Tim Longhurst's Blog

Stopping spammers, you do the math

August 27th, 2008 · 3 Comments

Every now and then, I get a comment on my blog post that has nothing to do with the post. “Hey great post – why not try out this German dating site?!” is a typical example.

It’s called comment SPAM – a computer program is running around the Internet adding links in blog posts, hoping to drive internet traffic to one (or sometimes more) websites.

I love comments from real people. I love them so much, I have my blog set so that if you comment, your comment goes online STRAIGHT AWAY, unmoderated. I do that because I like rewarding readers by showing them that their thoughts are available to the world as soon as they hit ‘post’.

Today, 40 different spam comment messages were posted onto this blog, so I’ve made a slight change. On all but the most recent posts, readers are now asked to answer a simple math question. I’ve used a free wordpress plugin and so far, I recommend it.

If you’re reading an old post on this blog and you come across the math problem in the comments section, I’d love to know how you feel about it? Is it too great an impost on users? I think it strikes the balance between no protection, and those crazy “Captcha” images, where a third of the time I can’t make out the letters or numbers I’m supposed to be typing into the box!

So I hope the bots stay out and the people are let in. If anything, the quality of the comments may go up as only people capable of simple math are able to comment… Let me know what you think!

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Category: Building a better blog

Tim Longhurst’s Blog – Behind the Scenes

October 2nd, 2007 · 3 Comments

As part of Blogtober I have decided to make a quick post on how this blog comes together.

There are three elements I’ll focus on: the software, the advertising and the page counter.

SOFTWARE: Wordpress
Wordpress is an open source blogging application that sits on the web – that is, it’s installed on my server and I can therefore post to it from anywhere with an internet connection. I chose Wordpress because when I compared blogging software, Wordpress seemed like the best fit. I’ve found it to be an excellent product and I’d recommend it to anyone.

ADVERTISING: Google Adwords
As a seasoned cynic of corporate controlled media and commercial messaging, having ads on my blog feels controversial. The main reason I host ads is because I believe Google will index your website more often if you host Google Adwords. I have no hard evidence of this, and Google aren’t likely to officially admit to that, but back in the days when my website wasn’t showing up on Google searches at all, I decided it was worth a shot. These days my site indexes really well on Google, and I’m reluctant to remove the ads because I think they’re part of the reason people discover this site in the first place. Also, although my income from ads is modest, it does cover my website hosting costs, which is a good deal for me.

PAGE COUNTER: Sitemeter
I started using Sitemeter over a year ago and whilst it is nowhere near as sophisticated as other counters, it gives me an idea of what articles are showing up in search engine requests and how many people are checking out the blog. You can see my blog’s stats here. Back when I was posting on a regular basis I would average 400 visits a week, but these days it’s a little below 200. I suspect Blogtober might bump the stats up a little… Time will tell.

Well, this concludes my behind the scenes blog tour. If you think I’ve left things out or you have a question about the blog, post a comment.

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Category: Building a better blog

Moving from Joomla to WordPress

July 25th, 2007 · 13 Comments

I’ve just moved most of my website content from the Joomla! content management system to the Word Press blogging platform. Both are Open Source projects, which I think is the main reason the migration was so painless.

All said it took an afternoon, but I am really impressed by how easy the migration has been, thanks largely to these six steps at rangit.com.

Additionally, when I needed to clean up my MySQL database, instructions on how to execute a find and replace in PHPmyAdmin came to the rescue – thanks to Chingali.

So I got all the coaching I needed to make the move myself – thanks to a couple of bloggers I’ll probably never meet. That’s the power of an open web.

The move will mean one big change – comments are now welcome across blog posts. Enjoy!

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Category: Building a better blog

Welcome to Tim Longhurst’s Blog – built with WordPress

July 25th, 2007 · No Comments

Welcome to my new blog. I’m building it using WordPress blogging software because it’s as sophisticated as I need and best of all, it’s open source.

I used OJR’s Blog Software Comparison Chart to confirm my decision and compare the differences in different products. Ultimately I chose Word Press because it’s tried, tested and free.

The main reason I have chosen to move to WordPress is because it has bothered me for a long time that my blog hasn’t allowed user participation. I’m looking forward to reading comments from users, and I hope that this site triggers great discussion along the way.

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Category: Building a better blog