Friday, March 24, 2006

What to do about Unwanted Comments

Have those pesky commenters gotten you down? Sick of hearing from people you never wanted to know? Freak you out much when complete strangers say they've been browsing your photographs from half-way around the world? Well then you're either not up for this bloggin' thang, or you need to employ one or more of blogger's handy comment-control options.

But how do complete strangers, mortal enemies, and even spam-bots find my teeny little blog? you ask? That's a good question. Because of criteria meant to weed out spam sites, blogs tend to rate pretty high on search engines. Plus there's that "next blog" button up top that sometimes people use when they're really really bored. Or you could be linked by other blogs... But if you haven't bothered to set up a free Statcounter, don't expect to find out.

So what can I do about unwanted comments? Well, here are the tools blogger has given us:
  • Word Verification: About five or six months ago we were attacked by spam-bots and blogger came up with this brilliant new tool. I had seen it on other (pay) blog-sites and had started to look for a program to upload onto my own blog when *bingo* blogger came up with their own. most excellent. Have not had spam in my comments since then, and I think pretty much everyone uses it now.
  • block anonymous comments: I think it's only fair to ask people to identify themselves if they want to say something about you or your writing. Of course it's ridiculously easy to set up a blogger identity so it's not like you're asking a whole lot... but there are two problems I find here: 1) your real friends and family members might not be able to comment because they don't realize how easy it is to create a blogger identity. 2) those people who DO realize how easy it is might create a false identity so they still can't really be identified.
  • delete unwanted comments: any comment can be deleted by either the commenter or the blog owner. It's your blog; don't put up with no crap, ah-ight?
  • disable comments altogether: Makes sense if you just can't deal with the comments you are getting, but you don't want ANY feedback?
  • limit comments to team members only: this is a slightly better option than the last, IF YOU HAVE A TEAM. Which brings me to the reason I'm writing this post. Ya see, last night your dear blogger-friend reb saw that her blogger-friend Lynsey had written a new post. So after checking out the post we went to make a comment and saw that she taken this extreme action to her comment settings. I would like to know, Lynsey, how Mahesh Subramanian became a team member of your blog and NOT ME?!

But this is not the end-all of our options, as I have come here to write to Lynsey, and plead with her to instead adopt a NEW option from our beloved Blogger: enable comment moderation. That's right, blogger's come out with yet another brilliant feature that you may have seen before on other (pay) blog-sites but now you can have for your own FOR FREE! (Can I get a B! L! O! GG! ER! Oh, blogger, how I love thee...) Personally I do not employ comment moderation because occasionally my dear commenters have conversations with each other in my threads and I would not wish to discourage such things simply by being away from my desk... but the option is there, and were things to ever get a bit out of hand in my life, I might take it. I would certainly do that before I would limit comments to team members only, particularly if I did not have a team.

Just sayin'...

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

I Knew This Would Happen!

By far the biggest perk of my apartment is the garage; having a roof over my car makes winter a lot easier to deal with. It's a bummer that it's not attached to the house, sure, but ya can't have everything, I suppose. Trouble is, I only have one garage door opener, so I have to keep it with me. From day one I've been paranoid that I would close the door with the opener inside. 'Cause I'm a blonde (yeah, yeah, yeah).

Sure enough, guess what I did the other night? As I was walking away, I got that sinking feeling... I went inside and looked through my purse. I looked around the apartment (I often leave it inside because of this very fear). I grabbed my flashlight and headed out to survey the scene.

Fortunately my neighbors leave their side open all the time. There's a wall between the two bays, framed out on my side so that it's just flat plywood on the other. The roof of the garage peaks in the middle, but the wall ends a couple feet below the rafters. Old doors and shutters, extra lumber and the like are kept up in the rafters in the back where the garage door apparatus isn't in the way. There's a gap of about four feet where my eight foot ladder rises above the rafters, leaning on the other side of the wall.

I need to get over that wall. I look around, but find nothing to stand on in my neighbor's bay. All of my ladders are (of course) in my bay. I get a stool from inside, and stabilize it on the buckled cement floor. I set my flashlight down on a peice of plywood over the rafters to my left, willing it to stay in one place. I don't know if this is going to work, but it's all I have short of calling my bro-in-law over with the chainsaw.

I grip the rafter above me with both hands and hoist both feet over the edge of the wall in front of me. First one, then the other, pushing my body forward to get the wall under my knees, which I need for support as I lower and twist my upper body to duck under the rafter. I pause, sitting atop the wall, and retrieve my flashlight. It hadn't moved, which is a damn good thing since the entire garage would be pitch black without it. I angle the ladder out on the floor as best I can, and squeeze around it to climb down.

I shine the light into my window to see the garage door opener sitting on the passenger's seat. I push the button on my side of the wall, and as the door opens I retrieve the opener and look up at the wall in disbelief. It took some impressive acrobatic manuevering if I do say so myself, but it was easier than expected. I'm so excited by my success, I almost feel like doing it again. Instead I retrieve my stool from the other bay and bounce up the steps to my door as the garage closes behind me - this time with no regrets.

Judging from the comments I've received on this post, y'all might be missing the point: My success in solving the problem has liberated me from fear!

I had not ever noted the exact location of the button before. I tried to find it the other night (through the gap in the wall at the very front) but I was on the wrong track. Tonight, after looking, I went to the other side and reached the button easily by reaching my hand around the wall. Now, more than ever, I have no worries.