Monday, March 11, 2013

I broke this blog

I broke my blog. Well, no, I actually broke Firefox, and that means I can’t use my blog properly. Damn Facebook!

Let me make that less confusing.

Facebook recently announced plans to tap into data about users to deliver targeted ads specific to individual users. Nothing new in that concept, but it is quite extensive. According to the Electronic Freedom Foundation (EFF), Facebook’s partners will:
“…obtain information gathered about users through online means (such as through cookies when users surf the web) as well as through offline means (such as through loyalty cards at supermarkets and product warranty cards). Through the new relationship with Facebook, companies will be able to display advertisements to Facebook users based on data that these data brokers have on individuals.”
The issue for many users is the unprecedented collection of personal data in one place: “Your interests, age, shopping history (including offline), web browsing, location, and much more could be stored by these data brokers and utilized to market to you—even if you’ve been careful not to share this type of information with Facebook.”

So, I followed EFF’s instructions to beef up my privacy settings on Firefox. Almost immediately I had to start undoing them because I had to log in every time I went to check gmail or do a new blog post, among other things, and I got sick of that. But then I noticed some other things were going wrong, and Disqus is one of them: It never loads.

I accessed my blog in Safari and was able to see the comments just fine, and to leave one, so clearly I did something to break Firefox—and undoing everything hasn’t fixed it. Oops.

As it happens, however, I’m seriously considering going back to Blogger’s built-in commenting system. While I like the added features of Disqus, it’s proven to be a barrier to commenting. Since I installed it, only Roger Green, Jason and I have left comments, and I know some people who were unable to comment because their browsers don’t support Disqus, and some don’t know how it works.

If I do go back to the built-in system, however, it’ll be with comment moderation turned on. The whole point of switching to Disqus—and one of the things it did VERY well—was to stop having to deal with spam comments. I don’t want to go back to having to delete spam comments that were posted to my blog, and the only way to stop that is Blogger’s word verification (universally hated, it seems) and comment moderation (which I hate). In this case, majority wins.

Unrelated, you have noticed the new “AmeriNZ Blog” badge in the upper right corner of this blog. That’s actually from the “About the AmeriNZ blog” page on what I call my portal site (basically, a web brochure of the stuff I do, and the site I refer to when I’m on someone’s podcast). I added it here because I post notices of new blog posts to Google+, and if I don’t have any images in the post itself, it wants to use one of my standard blog sidebar images. Might as well have a generic one, I thought, so that’s the story.

Still don’t know what I’ll do about this commenting thing, though.

Update 12 March: My last "undoing" of the changes restored my access to Disqus (which, by the way, didn't work on anyone else's site, either—it wasn't just here on this blog), and that takes away any immediate need to for me to change commenting systems.


Roger Green said...

I hate comment moderation (which I do, BTW), but I LOATHE Blogger's word verification. I was leaving a comment on someone's page just this morning and I had to refresh the damn thing SIX times.

Arthur (AmeriNZ) said...

As I've said before, the thing I hate about comment moderation is that it takes away the immediacy of commenting and makes conversations among different people harder to have. Admittedly, that's not much of a problem for me on THIS blog, but still—timezones, and all that.

Word verification, when it works, doesn't bother me, but Blogger's system is so buggy that it becomes incredibly annoying for a LOT of people, not just us, Roger!

Roger Green said...

I make a point of going to every one of the ABC Wednesday blogs. WV REALLY slows down the process; sometimes takes longer than writing the comment..