Tag Archives: WordPress

Blog blogging comment spam compliment spam firefox folksonomies Google Google Docs how-to navigation PageRank plugin security spam tag clouds tagging web-development WP Super Cache

Recommendations for an easy, automatic blogging system?

DSC_0066 I’m looking for some help and suggestions, but first a little background on my latest project.

I’m a bit of a map geek – I’m fascinated by maps and how data can be illustrated with maps. I periodically post things on this blog but I actually run across a lot more cool map apps than I can share in mid- to long-form blog posts here.

I use a number of different social bookmarking and social news sites – it’s a research interest of mine, so I probably have accounts on far too many of them. When I come across a blog post on a cool old map or some interesting new real estate geodata site I’ll save/share it in a number of places, including StumbleUpon, Delicious, Reddit, and sometimes others. I also share things via Google Reader.

This is far to diffuse, so I thought I might make a separate mini-blog just for map geekery. But I already spend more than enough time with the blogs and services I’m using now – I’m only able to support another blog if I can automate some part of this giant messy workflow.

This would be pretty similar to how I manage my microblogging / status updates now. I have my Google Reader items posted to FriendFeed, which updates Twitter, which updates Facebook via the Facebook Twitter app. Convoluted, but now that it’s set up I can post something once and have it seen by friends on different services.

I’ve played around with a few different services:

Tumblr – Tumblr makes it very easy to import feeds, which is great for what I’m looking for. The only drawbacks are that so far I can’t narrow down some feeds to really target map bookmarks and I don’t see any easy way to add geodata.

Vox – I’ve only played around with it a bit, but I’m not sure what sets Vox apart from other blog hosts.

WordPress.com – Actually, I thought this would be perfect given the right plugins, but wordpress.com doesn’t have plugins. Setting up and managing yet another WordPress instance doesn’t sound too appealing.

Blogger – Blogger is great, and I should probably use it a bit more considering it’s a Google product. Unfortunately everything I saw in a quick search about posting to Blogger from RSS showed up on somewhat questionable SEO blogs, so I’m wary.

So I’m still looking. Any recommendations on what would be the easiest tiny-blog system to use?

Sick of compliment spam on your blog?

Not amused One of the great things about having a blog is getting comments on your posts. It’s particularly gratifying when someone takes the time to tell you that your post was helpful, entertaining, or well-written.

Spammers know this and exploit it by generating compliment spam. They’ll put together a few lines of general praise and slather them across the web, hoping that bloggers will fall for the trick and post their spammy links.

Abusive social engineering like this really annoys me, so when in doubt I always do a Google exact phrase search to see if the compliment is really for me and not from a bot. This is tedious, so I created a simple WordPress plugin: O RLY Comment Spam Search.

You can get the plugin directly from WordPress.org, where you can also give it a rating to tell other webmasters how great (or non-great) it is. By the way, the plugin browser/installer added in WordPress 2.7 is very cool, and makes it much easier to try out plugins.

Judging by the thousands of blogs my O RLY searches have found, this sort of spam works. But why do spammers do it? Since WordPress (and most major blog systems) nofollow links in comments by default, the spammers can’t expect to gain any PageRank from these links. My guess is most of this spam is either intended to get traffic via clickthroughs or is generated by naive site owners, SEOs and marketers who don’t really understand how things work.

Take a look and let me know if it’s useful in the comments below. Also, let me know if it’s breaking on certain comments or otherwise buggy.

Choosing the Best Baby Name is Hard on your Server

We reproduce, you decide! We’ve hit well over 2000 votes on our baby name survey, and so far my blog has held up well (thank you, WP Super Cache). The traffic has been enough at times to slow the Google Docs form and graphs. To get slightly back on track for this blog, here’s a quick usability lesson – as a form becomes less responsive to users, double- and triple-submissions will increase.

Votes have been coming from all sorts of interesting places:

  • Many, many Googlers contributed votes. Obviously I can’t link to any internal company discussion, but I can assure you it was equal parts amusing, helpful, and nerdly. I had a fun time explaining all the programming jokes to Ann, particularly why we won’t be naming the baby after little Bobby Tables. Wysz supplied the very first votes, for Erin and Isaac.
  • For some international perspective, The Telegraph wrote about the survey in their “How About That?” column. If anyone has a copy of today’s print edition, I’d love to see if the story made it’s way on to dead trees, given my former journalistic predilections. I really got a kick of the headline, “Google man asks Internet to name his baby” – now that I’ve been publicly outed as Google Man, I’ll need to start wearing my cape to work.

If I’ve missed any, please add them in the comments below. And if you’re having trouble voting or seeing the charts and graphs, try again a little later – I think I my use of Docs and Spreadsheets is somewhere between “statistical outlier” and “abusive” at this point.