Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Bug Reports & Feedback: False spam detection / flagging (Discuss Disqus)

I just posted a comment to a discussion on the Entertainment Weekly site, and was amazed to find that I was being told that it had been "detected as spam." I've reposted it in this blog post


where anybody with a fair and open mind can come and see that, under no sane definition of the word "spam" does this qualify as such. I find that your system was set to block me when I posted a rebuttal to an attack on an aspect of Middle Eastern culture. Should I take that as a sign of Islamophobia or anti-Semitism, or does the spam filter need to see a lot of work, which Disqus might or might not be willing to do?


I posted the report above, and immediately followed with this comment

"AND your system removed the comment from the page. Good thing I saved it, I guess, if you're now automating the destruction of user contributions. Had I waited to cut and paste that comment, I wouldn't have been able to get into the editor at all.
Note to everybody else: time to put down your guesses. How long will we have to wait before Disqus bothers to reply? I think we should agree that if over a week passes, that anybody who said "never" wins, because that's close enough. Who is going to check this post next month?

No wagering. Let's not give Disqus an excuse to censor this discussion, too. Automated Islamophobia - that's special. I've witnessed Islamophobia, before, of course (having been in the US during this century), but building it into the software? I've never seen anybody do that before. Maybe they could call their program "auto-bigot."

Think about it. Entertainment Weekly doesn't even get the choice of whether or not to let an argument against a bit of anti-Muslim cultural intolerance stay on their site, because Disqus has taken it upon itself to snatch that argument out of their grasp."

only to be told

" Hold on, this is waiting to be approved by Discuss Disqus. "

leaving me to wonder if my report of censorship by Disqus would, itself , be censored by Disqus. Stay tuned or just go to the page and see for yourself.


Addendum: I soon got to hear from a moderator calling himself "Lord Bokeh", leading to the following discussion. Yes, this really happened:

Me: "Wow. I'm getting a lot of blog posts out of you guys, today. I reposted the last comment you blocked from public view here


so it will be seen whether you approve it or not."

Lord Bokeh: "The reason why it was blocked is you hit on a restricted word 'snat*h'"

Me: "Seriously? So if I wrote "I snat*hed the item off the table", that would be forbidden because that's such a dirty thing to say?

I notice my clearly inoffensive comment has been deleted instead being approved on what really looks like a trumped up excuse. I'll try reposting it with that incredibly common verb munged, as my doubts as to the sanity of the management of this company deepen."

Lord Bokeh: "It's the word not the meaning. Yes I deleted your pending comment as I don't approve swear words or otherwise. Also you'll need to make contact Entertainment Weekly to have those site pending comments approved as Disqus doesn't provide site level moderation. As your account seems new, you'll need to post more often to show the filter you're not spam."

Me: "It's not a swear word, you nitwit. Go read a dictionary."

Right after I said I'd repost the comment, I did with the forbidden verb "snatch" softened to protect delicate eyes from a word third graders have been reading in their schoolbooks for generations, adding this note to the bottom of my reposted comment.


For those wondering, I just "softened" the commonly used verb above, one that means "quickly seize (something) in a rude or eager way" because according to "Lord Bokeh" (who apparently deleted the original copy of my comment) this word is restricted.

When one of my brothers would just grab something away from me when we were little, who knew that this was a sexual act? I was angry then, but I had no idea of just how wrong that was. Thank for you setting me straight, Disqus! And for giving the powers of a moderator to somebody who will probably turn out to be 14 years old, because what could possibly go wrong? :)"

Words fail me. As I write this, at 3:56 pm I see that there is another reply. Maybe I'll bother saying something in reply to it or about it, but I wonder if I need to. Could this be more blatantly ignorant and stupid. I have errands to run and coffee to drink so, really, later (or maybe not at all).

Ugh. I'm still here. There wasn't much to see. Just "Lord Bokeh" wrote "Try again, deleting." as if to gloat, to which I responded "Doesn't matter. I just posted the whole discussion to my blog post. I knew better than to trust you."

Nothing like dealing with an adolescent who is having fun abusing power he should never have been given. "Lord Bokeh" (I'm trying to keep a straight face as I type that name) tried to change the subject, writing

"Sadly it's not about me. The spam filter was set up to combat real spam. But over time it's been abused by serial flagging which puts users comments into pending or spam. But the filter continues forward to better understand each and every user that comes to Disqus. False positives do happen and happen to those who just recently join. Upvoting and posting consist non spam like posts, such as not posting repeated comments and or including the same link over and over as these are the marks of a spammer. When you get a chance flip through the green tag for spam, you'll see you're not alone."

to which I tried to reply

"'Sadly it's not about me.'

He says, after gloating about the fact that he just censored a perfectly reasonable comment that was about him. How old are you? 14? 15?

Who calls himself "Lord Bokeh"?

"But the filter continues forward to better understand each and every user that comes to Disqus."

How is that going to happen when the immediate response to a problem report is to harass and censor the use on flimsy grounds, and then try to pretend that there is no problem with Disqus' spam filter?

NO problem gets solved when people refuse to acknowledge its existence.

but was unable to enter the last part of that, because another mod abused her power and locked the discussion, with the problem still unsolved. Professionalism at its best. LOL. I'm not sure that these people are Disqus employees, but since this is where we are encouraged to go to "discuss Disqus", for the company to deny responsibility for the actions of these mods would be disingenuous.