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March 22, 2007

Answering Some Questions

Hi, me again.

There were some good questions raised in the posts about the comment system, so I'll make a stab at answering them. My responses are in the extended entry so as not to waste too much space on Ace's main page.


First, a little background. When mu.nu was first set up for blogging back in 2003, I chose Movable Type. It was the obvious choice at the time. It was free, it worked pretty well, it handled unlimited blogs and users. Unfortunately, when Six Apart released version 3, they changed the license so that it couldn't be used by blog hosting services - and from my reading of the license, that would include mu.nu, even though I make no revenue at all (let alone profit).

So we were stuck on MT 2.6, which is unsupported now, and has suffered ever-increasing problems with the growing size of mu.nu and the spiralling spam problem.

Nor was there another package I could replace it with. WordPress didn't support multiple blogs, so I would have had to install 250+ copies of it. ExpressionEngine did everything we needed, but its license is more restrictive than Movable Type's.

So I set about writing my own blogging system. I pulled the New Comments Thingy from an early version of that, and adapted it to work with Movable Type.

The chaos that I laughingly call my life has caused innumerable delays in the new blogging thingy, but it finally went beta earlier this week. And we'll be opening an expanded beta program sometime next week. That's where the freebies come in: I'll be giving away free accounts on the new system to mu.nu readers willing to act as guinea pigs for my hideous experiments beta-testers. I'll make another announcement here when the extended beta opens.

So, questions/comments:

Hopefully pixy will integrate the new comments thingy into the regular site navigation. When possible, I read web sites using the "previous" and "next" links at the top of the page. It makes it easier to save my spot so I can continue later. Right now I can't do that and still read the comments, which are a considerable part of this site.
Yeah, that's a good point. It's tricky for me to do that with the New Comments Thingy because it's sort of glued onto Movable Type, but that will be available in New Blogging Thingy. Um, soon, anyway. It doesn't support that right now.
Why cant you just turn off new comments in threads that are over a month old?
We have. Turning off comments in our old version of Movable Type just plain does not work.
And for Gods sake remove the Fucking Identity tags fromm every comment! Is it possible just to make them visible only to Ace? It ruins all of my fun.
I'll leave that decision up to Ace.
Why can't you just put the phrase nice site! good work! on the ban filter? That would alone would likely kill 70% of the spam.
One of the problems was that we were running two independent comment systems, giving spammers two ways to work around the spam filters, and making it hard for me to tell which one let them through. Now that Old Comment Thingy is shut down, that will be much easier.
Wishlist for new comment thingy: Enable HTML tags in the textbox instead of using the buttons.
The New Blogging Thingy will let users choose the editor that suits them, so if you prefer to do manual HTML (or BBcode) markup in a plain text box, you can.
Have a popup window for the new comment thingy like the old comment thingy so I still have the front page open and can click on other comment threads without having to go back and forth
That can be done right now - it's just a bit of template fiddling. The Jawas are using New Comments Thingy that way.
Have new comment thingy comments show up in the recent comment list.
That one isn't possible until we move to New Blogging Thingy. Movable Type generates static pages, and New Comments Thingy doesn't have a mechanism to get MT to update the main page. On the other hand, MT takes for-freaking-ever to do that, which is what makes New Comments Thingy so much faster.
Have a default name of a space character, or "anonymous" or something for people who type in nothing at all, so there is something to click on in the recent comment list when annonymous jackasses post intriguing things but you can't figgure out which thread.
Fair enough. That can also be done with a bit of template tweaking, I think.
Did they get blockquotes working yet?
Blockquotes remain a problem. No WYSIWYG editor that I've been able to find, free or commercial, seems to support blockquotes. In New Blogging Thingy I've added a BBcode [quote] tag for this.
Seriously, akismet works magical wonders when it comes to comment spam. (Works best if you have WordPress, though)
Very true, but there are good reasons why we don't use WordPress. Okay, Akismet works on lots of other platforms now; I didn't know that. The remaining problem is it would cost me $375 per month, nearly as much as I pay for the servers.
digg this
posted by Pixy Misa at 08:26 PM

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