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Upcoming Enhancements: Comment and TrackBack Management

As you can probably imagine, we spend an awful lot of time at Six Apart explaining to the non-blogging world what, exactly, a weblog is. People often ask how weblogs are different from home pages on the one hand and content management systems on the other. A key feature we use to explain the differences is the feedback loop that happens with weblogs through comments and TrackBacks.

One of our goals with TypePad is to enable you to build and maintain vibrant, active communities through commenting, and to participate in distributed discussion with TrackBacks. Since the first release of TypePad, it's been very easy for readers to comment, and for other bloggers to send TrackBacks to TypePad weblogs. Unfortunately, in the process we've also made it easy for comment and TrackBack spammers to abuse the system.

Over the past year, we've invested a great deal of time and energy fighting comment and TrackBack spam on TypePad. Most of that investment has been invisible to our customers, and involves a combination of science and art to (a) detect spam attacks, (b) block as much spam as possible from reaching your blog, and (c) retroactively clean up any spam from your blogs after an attack. And earlier this year TypePad was the first hosted weblogging service to support the nofollow initiative, which helps eliminate one of the key incentives for comment spammers.

All of that work has been behind the scenes, and we know we're not done. We know that even with our best efforts at preventing spam, attacks can and do make their way through to your blogs. We've heard loud and clear that you want and need tools that are under your control to prevent that from happening. We've also heard that you need better tools to manage large volumes of legitimate comments and TrackBacks.

So, here's some good news. We're currently developing three major enhancements to TypePad that will give you more power and control over comments and TrackBacks.

  • First, we'll provide support for TypeKey-based comment authentication. TypeKey is a service that lets you confidently identify a particular commenter, and it is a free service. We've supported TypeKey comment authentication in Movable Type for more than a year now, and customers who have implemented TypeKey on their weblogs have virtually eliminated comment spam from their weblogs.

  • Second, we'll add the ability for you to moderate comments and TrackBacks. You'll be able to pre-screen comments and TrackBacks and approve them before they appear on your published weblog.

  • Finally, on top of the authentication and moderation functionality, we're working on a greatly enhanced set of screens in TypePad for managing comments and TrackBacks. The goal of the improvements is to make it easier to scan and quickly take action on new comment activity, including deleting comments, approving or deleting moderated commenters, or banning unwanted commenters from your site.

Finally, we understand that some of you aren't fans of HTML email. If you prefer the "classic" comment and TrackBack notification emails, we'll give you the option of setting a preference on whether you'd like TypePad to send you plain text or rich email.

Expect to hear more about these features in the coming weeks.