Browsing the archives for the Meta category.

Next Time You Are Unexpectedly Banned


Dear y'all,

We're using WordPress. From time to time, we have tinkered with caching software. At the moment, we're using none because we enjoy our banning software more, and cache seldom plays nicely with ban. Our server also offers caching for interpreted php modules, but we've turned that off. None of the other plugins we employ makes conspicuous use of caching, and we're presently not (knowingly) relying on a CDN. (The server bills at a flat rate, not by the mile.)

Nevertheless, folks occasionally report that they're encountering a ban notice on the front page or on a given post. Typically, these are not folks we've banned (whether directly or by ip range). So far, the false ban message seems to affect only, say, 5 visitors in 20k.

In every case, we've asked these victims of technology to clear their browser's cache and to revisit the site. In every case, this has worked.

We're currently investigating whether the hosting provider employs a pagespeed or caching module in their preconfigured, managed web server. We're also probing the logs to see whether the false bans happen to follow closely on attempted visits from folks actually banned. Meanwhile, if you suddenly find yourself banned and have no reason to think you deserve it, then go ahead and force a reload (CTRL + F5 on Windows; Apple+R or AzaleaBlossom+R on Mac; F5 or CTRL+F5 or meta+F5 on Linux) and see whether that fixes the problem. More aggressively, go to your browser's settings and explicitly delete your local web cache (Option+AzaleaBlossom E on Mac).

Once we're done troubleshooting and making this annoyance go away, I'll report back. And of course, if you're comfortable with the Dreamhost/Debian/Apache/Wordpress stack, feel free to make troubleshooting suggestions in the comments below!


A Day Reading Popehat Is Like A Day At The Farm. Every Post Is A Banquet! Every Amazon Purchase A Fortune! Every Comment Thread A Parade! I Love Popehat!


But we don't love a few of you.

This is to advise that I have conducted our first mass banning, for intolerable rudeness to other commenters, ninnyhammery, and general jackanapery. If you can read this, congratulations! You have survived to fight another day.

I shan't name names. The guilty know who they are, or will soon. As for the innocent, keep fighting the good fight! Politely.

You may review our comment policies here. You may discuss my decision below.



Update On Our Amazon Associate Program, and Thanks


Back in July 2012 Patrick announced that, though we still won't run advertisements, we'd started an Amazon Associates program to defray costs. The Amazon Associates link is on the right-hand sidebar, or through here. If you follow it, and buy something at Amazon, we get a cut.

I'm writing with an update.

1. You've ordered 1,255 items through the link, at a cost of $27,417.50, and we've gotten a cut of $1,680.14.

2. There's no way to tell who ordered what; we can only see what's been ordered in the aggregate. Some of you have awesome tastes. Some of you have terrible taste, defined as "different than mine." Some of you are either having a lot of sex or need to lubricate an aircraft carrier drydock.

3. Our costs are hosting and traffic monitoring. Earlier we were on a virtual server; lately we are on a private server. This has dramatically improved general reliability and performance during high-traffic periods. It's more expensive, though.

4. I'm still calculating the total costs during the period since July. Once I do, I'll report it. Anything above the hosting and traffic monitoring costs will be donated to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education. If there's not enough left for the FIRE to please me, I'll net it up out of my own pocket to at least $500.

5. Nothing from the Amazon Associates program is going to stay in our pocket for beer or barbecue or movies or anything. I'll use it to repay out-of-pocket hosting and monitoring costs, and send the excess to FIRE. I'm not using it to reimburse other hard costs, like PACER and telephone calls and the like.

6. We very much appreciate the people who have used Popehat's Amazon Associates link. As traffic has increased the monetary costs of running Popehat have grown into the that-makes-a-dent range. The social and soul-related costs are another story.


Our Plan For World Domination Proceeds Apace


Numbers courtesy of David, who found them on WordPress:

Average visitors per day, 2009: 1,834
Average visitors per day, 2010: 2,277
Average visitors per day, 2011: 3,135
Average visitors per day, 2012: 10,964
Average visitors per day, 2013 (so far): 18,169

Visitors per annum, 2009: 670,000
Visitors per annum, 2010: 831,000
Visitors per annum, 2011: 1,144,000
Visitors per annum, 2012: 4,013,000
Visitors per annum, 2013 (113d/365d): 2,054,000

Reality check: we could increase that by an order of magnitude by focusing exclusively on pictures of ungrammatical cats.


Pimp Your Blog, Spring Edition

Fun, Meta

We haven't done one of these in a while, and I'm waiting for some responses about some contemplated posts and am generally lazy, so let's give this another shot.

