I've decided to give up on my blog's commenting system

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I have had this blog for almost 20 years, long before social media like Youtube, Facebook and Twitter existed. For a long time, my comment system was the only way I could get feedback on what I was painting and writing. And over the years you have posted 13,007 messages on 978 posts on my blog. Thank you very much!

Unfortunately, the amount of spam, attacks and hateful comments has also increased. For years I protected the humble commenting system of my PluXML blog system with honeypots, home-made captchas and services like Akismet. I also spent a lot of time moderating, but it started to ruin the little time I had offline during holidays, conferences and book signings.

My blog comment system was open to everyone, without login, and it soon became a place loved by haters. It also became a secondary destination for all the profiles I blocked on social media. 2023 was the first year I had to make a report to the police for the many death threats I received.

But I persevered: and before I gave up completely, I looked for solutions and spent more time coding them. I spent days connecting my blog to my Mastodon posts using the API and coding better protection. But then I realised that my Mastodon instance was flushing all comments older than a month [1]... Also, all my "better protections" were easy to bypass for anyone who knew a bit about VPN and the Tor browser.

So I've finally come to the point where I've decided to give up on my blog's commenting system and shut it down. And it is a very hard pill to swallow.

That doesn't mean I don't need your feedback anymore... I do!

It is simply impossible in 2023 and with the number of visitors I now have to host and manage a comment system myself. I'm sad about that.

I spent most of last week archiving all your comments, and you'll find a link to view them in the footer of my old articles. I updated my CMS, the plugins, I updated my custom code, I updated the server to a new distro and newer libraries.

My blog is ready for the next few years and I'm going to keep it up. New articles, new artworks, new brushes, new tutorials, new episodes of Pepper&Carrot: I'm sure we'll find new places to discuss about it.

I'm also going to accept the ephemeral nature of social media. I've seen so many platforms rise and die, with thousands of comments disappearing each time... I hate this data loss and I would like to archive all of our interactions somewhere.

Unfortunately, on my little piece of the internet, I can no longer create this ideal. I'll miss all the feedback just below the installation guides, which were useful for troubleshooting other configurations. I'll miss the pages of reactions to the latest episode of Pepper&Carrot. I'll miss the little words of wisdom from the regular users of the comments section.

Thanks again for all of that.

[1] This is not a policy of my Mastodon instance, just a bug that happened on the server and happened to be 30 days ago. That's why I assumed the server had a 30-day flush policy. It doesn't. This made me want to take another look at this solution in the next blog-post.