Blogging Software

It’s come time for me to do something about my blog because lately I’ve been getting a 15 to 1 comment spam. That means about for every 1 real comment get 15 comments that are spam. The really annoying thing is they are typed by live people who attempt to leave a comment that sounds relevant, but then they leave a link to some website that makes it clear it’s not a real comment. That it’s just spam.

Spam is a problem for every blog but most blogging software has some stuff to help. They have comment moderation, they have comment spam filtering, they may have the option to require registration to comment.

Mine does not. Why? Because I wrote mine blog software custom before all that other blogging software even existed. In relation to spam there are some benefits. Because there are so many blogs using wordpress and movabletype those blogs get the most spam. Spammers spend time trying to write automated scripts to spam those systems because if they succeed they get to spam thousands and thousands of systems. Mine on the other hand, being custom, just doesn’t warrant the effort. On the other hand, I don’t have comment spam filtering, comment moderation and while I used to have registration it’s also custom. Most of those other systems use standard registration systems like OpenId or others.

Anyway, because of this and other issues I’ve often thought about switching. Unfortunately, as far as I know, none of the blogging software out there has the features that my custom software has. Those features are as follows.

  • Support for localized content:
  • If your browser is set to prefer Japanese content this blog will appear with a Japanese skin and every article *can* be written in more than one language and if that language is available it will be served in that language. If you want an example of this see my Hawaiian Food page. In Firefox go to Tools-> Options-> Content-> Language-> “Choose your preferred language for displaying pages”. Add Japanese and move it to the top. Then go view that page again. As far as I know, no other blogging software does this.

  • Support for different templates per device:
  • This software can look at the ID of your browser and serve a different version of the page for that browser. For WebTV it serves a different simpler version. For Google yet another. For certain cellphones another. For netscape 4.7 yet another. As far as know, no other blogging software does this.

  • Support for Multiple-blogs:
  • This rules out wordpress. While there are hacks to get wordpress to support multiple blogs I don’t want to use hacks as that only brings more problems.

  • Automatic large-small image linking
  • : On this blog, if I put a link to an image like this <img src=”/travel/shanghai/place-03-01-sm.jpg”/> it will notice that the image name ends with “-sm” and it will look for a corresponding image without the “-sm”. If it finds it it will AUTOMATICALLY wrap the image in a link from the small image to the large image like this

  • Support for automatically skinning images:
  • If I add custom attributes to my img tag, this blog software will wrap the image.

    <img src=”/travel/shanghai/tea-house-sm.jpg” width=”100″ height=”100″ class=”gman-border-cshadow” alt=”Tea House”/ >

    produces this:

    Tea House I’m sure there’s a host of other features that may or may not be available in other blogging software. The icons that go with the posts. Embedded emoticons so :-P becomes 😛 automatically. Automatic code coloring so

    <gatcode lang=”cpp”> printf(“Spams today %d”, numSpams); </gatcode>


     printf("Spams today %d", numSpams");

    So that brings up the question what to do. Given that the comment spam is getting too annoying I’m left with the following options

  • Turn off comments.
  • That’s no fun. Comments are about the only concrete pleasure I get from this blog.

  • Switch anyway and forgo all the missing figures.
  • I don’t think I could get myself to do forgo the language features.

  • Add comment filtering, comment moderation and a login system to my custom software.
  • The problem with that is the advantage to switching is other people continue to upgrade, add fixes and features instead of me. If a new ID system comes out someone else will make that work. If I do it myself then I continue having to add stuff every couple of years.

  • Rewrite this site’s software completely.
  • This site started as my very first perl program. As such it’s REALLY BAD PERL. Perl is also slow. The problem here is it’s a friggen lot of work to re-write this and when I’m done nothing will have visibly changed. And it still leaves the previous problems.

  • shut off the site.
  • What to do!?

    • Drupal

      I played with WordPress but quickly wanted more features so I switched to Drupal. I don’t have any commercial demands and just like to tinker, but I’ve been pretty happy with it. Basically, you install Drupal and then you install modules and then you get what features the modules support. If you need to tweak a module to do something different, just tweak away on the php code. Or you could just start a new module based on an existing module and then contribute it to the community.

      The two books I purchased to give me a quick intro to Drupal are “Using Drupal” and “Pro Drupal Development”. The “Using Drupal” book gives you a great non-programmer intro to show you how easy it is to get going. The “Pro Drupal Development” book is the best programming internals book I know about.

      And here is the great part (well at least it excites me…), I use the new version of SlickEdit and can debug the php code using xdebug. Add the Drupal file extensions (.inc, .module, .install) to the PHP Language options in SlickEdit and this will enable you to quickly browse through the Drupal source code using the Ctrl-. and Ctrl-,.

    • Write a CAPTCHA

      I just finished writing my own blog engine from scratch because of hacking problems with WordPress.

      I suggest you write your own captcha. Start off easy, like change all the names of your comment fields so they don’t match the old engine, and avoid common words like “email” etc. Add a dummy field in side of HTML comments that must remain blank for the comment to go through.

      You may need to do a quick tweak like this every year or so, but not much, unless someone has it out for you.

      I hope you keep your blog going.

    • Captcha doesn’t work

      Unfortunately captcha won’t work for me. I’m not getting auto-genereted spam. I’m getting spam from humans. The come and leave a message and it looks almost legit. The only thing that gives it away is that the they almost always end the post with a random link to scammy website.

      Sometimes they only leave the link as their homepage URL but in any case, it’s a human so they would be able to pass the captcha

    • Mollom

      The founder of Drupal created mollom to cover spam issues with community sites.

      I don’t think you’d have much trouble porting your site’s look to a Drupal theme.

    • Thanks for FlickrDown

      Just wanted to say thanks for FlickrDown. Great stuff. Can I offer you either one of my Coinstar Hunter “awards”, or perhaps an old 1970’s set of “Britain’s New Decimal Coins”, by way of a thank you? See for more on those.

      Blog-wise, I hear good things about Drupal. Might be worth a look?


      James (UK)

    • RayB
      Maybe try Joomla?

      I hate Drupal. Joomla seems a LITTLE more friendly. Both Drupal and Joomla fall into the “CMS” category, but would bit the bill for you.