Public Service Announcement: Comments

The previous entry was about Internet hoaxes and apocryphal stories. Not everything on the Web is what it seems to be. That little truism stands front and center when you have a blog with comments enabled. One of the great things about a blog is the opportunity for social interaction it presents.  When you press the “comment” button in a blog post, we can have a two-way conversation. That’s potentially more interesting and helpful to you than the one-way, “read-only” information you get from the rest of the website. But that benefit is also a potential harm, because like everything else on the web, the incoming comments are not always what they seem to be.

An ideal comment is posted by someone who has read the blog post they are commenting on, and has a question, a follow-up observation, or maybe a different point of view. My hope is to keep the conversation going with a community of folks on the Web who will benefit from and contribute to the value of this site. Unfortunately, many of the comments received are not of this type.

Many comments are generic, one-word or two-word interjections like “Nice article!” or “Great post!” These generic bits of flattery are typically sent to every blog the sender can find. The sender’s goal is not to start a conversation, but to post a link to his own website or blog in hopes of generating traffic to it. It’s a dead giveaway when the included link is for items for sale, and is much longer than the actual comment to which it is attached.

Even worse are the comments designed to spread malware.  They link back to sites that attempt to get your computer to download a virus. I typically Google the linked sites rather than actually clicking through to them. And it’s amazing how often the site comes up as a known “attack site.”  So these senders are appearing to make nice while hoping to possibly take control of your computer. Identity theft is but the first item in a long list of ugly possibilities that arise. Once your computer is compromised, you run a greater risk of criminals being able to log into your financial accounts to steal your money..

I have been the victim of cyber attacks before. Containing and cleaning up the damage can be time consuming and expensive. Accordingly, I’m very careful about which comments get through.  All comments for this blog must be moderated by yours truly before they will appear. If yours does not appear, it’s probably for one or more of the following reasons:

1. If a comment is so generic it suggests the sender didn’t necessarily read the article, and could have posted the exact same comment to a hundred different sites without having to change it in any way, then it will not get posted. Still,  I’m tempted to put up an article of complete gibberish to see how many “thank your for that” comments I still get.

2. If the comment is full of the kind of grandiose verbosity and fractured syntax typically associated with Nigerian scam emails, it will not get posted.

3. If the comment links to a business one would not expect to find adverting on a Christian site, it won’t get posted.  In other words, escort services and porn purveyors need not apply.

4. If the comment inquires about what platform or security measures this site uses, it will not get posted.

5. Finally, comments linked to known or suspected attack sites (especially links to sites hosted outside the Americas) will not get posted.

Those rules may cause me to accidentally exclude a legitimate comment from time to time. I apologize in advance for that. But it’s mostly bad guys who transgress those rules. [And that's one of the key points I wish to make here. Spam, in the form of blog posts or emails, is not just annoying; it's a risk to your financial well being.]  On the other hand, if you are one of the good guys, the kind of person this site was built to serve, then I eagerly await your input. Do you need to have something clarified or further explained?  Is there a topic you’d like to see more of? Less of? Did something here inspire you? Then by all means, let’s talk!

We now return you to your regularly scheduled blog posts.