Housekeeping item: no more anonymous comments

One of my least favorite things to do here is close things down and make it harder for visitors to my site to interact with me, the site, and the other users. Creating an account on a website can be more time-consuming than is worth just to make an offhand remark. I want to see those offhand remarks.

However, spam attacks have increased to such a level that it has become impossible to moderate the comments. Recently website attacks of all sorts have increased tremendously; the volume of comment spam attempts has gone from around a hundred per day this time last year to over eight thousand per day. Even with fantastic spam protection tools (Incapsula helps keep spambots away from the site to begin with, and Mollom and Stop Forum Spam have been big helps in dealing with the attackers that make it to the comment forms) the volume of attacks and the increasing sophistication of these attacks has become overwhelming.

There is only one of me, and being the geeky website developer sort of blogger that I am, I already spend way too much time making the site run and updating the software, and far too little time actually writing. This morning I deleted a couple hundred posts from the comment moderation queue. That’s time that I could have spent on things I’d rather do1 and the possibility that I’d accidentally miss a genuine comment in all that spam is quite discouraging as well.

So anonymous comments are going the way of the passenger pigeon.2 In their place alternate means of authentication have been added to the login page. OpenID logins have been enabled for some time, and to that Facebook login and Twitter login have been added. Still under consideration are Google logins and comment providers like Disqus.

I hope that this actually makes it more convenient for most people to go ahead and leave comments. To anyone this inconveniences, I apologize.

  1. It’s a very long list. ↩︎

  2. Dinosaurs were made extinct by a planetary accident. Dodos’ extinction was caused by humans by a combination of means, both accidental and deliberate. Passenger pigeons were hunted until there weren’t any more. Sites allowing anonymous comments have likewise been hunted until they were all gone. ↩︎