Until now I’ve resisted the impulse to moderate comments. But lately I’ve been irritated by finding “comments” that are just excuses to include links to other sites, without any evident relevance for the topic of the post being “commented” upon.

The more obvious and potentially annoying comment spam is already trapped by the excellent spam protection available with BlogHarbor/Blogware: the ones that are getting through are not as obviously irrelevant.

One option to discourage this sort of thing would be to turn off the facility for including HTML in the comments, but that would be a retrograde step as far as I’m concerned. For me, part of the conversation of commenting is that people should be free to suggest interesting links: and if a commenter has written a post that she feels is relevant and of interest, I have no problem with the commenter linking to that post. It’s a question of judgement and I would prefer to err on the side of some latitude.

But we all know that some people are quite ready to abuse any latitude in this space. And just as everyone quickly knows in offline conversation when someone’s “comment” is out of order or merely self-serving, this kind of spam-blocker-evading comment spam is identifiable once exposed to human scrutiny.

To spare readers the irritation of seeing comment spam and the possibility of further irritation if they click on a link and find it irrelevant, I’ve decided reluctantly to make all comments subject to moderation. In other words, they will no longer appear instantly and will have to be cleared by me. As I get regular notifications and check in pretty regularly, that will usually not involve a delay beyond a few hours, and only very rarely more than a day.

And second offenders will have a bit of a problem with the firewall.

Apologies to anyone who likes to see the comment online immediately.

Be assured that if the spammers get bored and go away, I will look at taking the moderation off.

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