User Generated Content

Quoting IT: Scott Abel on Help 2.0

"Help 2.0 is about letting go of old-school, preconceived notions about our role as content providers. Help 2.0 forces us to realize that by leveraging the knowledge of the crowd we can help users find the right information quickly and easily, whether we created the content ourselves or not. And perhaps most importantly, Help 2.0 is about creating support experiences in which users can help us learn what they want and need, while also allowing them to assist one another, in ways that are meaningful to them."

We Hear You: Our spam filtering needs to be improved

Like most website administrators, I have a long history of fighting spammers and protecting my sites from unwanted content. Over the years I've used a lot of tools and services to block spam from reaching the pages of my sites. In recent years, the service I've relied on most heavily is Mollom.  Mollom is a web service that helps you identify content quality and, more importantly, helps you stop spam on your blog, social network or community website

Overall I've been very happy with the spam filterering Mollom provides for my sites. Mollom LogoHowever, occasionally Mollom can be too aggressive and remove legitimate story and comment submissions. And when I say "remove" I most definately intend to use the word in the literal way. You see, up to now, Mollom had an "all or none" approach to rejecting or accepting spam. When your stories or comments were rejected, the content submission was simply discarded without review by a human.

If you've ever submitted good clean content to or another site only to only have it identified and discarded as spam, you have every right to be upset with spam filters. Over the past couple months, I've had a number of people upset that the spam filtering CMS Report has been using rejected their story submission. This may not be all the fault of Mollom either as I was also using the Bad Behavior module too. My apologies to everyone that has gone through this experience when they've submitted legitimate comments and stories to this site. Unfortunately, without spam filtering the content on this site would not be good to view. Spam filtering is a necessary part of maintaining a site open to the public.

Luckily, there has been some improvements in the Mollom for Drupal module that should keep your posts and comments from getting discarded while continuing to protect this site from spam. The module has now been improved to to retain spam comments as unpublished posts in a site's moderation queue. So we're giving the new module a try. I won't promise that your content will not be identified as spam, but I do promise you that every intent is being made to review your comments and stories for publication.

Mollom Stats from CMS Report

After two years of spam protection by Mollom people are beginning to proudly show off their ham/spam stats. Davy Van Den Bremt over at Drupal coder writes:

If you're happy about Mollom, just shout it out on Twitter, Facebook, your blog, ... by putting up a screenshot of your stats and saying how many spam has been caught by Mollom. You can find the stats of your site on your Mollom account. If you're using Drupal, you can find them under Administer > Reports > Mollom Statistics.

CMS Report's Top Ten Stories of 2009

The level of interest in content management systems astounds me. Each year, I continue to see at CMS Report an increase of visitors looking for information on content management. Our stories tend to focus on open source CMS more than proprietary applications and evidently that's the subject matter that our readers want to read.

Below are the top ten stories of 2009 that were posted here at As you can see, stories involving Drupal, WordPress, Joomla!, Alfresco, and Nuxeo took center stage. These stories might not have been the ten I would have personally picked for this list, but I'll respect the numbers behind their ranking.

  1. Mollom: A solution for comment spam
  2. 2009 Best Open Source PHP CMS: Drupal wins, Wordpress and Joomla! not far behind
  3. Serving a home for my Drupal site
  4. WordPress leads the Packt as 2009 Overall Best Open Source CMS
  5. Allen Ellis: Why the Packt CMS Competition is Broken, and How to Fix It
  6. Google PageRank
  7. Alfresco Module Obtains U.S. DoD 5015.02 Records Management Certification
  8. Using Wordpress city saves $19,000
  9. Cheryl McKinnon, Nuxeo, and Open Source
  10. Drupal Gardens preview video by Acquia

The interest in Nuxeo took me by surprise and I'll be adding the CMS to my top 30 CMS Focus page as time allows. As always, our thanks to all those who continue to return to this site to read the stories, join in on the conversation, and even submit articles. As I've said before, I'm not sure we would be doing this if it wasn't for the interest shown by others visiting the site.

phpBB 3.0.6

The open source Web forum application, phpBB, is available in a new version. phpBB 3.0.6 introduces not only bug fixes and stability improvements but also some major new features.

We are very pleased to announce the availability of the phpBB "Fast and Furrious" 3.0.6 package. This release fixes numerous bugs, introduces some major features, as well as improves stability and performance. Furthermore, the internal updater has been updated to detect and solve most conflicts, resulting in a reduction of necessary manual interaction by administrators.

Please note that we urge you to update. phpBB 3.0.6 fixes bugs being quite important for a smooth operation of your forums. With this release our support team will only give support for phpBB 3.0.6, updates to phpBB 3.0.6 and conversions to phpBB 3.0.6. Submissions to our trackers for older versions will not be accepted, please make sure you update/upgrade before you submit a bug report.

Some of the new features that have been implemented in phpBB 3.0.6 include:

  • Better spam control using improved captcha options and backported 3.2 captcha plugins:
    • Classic and GD CAPTCHA
    • reCaptcha
    • 3D Wave

Citizen Spies

I just finished reading an article from last Friday's Wall Street Journal, Gulags, Nukes and a Water Slide: Citizen Spies Lift North Korea's Veil. The article discusses how collaboration and tools on the Internet allows ordinary citizens to uncover secrets governments wish others not to see. In this case, using collaborated information and satellite images to uncover North Korea's infrastructure.

In the propaganda blitz that followed North Korea's missile launch last month, the country's state media released photos of leader Kim Jong Il visiting a hydroelectric dam and power station.

Images from the report showed two large pipes descending a hillside. That was enough to allow Curtis Melvin, a doctoral candidate at George Mason University in suburban Virginia, to pinpoint the installation on his online map of North Korea.

Mr. Melvin is at the center of a dozen or so citizen snoops who have spent the past two years filling in the blanks on the map of one of the world's most secretive countries. Seeking clues in photos, news reports and eyewitness accounts, they affix labels to North Korean structures and landscapes captured by Google Earth, an online service that stitches satellite pictures into a virtual globe. The result is an annotated North Korea of rocket-launch sites, prison camps and elite palaces on white-sand beaches.

This is a fascinating article from the WSJ and I'm sure this type of tech empowerment has both positive and negative consequences for our world. Having some background in remote sensing, I recall a conversation I had with a landsat specialist several years ago. During the conversation he mentioned the recent launch of some cheap satellites with 1 km resolution to be used for non-military geological surveys. I asked the question, "if a cheap satellite can produce 1 km resolution what resolutions can an expensive landsat satellite produce?". He replied such information was classified. As I said before, that conversation took place several years ago and I can only imagine how much the technology has changed since then.