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Just as we were getting near the double century

December 14th, 2004

Comments have been turned off indefinitely by my hosting service due to a torrent of obscene comment spam over the past week or so. In addition, I’ve received a number of abusive and obscene emails from a disgruntled individual commenter (not a regular, I’m pleased to say). I assume these are separate incidents, but they obviously create severe problems for me in operating the blog. I’m looking into my options both for technical solutions and (to the limited extent that sources of this kind of stuff can be identified) civil and criminal action, but it may be some time before comments are restored. Crooked Timber has had similar attacks, but not on such a scale, so I’ll try to crosspost there for items that seem worthy of comment.

Update I hope to have comments restored shortly. Unfortunately, to protect my host, I have had to require registration for comments. I apologise for the inconvenience, but hope this will provide some protection against the commercial spammers and abusive commenters who have necessitated this. I particularly apologise to a number of legitimate commenters (most recently ‘Nabakov’) whose comments have accidentally been deleted in my attempts to protect myself, my host and the readers of this blog.

This seems like a suitable occasion to clarify my policy on coarse language and abuse, which clearly needs tightening in the light of recent events

1. Incidental coarse language will be edited, and the edit noted

2. Deliberately abusive and/or obscene posts will be deleted and the author given a single warning

3. Further abuse will result in deregistration and immediate notification of [email protected]

4. Attempts to evade this policy (e.g. by spoofing, spamming etc) will be pursued and, where possible, those responsible will be reported to police or subject to civil action. The same will apply to anyone sending abusive/obscene emails to me personally.

Further update Just to make matters worse, I’ve discovered this low-life stealing my posts, apparently in a lame attempt to get revenue from Google Ads. I’ve seen this before – does it have a name? As you can check on the Creative Commons License, anyone is free to use material on this blog with no restriction other than a requirement for attribution, but this guy can’t be bothered. At the suggestion of Andrew Leigh, I plan to replace links to abusers sites with screen shots as soon as I get my act together, but for the moment, if you follow the link, don’t click on his ads, please.

I’m getting really bad-tempered about this whole constellation of abuse, which is not good news for those involved, at least those I’m able to identify.

Yet further update And here’s another bizarre piece of cybersquatting/identity theft (thanks to Nick Gruen for an alert on this, which I previously disregarded). I have no idea what this scumsucker’s game is, but I’ll get in touch with Blogger to see if I can get the site taken down, and take any feasible steps against those responsible. While I’m at it, let me advise anyone involved in any of the activities listed above not to rely on the notion that the blogosphere is some sort of free-fire zone, in which they can operate without fear of the law, protected by “anything goes” social norms. Spamming, cybersquatting, cyberstalking and email abuse are both crimes and civil torts, and I intend to treat them as such.

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