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Post #567 • June 28, 2005, 10:04 AM

I'm going to use this downtime on the comments, brought on by the most pernicious trolling this site has ever seen, to move the site over to my new server, which I've been putting off. It could take the site out for a few days, but I'll try to keep it to 24 hours.

And I have some good news and some bad news: has become popular enough (good) to entice the Dimwit-American community to troll the site at unprecedented levels (bad) and goof around on the comments (pretending to be three different people, etc., bad) obliging me (bad) to implement some kind of controls (bad).

However, I've come up with a way to avoid outright registration or moderation (good). You will comment as before. When you click "post," your comment will go to a holding tank, and you'll immediately get an e-mail saying, "Click here to unlock your comment." You do so, and the comment goes up in real time. That's not so tough - a two-step process instead of a one-step one.

Unless you're one of the bad guys. This process requires that you divulge one verifiable fact to me (not the whole world - just me): your e-mail address. Pretending to be three different people will require three different e-mail addresses. Leaving twenty successive nasty remarks, which happened last night, will result in twenty e-mails in your inbox asking for confirmation. If I confirm your trolldom, I drop your address in the Banned file and you will either have to contact me to un-ban it, or create a new e-mail account to continue your sad little version of participation. I can ban your e-mail address much, much faster than you can create one.

Spamming, which fortunately this site has been largely spared, ought to disappear altogether (good), as will double-posts (you could simply refrain from confirming the duplicate). I can write scripts that do cool (good) things like, "find every comment from this son-of-a-hippo's e-mail address and strike it from this mortal coil."

One more thing: trusted parties - proven good contributors with real identities - will receive a code that will let them bypass the confirmation proceedure easily.

I think this is a decent solution: the really good guys see little change, the good guys are only slightly hindered, the bad guys end up with all kinds of problems, and yours truly has a bit more say about what's going on in the comments. I'm hoping too that the confirmation step will dissuade the occasional folks who feel inclined to show up, snap, and leave, and thereby encourage smart people to join in, knowing that there's less likelihood that their smartness will appear next to untrammeled idiocy.

It's axiomatic that moderation has to increase with traffic. At a residential intersection in Des Moines, two stop signs are enough. At the corner of US1 and Red Road in Miami, you need signals, left turn lanes on the bigger road, and banned left turns on the smaller road. Not only does this cut down on the number of people getting killed, it increases the number of people who are willing to use the intersection. is getting more and more traffic. 'Nuff said.




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