The Spam is Outta Control

WordPress, the platform I use for this blog, has a pretty good spam catcher. I know it’s pretty good, because every morning when I check my dashboard it tells me it caught x number of spam comments.

But it’s having a tough time keeping up with the barrage of spam that’s been hitting me lately. Monday, it caught almost 200 spam comments. This morning, another 79.

The problem is, with that many comments barraging the blog, some spam is bound to get through. So after deleting the dozens of comments WordPress managed to catch, I have to go back and delete the ones that got through, one by one.

Most often, the readers of this blog won’t even be aware of the spam that got through the gates, because the spammers pick ancient posts to spam — from two or three years ago, or even older than that.

This morning, they got to a post from just last week. I cleared it off, but also deleted a legitimate comment by a reader who responded to the spam. I hope I didn’t offend him by doing so.

I don’t know of a way around the problem. I’ll keep deleting the junk that gets through, and remain grateful that WordPress is as good as it is at catching most of the malefactors.

The Disappearing Bike Blogs

I’m guessing that most readers of Bike Noob make a stop here along with several other bike blogs. I know I have about a dozen I check out on a regular basis. But one thing I’ve noticed lately is that some of the blogs I’ve been visiting have disappeared.

In some cases, the blogger notes that he or she is ending the blog. The reasons are similar: the blogger has run out of new things to write about, the enjoyment of blogging has faded, or maybe the interest is no longer there.

In other cases, the blog is simply abandoned. After a lapse of months, it’s apparent there will be no more posts on the blog. Reluctantly, I delete it from my blogroll or my RSS feed. I’ll try to find another to take its place. One thing about bike blogs — there are plenty around.

The challenge for bloggers is to come up with topics to write about. I once read that everything about biking has already been written. It’s quite easy to find out basic information about biking. Books, back magazines, online searches. The more successful blogs are able to mine a narrow topic area. They might stick with descriptions of rides, for example, or a particular style of bike. The best ones have developed their own personality over time — a personality that clicks with readers and keeps them coming back. The ones that don’t have a focus are the ones that fold eventually.

I can understand the problem. Writer’s block is something I’ve always had to deal with. I keep a file of post ideas, but often run through them quickly, and have to start over again.

Bike Noob isn’t going away any time soon, even though I seem to be in one of my periodic low productivity cycles. But readers here gravitate to posts about basic equipment, rides, or improving riding ability. In the meantime, I’ll do my best to come up with topics to write about, and always be learning something new.

My Favorite Posts of 2012

I got a kick out of looking back at 2012 on this blog, and learning what you found to be the most interesting posts of the year. As I’ve noted in the past, sometimes what my readers find to be interesting, and what I find to be interesting are two different things.

So I’m going to build on the last post, by taking a little time to spotlight my favorite posts on Bike Noob in 2012. These aren’t ranked according to page views, as the ones in the last post were — instead, they’re just some writings that I thought characterized the kind of bike rider I am, and what my cycling interests are.

And yes, my account of the Hotter ‘n Hell Hundred was right up there among my favorites — but since it was one of your favorites, too, I won’t go into that again.

But one thing I learned from riding the Hotter ‘n Hell — I’m not one for the long distances. Just a couple days later, I threw cold water on my century accomplishment by writing, I’m Through With Centuries. Apparently, a lot of you share that sentiment.

But a lot of you think the long distances are worth shooting for. In that case, taking a cue from the randonneurs might be something to consider. So You’re Interested in Randonneuring? got a lot of traffic, and even though I’m not planning on riding any brevets, the information available on rando sites is applicable to most any kind of cycling.

Although I’m no randonneur, the occasional longer ride still appeals to me, and I decided to celebrate my birthday by Riding My Age. Being joined in the effort by a Bike Noob reader made the day that much more enjoyable.

The nerve I touched when writing about “Car Back” — noted in the last post — prompted me to follow up by trying to make sense out of that piece of legalese in most transportation codes: Riding as far to the right as “practicable.” As Far Right As Practicable stirred up some discussion about just how far right we should be. Always good to remind ourselves of the rule.

And then there was the inspirational. A team of disabled Spanish cyclists shooting for the Olympics were featured in a documentary called “The Unstoppables.” It’s easy for us to get caught up in building mileage, building speed, riding in bad weather, and all the challenges and difficulties associated with that. I put some clips from the doc in a post, and suggested the Next Time You’re Down About Biking, Watch This. Their efforts to fully fund the documentary continue.

As the year winds down, my biking appears to be doing the same. I thought I’d ride a lot during the Christmas break, but it’s been four days since I last got out. Maybe Friday…but I’m looking at the light drizzle we have now, and I want to make sure it’s all gone in the morning.