and documenting it.

Apr 29 update: It's published.

Movable Type MT-Blacklist Hack: Rebuild after Ping

I recently modified my blog to put the trackback information on the entry page, thus eliminating the separate pop-up. On a stock Movable Type setup this presents a problem. When Movable Type receives a trackback ping it rebuilds the necessary index pages, but it doesn't rebuild the entry page. This means that although the blog main index page may show that a ping was received for an entry, when you go to read that entry the trackback may not be listed. A manual rebuild of the entry page would be required before that trackback was listed.

Phil Ringnalda has published a note that describes how to force an entry rebuild when a trackback ping is received. The note describes a modification to the ping method in the lib/MT/App/Trackback.pm file.

Unfortunately, if you use the popular MT-Blacklist add-on, this method is overridden. For MT-Blacklist v1.63, I had to place the modification in the extlib/jayallen/MTBlPing.pm file.

I made one other change. Normally, Movable Type calls for an index rebuild after the trackback ping is processed. Phil added a second rebuild: an entry rebuild with dependency rebuild disabled. I combined them all into a single rebuild: an entry rebuild with dependency rebuild enabled. I thought that may be a little more efficient, which is a concern since all this is done while the client is waiting for the trackback ping to be processed.

Here is a patch with this change.

Comment Author Email Addresses Disabled

Entity encoded address obfuscation is a technique to protect email addresses on web pages from harvesting by spammers. Some months back, I posted a widely circulated article that demonstrates this technique is not effective. This technique, unfortunately, is the one that Movable Type uses to protect email addresses in comments.

Today, I finally got around to doing something I should have done months ago. As of now, email addresses of comment authors will not be displayed.

That is, I changed the Movable Type template from <$MTCommentAuthorLink spam_protect="1"$> (which performs entity encoded obfuscation on email addresses) to <$MTCommentAuthorLink show_email="0"$> (which suppresses email addresses completely).

Please consider this an interim measure. I'd like to restore email addresses, so long as they can be spam protected effectively. Until I've got a method implemented to do that, I thought it best to remove addresses entirely.

Also, please accept my apologies for not doing this sooner.

Full Content RSS

Tonight, I switched my RSS feed to include full article content instead of just an entry synopsis. I'd been ambivalent on the issue. I realize many people like full content, but I wish they'd come to my site to get it—for the comments if nothing else.

That, however, is imposing my preference on others. Probably the best thing is to give people the choice and let them pick whichever they want—and just be grateful somebody wants to read my crap.

Unfortunately, I have a lot of content that will not work in RSS. Many of my blog entries use relative links. Although the newer Atom standard allows for relative links, prior RSS versions do not.

Today I realized I don't need to worry about historical entries. I just need to be sure that from here on out I only use absolute links in my entries. The RSS feed contains only recent entries. The old ones don't matter.

There are some very good reasons to put full content in RSS. So, as of now, it's there.

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