Comment Bots

I've been thinking more about yesterday's post on comment systems.

I started posting to my Reddit profile, then realised why stop there - I've been mucking around so much with chat apps that I've got profiles everywhere, and I thought I could try and make them useful. My two communication preferences right now are Discord (because it's like Slack but more relaxed), and Telegram (because it's exactly like Facebook Messenger but better. Both offer simple ways to set up and harness the power of bots and make using them simple, and with a couple of WordPress plugins the process is even simpler than it should be.

My robot by Aaron Williamson, on Flickr

The two plugins I'm giving a crack are WP Discord and WP Telegram.

Both made setting up their respective bots a breeze (although the instructions for WP Discord skip one vital step), so theoretically when I hit publish on this post I should see a message pop up in both my new Geekorium Discord Server and my Geekorium Telegram Channel. Feel free to join in either channel and say hello, and if you wish, get notified of new posts when they happen - it's like RSS, but with future technology. I won't ever spam you - if you don't want to see posts, leave the channel or turn off notifications for those channels in their respective apps.

You might also notice a Discord widget down below above the comment box. Join in there if you want and chat directly.

I've often tested out new stuff round here in the past, and my post history is littered with the detritus of tried and failed experiments. I can't say for certain how long these will last, or if I might find something better. My goal in trying this out was to see if they were viable alternatives to vanilla comments, and if they might make it more appealing for people to give feedback or connect with me. If they're still around in a week it will be because I'm finding them valuable, or people are actually using them.

See you in chat! 🚀

Update: the widget below above the comments lasted about 5 minutes before I realised it only shows who's on the server, not the chat that's going on. I'll need to find a place to prominently display the Discord and Telegram icons to encourage people to click through, but a massive widget is not going to do it.

Internet Draft: Comment systems

Having fired up the old blogging engine awhy hasn't that word died!? bAnd is this becoming some sort of running gag?, I now find myself wanting to comment on Rubenerd's latest post about enabling a commenting system, but find that due to lack of a comment system I cannot! And also having trashed both my Twitter and Facebook accounts in a single week, I now have NO CONCEIVABLE WAY to get in touch with the man. I mean, despite email and other antiquated ways of communication - should I perhaps be sending smoke signals?

No, email isn't public enough. A person cannot comment on another blogger's content from the detached privacy of an email - we are after all "civilised gentlemen" cWhich I must not be because I don't statically generate my content.

Comment of the day!

Comment of the Day by Mike Seyfang / CC BY 2.0

So consider this another comment in a long series of posts directly directed at Rubenerd. Tune out from here if you're not him, and have no interest in how he chooses to enable comments.

I shall tackle his so called "two options", and then suggest my own third option. I'll ignore that he presented his own third option, because that's thrown all my maths out and I can only count to many.

  1. Disqus: No. No. Don't do this. No. Do not use Disqus. Not because there's anything wrong with it necessarily, but don't change how you do things to make a couple of people slightly happier - you'll always feel dirty.
  2. A CMS: You could. But again, why change something that's working for youdputting aside that by suggesting you enable comments, that's exactly what asking you to do?

Your only real option is to take your comments outside your space.

  1. One option that comes to mind is something like /r/rubenerd on reddit. They have those new profiles now don't they? x-post everything onto your profile, and link to it at the end of your post.
    Pros: no changes to the way you write (much), potential for actual link karma, surely everyone has a reddit account right?
    Cons: you still don't own/control the platform and Reddit is most certainly mining their user's data in all the same ways Facebook has been. Might be an effort to moderate, or you might miss stuff if you're not a heavy Reddit user yourself.
  2. Pick some forum software or a microblogging platform like GNU Social or Mastodon and self host that, x-post to the site as suggested above. Enable Twitter/Facebook/Reddit logins so people don't have to register to your site to throw down a witty one-liner.
    Pros: Self hosted means it's your data and your readers can have a say in what happens to it. You get to decide how it's shown - write a back end script that pulls comments in on a cron and adds them to the static site, use some Javascript ewith a safe word, or just link to it and let people free-for-all
    Cons: It's a hassle and no one will use it.
  3. Keep going as you are now. Use Twitter. I'll keep responding from here and other people can find ways they feel comfortable to respond.
    Pros: Really easy.
    Cons: I don't get to commentfthis may be a pro.
  4. If you're mirroring your repo online, give people the link and let them clone and send you pull requests with their comments.
    Pros: Only dedicated idiots will comment.
    Cons: Only dedicated idiots will comment. You'd have to set up a template/rules for comments. It's a fucking ridiculous idea.
  5. Build some sort of federated commenting system that would allow someone like me to make a comment on their own site and have it salmon'ed to yours. Frankly, I don't think this would work with your current system and would probably be difficult to integrate without a CMS. I've been playing with Keybase which has a flat-file system integrated - you could join a trusted blogging network and use that to allow comments somehow.

