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WordPress, Akismet And Spam

WordPress logo blue

WordPress logo blue (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Is any other WordPress blogger receiving higher than usual incidents of spam getting past Akismet and entering the normal moderation queue for comments? My Akismet is fully enabled, but over the last two to three weeks I have had a high amount of blatant spam to trash.

Measuring The Influence Of Bloggers

There has been some conversation in Christian circles about the Top 200 Blogs List released by Church Relevance. They used a variety of metrics, but Adrian Warnock was quick to point out they hadn’t accounted for Twitter followers. He compiled another Top 2oo, based purely on that, and which he has been kindly amending as he discovers other Christian bloggers of various persuasions. He followed up today with a further post in which he asks Christian bloggers to be aware of their motives in wanting to blog and to be on such lists.

Adrian is right to ask why we blog. Vanity can slip in all to easily. I recall one Christian friend who said he steered clear of blogging because he felt it was all ‘Me, me, me.’

But Christian communicators want to have an influence. The statistics, though, can only tell us so much. Does influence consist in reading? If so, I influence 2-3,000 people per week. But anyone can read, and only a tiny minority interact through the comments.

Yet much as I welcome the comments, and they are part of my raison d’être for blogging – I want to have a conversation – even that is a crude way of mentioning influence. Does not a messenger of the Gospel want to exercise influence in seeing changed lives? How do I measure that?

How much, then, are the metrics worth?

What do you think?

I’m Old, Therefore I Blog

The BBC reports that blogging is losing popularity among American teenagers, while rising slightly among the over-30s. Why?

One student said teenagers had lost interest in blogging because they needed to type quickly and “people don’t find reading that fun”.

Shorter updates are in vogue, but Facebook status updates rather than Twitter tweets. The increased use of mobile technology to access the Internet has exacerbated the need for brevity.

Meanwhile, those who continue ‘long form blogging’ may find some of their activities restricted during the forthcoming UK General Election. The Register reports that in the period between the election writ being moved and the election taking place, it may prove to be illegal to use one’s blog to campaign for a particular candidate. Facebook groups supporting a candidate for a specific constituency may also be illegal. It’s all about ensuring candidates don’t find ways around the limits on election expenses. The law hasn’t been tested, and returning officers are looking into it.

Methodists And The Use Of Social Media

Richard Hall and David Hallam take differing views on a proposal coming to the Methodist Council laying down policies for how Methodist ministers and officials use social media – blogging, Twitter, Facebook and so on.

My own opinion of the document is somewhere in between Richard and David’s. Basically, it’s a paper that reads as if it is worried about protecting the church’s reputation.  Of course, in today’s online world anyone can gain an online presence and express their opinions. Naturally, there could be dangers in that. The paper is right to remind people that principles of confidentiality and so on should still be observed. With that I am with Richard – it doesn’t much change the existing situation, it simply applies it to a new situation.

Yet with David I have some reservations. I wish he wouldn’t use inflammatory language such as ‘fatwa’, but in a document that expects those who use social media to be transparent about their identity there are issues of transparency to raise about it. Not about the author – that is clear. It is Toby Scott, our Director of Communications and Campaigns. But there are two areas that seem vague to me. Firstly, the identity of the ‘selection of existing Methodist bloggers’ who were consulted (page 1). Who were they, who selected them and what selection criteria were used? The answers to these questions may be entirely honest, but without further explanation the online community is bound to start wondering.

Secondly, we know that the report ‘comes at the request of the Strategic Leaders and the Connexional Leaders Forum’ (page 2). However, it would be good to know the reasons why these informal private bodies requested a report. Without knowing the terms of reference, we cannot entirely evaluate the appropriateness of the document.

We live in a culture of suspicion that sometimes goes over the top, but without further explication of what has been posted as a public online source, it is little surprise that David Hallam (and others?) become suspicious. After all, there is much in the report that seeks to prevent church officers from tweeting during meetings. I can instantly think of one church officer who does this. Was this person a target for some of the report? Hopefully not.

