Wednesday, March 13, 2013


Image: A mouse in a tricorne hat stands on a pile of mouse-sized sandbags and yells. His soldiers obediently charge all around him.

No, this is not a blog post about the whiskey rebellion. For one, the soldiers in the drawing are wearing uniforms that are five years out-of-date. (Though I have to admit it might be fun... especially if I could get Lora Innes in on it ...hmm)

This post is about link farming: possibly the only thing abhored ("hey!") by readers and moderators alike.

Link farming is the practice of having several other websites point to yours for no good reason. In the early days of the web this meant creating several "dummy" websites. Currently, the most popular form of link farming is posting spam comments, making the comment-enabled site their unwilling dummies in every sense of the world.

Link farming comments were usually easily identifiable because they contained out-of-context nonsense (apparently extracted from someone else's Word documents by a virus) and gibberish usernames. The link might sometimes be in the text, or be hidden in the username.

However, ever since this webcomic was posted, link farming comments have taken on a different approach. The spam bots now post apparently constructive. Stock phrases like "very intersting", "terrific post", or "no one could have said it better" are unfortunately what they now cycle through. Fortunately, they're still detectable.

As you may have noticed, during my hiatus, such bots took over my site, posting as many as 6 such comments in a single minute. Google spam detection caught 243 of them, but no less than 125 still made it into the public eye. Today, however, I can happily tell you they are all gone, and the actually meaningful comments remain.

Unfortunately, this means I am now requiring CAPTCHAs to post comments. My sincerest apologies go out to everybody.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Rumors of my death have been greatly exagerated

With apologies to Mark Twain.
Image: Frank the mouse, who has has combed his whiskers into a mustache shape and donned fake eyebrows, tries on a Mark Twain wig. Caption:
Yes, I know Mark Twain only looked like this during the last decade of his life, but he considers the pictures of the time the best pictures ever taken of him.

As you probably know by now, I'm in my senior year. You may also remember me mentioning I was required to write a thesis to graduate. For this, like all things in the area of computer science, it is required to write a computer program and make it work.