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No, I’m not blocking you or deleting your comments!

Someone wrote in:

I am worried you may have blocked me from commenting on your blog (because a couple of comments I made aren’t there). . . . Or maybe I failed to post correctly or maybe you just didn’t think my comments were interesting enough. . . .

This comes up from time to time and I always explain that, no, I don’t delete comments.

I don’t block commenters. I flag spam comments as spam—this includes comments with actual content but that contain spam links, and it also includes comments with no links but with such meaningless content that they seem to be some sort of spam—and I delete duplicate comments, which happens I think when people don’t realize their comment was entered the first time. In nearly 15 years of blogging I think I’ve deleted fewer then 5 comments based on content when people are extremely rude.

Legitimate comments also can get caught in the spam. When people email me as above, I search the blog’s spam comments file, and the comment in question is typically there, having been trapped by the spam filter. Other times the comment isn’t there, and I’m guessing it got eaten by the person’s browser before it ever got posted.

I appreciate all the effort that people put into their comments and definitely don’t want to be deleting them! Just as I blog for free so as to improve scientific discourse, so do you and others supply comments for free for that same reason, and I’m glad we have such free and interesting exchanges.

24 Comments

  1. Paul Alper says:

    Andrew: Please explain why my absolutely innocuous comments, devoid of passion or obscenities, typically take hours to post because of “awaiting moderation.” Who or what does the moderation and why? How does one avoid “awaiting moderation”?

    • Andrew says:

      Paul:

      I have no idea. I didn’t write the software, I just use it.

    • My impression is that including links in your post causes moderation. I don’t know who does the moderation, but I suspect it’s a way to keep bots from spamming the comments with links for fake prescriptions, or ugg boots or whatever.

    • Noah Motion says:

      I find that my comments only get the “awaiting moderation” delay if I try to post from a new computer. That is, the first time I posted from the laptop I’m on right now, I got an “awaiting moderation” delay, but every time since then, it just posts immediately (even with links, though maybe the links I’ve posted have been not particularly spammy). Maybe the fact that I include a URL in the Website field helps?

      Now, I assume this comment will post immediately when I click “Submit Comment”…

      • Including a website and a real email in the form submission seems to help. Essentially all of my posts show up right away like you. But if I link to several other sites (pdfs of papers, other blogs, whatever) I still get “awaiting moderation”. So I think it automatically puts you in a queue if you have more than N links where N is something like 1 or 2

        • Paul Alper says:

          Daniel Lakeland, Marsha (Smith) and Noah Motion:

          My experience indicates your conjectures are incorrect, at least as far as my history is concerned. My recent contribution where I cite Lehrer and von Braun–is from my customary computer, has no reference to any web site and still has taken about 4-5 hours of “awaiting moderation.” Clearly a case for Daryl Bem to investigate.

  2. Larry Raffalovich says:

    Thanks so much for the service you provide and and the tmeand work you put into this. That
    Said, your reply to Paul is the sort of thing I hear when I question some what I think is erroneous
    Analyses. You need to understand the tools you are using.

  3. Larry Raffalovich says:

    Your reply to Paul is the sort of thing I hear when I question some what I think is erroneous
    Analyses. You need to understand the tools you are using.

  4. Larry Raffalovich says:

    My post got submitted before I hit the submit button, so I got the duplicate message; that confused me so I deleted what I thought was previously said by others and submitted again. Apologies!

  5. Ian Fellows says:

    It is pretty amazing that you don’t have to delete comments. 5 comments in 15 years!?! Given the popularity of your blog, I would have thought it would attract at least a few feces throwers over the years.

  6. Scudamor Hornblower says:

    Sorry for the OT:

    just wanted to report this deep learning challenge

    https://www.synapse.org/#!Synapse:syn4224222/wiki/401743

    Briefly, the purpose of this challenge was to train a machine learning model that would detect whether a mammography is related to a cancer or healthy conditions.
    In the data description page:

    https://www.synapse.org/#!Synapse:syn4224222/wiki/401750

    the organizers state that: “An additional challenge for this Challenge is that the training images set can not be downloaded by the participants. However we expect this Challenge to pave the way for future competitions that will make use of datasets that can not be made public (e.g. medical information, data from a company that want to crowdsource a problem, etc.).”

    This makes clear that the difficulty of not being able to directly analyze the training images is a characteristic part of the challenge.
    Unfortunately, the winner teams have all trained their models using external public databases, such as DDSM. Here the write up from the winning team: https://www.synapse.org/#!Synapse:syn9773040/wiki/426908 (Methods paragraph).

    What do you think?

  7. Corey Yanofsky says:

    I was under the impression that one of my comments was removed recently. Admittedly it wasn’t the highest quality comment ever. A early career researcher was asking for advice for dealing with the incentives militating against good science. I suggested going with the flow until tenure was achieved and then becoming a David Freedman-style gadfly for the lulz. There were no links and I’m pretty it didn’t go to moderation but I couldn’t find it later. (Maybe I just lost track of it though.)

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