Comment Control

So there are at least three ways I can set this up to control who comments. As Dan and others have noticed, in the new system e-mail addresses are never diplayed on the website, although they can be viewed by the authors.

  1. The current arrangement. Requires user to verify the e-mail address every time she comments. Problem: a bit of a pain.
  2. One-time verification. This would require the user to verify the address the first time she comments, then that address is stored as automaically approved for future comments. Problem: can be abused if I want to impersonate somone whose address I know.
  3. User registration. This would force users to actually register on the site before being able to use the comment form. This has the added benefit of allowing folks to create and manage their own profiles, but I have ot figure out how to make those visible. I don't think it would prevent them from registering with a fake address, though. Problem: bigger pain in the ass, and I'm not sure exactly how it will work .

What do y'all think?


I think option #1 is best. It is least hassle for you. It may be an extra step for commentors (though less than option 3) but that could benefit but limiting idle b.s. (it also gives people a chance for second thoughts before a comment is posted).

Is there a system in which comments go to the authors so that the author controls posting and can reply? That would be a great way to keep threads on topic.

Although you didn't invite me to be on the advisory board, I would consider it. I'm very interested in the questions surrounding fulfilling the political purpose of the blog.


I am now starting to lean toward option #2. It should be the same about of hassle for me (that is: almost none), and less hassle for readers. We can always go back to #1, if we have problems.

I agree with Terri about including email addresses. We'll never be entirely rid of peopel who hide their identities. When someone lists a somewhat real sounding name but obviously bogus email it helps me know to ignore their comments.
Why wouldn't #3 work? I'm assuming it only requires everyone to register once. I know it means more work for you, Ruby.

I'm sorry to hear email addresses won't be available to readers. I think showing the email has two functions: 1) provides an off-list means of communications among discussants and 2) assures the readers (vs the list owner) that individuals are legitimate--greater trust system. With the original blog, there was an option to "remember my address" so it wasn't any hassle. If that isn't possible, then I don't have any preference between #1 and #2 choices. I don't like Dan's suggestion about having all posts moderated--the literature on social networks/online communications would not support that idea either (goes back to trust).


A good thing to know about e-mail addresses on this site are:
1) They will be on the web for a VERY long time. This site is a BIG archive and will archive it even longer.
2) Raw e-mail addresses just hanging out on web pages are serious candy for SPAMMERS. They have software that travels around the web collecting them. Basically the longer your e-mail is public on the web the greater chance you will get allot more spam.
3) The future of identity theft has just started. If you really ID yourself on the web with an e-mail address it will be easy for someone to impersonate you elsewhere. It may not be a big deal here but your username for other sites is often your e-mail address/

I agree with Brian that there are problems in using email addresses, in fact, I advocated against this requirement when Ruby first proposed it. But after being an active participant here for several months, I have not had any spamming problems, perhaps because Earthlink does a good filtering job. By contrast my UNC account is loaded with spam and I don't post that address anywhere.

The question is whether the potential problems of using email addresses are greater than the benefits. In the research we did for the UNC campus symposium on ID abuse (, we didn't find any negatives to using email addresses for identity, I imagine, because most accounts are ephemeral. On campus, students have the right to not make the addresses public through FERPA. Perhaps a compromise is to suggest that individuals sign their posts with their email address if they are willing to be contacted offline.

I meant to sign with my email to see if it would hyperlink.

It works. Ruby--would it be possible to make this a suggestion in the Guidelines?


Everyone should check out It is one of the best search tools on the web. Really! I mean isn't that much easier to read than OP's master archive. But then OP doesn't have as much info on it as does. Not yet anyway! Hurray for good Information Architecture!

Looks like there may be a bug--Brian R has a comment showing from the first page (1:34) but it doesn't show up in the actual comment page. Is that because it gets indexed before it gets posted (lag in email response?)?

I tested this and I was right. I posted my comment but didn't go to email to authorize right away. The message showed up in the index as if it were posted, but the actual message didn't show up until I authorized. You may need to explain that the users since some people won't realize they need to go to email immediately after posting a message. (Sorry if I'm telling you something you already knew)

I like the idea of having the option to post an e-mail address if you want to. Nice to have a choice.

Thanks for the link to the UNC campus symposium on ID abuse. :-)


Option 2, please. Option one doesn't appear to be working very well for me---I've posted on a couple of threads int he last ten minutes, and haven't received the "please verify" e-mail yet. Which means THIS is an exercise in futility!


Ruby--have you switched to system 2 already? Because My comments are HERE--even though I haven't verified them!

Not that I'm COMPLAINING, mind you!


Melanie, the change (to option 1) was made last Sunday. It works fine, as you wouldhave seen if you posted on Monday or Tuesday. Today there have been some glitches and I have been approving comments manually until I can get everything fixed.


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