Hi! I can’t come to the blog right now…

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Lost in Transmission, originally uploaded by Lawrence Whittemore.


…as every spare moment I’ve had this week has been engaged in a futile battle against an automated spambot that is gradually but relentlessly overgrowing the work of thousands of UBC citizens on a wiki service we support. My usual tech support network here is mostly occupied with a higher stakes project (and NOBODY wants me messing with a server), and my energy is spent reverting vital pages, researching response strategies and cajoling anyone I can find to implement them, and offering endless apologies to increasingly frustrated users.

We briefly froze the creation of new accounts only to be bombarded by requests from concerned students who were unable to complete course assignments (ten emails to me during one ninety minute period away from my desk). It is gratifying to know the system is being used much more extensively than I thought, but less exciting to ponder what all these users are thinking about their work being replaced by obscene linkage every time they look away.

Missing in action: my presence in an online course I’m co-teaching; my sense of humour; my attention to every other thing I’m supposed to be doing; my ability to interact pleasantly with family, co-workers and friends. On its deathbed: my professional sense of purpose; my will to live.

I had hoped to spend some time this week preparing for my keynote (YIKES! Don’t look down!) at next week’s Open Education Conference. At this point, all I’m prepared to offer up are demented ravings about Texas Hold ‘Em, Viagra, and terrible things to do to animals.

6 thoughts on “Hi! I can’t come to the blog right now…

  1. Brain, my condolences. I can feel your pain. I had the same problem with my wiki. Toward the end I had to hop on every day and revert 5-10 pages back to the original content. I don’t know the first thing about servers, but it got to the point where I broke down, researched, learned, and faked my way through installing a captcha program.

    It was kind of like listening to a neighbor’s blaring music for 6 hours, then walking over and cutting power to their house. I haven’t had a single spam message posted since putting it up.

    Good luck.

  2. Thanks Marion — I broke down and decided to end my resistance to captchas a couple weekes back, and if we can find one that works on wikka I hope it has the same effect.

  3. Brian, It won’t probably make you feel any better, but just a few weeks ago, we had a lovely email from a faculty member who had assigned a reading from Academic Commons to her class and wondered if we would be so kind as to remove the links to the porno sites from the article’s comments, since her students might not understand why they were there. Which is to say that I feel your pain, and hope that in the fullness of time somebody somewhere figures out some way to both make this go away AND to make suffer the idiots who waste everyone’s time with this boring stuff.

    — mike

  4. Brian, It won’t probably make you feel any better, but just a few weeks ago, we had a lovely email from a faculty member who had assigned a reading from Academic Commons to her class and wondered if we would be so kind as to remove the links to the porno sites from the article’s comments, since her students might not understand why they were there. Which is to say that I feel your pain, and hope that in the fullness of time somebody somewhere figures out some way to both make this go away AND to make suffer the idiots who waste everyone’s time with this boring stuff.

    — mike

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