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Some of the unexpected pleasures of blogging

When I first started writing my blog, I never expected to find the incredibly warm and friendly reception I’ve gotten from other bloggers. In a world where hostility often seems to reign, it’s been a blessing to find a dedicated, friendly, and seemingly innocent (which is to say not yet fed up with the nasty world) cadre of participants. For those of you who lived through the 60s and 70s, this is like going back into the hippie era where peace and love were the words of the day.

Today, I found that the comment system of my blog wasn’t working. This area demonstrates both the best and the worst of the Internet today. The worst: I get dozens of spam comments every day. Can you believe people waste their lives doing this? Most get caught in Akismet, the WordPress spam filter. But I found a nifty way to make it work even better at stopforumspam.com.

I found some code at that site that I added to my blog that looks up the IP and email address of the commenter, using standard lists like spamhaus. The “glue” that makes all this work is from a wonderful site: support.it-mate.co.uk. And the person responsible for this gift is Steven Burn.

Steven offers free an entire program to check messages and signups for spam against most of the popular blacklists. Or you can use a modification to one of the WordPress program files that does essentially the same thing by checking the stopforumspam site.

This is the wonderful (it’s more than good) side of the Internet. People bring their considerable skill and expertise to the world free or at modest cost. Peace and love. We should all benefit. The world will be a better place. And it is.

If you’re not technical, but you’re still reading this, you may be unaware that there’s a tremendous wave of volunteer development and support on the Internet. The entire WordPress world is almost exclusively done without charge, and it’s an incredible achievement. You can think of it as analogous to when Apple and later Microsoft brought desktop publishing to the masses. WordPress and the support groups like Steven’s have brought Internet publishing to the masses. I don’t know how to program, but I’m clever about looking at examples and working hard until I get them to function in my environment.

But sometimes that’s not enough, and that’s the reason for this post. Steven spent several hours helping me work through problems on my site tonight. We’ve never met, never spoken, never emailed each other before today. But he reached out to help me, and then stuck with me and all my dumb questions until we worked out my problems.

This post is the only payment he gets for doing that.

So, if you’re running a WordPress blog, look at the comment spam stuff Steven has. And if you’re not, let’s all take a moment to remember that there are thousands of volunteers in the Internet universe working on open source programs without pay. To make the world a better place for all of us. And thank you Steven Burn.

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4 Responses

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  1. Mark Shaw says

    Walt, it’s great to hear what goes around, comes around. You have contributed greatly to the blogging world yourself. I appreciate the value you continue to contribute. Fabulous, well written article! – Mark

    • Walter Feigenson says

      Ah, my friend and colleague Mark Shaw. I helped him create a blog, and he’s been a model client.

      Mark is using his blog to help differentiate himself from the other realtors in his area. He writes great articles about real estate – and some real gems about fiddles (or is that violins…). If you check his blog at blog.markshawrealtor.com, you can learn about both real estate and music. And you can see that non-technical people can blog their way to subject matter expertise!

  2. JP says

    Hi, Walt – Good seeing you last week. I very much enjoyed this and look forward to joining the ranks of bloggers soon.

    • Walter Feigenson says

      Thanks for the kind words JP. Start writing! You’ve got a lot to say! -walt