All shiny and new
This afternoon, faced with an ever-increasing barrage of spam, all originating from different sources but conforming to the same basic pattern, I decided to bite the bullet and upgrade to the latest version of Movable Type, v3.32 (I’d previously been using v2.661, from around February 2003). I looked into various plug-ins and hacks for adding comment verification and blacklisting, but quickly discovered that those that worked with older versions of Movable Type were either (a) no longer available or (b) more difficult to set up than they were worth. More recent versions of Movable Type include anti-spam measures by default, many of which are highly customisable.
As you can see above, there is now a Junk filter, with a tweakable “threshold” - in other words, you can set just how aggressively it treats incoming comments. Since I upgraded, the level of spam I have received has shrunk to nothing.
As an added bonus, the new version has a much sleeker user interface. You won’t, of course, see any cosmetic changes on the site itself, but, on the plus side, I have some eye candy to look at as I’m typing, so perhaps my posts will be more cheerful than they were before!
There have been a couple of downsides. Due to Movable Type’s notoriously vague documentation, it took me a long time to get everything shipshape - in fact, on a couple of occasions, I became convinced that I’d broken the thing entirely - but trial and error eventually paid off. Still, if you find something that’s not working as it’s supposed to, please let me know.
Additionally, stricter control over tags has meant that I’ve had to make a couple of minor changes to certain aspects of the site. Namely, because of the way the coding works (too complex to get into here), the Monthly Archive pages (e.g. November 2006) can no longer have the month and year on the page title - they now all simply read “Monthly Archive”. It’s annoying, and, bizarrely, categories don’t appear to be affected in this way (e.g. Web), but I’m willing to put up with this in exchange for added security. I’ll keep looking for a fix, though, and if I can find a way of reinstating this (admittedly minor) feature, I’ll do so.
Update, November 17, 2006 10:00 PM: I managed to fix the archive header problem more quickly than I expected. Apparently, the “MTEntryDate” tag can’t be used outside the “MTEntries” container, but the “MTArchiveDate” tag can. You can read more at Daggle.com, whose webmaster discovered a similar problem with the tag (although he was using it for a different purpose).