Some of the scienceblogs have been experiencing difficulties (unresponsiveness, sluggish commenting, and some of us can’t even post), and part of the problem can be traced to spammers turning their attention to us and pounding at the door. We’ve been asked to increase the level of security in commenting to suppress some of that activity, so now comments here require a valid email address.

Switching the level of security has an unfortunate side-effect with some browsers—it confused my copy of Safari so much it wouldn’t allow me to comment on my own blog. One solution, though, is to get rid of the old cookies for the domain in your browser. If you’re getting a “Comment Submission Error”, try that solution.

If anyone wants to leave other bug reports here, I bet the developer will see them. I know of a few glitches:

  • Text encoding incompatibilities—this ISO vs UTF-8 stuff that I barely understand.
  • The search page (and others?) don’t seem to be php-enabled, so funny stuff appears.
  • Syndication includes only the entry body, and if there is an extended entry, there’s no indication that something is incomplete.
  • I want a captcha system for comments. Some spam still gets through that I need to manually delete.
  • No Pirate Mode and I need more logos! OK, this is still a very low priority…more serious bugs need to be fixed first.

I know there are lots of these little things floating about, but overall I’m so happy with the improved performance that I’m not too concerned, yet. And of course, the number one priority has to be correcting major bugs like Orac has had.

Hey! If you check your syndication feeds, you’ll see that now not only is there an indicator that there’s more to the post, but there’s a link to and count of the comments. See? Complain here, the developer will notice, and things will get fixed.


  1. #1 RavenT
    February 21, 2006

    Mine are just usability, not function, but they are annoying.

    Quoting multiple paragraphs looks like it works correctly, but in reality, only the first paragraph is quoted. All the others revert to standard, which is just asking for misattribution.

    Also, back on the old Pharyngula, individual comments had their own reference; here, all the comments are one big ungranular body. Makes interrupting Mr. Raven’s work by referring him to particularly good (or bad) comments less straightforward.


  2. #2 Todd
    February 21, 2006

    Individual comments are linked from their datestamps.

    I think the lack of full entries/”continue reading…” in the RSS feed is pretty high priority, though.

  3. #3 Kristjan Wager
    February 21, 2006

    Hmmm…. hopefully removing the cookie will work.

  4. #4 hank
    February 26, 2006

    Antti == yes we all agree it should work.

    My point is that it doesn’t work right yet.

    As Reed pointed out above, “Standard text formatters on MT don’t handle UTF-8 text properly. You have to do some simple Perl tricks to get it to work.”

    We need a way to PASTE UNFORMATTED == just the text == and let the web page manage it. Right now people paste in what looks like quote marks, etc. but is in fact any of a variety of HTML strings, which then get mangled on the way to subsequent readers.

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