Booting someone

Today, I deleted all the previous comments (more than 200) that someone has made on my blog. I welcome on-topic, constructive comments, but please remember my comment policy. I just added an addendum to it:

Update, 7/20/2007: It should go without saying, but I also reserve the right to prune comments or delete all comments by someone that is being insulting, lowering the quality of the discourse, or otherwise being a jerk. πŸ™‚ I reserve the right to delete comments for any reason, but I try to allow on-topic, constructive comments.

This time I saved the MySQL command I used to delete a user’s comments in WordPress:

delete from wp_comments where comment_author_email like “%domainname%” or comment_author_url like “%domainname%”;

That lets me delete all comments by unwelcome users more easily next time.

53 Responses to Booting someone (Leave a comment)

  1. g1smd

    I don’t think it will take too many guesses for any of us to think of a name that every time we see it, the thoughts “ShuT Up YoU FooL” (or worse) instantly come to mind.

    However, I could be wrong. I still those comments there.

  2. Matt, that is a cool MySQL command, I have a similar use for that myself on my WordPress blog. Keep the tips coming.

  3. g1smd, do a shift-reload and point out if you still see some. I’m leaving Search Engines Web alone for now.

  4. Being made up of almost 100% β€œA-Hole”; I mean saying something negative about super nice guy Danny Sullivan is pretty much akin to kicking puppies, I thought for sure that Good Ole Matt might have been talking about me regarding his pruning. However, seeing as I am still able to post a comment here I guess being mostly A-Hole does not equate to being a jerk, unless of course you ask my ex-wife that question.

  5. WordPress has a “Mass Edit Comments” mode that I find works really well for mass deletion of comments…

    Just go to Manage Comments Mass Edit Mode and type in your search.

    You can check everything on the screen and then hit delete on all of them.

  6. Thanks, Matt. I am sure it was not as easy a decision to make as people would think. I come from a “free and open anything goes” type conferencing background going back over 20 years, where I was an administrator on several of the very first public access unix conferencing systems (that’s where the PMS and root password signature originated) We always tried to bend over backwards to do everything we could to rehabilitate problem users; nuking them was the very last resort, and subject to much debate and agonizing in the staff conferences. But sometimes it had to be done. One doesn’t want to let one person continually pee in the pool and ruin it for everyone.

  7. Sounds like we need a new plugin! There are many comment spam plugins, and even plugins to rate/count comments, but I haven’t seen one yet that would let you retroactively ban a commenter. Ideally it would present you with a list of all the affected comments before they’re deleted. Would probably work best as a filter on the comment management page — i.e. show only the comments that match these criteria, then do a bulk moderate on them.

  8. The How-To Geek, done. πŸ˜‰

    netmeg, at the point where you said that you’re ready to stop reading the blog because of those comments, that’s when I had to do something.

  9. How-To Geek’s right, the mass edit mode’s probably good enough to do what you want. Forgot about that one!

  10. jake

    But its so much funnier to do in MYSQL, I remember back when I was getting Cisco Certified, the command to show the running configuration was #>show running-configuration, but the cisco IOS allowed #>show run
    which of course was alot easier, but I think knowing the whole command gives me a better understanding of the technology behind it. Sure we can all spout the acroynms like TCP/IP, DSL, OSI, WTF, ROFLMAO, but it sure helps to understand what they stand for. I’m a windows person, so I point and click, but when I can, I prefer to do stuff through command line interfaces. So good on you for sharing the command.

  11. Can that be done via phpmyadmin? If so could use a phpmyadmin plugin and maybe save a few clicks.

  12. Matt you prick. How could you support this form of censorship. It is the lowest form of manipulation and spin for your huge corporation. Where’s that puppy so I can kick it!

    No. just kidding Matt. Please don’t ban me. I like your cats…? πŸ™‚

  13. (thanks again, matt)

    Does kind of remind me of a time, long ago and far away, when we used to have competitions between the roots as to who could think of the most creative ways to squelch a problem user – usually a kid, who knew just enough to be dangerous. My specialty was sending a string of what looked like line noise, temporarily tossing him off the modem (this was back in the purely dialup days) and making subtle modifications to his termcap and/or .cshrc, like changing his ‘e’ to backspace, or his ‘m’ to interrupt, and then watching him log back in and try to negotiate the shell… ah for the good old days…

  14. netmeg: Great story – if I recall correctly, in the Cuckoo’s Egg, didn’t Cliff Stoll use a paper clip to short the modem wires when the “bad guys” got too close for comfort (or something like that?)