I'm partial to the reddit idea, and might start doing it myself. I've also thought about setting up Mastodon and using that instead of Twitter. I also have a GNU Social instance running, but it's kind of a bummer without many people to follow.

All these options are making me want to turn my own comments off, just to force some creativity. I'm looking forward to seeing what Rubenerd does.

Discuss on Reddit... IF YOU DARE

Quickedit: This page on Hugo suggests Staticman which looks pretty neat. Integrated with Jekyll, which I know you're not using any more, but could be integrated into Hugo.

Asides   [ + ]

a. why hasn't that word died!?
b. And is this becoming some sort of running gag?
c. Which I must not be because I don't statically generate my content
d. putting aside that by suggesting you enable comments, that's exactly what asking you to do
e. with a safe word
f. this may be a pro

Milestone: 445 Posts!

This was going to be a post for my 500th published... post. 500 is a big milestone. So I've been cleaning up my site, migrating and consolidating AWS S3 buckets and setting up https hosting on one for some of the images and videos I've posted here in the past.

500 steps forward, 55 steps back. That's how that saying goes right?

But as I've been cleaning, I've discovered lots of old photos and short text posts that were imported through various automatic processes, like Flickr photos that were imported for a while when I tweeted them, or things I reblogged from other sites with dubious attribution.

So I've been judiciously killing them, and very rarely re-instating posts I never published (or only ever published on Facebook).

Which has all brought me to the much less auspicious count of a 445 post milestone for my return to bloggingaI will find a better word one day, mark my... word.

Hooray! Here's to 445 more! And then 110 more after that so that I reach a more rounded number. bRubenerd can find meaning in all sorts of post numbers, maybe he can help me out here.

Asides   [ + ]

a. I will find a better word one day, mark my... word
b. Rubenerd can find meaning in all sorts of post numbers, maybe he can help me out here.


I find myself in the fun position of following up on a follow-up post to my follow-up on Rubenerds original post.

I mean, if we both used Facebook, this would just be a series of comments, but where's the fun in that? As Rubenerd says, "it reminded me of the blogosphere of old", and I'm enjoying the feeling of a proper back and forth. And unlike a Facebook comment, his post can be read completely independently, with his thoughts and musings taking their own tangents without the feeling that it all needs to tie back into my post like we're arguing about something. It's like a layer cake, or a meat trifle or something.

But as he said, the blogs awhy did we never find a nicer sounding word? of old are fading out. Most people just don't bother, unless they're part of some large conglomeration. Maybe this is just the evolution of the web, as the weaker writers give up from lack of traffic, and the stronger ones either get grabbed by companies who can pay them, or just keep on solidly pushing through publishing post after post of eclectic material, not for the world but for themselves. Rubenerd is definitely of the latter, while I am one of those weaker ones who got tired of feeling like I was talking to myself. Or I was bad at it.

So while I'm giving it another shot, I can't imagine how long I'll last this time. Which brings me back round to RSS. I settled on FreshRSS because it was PHP based and my host had an install script. Not much of a reason to base my decision on, except that I've tried TT-RSS before and while I was happy enough with the software, the support left me feeling a bit eh about the whole thing bsee my final note on that page for an explanation. So Rubenerd, if you're listening, I'd be happy to set up an account on my instance of FreshRSS if you want to try it out.

Of course, this is all academic if I never use the thing, and I'm not sure I'm going to. As I said in my previous post, reddit scratches that itch I have to find new content. But even that is a bit filter-bubbly despite an amazing breadth of sources on /r/all. What I need is an ever changing list of semi-random content to peruse on my mobile. I wonder if there are any federated RSS aggregators?

