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Comment blocking? In MY journal?

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Apr. 25th, 2011 | 01:16 pm
mood: hothot

I've been wanting to post this for a few days already, but never got around to it — thanks to avon_deer for providing the reminder that made me do so now. ;)

As you may or may not know, LJ recently introduced a new spam-blocking feature that causes comments containing links to non-whitelisted sites to automatically be marked as suspicious (i.e., possible spam) and hidden until they're manually approved. This feature was turned on by default for all personal journals and communities.

This is a bad thing for several reasons.

First of all, the whitelist in question is global, maintained by LJ, and secret (so far?); there's no way (yet?) to suggest sites to be added to it. Per-journal/-community whitelists that users/community maintainers can use in addition to or as a replacement for the global whitelist don't exist, and aren't planned.

This is bad enough, but for communities, it gets worse. As ron_newman points out in permmembers, the way everything is implemented has the following effect (further details taken from a discussion with astronewt here and a comment by darkhavens here):

  • Community maintainers are not notified of hidden comments. There are no current plans to change this behavior.
  • The user who posted the original entry is not notified of hidden comments (according to ron_newman; astronewt states that they "should be notified", but that there is a bug right now that keeps them from actually seeing hidden comments).
  • If a community's set to display comment pages in its own style, chances are you won't even see any hidden comments that might exist even if you're looking at an entry's page as a community maintainer.

In other words, it's pretty much a complete clusterfuck: if comments in a community are being hidden, there's a significant chance that they'll just end up in a black hole forever now.

As such, I agree with ron_newman's suggestion that this feature should simply be disabled. You'll have to do so yourself for every single last community you maintain; go to My Account Settings → Privacy, "switch" to each account and disable [ ] Comments containing a link to a non-whitelisted domain will be marked as spam and moved to a special section.

It's likely even worse for syndicated accounts where there's neither an original poster nor a maintainer that could be notified of comments or take care of them (or disable the aforementioned option). I'll have to ask the LJ staff to be sure, but right now, it looks like it is simply impossible to post comments with links to non-whitelisted sites there.

In case anyone from LJ is reading this, you should:

  1. Send notifications for hidden comments to community maintainers so that they can deal with them.
  2. Send notifications for hidden comments to entries' original posters, assuming that ron_newman's right and this isn't happening right now.
  3. Fix the bug that keeps entries' original posters from accessing and managing hidden comments.
  4. Allow people to view the global whitelist.
  5. Allow people to make suggestions for the global whitelist.
  6. Introduce per-journal/-community whitelists, and allow users/community maintainers to use these either in addition to or instead of the global whitelist.
  7. Ideally, allow community maintainers to decide whether entries' original posters should be able to view/manage hidden comments, or whether this should be limited to moderators and/or maintainers.
  8. Stop enabling broken, disruptive new features like this by default. (Really.)

Meanwhile, BTW, LJ is still listed on Spamhaus, too; whether this is part of their attempt to work on the issues that prompted Spamhaus to list them in the first place I don't know, but I'd say it's unlikely, given that Spamhaus seemed more concerned about the lack of prompt takedowns of spam *journals* than about spam comments.

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Comments {8}

(no subject)

from: tamino
date: Apr. 25th, 2011 04:19 pm (UTC)
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Thanks for posting this. It seems like I just recently had to go and disable *another* draconian anti-spam thing like this recently... I figured I was good to go for a while. But I guess they changed things again.

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Schneelocke

(no subject)

from: schnee
date: Apr. 25th, 2011 05:33 pm (UTC)
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You're welcome. Out of curiosity, what draconian anti-spam thing was that you disabled recently?

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(no subject)

from: tamino
date: Apr. 25th, 2011 05:41 pm (UTC)
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I couldn't see it when I looked just now. My guess is they removed it, and what you posted about was its replacement.

It was something like: Automatically screen (not "put into a separate category", just plain screen) comments that are both (1) anonymous, and (2) contain any URLs (without reference to white- or black- lists).

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Schneelocke

(no subject)

from: schnee
date: Apr. 25th, 2011 05:56 pm (UTC)
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Ah, yeah — I vaguely (very vaguely) recall that. I never cared about it since I don't allow anonymous comments anywhere myself, anyway, but yes, I'd guess they replaced that option with this one now.

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Natasha Softpaw

(no subject)

from: natashasoftpaw
date: Apr. 25th, 2011 06:47 pm (UTC)
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Thanks for posting this, I'm sure I'll refer people to it if any of my comments get screened because of this stupid feature.

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Schneelocke

(no subject)

from: schnee
date: Apr. 25th, 2011 06:52 pm (UTC)
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You're very welcome! :)

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Kevlar

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from: kevlarhusky
date: Apr. 25th, 2011 08:26 pm (UTC)
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Off that goes. Likely wouldn't have affected me anyway but, ironically, better safe than sorry.

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Schneelocke

(no subject)

from: schnee
date: Apr. 25th, 2011 09:30 pm (UTC)
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Aye, indeed.

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