The janitor is annoyed

I’ve had to make some changes to how comments are filtered here. Here is the only allowed html that you can use in any of your comments:

<a href=””></a>
<br />

This is rather minimal text formatting: you can do a little bold, italics, or underscore, with blockquotes and links. That’s it. This is all retroactive, unfortunately, so if you had old comments with fonts in color, or imbedded images or videos, those are all gone.

All it took was a little abuse of the flexibility we used to have. Right now, I am really overloaded with work, so coming in this morning and finding that a few people had played games with text positioning via style commands, splatting garbage all over the page outside the bounds of the comment box, was not a happy moment. I had concerns that the site had been hacked, notified the administrators, and then it took some effort to track down the offending comments that had the bad code imbedded in them. This is more than just annoying. It’s causing me extra work, costing me time, and breaking the trust I have in commenters here.

One thing you have to understand is that I have very little tech help here in comment management — it’s all me, monitoring the comments for spam, cleaning out old crap when it comes to my attention, trying to tweak the filters to block problems. Don’t even bother suggesting technical solutions — I don’t get to add or modify the blog code, and there is virtually no tech help to speak of, beyond the basic business of keeping the server running. I’m the janitor around here. Taking advantage of the liberties I provide to puke up nuisances on the page causes me extra work, and I’m not going to put up with it at all.

So I’m adding a new criterion for banning. Trying to abuse the system in any way, no matter how helpful your intent may be or who you are, will be grounds for insta-dungeoning. Try to put all of your comments in bold? The <b> tag will be removed, and so will you. Try to create a wall of white space with <br /> tags? Gone. Try to take advantage of the absence of length limits on comments by dumping pages of screed? I’ll fix that for everyone. (Actually, that last problem is common—I’ve got spammers who every day dump 10K+ piles of text on the site; they’re automatically caught only because they always manage to include one of the filtered words somewhere in the clutter).

Jeez, people. You should know the universal rule: don’t piss off the janitor. It’ll help you in real life as well as on the blogs.