    Matt: Another semi-diabolical approach is (assuming the Igor’ish troll stays on the same IP address and/or trackable via cookie) is to allow the post … but have it only show to that IP address. So they see their comments, but nobody else does. Can lead to frustration for the troll since in their attempts to stir things up, nobody ever responds/acknowledges them – D’OH! πŸ˜‰

  15. jake

    Michael Dorausch Said,
    July 20, 2007 @ 12:52 pm

    Can that be done via phpmyadmin? If so could use a phpmyadmin plugin and maybe save a few clicks.

    Sure, just go to the SQL “tab” after selecting the database to administer and input the command there. click go… tada. poof

  16. I guess I should read the comments more but what was the 200th+ comment that broke the camels back? Rhetorical question – I know that scaling to answer all questions is undoable.

  17. Blog censorship is something you have to really be sure about before you do… it can lead to a lot of backlash.

    In this case though, I think everybody agrees it had to be done.

  18. Harith

    Friends!

    Lets put all this behind us and return to the posative spirit of business as usual. I.e bombarding Matt with questions πŸ™‚

    Here is one:

    – Matt, what made you decide to start this blog in 2005?

  19. Matt, unconstructive comments is one of the biggest problems in Google Groups Webmaster Help. I’ve been on countless forums, but some people who post on GGWH don’t know where to draw the line. Reading people flame each other might be fun for a while but when every thread turns into a mudslinging contest, it doesn’t help webmasters looking for help and it doesn’t help retain solid contributors who invest their free time giving helpful advice to people that need it.

    I know Adam and others have done a great job over there, and I understand banning someone should be a last resort. Moderating individual comments is also not scalable. But some people never learn, or post inflammatory personal attacks just to stir things up because they have nothing better to do. I’m all for freedom of speech, but if their rants on every thread means wasted time for readers I think banning people isn’t such a bad thing.

    They could also create a ignore filter based on average star rating, so people don’t get banned, but readers can filter out commentors with less than 3 stars, for example.

  20. Yes; on some systems I where I participated, there was an option to ignore a user (like the old Kill file in Usenet) where they could still post, but anyone could opt not to see their posts. Dunno if that’s still practical in bloggery and groupery applications.

  21. Hi Matt
    I used to make few comments before. But was away for few days and when I came back I didn’t remember which e-mail I used here.
    I tried to ask you one specific question some time back– tried 3 times. But –without success.
    Have you banned me?
    I hope not. πŸ˜€ Because I always commented on topic. πŸ˜€

  22. QUOTE: Lets put all this behind us and return to the posative spirit of business as usual. I.e bombarding Matt with questions πŸ™‚

    OK, here is mine: Matt do you like this book: Inside the Spam Cartel: Trade Secrets from the Dark Side

  23. g1smd

    Matt, please spare us from this drivel.

  24. After losing most of my pages to supplementals for my home and garden site I am starting to have real problems with Google. You might have to start deleting my comments if you haven’t already, I got a head full of bad conspiracy theories.

    Once a defender of Google I am slowly not liking what I see and do not plan to keep quiet about it. Universal search was the breaking point, universal search injects more of Google into more places, this means less of us, remember us? For instance “google book search”, I have been reviewing books on my sites because they are related BUT guess who appears up top of organic search with links to amazon.com? Google books! What about us? What about my book review? All these automated sites are clogging top positions in search because they are dynamic with HUGE pagerank, they offer nothing more and most of the times less like “google book search” does.

    Oh yeah, related to deleting comments: Ever notice how hijacked threads can rank for all kinds of strange things? Unless it is a fun blog I would remove comments all together, sometimes the people are just friggin’ nuts (like myself) and one person can dominate “the conversation” and turn it in a bad, not helpful direction.

    And blah blah blah, nobody cares.

  25. Search Engines Web…

    It’s not what you say that ticks people off, it’s how you say it.

    Do you really need to talk about yourself in 3rd person, bold or underline everything, write in all caps, or post random symbols?

