Just to tease you all even more, here’s some screenshots of MT-Blacklist 2.0 RC6, which was released to the beta test team yesterday. I’ll also guide you through the new features. Click on the screenshots to view them full size.
We’ll start at the main menu, which is reachable from the MT Main Menu via a new link at the bottom of the list of weblogs (this is an MT3.x-only feature). The latest news items from the Comment Spam Clearinghouse are shown in the box (this can be disabled), and then some statistics about how many attempts have been blocked or moderated is shown.
The Add Item screen has changed as you can now add three types of items. Strings are what you are familiar with from MTB1.x. URL patterns are strings that occur in URLs – the difference is important because if I added ‘sausages’ as a string to block, then any comment containing ‘sausages’ would be blocked. But putting it as an URL pattern would only block it if a URL was posted with ‘sausages’ in it. Advanced is for entering Regular Expressions – these are now discouraged as they require increased processing time over strings and URL patterns.
You can now choose whether to block or moderate comments that match strings or URL patterns. Block is good for blocking specific URLs, but let’s say you wanted to keep out Blogspot spam – you could add blogspot.com and set it to ‘moderate’, so rather than blocking any comments with Blogspot URLs outright they will merely require approval through MT’s built-in moderation system (again, this is a MT3.x feature). Unfortunately, trackback pings cannot be moderated.
List items, unsurprisingly, lists the items in the blacklist. Unlike before, you can filter the list, and it’s possible to choose what columns to slow. Also, rather than displaying the whole blacklist like before, it can be chunked to show, say, 100 entries at a time. If your blacklist is like mine, which has nearly 4000 entries on it, then this is a useful feature.
The Plugin setup screen has the ‘master switch’ which enables/disables MT-B, as well as options like Blacklist Groups which let you have different settings for different weblogs. You can also allow other users on the MT installation to be administrators, which allows them to configure MT-B.
Onto the main configuration screen. This lets you choose whether to scan comments, trackback pings, or both, and whether you want the blacklist to update automatically with the master blacklist. This is new – before, you’d need external scripts to do automated updates.
Although Six Apart improved the comment notification emails in MT3.x, you can choose to enable the more powerful email notifications offered by MT-B, which allow for quicker despamming. You can also configure who receives these emails – normally they’re just sent to the author of the post, but that author may not be allowed to despam the blog so they can be sent to the blog’s admins too.
As before, you can customise the error message shown when a comment is blocked, as well as give TypeKey users a ‘free pass’ – if a user posts with a TypeKey identity, their comments won’t be checked over and will be posted immediately. There is also a useful ‘block duplicate comments’ option, which previously required hacking the MT source code to implement.
Finally there are a couple of ‘auto-moderation’ options. If a comment has more than a specified number of URLs in it, or is posted to an entry that is more than a specified number of days old, then it will be moderated rather than posted straight away. Comment spammers tend to hit older entries and often post lots of URLs in a comment, so this is a way of stopping them if they are not already dealt with by the blacklist entries.
The import screen lets you import entries from a MT-B 1.x blacklist (old blacklists are not imported automatically). This is good for seeding your blacklist to start with but you shouldn’t need to use this that often now that automatic updates are implemented.
And finally, the blacklist log, which is now separate from MT’s Activity Log, and logs every new addition, as well as whenever a comment is moderated or blocked. Like the Activity Log, it can be reset.
The despam screen, although separate from the main interface, is also worth a look. As well as letting you delete comments and add any found URL fragments to your blacklist, it can also report the items to the Comment Spam Clearinghouse automatically. This is instead of forwarding the notification emails as at present.
That concludes the tour. Jay posted some screenshots of RC2 last month if you want to compare the two releases.