The price of success

Paul Boag

Today I have seen both the good and bad sides of managing a successful website. Receiving recognition can be a two edged sword and one that every website owner needs to be prepared for.

It has been amazingly gratifying to see the success of and I am incredibly appreciative to the many members who have been so committed to it.

Recognised by the 9 Rules Network

Today all of the hard work has been recognised with the inclusion of in the 9 Rules Network. For those of you who have not come across the 9 Rules Network before, it describes itself as follows:

We highlight the very best web content in the world and package it in a nice bow for you to unwrap. Our members discuss topics like Web 2.0 design, Hollywood gossip, cognitive psychology, sex & relationships, entrepreneurship, and many others.

The 9 Rules Network includes such great web design authors as Molly Holzschlag (, Roger Johansson (456 Berea Street), Robert Nyman (Robert’s Talk) as well as collaborative blogs such as Particle Tree.

Being included on a network as highly selective as 9 Rules is a huge honour and being listed alongside the names above is simply mind blowing.

Success attracts SPAM

if you have been unfortunate enough to receive an email from me offering you sex or Viagra, I am sorry to say that you were just suffering from junk mail

However today has also shown me the other side of success. With the growth of and the increase in links to the site, I have seen a staggering explosion in comment spam. I have been using the web for long enough to simply accept this as a part of life. I was determined not to moderate the comments on this site and long ago accepted this would mean I would have to regularly "clean" the comments by removing the junk. However, because of the growth of the site I have found the comments facility becoming increasingly popular among legitimate users. I therefore added a new function to the site, which allowed users to subscribe to comment threads so they are automatically informed when something new is added. The downside of this is that people subscribed to a thread were also receiving the junk that was being posted there.

SPAM damages accessibility

The result of all of this is that I have been forced to add one of those annoying image security codes to my comments facility. What makes me so angry is not that it is an inconvenience to most of my users (although that is frustrating) but rather that it creates a significant problem to users with some form of visual impairment. The ironic thing is that only yesterday I was listening to TWIT which included a blind user complaining about exactly this problem. How is a blind user supposed to enter a security code found in an image that he cannot see! In short spam, is making the web more inaccessible for millions of visually impaired users.

I have worked around the problem as best I can by allowing comments to be submitted for manual moderation without entering the security code. However, this is reliant on me spotting the genuine submissions among hundreds of spam entries. Far from ideal!

So if you have been unfortunate enough to receive an email from me offering you sex or Viagra, I am sorry to say that you were just suffering from junk mail and this was not a genuine offer.

However, you will be pleased to know that it should not happen again even if posting on this site has just become slightly more frustrating.