    How do those card symbols add any value to your post?

    That’s what annoys people about you…

    I’m sure you offer a lot to the conversations here, but I don’t read it because of things like that.

  26. Master Yoda

    UH UH UH!

    I feel so much HATE hate here. All affiliate marketers small businesses and webmasters tied with that business you see your species are disappearing. Soon you will have 4-5 big rulers of the world owning surfers and no space for 3rd party only them and bulk buyers.

    Matt just comply to the will of his masters. You will stay guerrilla with less and less space for manipulation. Anyway new horizons will open out of Internet and all you will rush there and try to arbitrage before big businesses take things in their hands. New Matt Cutts will exterminate you.

  27. I think Igor got booted.
    Hey I am fully ready to be next Matt. Boot ME NEXT!

    Darn perverts! πŸ˜€

  28. Jestep

    We all deal with crap like this day in and day out, both online and in our every day lives. To remove all of his comments and publicly announce that you did it, knowing full and well that the rest of your daily readers would know who it was, is a level of immaturity that I never expected to witness from you. Ban him, delete his comments, firewall his IP, but to publicly announce that you did it….

    You just let him win! Removing his stuff publicly will probably do more damage than the comments did themselves. Instead of him looking like the a-hole, you do.

  29. Harith

    Good morning Matt

    I guess its time to close this thread and move on to more positive informative happy posts πŸ™‚

  30. Is this the way matt trying to save some hardware .I think its to ensure his readers dont go on spamming.Is this the thing matt..?

  31. Thank you Matt. The comments are much easier to read and follow now.

  32. Matt,

    I’m suprised you don’t use Navicat to navigate your MySql and store your queries??? Also, the query you’re using is very greedy (meaning it will match more than you expect not unlike a .* in a regex). The “like” part of the “where” clause is the part you should alter because…. If you try to delete somebody’s comments and their email is at a .gmail.com or a .yahoo.com email, you’ll wipe out all the comments on your blog from people with email at those domains in addition to the person you’re trying to delete !!!

    I don’t know if I should laugh or cry ???

  33. From my end, it is sometimes frustrating when I want to try to direct a question to you, and am not able to get a response (had one asking about your thoughts on bid for placement directories), but I figured you either had a good reason for not answering, or just don’t have time to go through all the comments.

    I wonder if there might be a way to increase the number of posts required before comments are auto approved? That way you have to write some decent replies before you earn the status where your posts are automatically accepted.

  34. Thanks for making that move Matt. I’m an obvious “newbie”. However, I really appreciate your blog as it adds value to my day. However, I was having some trouble wading through all that stuff myself. By the way, as a “newbie” I might make some strange sounding posts – but I will always try to be make them as “on-topic” and meaningful as possible.

  35. There are three types of comments I get to my blogs are 1) Sincere comments related to the topic. 2) Pure spam 3) borderline comments. That is, comments that I think people could be posting just to get a link on my blog or a post that is a little bit inappropriate. In the case of category 3 I always have taken the liberty to edit them and delete out bad words etc. But I do this manually. However, now my blog is getting more traffic I am looking for ways to do this in a semi-automated fashion. I think SQL is the most logical as you pointed out.

  36. Anonymous

    What’s to stop your “unwelcome users” simply using a different domain name in every comment they make?

  37. Kelly Jones

    LOL at the people upset by this. I have no clue who the jerk was and can’t believe anyone would lambast you for this — it’s YOUR blog — you can do whatever you want with it. When did your blog become part of the public domain where people have a right to tell you what to do with it?

    Too funny Matt. Edit away!

    KJ

  38. We all deal with crap like this day in and day out, both online and in our every day lives. To remove all of his comments and publicly announce that you did it, knowing full and well that the rest of your daily readers would know who it was, is a level of immaturity that I never expected to witness from you. Ban him, delete his comments, firewall his IP, but to publicly announce that you did it….

    You just let him win! Removing his stuff publicly will probably do more damage than the comments did themselves. Instead of him looking like the a-hole, you do.

    How in the world is this immature? If anything, Matt just gained respect from two people: netmeg, who lodged the original and correct complaint; and myself, who respects anything done with what I believe to be open and honest intention (which this clearly was).

