brianstorms

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An Open Letter to Automattic and to Matt Mullenweg aka @photomatt

In the past 3 months my blog has gone from about 50% of comments being spam to 100% being spam. And it's all very subtle spam, where every single comment looked, at first glance, like a legitimate comment, even on-topic most of the time. But then there were the links: always spam links, always unrelated to the topic of the blog post. The implications are fascinating: all I can assume is that somewhere in the world there is an operation that is paying people, probably on foreign lands because the English is always a little weird in these comments, to read blog posts and attempt to comment like a real human, but sneak in commercial URLs as links.

Several years ago I started using a blog commenting software tool called Intense Debate. Like the other blog software platform I use, Movable Type, it started out great. They updated their software, were responsive to support questions, and generally went out of their way to be helpful. But then years passed, and Intense Debate has now, like Movable Type before it, essentially been abandoned by its makers. Intense Debate has a support email, and they say they respond within 24 hours to requests for help. They do not. They never respond. In fact I have even contacted Matt Mullenweg, now CEO of the company that owns Intense Debate, on multiple occasions, to ask if Intense Debate support actually exists. He has never responded to any inquiry. In the past 2 years not a single attempt at reaching the Intense Debate support team has ever resulted in being actually contacted by the Intense Debate support team. I do not believe there is one and I challenge Matt to prove there is, and if there is, explain why it has not ever responded to me.

Almost immediately after starting to use Intense Debate, I found that I had to turn moderation on for the comments, because so many comments were fake, phoney, spam messages. Over the past 12 months it's gotten so bad that I only check to clean out the spam about once a month. I do not recall actually approving a single comment in this blog in the past 6 months.

So I am not going to bother anymore. Oh, you will still be able to add a comment, because Intense Debate has never gotten back to me with any answers to how I can disable NEW comments but keep OLD comments. And while I could just wipe out all the Intense Debate javascript from every HTML template on this site, this in one fell swoop destroying all comments and remnants of Intense Debate, I choose not to do so yet because I would rather keep the old, good comments around.

I just won't be approving any new comments from here on out, and at some point if I can't figure out a way to disable adding new comments but keeping old, approved ones, I'll just delete all Intense Debate code, including old comments.

Finally, I had planned to migrate this old blog's Movable Type platform over to Wordpress, but considering Wordpress is owned by Automattic, makers of Intense Debate, and Automattic is run by Matt Mullenweg, I have zero confidence in migrating to that platform. I'll keep looking elsewhere.

So: don't comment. I'm not checking. If you wanna comment on a blog post here, tweet it and include @brianstorms in the tweet; I'll see it that way.

Thinking of posting a comment to this blog entry? That's nice. But please note: As of January 19. 2014, I no longer review comments. So they will never appear. So don't bother. If you want to comment on something you read here, go to twitter and write your comment there and just include "@brianstorms" in the tweet. I am no longer moderating the comments here; I just assume everything is spam and Intense Debate seems to have abandoned support for its product.

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