Last night, Carl and I had the opportunity to present a short demo of the Defensio spam filtering service at DemocampMontreal3. It was fun, and we received a lot of great feedback from the local community.
Best of all were some of the discussion questions that came at the end of the presentation. For the benefit of all you who were too busy to attend (what could be more important than Democamp!?) or not in Montreal (we'll forgive you for that) I'd like to run through some of the more important questions that were asked, and our silky-smooth responses:
Q: Some bloggers have turned off comments because of spam, others have turned off comments due to a philosophical belief, espoused by Dave Winer, Joel Spolsky (among others), that comments should not actually be part of the blogosphere. Where do you stand on this?
A: Well, we vehemently believe that comments should be part of the conversation on the Web, for many reasons:
- Comment threads, while sometimes childish and petty, are more often valuable sources of insight beyond the original blog post.
- Commenting on your own blog in response to another post, is often not the right venue - especially for short comments -- and would often be completely out of context for your blog's readership.
- Allowing only trackbacks does not immunize you from spam -- in fact, much of the worst comment spam is in pingback/trackback form.
Most importantly, we think closing comments generally dampens conversation, which is fundamentally bad for freedom of expression and the overall thought exchange process that blogs are so wonderful at enabling.
Q: How quickly will your filter learn?
A: We can't provide precise numbers, but we can say that filter performance will continue to improve over time and that respectable results should be seen after a week or two of use.
Q: Isn't spam only a problem for the largest blogs out there?
A: While spam is definitely a bigger problem for the most influential blogs, it is decidedly an annoyance that MOST moderately successful bloggers face. Based on the initial interest that has been expressed in our service, we think this view is vindicated.
Q: What can you tell us about how your filter works?
A: Nothing, sorry.
Q: Will you buy everyone free beer because you used slides in your presentation?
A: No. Learn to love slides.