    What you also have forgotten is that the commenter being deleted isn’t someone who is able to let things go. You think you’ve heard the last of that guy? Hell no. He’ll pop up somewhere on Brian White’s blog or WMW or somewhere else complaining about how evil Matt is and how big G is treating him unfairly despite him being the greatest thing to hit the ‘net.

    Besides, if Matt removed the comments and asid nothing…people would notice. People would comment on it, too. And if Matt still said nothing, then Matt would get accused of about fifty different things as well.

    Matt did the right thing here…there was no other way to handle the situation.

    Respek, Matt. BOOYAKASHAH!

  39. Hey Matt,

    What happens when someone from cutts.com leaves a big wad of spam on the blog?

    delete from wp_comments where comment_author_email like β€œ%cutts.com%” or comment_author_url like β€œ%cutts.com%”;

    Hmmmm.

    Sure, it’s a handy snippet of code to have, but It’s also a bit dangerous to be publishing to the world with that wildcard in there.

  40. Well done Matt, I saw some really horrible comments on here last week, just to let you know you have one more supporter in your move.

  41. I’m with Tim, personally I let all the insulting comments on my blog stay. Mostly because I have a broad idea that those who post them simply don’t have the quotient to understand the subject matter and it gives me something to contrast against πŸ™‚

    Then again I don’t get the volume you do!

  42. Lewis

    Good move Matt, this user gave me abuse when I politely reminded him the ‘bugs’ post was intended for bugs. I attempted to email you about it to keep the garbage out of the blog but soon realised there was no way of doing this!

  43. Rishi Lakhani

    lol… its a shame _ i guess couple of the guys were going over the top… but their posts did add humour to very heavy and serious discussions going on the posts – almost like a comedy interlude between posts…
    πŸ˜‰

  44. There’s only one word to describe what you have done Matt:

    pwned

  45. sun

    Prune comments after the post has aged. Many won’t know nor care after that point.

  46. Master Yoda

    Dark force have deleted my comment anyway I have tried.

    “100% of the shots you don’t take, don’t go in!”

  47. thanks for the mysql command – thats great. I’ve done similar things to quickly remove spam from other sites we run – but thats a good one.

  48. I wish someone would post on my blog so I could boot them, sigh. anyone. . . .sob . . .

  49. The same people that are jerks online are probably shriveling little prunes in real life. The type that are scared of the world, but derive power by blasting people online. Online they won’t get their butts kicked.

  50. I also use similar sql commands to remove spam from my websites. I don’t think you should talk too much about how you deal with spam though. You basically told all the spammers how to avoid getting all their comments removed. Obviously they just need to vary their e-mail addresses and link to different urls. Part of being a spammer is finding ways around things setup to block spam.

  51. WordPress has lots of interesting stuff for us to use. Nice that they have the user in mind when the put this stuff together.

  52. Somewhere in that mess of responses, I saw a mention that this person was Igor-something, I think. There’s an Igorberger stirring up trouble on the English Wikipedia, and by following his tracks around the ‘Net I’ve found comments and blog posts (among other things) disparaging Google and even hating on you personally, Matt. At least, I think this post is the same person: http://www.igorthetroll.com/blog/evil-google-and-dr-evil-matt-cutts/ (I followed a link from en.wp to MyBlogLog and from there to the site, so it’s probably him.)

    That user’s been disrupting on Wikipedia, too. He posts trollish comments on the user talk pages of administrators, suggesting that they don’t know what an admin is and that they should step down. Hmm… :-/ And his site openly declares that he was banned from the GWHG. Does this user sound familiar?

  53. Worth the price of admission to find out about http://cursebird.com/netmeg! THAT cracked me up! Now, on topic, I don’t mind the rude comments on my blogs (I have 15) at least I’m connecting with a human that has (what they perceive as) a real agenda. (I delete them, no big deal…) It’s the humanistic spammers that wreck my day! ex: I got a comment that said “nice post, learned something new, BTW you site doesn’t display correctly in ….” – I thought oh, how nice of them to tell me! And their link to their site was a little off, but could have been a real site, not a dead ship link barge, until I saw clever variations of the same post about 100 times that day on quite a few of my sites! I HATE the junky spambot commenters!!! I’ll take cranky/crazy any day!

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