Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Housekeeping Issues, Bilgrimage Blog

And one final comment on a day when I'm afraid I'm trying readers' patience with too many postings (and there's that article I've blogged about, which isn't writing itself while I blog!): for any readers following the comments section of this blog, you may have noticed reports that some recent comments have failed to upload to the blog (see and

For the comments section of Bilgrimage, I use the Disqus service used by many blogs. I find it's an excellent way to facilitate comments, because it allows me to see (and retrieve) all comments made on the blog or one of its thread whole and not piecemeal. That is, to find comments, I don't have to go to the blog itself and pick them up one by one. I can log into Disqus and read them all at once, or thread by thread.

Several days ago, one commenter (see the links above) reported that he was making comments that did not appear on the blog. He thought I was deleting or blocking his comments.

As I told him in my reply to his comments, I have never deleted any comments on this blog except those that I could clearly determine to be spam--and all that I have deleted were spam seeking to sell some product or service through the blog.

Subsequently, another reader also reported problems with comments that did not go through. As my response to that reader notes, when anyone posts on this blog, the comment comes to me by email from Disqus. By checking my email, I was able to confirm that only one of the missing comments this reader had made had reached my email box--and it did not upload to the blog.

When I checked for the reason at the Disqus site, I found that there is a spam folder I had not known about until today, which is retaining comments Disqus marks as spam, without sending those to me. I will now be checking that folder regularly to see if any bona fide comments do end up there, and I will make them as not spam for display on the blog, if they do not violate common norms of decency for blogs (see below on this).

I also note an article at the Disqus site indicating that they have enhanced the spam filtering system as of 2 February. It is possible some of the filtering readers seem to be encountering may be a result of that enhancement.

Meanwhile, the comments that the other respondent told me did not appear on the blog are not in that spam folder. In addition to the ones I find there by the blogger who did not get his comments through yesterday, there are several automated commercial ones that Disqus has marked as spam, and which I intend to leave in the spam folder.

There are also comments by a blogger affiliated with a known hate group which have also been filtered by Disqus as spam. This same blogger had made a comment on the blog some time ago, and I responded. Both his comment and mine then disappeared from the blog and are not in the spam folder. I intend to leave the ones Disqus has marked as spam in the spam folder, because, in my view, they engage in hate speech.

As I noted in my comments regarding the respondent who thought I was deleting his messages, I am opposed to censorship. I do, however, see the need for discourse rules. In my view, comments that engage in hate speech and or use abusive language or vile language are beyond the pale, and I will consider deleting such comments if they do ever come through. My reason for applying those fundamental rules of civil discourse on the blog is to protect and not suppress discussion. One of the goals of hate speech is to subvert open discussion, even as those practicing it claim that they are being censored when their speech is declared out of bounds.

Two other small housekeeping notes: some time back, a respondent noted that he would have liked to contact me but did not find a way to do so. At that point, I activated the contact link in my profile. If any reader has problems leaving comments, or wishes to contact me for any other reason, please note that you may email me through my profile.

And second, I'm aware that the links on this blog do not always work. I discover that when I go back to the postings and re-read them in some cases, and click on links that turn out to be dead. But when I cut and paste these urls into my browser, I can always go right to them.

I suspect there is something I may not yet know about creating links at a Blogspot blog. I appreciate readers' patience as I try to educate myself about that. Despite the very kind words Joseph O'Leary wrote about Bilgrimage yesterday on his blog (which I profoundly appreciate), I am very much a novice at this work, and am doing it as an unpaid "offering" to seekers like myself in addition to my other daily chores, so my time for learning the technical ropes is often limited.