by hilzoy

After I wrote my post on McCain and Obama's websites, I got an email pointing out that McCain's website seems to be having some issues with its comment filters. I tried to check it out for myself, but after spending something like twenty minutes trying to post a comment, without being able to get far enough to so much as engage the comment filters, I gave up. (Even after I got an account, an ordeal in itself, clicking 'Post a comment' or 'Reply' made the 'Take Action!' page appear.) So I'll have to let those determined souls who somehow managed to post comments describe the problem. One writes:

"If someone can help me understand, there seems to be an automatic moderation in place. The most innocuous of words seem to be off limits, but I'm having a hard time figuring out which ones. I find myself editing my posts until they become almost meaningless and barren of information. Any ideas anyone?"

And gets this reply:

"The filters are indeed very frustrating and incomprehensible! I am pretty good at finding the offending words after many, many hours of practice. Many of us have complained to the folks who run this site, but for whatever reason, the problem has not been completely resolved. It seems they do not like words that contain common URL suffixes, like plan et, Geor ge, intern et, or ganize, etc...Other common words iclude treat ment an ni ght. There are too many for me to list here.One way to isolate the offending word is to post a comment piecemeal. In time, you will learn the taboo words. If you would like me to help you, you can e-mail a comment to me at [Email address deleted] and I will try to fix it for you and send it back. Good luck."

Apparently, any word containing combinations of letters like 'net' or 'org' or 'gov' gets rejected. Likewise: "Just to add a couple more that trip the filter: words that contain the three letters such as in com.p.a.s.s as well as anything requiring an .a.n.a.l.ysis." This leads to considerable frustration: people find themselves posting comments like this:

"Y e p, h e a r d i t a c o u p l e d a y s a g o. S e e m s t h e y w a n t t o a d d m o r e t a x e s to f i x r o a d s. The s a d p a r t i s, i f y o u c a n 't a f f o r d t o d r iv e, r o a d s a r e k i n d o f a m o o t p o i n t, d o n 't y o u t h i n k? Y e t t h e y w o n' t r e l e a s e t h e b u d g e t on w h a t h a s b e e n s p e n t o f t h e r o a d s, n o r w h a t i s a c t u a l l y n e e d e d m o n e t a r i l y t o f i x t h e m."

Which got the following reply:

"Armymom: Filtered word is n.e.t. in mon.e.t.arily"

We have comment filter problems over at Obsidian Wings. But we don't control our own software, and we certainly don't have people on our nonexistent staff who are paid to sort these things out. The McCain campaign does. And that makes this pretty inexplicable.

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