meyerweb.com

Skip to: site navigation/presentation
Skip to: Thoughts From Eric

Archive: February 2007

Wanted: Akismet Warning Plugin

Okay, with my WordPress install mostly stabilized (I even fixed the archive paging!), I have a LazyWeb request for all you WP hackers.  What I want is very simple:  a WP 2.x plugin that notifies a commenter when their comment has been condemned to the Akismet queue.  I’ve had a few legitimate comments suffer that fate, and I imagine there have been more I never saw, so it’s something I’d really like to have (and something I think other people would also find useful).

At the most basic level, all I really want is for the plugin to die() with a message telling the commenter that their comment has been Akismetted and that they should contact the site administrator about it if they’re legitimate.  If instead of dying it gave that message upon returning them to the post on which they commented, the way “Your message is awaiting moderation” works, that would be extra-cool.  Either way, it obviously only fires if the comment has been marked spam.

I’m guessing this is a pretty simple plugin to write.  I did attempt to write it myself, but was spectacularly unsuccessful in the attempt.  The really frustrating part is that I think I got close to making it work, but, in the end, failed badly.  Then I asked for plugin help on IRC, but nobody noticed.  So I’m throwing the request out to the audience here to see what y’all can do.  Thanks to anyone who can help!

Update 5 Feb 07: Mark Jaquith has come through with Antispam Collateral Condolences, a plugin that does exactly what I requested.  It can put up the warning either as a JavaScript alert box, or a message embedded in the page upon returning them to the post on which they commented.  Totally, completely awesome.  You rock, Mark!

I’d Like To Thank The Academy…

Among all the other stuff this past week, I let something slip off the radar: an interview with me over at the Lunartics blog.  The interview was conducted via e-mail by Amy Armitage, who I briefly met last year at the Webmaster Jam Session in Dallas.  It’s not your usual “why is CSS important” kind of interview; Amy likes to keep things fun while still covering serious questions.  It’s definitely worth a read.

It also scoops news of a development I’ve never gotten around to mentioning: in October 2006, I was inducted as a member of the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences.  It’s a pretty incredible honor, given that it’s an invitation-only body of 500 members including “David Bowie, Virgin Group founder Richard Branson, Internet inventor and Google Chief Internet Evangelist Vinton Cerf, ‘Simpsons’ creator Matt Groening, Real Networks CEO Rob Glaser, and fashion designer Max Azria”.  The fact that my name appears on the same list as those people is jaw-dropping enough.  To me, it wasn’t the most stunning part by a long mile.

I’ll admit, though I’d heard of The Webbys, I assumed the IADAS was one of those name-collector groups, like those “Who’s Who in America” books where you pay to be listed.  Instead, I found that the IADAS levies no membership fees, and I was deeply surprised and pleased to discover that they invite people based on their actual qualifications.  How do I know?  Because my welcoming letter didn’t praise my web design work.  Instead, it cited my “dedication to promoting Web standards”, my “international recognition on the topics of HTML and CSS”, and proclaims that I’ve “helped inform excellence and efficiency on the Web”.

Yes, the text string “HTML and CSS” was actually in the letter.

It’s a little difficult to express how important this recognition is to me.  See, most of the time, I’m introduced and perceived as an influential web designer, which is frankly insulting to actual web designers everywhere.  If you aren’t reading this post via RSS, look around.  Does this look like influential web design?  Hell no.  At best, we can call meyerweb’s design minimalist and maybe—maybe—possessed of a certain elegance.  And it only took me five years and ripping off ideas from Khoi Vinh to get here!

But I’ve never claimed to be a designer.  I think the perception that I am one arises because I get linked to from people who really are designers.  I’ve always claimed to be a communicator.  I’m someone who’s done his best to explain, promote, and advance the technologies that let designers do their work.  I’ve invested tons of time and effort into making good web design easier without sacrificing clean and semantic markup.  I wouldn’t say that work is done by any stretch, but there’s been a lot of progress.  Sometimes I forget just how much.

And so, to be invited to join the IADAS not for what I’m usually thought to be, but actually for who I am—it’s an indescribable feeling.  A fantastically good one, certainly!  But not one I could describe no matter how many words I threw at the problem.

It’s a delicious irony, and I do so love my irony:  my powers of communication fail me when I wish to express my feelings over being honored for my communicating, over all those years, my love of the web and my passion for getting it right and the inner workings of how to make that happen.

But I can at least say this:

Thank you.  Thank you for coming to read my posts, for reading my books and articles, for listening to me speak.  Thank you for being the other end of the conversation.  Thank you for being open to what I have to say, and for responding with your insights and perspectives, all of which have changed me in untold ways.  Thank you for making everything I’ve done and said and written about the web worth far more than what I put into it.

Thank you for making this honor possible.

Fixing My WordPress Install

Okay, so my “Whole Magilla” feeds—both full-content and summary—are working again, and the main archive page actually shows content.  The problem in both cases, as I mentioned in my previous post, was that WordPress’ code was throwing 404 responses.  In the case of the archive page, it would literally put up a 404 page generated by WordPress, instead of list the most recent posts.  For the Magilla feeds, the RSS files were being served up, but with HTTP 404 headers.  In feed readers that respected HTTP headers, like Firefox or NetNewsWire (and probably most others), that meant the feeds were broken.  Other feeds, such as the tech-only feed, were unbroken, but of course the most popular feeds are the Magilla feeds.

In the end, a post from Alex King showed me the way to a “fix”.  I put that word in quotes because this is really more of a hack.  No, actually, it’s just gross, but it works.  In order to get WP to stop throwing inappropriate 404s, I commented out lines 35 through 135 of classes.php in the WordPress core.  Here’s the beginning and end of the block I commented out:

if (! empty($rewrite)) {
   // If we match a rewrite rule, this will be cleared.
   $error = '404';

[...a ton of redacted lines...]

      $this->did_permalink = false;
   }
}

There you go: with one hundred lines of code commented out, my feeds and archive page work again.  This is not a good idea, but it’s all I could figure out to do.  Obviously, having modified a core file, I’m taking a chance that this won’t cause other problems.  So far I haven’t seen any, but you never know.  I’m also making upgrades much harder on myself, given that the new core file won’t have my modifications.

Similarly, I commented out the mod_rewrite.c block WP added to the end of my .htaccess file, so that I can use my own rewrites and not invoke WP’s rewriting.  With every upgrade, I’ll have to check that file to make sure the block didn’t get added back.

I’m mostly posting this as a reference for anyone who might run into similar problems with their WP 2.x installation.  It’s my hope that a future version of WP will offer some kind of hook or option that will let me easily disable WP’s rewriting and error handling code, since I already have a web server that’s configured to do those things for me.  I don’t mind if it’s a hook that I can address via a plugin as opposed to an option in the preferences, but I’d like to have it.  It would make WP a little more attractive to power users as well, since they’d know that they could do their own rewriting and error handling without having to fight with WP’s internals.

February 2007
SMTWTFS
January March
 123
45678910
11121314151617
18192021222324
25262728  

Archives

Feeds

Extras