I’m pleased to report that there is a new development in the blog management system by my blog service provider BlogHarbor, which allows me to institute – on a trial basis – a new, more flexible approach to commenting.

Anyone who has commented on this blog, or tried to, will know that the only people able to leave comments have been those with a Blogware ‘reader account’ and that anonymous comments have not been allowed. 

More than one person has told me that they had declined to leave comments because, for one reason or another, they did not want to open a reader account. It was even suggested by one that by having this system in place I was discouraging comments. Far from it – I *love* getting comments!

But to avoid comment spam, which is fast becoming a scourge of the blogosphere, I’ve been using the ‘no anonymous comments’ default setting for this BlogHarbor site. The once-only process of opening a ‘reader account’, as required by this default system, provides the ability to comment on any Blogware blog (just as a Typepad userid works for any Typepad blog).

There is an option with BlogHarbor to allow anonymous comments, but I’ve not used it now because that would have been leaving the door open to comment spam.

However, I’ve been bothered by the fact that people who might otherwise leave comments have been unwilling to do so, whether because they didn’t understand the system or because they disliked the idea of filling out a form and providing their contact details (even though those details don’t come to me).

Prompted by a new burst of comment spam, with signs of automated systems being developed to circumvent the reader account registration system, BlogHarbor has just recently installed a CAPTCHA system, which is where you have a box with letters and numbers that appear to have been written down by someone seriously affected by drink. To be able to comment, you have to copy the numbers and letters into a a provided space onscreen.

One of the current drawbacks of the new system is that even people who have gone to the trouble of registering a reader account now have to fill in the box with the funny letters and numbers, to ensure they are who they say they are – i.e. human beings, not robots programmed to get through the registration process. We have been assured by BlogHarbor support that the system will be tweaked progressively to minimise inconvenience.

How it works is explained in detail, clearly, with illustration, over at Unbecoming Levity – thanks, Chuck.

I’m hoping that people who choose to use the anonymous commenting facility will still leave their name in the comment. A link to your blog is fine too. Of course, obvious attempts to abuse this – more than one url, links to fake blogs (spamblogs), etc – will result in the comment being deleted, without apology and at my sole discretion. But I’m a perennial optimist and I believe people will welcome the new development and behave well  


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