on Apr 13, 2007
Lots of people are complaining about errors they get when posting comments. Errors like this one:
We're sorry, but we could not fulfill your request for /twentysidedtale/?p=nnn#comment-nnn on this server.
You do not have permission to access this server.
Your technical support key is: xxxx-xxxx-xxxx-xxxx
You can use this key to fix this problem yourself.
If you are unable to fix the problem yourself, please contact twentysidedtale at shamusyoung.com and be sure to provide the technical support key shown above.
I don’t even know what this error means, or what is generating it. Is it something on my website? WordPress? A plugin? I don’t know who wrote this piece of code, but they committed a major no-no by directing “technical support” emails to the site author. Icing on the cake is that if users consult the linked page they are (re)directed to a totally unrelated website that probably wants nothing to do with my technical support issues.
The problem started a while back, when the huge influx of new visitors caused a subsequent huge influx of new spam. For about a week I had .htakismet installed, which is a plugin that reacts to spam by blocking access to the site from the offending IP. That sounds like a very nice solution, although I was wary of having a WordPress plugin dabble in the black magic that is .htaccess files on my server. After a week, I couldn’t tell if .htakismet was even working. At best it was having no impact. At worst, it was blocking legit users without me even knowing about it.
I pulled .htakisment and installed a different plugin: Bad Behavior. Unlike .htakismet, BB really did have a big impact on spam. I went from nearly a thousand spam comments each day to a few dozen, but then the stupid error above started popping up.
As far as I can tell, the error appears when someone posts a comment. After they hit the “submit” button they get the above message, but their comment appears anyway. It has never happened to me, but I’m an admin and I think the filters ignore me no matter what I type. The problem also exhibits that most dreaded of attributes: It is intermittent.
I don’t know what to make of it. Is this some mess made by .htakismet? Is Bad Behavior causing the problem? I could come up with guesses all day, but whatever the reason the problem is either getting worse or people are more eager to tell me about it. Going back to 1,000+ spams a day isn’t an option, either.
I’d tell you I’m working on it, but that would be misleading. I can’t really do any work on it until I know what to do. All I can tell you is that the problem is being worried about.
Shamus Young is an old-school OpenGL programmer, author, and composer. He runs this site and if anything is broken you should probably blame him.