Guest Idea of the Day From My Comments

In my post about the "Death Of Usenet" Joku left a great comment with two ideas that I wanted to share with a broader audience. Maybe its lazy blogging, but I haven't had much time lately and I thought his comment was a good read.

1. Do not to Close Comments after 30 Days! An alternative to CAPTCHA.

"There has been reported increasing amount of interesting topics of discussion at, however at same time comment facilities are closing for older posts, presumably for a) the fear of spam b) no interest to hear about old subjects long forgotten.

For point a) there has been many suggestions for captcha instead of closing the comments permanently. Now I personally hate those stup*d images with obfuscated numbers, so here's the simple variation of mine that would apply well to the msdn blogs environment:

Instead of the image&number, give the blog owner a personal preference setting to replace the Submit button easily with a question about the blog owner, upon typing the answer - pressing the enter key would submit the comment. captcha: "my last name" a: "ledgard". Or if you wanted to be nasty, it could be something that requires reading your first blog entry/bio perhaps. Upon entering this captcha correct the first time, .NET users could have one click installable app which receives some sort of key invisibly from a page that is shown upon entering the captcha - this would be generated on the base of IP address the blogging software sees. The user end program would then use this key along with the blog url to remove the need to enter the captcha again.

Also to avoid the blog owners email being 'spammed' with stupid, but non-spam, comments like this in the past blogs, there could be a threshold such that only comments to newer blogs would inform the blog owner through (email/instant means), comments to older blogs would be available in one page view where you could just view the comment the subject of the blog where it was written on quickly by hovering mouse over or similar no-clicking method. This would allow everyone to comment and even discuss on past topics of interest at blogs.msdn, without having the blog owner being drowned in instant notifications/emails.

And why do I whine about this instead of blogging about this? Well I do not see every MS employee with a blog, some may not even want to have one for free - but they still want to make occasional comment and instead of just two way discussion, have the comments of interesting blog subject act more as a discussion conversing on one place instead of scattering in many blogs which may have comments closed etc. The blog owner may not care about the past topic anymore, but there's many who do! "

2. MS Hosted Combintation Feedback Center, Community Generated FAQs, and Spec Server

"And what about the people in MS usenet groups who need help for their particular issue can may not have blog? Well I'm thinking Big, like something like more end user centered, but still very connected with MS, approach on combining the PFC with ability to let users help each other and find the issues. There's already a community at PFC, sort of - this can not be seen on MS internal tools I hear - cause they do not see the comments on bug/suggestion that anyone can write. This concept could be taken so much further. Certainly there would need to separate the "authoritative" answers and KB related content by some visual cue from the community content regarding those issues. Sort of like PHP online manual, where you have the "specs" of how things how and then the community of developers talking about how to make use of the methods etc. With MS running the server for this system, they could get statistics for popularity of those issues and also give authoritative comments regarding what MS is going to do about those in future releases.

And who would code and pay for all that? Changing face does not come for free, blogs & Channel 9 & PFC are a good start, but target mostly developers. But I would think in the end you want the big message of Change to target bigger audience. From technical standpoint the PFC would need more powerful and much more fast means to find if my issue is already on the database. Such would be most appropriate to run locally for best UX and the search should find the issue even if Joe spells technical word wrong and incorporate something along the lines of the clustered menu used in clustered search (beats google if your trying to find hardware reviews for example..).. I could go on and on ;)"

Comments (10)
  1. Eric Newton says:

    yeah, that sounds simple and will work 99.9% of the time

    whats your beef with the image/numbers? its a simple guarantee (albeit not fool proof) that proves that the poster is at least a person, and not a bot.

    even my (relatively obscure) blog is getting hit with texas holdem crap comments and the best solution is the captcha…

  2. Eric Newton says:

    yeah, that sounds simple and will work 99.9% of the time

    whats your beef with the image/numbers? its a simple guarantee (albeit not fool proof) that proves that the poster is at least a person, and not a bot.

    even my (relatively obscure) blog is getting hit with texas holdem crap comments and the best solution is the captcha…

    so many times i run into a topic that would be nice to comment on, but the comments are turned off… whats the point of the blog?

  3. Joku says:

    As always, I’m again slightly off topic

    I’d like to add this blog post that has some interesting bits of clustering related stuff.

    "Search Results Clustering – New tool from Microsoft"!1pWDBCiDX1uvH5ATJmNCVLPQ!317.entry

    I have yet to try it, but imagine if you could get the results for your search and the content in the search engine cache in just one go to your smart-search-client. That would really speed up searching and browsing the results.

  4. Joku says:

    Now I feel stupid talking to myself, but looking at MSN Spaces, and the fact that probably quite many people who read already have .NET Passport, wouldn’t it just make most sense to add Passport support to I doubt the spammers will bother go generating Passport accounts for spam. Just a matter of time and resources probably.

  5. Woah woah — push out a .NET application to store and send what amounts to a glorified cookie? That seems like a considerably overengineered solution for a simple authentication problem.

    I do greatly agree with his frustration of having to traverse scores of blogs to try to gather up all the available information on a topic; some of which are closed and some of which are not. Blogs are a giant step backwards in some ways.

  6. Community Server 1.0 to the rescue, and amazingly it has addressed both issues it seems.

    Native NNTP support. will have a way to post native forum messages as well as read/write to newsgroups. That hit’s #2 pretty good though may not hit it exactly at 1.0 though I’m sure they’ll continue to tweak it until it works seemlessly. This only makes sense for those MS sites with forums because those can tie into their newsgroups counterparts nicely ( has no real newsgroup counterpart and trying to tie in all MS newsgroups would be overkill for any one site).

    #1 can be addressed here:

    Since Scott is still running (his name and contact info are in the top left of the home page) I can only bet that will be one of the first to be upgraded when CS 1.0 hits. He may delay it a bit (since he said he ran .Text for a year before it went public) but I can only imagine since this is Scott’s "baby" he’s going to take really good care of it.

    Will CS be the holy grail that fixes every problem we have with blogging? Probably not but it’ll be a good start. CAPTCHAs are generally a bad idea and it’s good to know they won’t be included in CS by default (probably for a reason). They can be defeated rather easily and only patch a symptom, not the root cause. The only real way you can combat spam is to plug each hole as you find it. There’s no all-encompasing fix to the root cause because when you plug one hole, spammers will find another so it’s a constant cat and mouse game.

    It’s kind of funny the timing on all of this. CS has hit RC1 and should be finalized really shortly. It’ll be a while before each site is upgraded from .Text but the migration should start happening really shortly. Hopefully the site admin of will upgrade ASAP because our version of .Text is severely limited. These extra goodies would make blogging fun again (it’s never lost it’s "fun" but work would stop getting in the way that’s for sure).

  7. josh ledgard says:

    Erik: My personal beef with the CAPTCHA system is that it has already been defeated by automated spammers. It is only a short term solution. If computers are starting to figure out my handwriting then I don’t have much hope for these systems long term.

    jeremy: NNTP support is nice for offline reading and responding, but it would be even better if there was an offline solution that took advantage of the other meta-data (views, rank, unanswered, etc) information you get with the web view. A good offline solutions should help moderators also do thier job. A pure NNTP solution does not currently enable those scenarios.

  8. First, I hate not being able to allow comments on all of my posts.

    The best part of blogging to me is interacting with readers who almost invariably point out flaws in my logic or introduce me to new ideas and resources that extend my ability to provide valuable content in the future.

    Second, I don’t care where comments are hosted but I want them to appear in chronological order on the same page as my post.

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