And don't get me started on federated replacements for Facebook Messenger. I have one colleague at work who I keep roping in to try new messaging platforms, and I think he hates me now. In fact I know Mike hates me because he just cycles through each app to message me how much he hates me. I can't blame him - my phone creaks under the weight of the following in no particular order:

  • Pulse (SMS)
  • Yammer (for work team chat until Microsoft Teams is available to us)
  • Discord (what I tried when I was trying to find something like Slack)
  • Telegram (my preferred replacement for FM with my family)
  • Wickr Me (I know exactly one person that uses it)
  • Wire (I can't make anyone use it, not even Mike)
  • Google Hangouts (I can't bring myself to use it)
  • Duo (pre-installed on Huey, my phone)
  • And three different email apps

Most recently I've also installed Keybase, which is so loaded with the buzzword promise of blockchain I couldn't not try it out. Rubenerd wasn't there - which as the only person I know who's actually published a PGP key - surprised me a little. Keybase is chock full of people who have published PGP keys. If you want to hit me up there, my Keybase profile is here. Maybe someone smarter than me can tell me why it isn't a sound technology, but although it's based on technology by one company, you can't get much more federated than blockchain, even if it's not exactly what we mean when use the term.

One last thing Rubenerd before I go. If not comments, at least enable pingbacks and ping other people when you link them. Otherwise I might not notice you've published until I go to my feed reader.

Asides   [ + ]

a. why did we never find a nicer sounding word?
b. see my final note on that page for an explanation

Dashing Dynamic Duo

Batman and Robin Comic Book Logo

I once did a post about the old-old Batman and Robin Serial and took some screen-caps from the episodes. One of them has proven quite popular around the internet and has been used by sits like Cracked awith added cheese for any post that needs a picture of Batman and Robin running.

I wondered why it was so popular, till I realised just how iconic that image is, even if I can't think of a particular example. So after some research, here's a compilation of images of Batman and Robin running from different media.

Batman (1966
Bam! Kapow!

First up is Adam West and Burt Ward running to the UN to save some diplomats from being powdered by their greatest foes. I think they'd gotten stuck in traffic?

I can't find any images from the original comics, but I'll keep my eye out for them and put them up as they come. The closest I could find was this vintage 1966 Japanese comic cover. This is the Adam West era as you can tell by the eyebrows on the cowl band by having seen quite a few 'shops in my time.

Japanese Picture Book
Vintage 1966 Japanese Picture Book

Despite the lack of direct comic book proof, I submit this retro t-shirt design, and you tell me if it doesn't trigger a memory of something in your brain. You know this is a classic image. If you've come to realise the iconic-ness of the image of the Dynamic Duo running, you can buy this t-shirt and wear it proudly.

Batman and Robin Running T-Shirt
Mil... Can I have some cash?

Or if that doesn't convince you that Batman and Robin hoofing it is one of pop-culture's most classic images, try this piece from the 2007 Singapore Design Festival. Once glance and you immediately get it don't you? Because it's classic.

Rescue Zone

Here they are running in Batman: The Animated Series.

Batman Animated Adventures

Followed by an awesome wallpaper by BobbyRubio on Deviantart.

Midnight Run by BobbyRubio
Out for a Midnight Run

The next is Batman and Nightwing, but as Nightwing started out as Robin cdon't even get me started, I figured it was an homage to the idea and therefore valid.

Batman Hush
Batman Hush

Which leads nicely into this one, which is the New Batman and Robin, who are Dick Grayson (the original Robin nee Nightwing) and Damian Wayne, Bruce Wayne's son dI said, don't get me started.... So the image comes full circle to the next generation.

Batman and Robin 19
Batman The Next Generation

And for gamers, Batman and Robin in the best Batman video game adaptation of all time.

Lego Batman
Arkham Who?

Finally, I leave you with Batman and Robin from the end of Batman Forever movie from 1995.

Batman Forever Ending Scene
This movie is now only remembered as not being as bad as the next one

Asides   [ + ]

a. with added cheese
b. and by having seen quite a few 'shops in my time
c. don't even get me started
d. I said, don't get me started...
I footnotes