Have you written a blog post you're proud of? Created some art that moves you? Gotten mentioned in the newspaper in a non-humiliating way? Found something you want to promote? The comments are open. Promote yourself, your kids, your friends, your bizarre and frankly disturbing social and political interests (within reasonable decorum, please). Have at it. (Remember comments with more than one link will get shunted to spam).


Road To Popehat: Week In The Life Of Popehat Edition

Fun, Meta

It's time for the Road to Popehat, the feature in which we check out the traffic logs, see the searches that brought you here, and shoot an email to Rand Paul asking whether a vigorous program of domestic drone strikes is really such a terrible idea after all.

All of the following searches were used to reach us in the space of one week.

is constantly saying you are overpaid bullying: Not according to my managing partner.

is clint eastwood an asshole: Well, I like him, but my Barcalounger says he's kind of a dick.

i am in a wedding and got a subpoena for court for that day: Best excuse ever. Can someone subpoena me for the night of the charity auction I'm getting dragged to?

French man who line dances: I think I am finally at peace with Rule 34.

pictures of little girl on ventilator: No I'm not.

is there a lawyer I can call for pastor that has harmed me by playing god in my life: Regrettably, there probably is.

severe stalking ridicule and threats from perps while I am out and about with my family today: Um . . . go to the same lawyer as the pastor person.

how to beat blog comment spam filters: Go to the highest building near you and leap off the roof. The code will come to you in a vision on the way down.

will they forgive me if i commit credit card fraud: Well, are you sorry?

blog by ken white regarding global wildlife 1: COME AT ME, BRO.

pope is on the road to perdition: And my nav system is broken.



Geekery, Meta

We have a Facebook page, which like the gym, the kids, the dog, the cat, the taxes, the rent, and Mom (as she never ceases reminding us) we've neglected.

But we're considering reviving it.  The thought is, Facebook may be a good home for other things we've neglected, things that suffer under the weight of Ken's walls of text, things too delicate for Patrick's sarcasm, things that burn under David's glare. Things like this:

Popehat on Facebook

This will be a supplement to the blog, something like an Island of Misfit Toys, in which things that don't quite make it in will be given attention. It will not displace our Twitter feed, which is mostly devoted to announcing new posts, conversations with other twits, and the inevitable schizophrenic battles between Ken and Patrick, each of whom has access to the account and neither of whom pays attention to what the other has written.

Expect the painfully geeky. If you'd like to follow it, search for Popehat on Facebook, and you'll find us.


Question for Bloggers: Do You Even Try to Check The Spam Filter?


We've got a comment spam problem.

We use Akismet at Popehat, like many blogs using WordPress software. We've set comments to close automatically on posts after 60 days. But the flood of spam is still inexorable. I emptied the spam filter yesterday afternoon, and this morning it was at 600 comments again.

That makes it impractical to check the filter for genuine comments accidentally caught there. This annoys me.

Do any bloggers have any useful hints on managing this?


Any Club That Would Have Us As A Member, Part II


Like last year, Popehat has made the ABA Journal's Blawg 100, this time in the News/Analysis category.

It's clear that they still don't quite know what to make of us:

For a blog named after the pontiff’s headgear, Popehat sure is irreverent. A group blog devoted to—among many other things—First Amendment rights, Popehat was established back in 2005. Although it doesn’t necessarily consider itself a law blog so much as a geek blog, its members are quite active in the online legal community.

We'll likely be crushed by heavyweights like Above the Law and Volokh and Turley and Randazza, all of whom are deserving. But if you feel like it, drop us a vote anyway.


The Road To Popehat: Thanksgiving Leftovers Edition


It's time for the Road to Popehat, where we look at the traffic logs, see what searches brought you here, and wonder if voting is a good thing.

Thanksgiving objectivism: GRAVY IS GRAVY.

naturally assumed you knew what was going on: I love this defense, but it never works, in court or at home.

can we file a low suit on physic attackers: I think I found a way to make amends to Charles Carreon.

how rizona law applies to fuck parents having arguments and taking children somewhere else for the time being: TWO ways.

o my god Leave me alone: Keep saying it, but it doesn't work.

how to get it so people have to download images in email: A marketeer's evil is never finished.

why cheerleaders are won't shut up but tell someone else to shut up: High school: second closest place to hell on Earth.

what do you call a place where lawyers work: And in first place . . .

"big balls" being kicked: Rule 34, or seeker of humorous soccer videos? I prefer not to know.

am I going to prison for that SLAPP order: Regrettably, no.

ken popehat groupie: Line forms to the right.


Keep the server happy


As you throw yourself into the seasonal mêléeshopping spree, don't forget that items purchased from Amazon through our Amazon search widget (over on the right sidebar) will help us to keep the server spinning. Thanks!


