Thursday, October 28, 2004

Pornography and a Public Blog

Something interesting and unexpected is going on with my Theology 1120 blog project. Yesterday when I got in my office I had a phone message to call the Vice President of Student Services here on campus. I did, and he said that a student of my Theology 1120 course had come to his office complaining that I had sent the student an email that asked them to visit a very graphic pornography site. "Wow" I said, puzzled by all this. He said it was sent by "A Bible Log." Well, a day later, it turns out that someone in the world posted a comment on the student's blog entry that was a link to a pornographic site. When people post comments, it automatically emails the student who posted the entry. So the student gets this email from someone known as, with the subject [Theology 1120 Blog] Comment: "The Bible" that has a link to a porn site. The student apparently didn't understand this, and when they got an email that said something about Theology 1120, they assumed that it was from me. So I spent the morning explaining to this university administrator that I of course didn't send the email, that we have this blog project, blog is an online journal=weblog, that it is public and people can post to it. All the while imagine how embarassing this was for me. First, I'm curious who all the 1,624 people are that got addresses before adult-free 1625. Second, anonymity seems to bring out the worst in people. So, I still want to keep the blog public and let anyone who wants to post a comment, but now I need to have my students go in and delete the inappropriate stuff. Is that what we've come to? Leaving porn links on blog entries? I know exactly what will happen now. So, funny anonymous readers, go ahead and put a comment with a link to pornography on this entry. I'll do my best to delete them. Let the games begin!


Blogger Tim said...

Not anonymous, and not about porn. Michael, I wonder whether in the spirit of respecting the weaker brother or sister there is some way the blog software could check at least for a list of stop words in comments. I realise that a stop word list is a crude and blunt instrument, but it might help avoid most such incidents...

12:33 PM  
Blogger Editor B said...

Comment spam is a real and present danger. You can read more about it here. There are better controls for comment spam, such as what Tim mentions, in the latest version of WordPress. And it's worth noting that the pornographic spam Michael dealt with, and the 50-odd gambling spams I deleted from his blog this morning, are almost certainly posted by a bot, not a human being. Gstohl got over 300 gambling spams on his blog, if I recall correctly.

7:15 PM  

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