I am an idiot – UPDATED


Alright, so let me explain what the problem was and how I screwed up to lead me to write this post. If you prefer the long, more technical answer, skip this paragraph to the next section. If your prefer a short, non-technical answer, here is what happened: In the previous post for some reason the comment section became bugged. In my attempt to correct it I opened the floodgatest so spambots which made the blog have over 100 spams in about an hour. Then when I went to delete the spam I was an idiot and deleted all the comments in the blog instead.

That is the gist of it. You can skip to the last part where I explain what I could do to fix it and what I intend to do. I am really sorry about this mess.

The longer and more technical explanation

If I were to be perfectly honest I have been too happy about the spam prevention options in Drupal (the software I use for this blog). I won’t get into all the details of that as it would be an entire post in its own. But I did find a solution that left me happy enough by using two methods and two different modules. The first one is called Antibot. What it does is something stupidly simple but pretty much a stroke of genius. It basically checks if the person trying to access a form (like the comment sections) has javascript enabled. If they do, then they see the form as usual. If they do not then they get an error message telling them to enable javascript to use  the form. Since most spam nowadays are made by bots who can’t deal with javascript that effectively blocks 99% of the spam I get.

If some spam still passes through that then it goes through the second module, Antispam, which is your usual check on the message content and holding it for moderation. Lately it has been a bit overzealous holding up comments from people who commented in the past and should have no need for me to manually approve it anymore. That is something I need to investigate further. I just need to find the proper time and mindset for it.

Now, here is what happened. In my previous post for some reason Antibot was giving the “You don’t have javascript error” in the comment sections to everyone. At first I thought it was a problem with my Firefox since it has been giving me some issues with some sites. I figured I’d ignore it then and check it back  again later in Chrome then went to play a bit of Everquest 2. That was Big Mistake of the Night #1. Then a friend of mine commented that she was getting a weird error in the previous post and could not comment. So I thought “Ok, the problem isn’t just with me. I will just disable Antibot for a bit and analyze the problem better tomorrow. I am pretty sure Antispam can handle any spam that comes through”. I did that and went back to playing a bit more of Everquest 2. That was Big Mistake of the Night #2.

About an hour later I finished playing Everquest 2 and went to check my e-mail. There was over a hundred notifications of comments being held for moderation due to being flagged as spam. It wasn’t even necessary to check their contents to see that they were flagged correctly, just the titles gave it away. I was pretty tired then but I wanted to get rid of those things so I came to the blog to delete them. Only problem is I didn’t pay much attention to what I was doing and instead deleted ALL the comments in the blog. All of them. That was Big Life Mistake #1,843,425 (the number might be a bit bigger than that).

Since it was late and this wasn’t going to be an easy problem to solve I decided I would try to fix it next morning and in the mean time just write a quick message (noted below as “Original post”) just to let people know I screwed up and explanations would be forthcoming soon.

I still have no idea why Antibot bugged in the previous post. It was a very simple post with just a picture and one line of text. There wasn’t anything particularly different than usual. In the Antibot page there isn’t any report of a bug similar to mine either. And just to be fair to Antibot, the current stable release is tagged as beta 1. So weird bugs are to be expected. I just wish there was something I could use as a clue to the problem.

What I could do to fix things

Unfortunately my most recent backup is from Monday, right before the post I wrote that day. Even that only because there was a module update that day and I backuped the database just to be on the safe side. That means any comments made after that are gone.

I fixed  the offending post that caused all this mess. Apparently it was something with the image. Don’t ask me what exactly because I have no clue either. I just took the original PNG one again, re-exported it to JPEG then edited the post and re-uploaded the picture. The commenting should be fixed now. I am also setting it up to backup the database everyday and for a copy to be sent directly to my e-mail. It is something that I should have done a long time ago.

Longer term I am going to see if I can find a better solution to deal with spam that will hopefully give me less headache. Maybe even switch to WordPress depending on how annoyed I get at it all. There is a lot I need to think about and consider.

I am really sorry about all this mess. This is really one of those times where I wish I could go back in time, punch me in the face before I did something stupid and tell my past self the consequences of such stupidity.


I messed something here on the blog. I will update this post tomorrow with more details. /sigh

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