It is certainly a paper that has a benign understanding of ‘old media’ in contrast to ‘new media’ – see the references to the Methodist Recorder moderating its letters page. Times have changed. The last time I read the Recorder (about two years ago, admittedly) it couldn’t get newsworthy press releases into its pages until three to four weeks after their publication. I know, I compared the date one appeared in the newspaper with when it had been reported in a blog.

This issue brings to mind something that happened while I was training for the ministry at theological college. Older Methodists may know there was an old tradition that the moment you began training for the ministry you were entitled to wear a clerical collar and be addressed as ‘Reverend’, in contrast to other denominations. During my training, that policy changed. There was an incident, we were told, where a ministerial student at another college had abused this. One friend of mine asked, ‘Is this the reason or the occasion for the change of policy?’ Given the questions Tony Buglass has raised in comments on both Richard and David’s posts about the negative publicity afforded to our denomination through the TV show ‘An Island Parish‘, I do at least think this question needs asking, even if it turns out this document has arisen for entirely good reasons. Once again, it’s the question of transparency.

UPDATE, WEDNESDAY 27TH JANUARY, 9:00 PM: Please also read Pete Phillips’ trenchant critique of the paper.

Old Website About To Disappear

My introduction to personal websites was to design one in a sabbatical in 2003. Since I went over to blogging my sermons and articles, it has not been updated. It has now been dormant since 2006. Occasionally, I know people still visit it. However, it was hosted with my ISP and I have recently heard they will be taking it down because of the particular platform on which it was hosted. So if anyone wants to make any final visits to, please do so before 15th October. Ideally I’d like to transfer some of the material as an archive here or somewhere else, but that will be a big job, and I can’t see that happening in the foreseeable future.

Interview With the Pakistani Spectator

I’ve been interviewed by a journalist from the Pakistani Spectator about my blogging. You can read it here. The journalist, Imran Haider, has faithfully reproduced my replies to his questions, so thank you Imran for your professionalism and integrity.

Anonymous Commenters

In one of my recent posts, three people have commented anonymously with basically invented names and invented email addresses. I tracked two of them down to a certain extent, but there seemed to be no reason for their anonymity. I can understand taking the anonymous route in certain limited circumstances, but generally I don’t think it’s defensible. And if I thought the commenters were being libellous, I’d block their contributions anyway.

So – as I’ve asked in a comment on that post – do other bloggers have any thoughts or a particular policy on anonymous commenting? I’d be grateful for any thoughts, because I’m beginning to think I might need to formulate a policy, and at this stage I’m inclined towards banning them.

But maybe I’m just being reactionary and over the top. What do you think?

Blog Rating

OnePlusYou Quizzes and Widgets

Created by OnePlusYou – Free Dating Sites

Which gives me the same ‘movie rating’ as Henry Neufeld.

Apparently, I’m PG because the blog contains five references to the word ‘pain’, three to ‘death’ and one to ‘queer’. Can’t say my children have ever wanted to read this – Oxford Reading Tree is more their thing. And if they did know what a blog was at their age, I’d be seriously worried, however techie Mark likes to think he is at four. Fortunately, their computer is currently disabled after Rebekah lost the ball from the bottom of the mouse.


Here’s a great idea from John Smulo: Blog Comment Day. On 3rd December, comment on at least five blogs, of which at least two should be blogs where you have not commented before. If done well, it could promote good conversation.


My latest article for Ministry Today, ‘Is Blogging Just For Self-Centred Nerds?’, has just been published in Edition 43, Summer 2008, pp 38-42. You can read it online here. (This may require registration at the site.)

You may recall I first asked for thoughts on this subject on the blog on 26th February. Thanks for your help at the time; you can now read the final version. If I quote you in the article, I cite your blog. Hopefully you’ll get a little more traffic.