Regarding the Popehat Signal: You People Are Awesome


Every time I'm down on humanity, I think of this: whenever I put up the Popehat signal seeking pro bono help for people whose freedom of expression is threatened, I get a wave of responses. I get many from lawyers, even from lawyers in other states offering to help however they can. I get responses from web mavens and technical experts and just plain folks asking if there is any way they can contribute their efforts. I get offers of funding for the defenses.

And it's not just with the Popehat signal. When I write about evil people victimizing innocents, people write in doing their own insightful and skillful investigations into the baddies and seeking to help. When I straight up ask for people to contribute to worthy causes, they do.

For everyone really awful on the internet, there's someone really great on the internet. This helps me get through the day. Thank you.

If you're one of the people who needs help, please keep asking, and I'll keep trying to tap into this network of awesome folks. Sometimes I can't answer immediately, and sometimes I'm a little busy — truth be told I got six different requests for help or advice this week. (The latest — if anyone out there is admitted in Virginia and would be willing to write a pro bono scary response to a very stupid threat letter, please drop me a line.) But keep sending them, because all these people have our backs.


Bleg: Time To Find A New Webhost


I know, I know. We asked you back in June for suggestions for a new webhost, and many of you kindly responded in comments or emails and tweets, and we haven't moved yet.

But now the frequent outages are making me more stabby. Time to pull the trigger on this thing.

If anyone has anything to add to what they said before, or if anyone didn't get a chance to recommend a host before, your suggestion will be much appreciated.

I want something that is reliable (doesn't go down all the time, whether during surges of traffic or not), something that is relatively easy to use, and something that makes WordPress updates and installs easy.



A Word of Thanks to Our Sponsors (You)


It's been more than two months since Patrick announced that we'd joined the Amazon affiliate program in an effort to defray some of the cost of running Popehat. Today I'm reporting on how it's going.

1. You all ordered 244 items through our affiliate links, buying $5,287.59 worth of merchandise, netting us $308.01.

2. If you all buy 7 more items, our referral rate goes up to 6%.

3. This amount was somewhat less than the costs of Dreamhost (for hosting) and Woopra (for traffic monitoring) during this period. That's largely my fault. During my hiatus, I didn't bother to reduce our bandwidth and monitoring plans from the higher levels required during, for instance, the huge surge of traffic during the Oatmeal v. FunnyJunk era. My bad.

4. We told you all before that we were going to donate excess money to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education every quarter. Because it's my own damn fault that there wasn't any excess during this period because I didn't dial the plans back when I was on hiatus, I've just made a $250 donation to FIRE. They can always use more. Please consider donating.

5. I CAN SEE WHAT YOU ORDER. Ha! Kidding! I can only see what "you" collectively order. There's no way to tell what any particular person orders; that's private. But we can see in the aggregate the sorts of things Popehat readers like. So — the person who ordered The Law of Superheroes from our link yesterday, good on you. The people who ordered the The Bloggess' book Let's Pretend This Never Happened: (A Mostly True Memoir), I hope that you, like me, laughed so hard that you had a coughing fit and greyed out for a minute. The person who has time to play Dark Souls — I envy you. The people who bought Metallica — rock on. Whoever bought all-purpose lubricant: I hope that you had a really productive weekend around the house, or a really awesome one, depending.

We're never going to make money off of this, but it's nice not to have to spend too much out of our own pockets, and it will be nice if we can throw some bucks to a free-speech charity now and then. Thanks again.


Talk To Us About Comment Moderation


There's been a large surge in comments at Popehat this year. That's good, and I appreciate it. We've made new friends and acquaintances, had some robust debates (or hosted them, more accurately), and seen some excellent points.

There's also been typical blog-comment behavior of sorts we'd like to minimize here. Enough said.

I simply don't have the time to hand-moderate when posts generate scores or hundreds of comments. When I don't have time to moderate comments on controversial posts, it makes me at least slightly less inclined to write them. There are certain types of turds I'd prefer not to leave on my living room carpet.

So. Talk to me about comment moderation, with a focus on any WordPress plugins you like. Maybe something with self-moderating elements like comment voting?

(By the way, right now, first-time commenters have their comments held in moderation, which I tend to handle reasonably quickly; nobody else is held in moderation. I tend to publish unless it is spam or straight-up douchtastic in a manner I don't want in my own living room.)

I'm not interested in Facebook comments or other methods that eliminate reasonable opportunities for semi-anonymity (that is, I'd be OK with requiring a working email address, but not with requiring a real name).

If you would like to use this post as an opportunity to lose an argument about the difference between my living room and a streetcorner under the public forum doctrine, please feel free.

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