I’ve gotten a couple e-mails on this recently from folks concerned when a comment of theirs drops into the moderation queue and then doesn’t eventually show up. So I’m going to post this and let it stand as a resource going forward.
First, understand that this site gets a huge number of spam comments a day — something along the line of 2,000 of them in a day, every day, all year long. The reason you don’t see most of them is because I actively and aggressively monitor and filter the threads. My own special cocktail of IP blacklists, keyword moderation, link policing and other secret ingredients punts the majority of these spam comments either into the spam queue or the moderation queue. The spam queue gets about 90% of these; I never look at the spam queue because it’s really almost impossible to land there unless you’re spamming. 10% of these drop into the moderation queue, which I look at least a couple of times a day. 10% of all spam messages is still a couple hundred messages a day.
When you try to post a message and it doesn’t appear immediately, it usually means that it’s gone into the moderation queue. You may or may not get a message from my site telling you this. If you’ve landed in the moderation queue, it’s usually for one of the following reasons:
1. You put in more than one URL link in your message (I’ve specified 3 links as the point at which moderation kicks in, however, other factors may cause you to get punted into moderation for as little as two links)
2. You’ve got a word in your comment that fires up one of my keyword comment moderation filters. These are largely pharmaceutical-based, although there are certain specific phrases that are commonly used in spam that are also filtered. If you try to tell me I have a “nice site,” for example, you’ll likely get the boot into moderation.
3. You’re writing from an IP address from which spam emanates. Use your anti-virus programs, people.
When you post a message, and any of these three factors are in play, they are weighed against other factors, including whether or not you’ve posted before (either by IP detection or by name detection). The MovableType software then assigns your comment a rating, and if the rating is less than my threshold rating for posting, off your comment goes, into the moderation queue.
Here are things you need to know about the moderation queue:
1. As noted, normally I check it at least a couple of times a day; usually during an average work day I’ll check it once an hour or so. So generally speaking, your comment should be released no more than 12 hours after posting, and usually (during workplace hours) within an hour or two.
2. I don’t vaporize comments made from real humans or otherwise leave them in the comment queue. If I find something of yours sufficiently jackassed enough to delete, I’ll let it post and then go into the comment and delete it, and leave behind my reasons for deletion. In other words, if you’ve offended me, what’s left of your comment will tell you why.
3. Inevitably, given the amount of spam that lands in the moderation queue, I will from time to time accidentally delete a comment post from a real live person. This person might be you. Please understand that it doesn’t mean I hate you, or that you’ve offended me in some unknowable way — as noted above, if you’ve offended me, I’ll let you know — or that you’ve lost your posting privileges. It just means I’ve accidentally deleted your post. It happens.
If you’ve posted a comment and you do not see it on the site, here’s what you do:
1. Don’t send me an e-mail about it. As noted above, comment moderation is not my passive-aggressive way of controlling people, it’s my way of dealing with spam. I don’t moderate people for their comments this way.* So you don’t need to worry about that. Now, if you’ve sent me an e-mail about this subject prior to me posting this message, please don’t send another e-mail apologizing. I’m not upset. I just don’t want you to think there’s a problem.
2. Do wait a few hours to see if your comment eventually shows up. I do occasionally have a life outside this Web site, so sometimes it’ll take a while for the comment to get published.
3. If after about 12 hours you do not see the comment — or alternately, do not see what used to be a comment from you with my note about why I deleted its contents — it’s likely I’ve accidentally deleted it. After you calm your righteous rage at my sloppy comment moderation skills, the solution is simple: post the comment again. The chances of my accidentally deleting the comment a second time are (hopefully) fairly small.
So there you have it: The ins and outs of comment moderation on the Whatever. If you have any questions, please feel free to leave them in the comment thread.
(* I say that I don’t use the moderation queue to deal with real live human commenters, but I will note that there are at least a couple of people who, after being warned several times in the comment threads to behave themselves, have lost their posting privileges entirely, and at least part of that enforcement includes moderation. Should you worry that you’ll be placed on this list? No. You really have to annoy me over an extended period of time, and if you do, I will let you know that you’re headed toward Blacklist City long before you get there. Most of you are not even close to achieving this sort of dubious distinction.)