Saturday, April 28, 2012

Spam police

If you are a blogger, or if you hang out in places real or virtual where bloggers occasionally discuss their nasty habit, you know that Google is not universally loved.  (Funny how it used to be fashionable to hate the phone company, then to hate Microsoft, and now Google -- all institutions without which life as we know it wouldn't be as we know it.)

Currently those of us who use the Google Blogger platform are wrestling with a new interface.  For weeks ominous messages have been popping up on our pages, announcing that the new interface is Coming Soon, and why don't we try it, it'll be wonderful!  You guessed it, there are still a few bugs.  The new interface won't work with certain browsers (I allowed my sons to talk me into substituting Chrome for Internet Explorer, and so far that's working well).

And the capability to make "scheduled posts" has disappeared for many of us, including me.  This feature allows me to write a post, choose a future day and time for it to be published on the blog, and then sure enough, it shows up on schedule, whether I'm asleep or under anesthesia or in the Amazon or whatever.  Surely you didn't think I get up every morning well before 7 am just to make blog posts, did you?

Or at least that's what it used to do.  Google's geeks are supposedly working on this problem, but it's been almost two weeks and no progress yet.  So my posts are showing up either late at night or much later in the morning, whenever I am actually at the computer.

But enough badmouthing Sergey and Larry -- I want to say something nice about them.  A couple of months  ago another New Improved Feature appeared on our blogs, whether we wanted it or not, making it tougher for readers to prove they are humans and therefore allowed to leave comments.  I had chosen that feature long ago when I set up my blog, and it didn't seem to be too difficult for people to comply.  But all of a sudden the captchas were much more illegible, and there were two instead of one, and people started complaining on some email lists that they couldn't cope.

I had noticed that Blogger had a storage bin behind the regular comments page where it stashed spam.  When I had captchas there was never anything in that bin, but I thought I'd try an experiment: I turned the captcha feature off and waited to see if my blog would be inundated with spam.  And now the good news: in two months the spam catcher has let only one questionable comment through its net.  It has erroneously caught two or three legitimate comments, but I check that folder every time I sit down at the computer.  So my apologies if the spam police have subjected you to false arrest -- I'll get you out of jail as soon as I notice you're in there.

While I'm deleting the real spam, I scan the comments to see what loathsome products and services are being peddled.  And this has proven to be more interesting than you might think.  I'll tell you more in a later post.


  1. It's been slow going with this new blogger interface for me too. It's like the time the office changed from the beloved Word Perfect to MS Word. I may never love it, but I learn to use it.
    You can schedule your posts now. For your draft post, look on the right side of "post settings" list for "schedule" to set the date and time.

  2. Elena -- I too remember going from Word Perfect, which I loved, to Word, which I have only tolerated all these years. What a wrench that was!

    I know where the "schedule" box is in the new layout, and how to set the time. Only problem is, when the time comes, the post doesn't appear. But in the fullness of time maybe Google will get around to fixing it. There are hundreds of messages on their "report a problem" message board so I know I'm not the only one.

  3. I, too, was puzzled by the increased difficulty of the captchas until I stumbled across this Ted talk!

    They are still annoying and I have disabled them on my blog, but at least I know when I have to figure them out, there might be some good coming of it.