Posts Tagged ‘gravatar’

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WordPress.com Changes to Commenting is an Attempt to Combat Fake Comments? FAIL

March 16, 2012

As more and more WordPress.com bloggers (like here and the DoD) begin to realize that their commenting system has had a surprise and unwelcome shot to the foot, the confusion and discontent is spreading rapidly. For the moment, we sit here at the mercy of the top folks at WP.com, hoping that my instruction thread has limited the damage, and alleviated a lot of the confusion for our readers.

While we wait and see if they’ll realize their mistake and/or change this, I believe I’ve stumbled upon what prompted this sudden move:

If I’m reading that right, it looks like my theory that this was intended to be a solution to nefarious gravatar/nic-jacking was correct, as this appears to have been done as a reaction to one case involving a victim of above-average influence on the net? Wow.

Even if it was properly executed (which it isn’t even close), it’s a boneheaded sledgehammer solution to a fly-sized problem. The thinking is still flawed, since anyone can still simply steal an image and apply it to their own gravatar account, if they really wanted to impersonate another netizen. Like with an IP, only the webmaster or admin would be able to tell the difference, and even they would not be able to verify which email addy what the legit one, right? To the rest of the world, the commenter is successfully impersonated. For example <—simple demonstration, with one of my other accounts.

Hopefully they're smarter than this, and switch it back…soon.

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Mr. Conspiracy

January 11, 2008

In popular culture and in the media, you’ll often see the phrase “conspiracy theorist” or “conspiracy theory” used with a sense of derision.  I like to keep in mind, however, that conspiracies do exist.  If they didn’t, there’d be no need for the legal concept, after all.  As for conspiracies of the more elaborate and outlandish brand, well, anyone can look to history to find evidence of real schemes, plots and cabals of significant scale.  What you’ll find disagreement on is how loosely the term “conspiracy” is used when describing such things, as the word could literally be applied to just about anything.  From wiki:

The term “conspiracy theory” is considered by different observers to be a neutral description for a conspiracy claim, a pejorative term used to dismiss such a claim without examination, and a term that can be positively embraced by proponents of such a claim. The term may be used by some for arguments they might not wholly believe but consider radical and exciting. The most widely accepted sense of the term is that which popular culture and academic usage share, certainly having negative implications for a narrative’s probable truth value.

Given this popular understanding of the term, it is conceivable that the term might be used illegitimately and inappropriately, as a means to dismiss what are in fact substantial and well-evidenced accusations. The legitimacy of each such usage will therefore be a matter of some controversy. Disinterested observers will compare an allegation’s features with those of the category listed above, in order to determine whether a given usage is legitimate or prejudicial.

That said…

I think there is something to the idea that certain people are predisposed to look for conspiracies around every corner; those who posses a world view that is cynical to the point of paranoia.  Whether this is a “nature vs. nurture” question, I’m not sure, but I’ve come across a few people in both my personal and internet life seem to fit this description.  In fact, one of my professors in college (mid-90’s) was none other than Dr. James H. Fetzer, founder of “Scholars for 9/11 Truth“.   It was well-known around campus that Dr. Fetzer had been intimately involved with theories on the JFK assassination (in fairness, the topic never came up in his course), and years later I see that he’s also published a theory on the death of Paul Wellstone.   The conclusion might be that he either has an amazing gift for seeing right through these complex plots, or he’s off his proverbial rocker; one of those people who assumes conspiracy and desperately digs up evidence to back up his hypothesis, no matter how improbable.

On the internet, I’ve seen plenty of this kind of thing.  Unlike Dr. Fetzer, however, these netizens don’t have their personal reputation and profession on the line when wild claims are thrown out there, so they are rarely backed up with sources or evidence.  Some have even visited me here in the Chamber, and recently I’ve even been accused of being involved in a conspiracy (of sorts). 

So, in the spirit of (and as a tribute to) all the Mr. Conspiracies out there in cyberspace, I hereby unveil the sixth Chamber emblem:

conspiracy.gif

This icon is awarded whenever a poorly-sourced accusation or claim of a wild conspiratorial nature is made here in the Chamber. 

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Introducing: Chamber Emblems

January 8, 2008

I’ve always been a big fan of avatars.  I consider them an easy way to clearly identify who’s posting what on a message board, and something that allows one to be unique and creative.  When it comes to blogs, we’re beginning to see more and more of them using avatars for the same reason.  Wherever I can, whenever I can, I’ll use the same one, as a matter of consistency and recognizability across the blogosphere.  Many of the sites that require registration will allow you to upload an image to be used as an avatar, and still others are compatible with Gravatar (including the Chamber).  Needless to say, I think that it’s pretty cool to see the purple throwing star all over the place.

Sadly, however, I’d say that the majority of netizens that cruise the blogs haven’t embraced this concept. All too often, Chamber visitors are left with the familiar and annoyingly generic  beside their posts.  Sometimes I just want to say “Get a damn avatar already!”  In fact, I was actually frustrated enough to so some research and see if there was a way to replace the  with something more interesting and Chamber-specific.  Alas, I discovered that there isn’t much I could do that doesn’t include manually entering the avatar in for each comment.  I can’t force people to take a few minutes and set themselves up.

However…

The whole process of researching this got me thinking.  Maybe these little frustrations can spawn great ideas?  Perhaps I could use (or abuse, as it turns out) Gravatar and gmail to use the little icons a little more interactively?  After a little shootout with Tex (pardon the pun) in one of the previous threads, it finally dawned on me.  Chamber emblems!

The idea I’m running with here basically involves my selective use of avatars to assign Chamber commentors in certain situations.  Depending on the comment, they could be used as either “gold stars” or “demerits”.  Or, I could use them as some sort of Chamber Scarlett letter.  Now, this is still a work in progress, but here are a few examples:

 Straw Man–  Assigned to commentors who insist on laying out some crappy straw man argument.

 Ad Hominem– It’s been an unwritten (originally written) rule that the use of an Ad hominem argument was a concession of defeat here in the Chamber.  Hence, the white flag.

 Wonder Palm (aka Buddha Palm)  I often use kung fu metaphors around here, and anyone who has seen the movie Iron Monkey (video) could tell you that a well-placed strike with Wonder Palm will leave an opponent whimpering back home in humiliating defeat (not to mention sporting a fresh palm print on their body).  If kung fu was a metaphor for debate, well, I think you can figure it out (although I was leaning toward using the icon to acknowledge the giver of the blow, instead of the recipient).  In other words, this would be a good avatar to have by your comment.

I’m still working on more, and I’m certainly open to suggestions/ideas on this, so consider this an open thread for that purpose.  Or, if you think I’ve gone off the deep end, you can tell me that instead.  No big deal.

In the meantime, I’m going to test the feature here with a few comments…

Update:  I almost forgot.  I’ve going to have a table in the sidebar with the list of emblems, complete with page links to descriptions for each one (like a key).  The beta table is there now.

Update:  Here is the current table of emblems, as found in the sidebar:

Chamber Emblems
Straw Man
Ad Hominem
Wonder Palm
PING!
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