Spam filtration

Regular commenters may have noticed that a disturbingly large percentage of their comments have been held as spam. This issue should now be resolved. For the information of other Akismet/MT users, the problem was that our spam filter assigned a score of +1 if one’s URL had been previously published, and likewise if one’s required e-mail address had been. With the introduction of Akismet, which we can heartily recommend, a problem developed.

Specifically, the spam filter averages the score across all tests, so a genuine comment might have the +6 from Akismet and +1 from each of the other tests. Hence, an average of +2.67 – unfortunately, the threshold value is +3. This would not have been so much of a problem, had it not been that the filter disregards negative tests before averaging. Therefore, commenters with no track record who passed Akismet would get the full +6 points as their final score, but regulars, although getting a total of +8, would be averaged to +2.67

I have now increased the score for previous publishing, and we haven’t yet had a false positive.

Google news without Belgian news

The Belgian court of Justice has ordered Google News to remove all feeds of Belgian newspapers and journalists. This news was broken by Chilling Effects:

…to withdraw the articles, photographs and graphic representations of Belgian publishers of the French – and German-speaking daily press, represented by the plaintiff, from all their sites (Google News and “cache” Google or any other name within 10 days of the notification of the intervening order, under penalty of a daily fine of 1,000,000.- € per day of delay;

The original court order, in French and dating from September 5th, can be found here (pdf). Google News seems to be charged with violating laws concerning copyright (publishing of headlines and first paragraphs) and databases (publishing cached articles after they have been retired by editors). If I understand the Belgian and Dutch press correctly, the court order concerns only publications in French and German as Dutch-language publishers have already had their headlines removed from Google News. It is possible that publishers will use this court order to negotiate, in which case Google News could eventually be forced to share its advertising revenues with the respective publishers.

Birthday child

Today marks the first anniversary of A Few Euros More*. While I don’t think it’s reached its full potential, it turned into a pretty good blog, and I think it was well worth the effort.

*You might have noticed that the archives go back much longer. Quicklinks, a sidebar semi-blog, was hardly the same blog as afem however.

Ceuta’s place in history

Brian Ulrich writes a brief history of Ceuta.

What’s more, Ceuta has historically been a gateway to Europe rather than one to Africa. As noted above, the city was difficult to take, but even after it was taken, the mountains surrounding it meant that you couldn’t easily advance into the Moroccan interior. However, many invasions of the Iberian Peninsula and reinforcements of Muslim positions there were launched from its harbor. In fact, one could take this “gateway” pattern even up to the present, where desperate African economic migrants try to use it as a stepping-stone to continental Europe.

Via Coming Anarchy

My latest harebrained idea

A Few Euros More is not quite on hiatus, but clearly on the backburner right now. I thought I’d use this opportunity to do a little experiment. Anyone who feels like it is invited to post on AFEM this week. Just drop me a line at editors at and I will give you access to the blog. Yes, you heard me, anyone who asks gets to post, until we tire of you.

Secret Sources

Germany’s Agency for Civic Education (Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung/bpb, Germany) now publishes a nice, daily, free round-up of the European press. It’s by no means comprehensive, and thank goodness or it would be impossibly long, but I like the eclectic selection of papers and topics. Today brought items from Czech, Austrian, Francophone Swiss, German, Francophone Belgian, Spanish, Italian, Irish, Latvian, Polish, Cypriot and French papers. Nifty. Plus it’s available in English, French and German.

The bpb is doing it in cooperation with Perlentaucher Medien GmbH (Berlin) and Courrier International (Paris). More details at Eurotopics.