Commenting problems on this site

I have had several reports from people who have had issues trying to leave comments on this site and it concerns me greatly. Conor made six attempts to leave a comment this afternoon (fair dues to his persistence)

I initially thought it had to do with the number of comments in my Akismet queue but I have been deleting that regularly recently.

Some commenters have speculated that it is due to a lack of memory on my hosting company’s server.

The managing director of my hosting company responded to that comment saying that:

A lot of the plugins and anti-spam measures can slow down comments etc, considerably, as each and every request not only involves several SQL queries but a number of DNS lookups and other processes.

That’s all well and good but the only anti-spam plugin I have on the site is the default Akismet plugin which ships with WordPress so it isn’t that.

Anyone any ideas where the problem might lie? WordPress (I recently upgraded to 2.0.5)? My hosting company? Somewhere else?

If you have problems commenting here, please email me at

24 thoughts on “Commenting problems on this site”

  1. Yup,

    I turned off as many of the options connected with commenting as possible to see if I could make the problem go away.

    Unfortunately the problem has persisted – hence my wondering about WordPress itself or the server the site is on.

  2. I thought it somewhat ironic that you were giving out about the operation of somebody else’s commenting (can’t find the post now) when you’re own seemed a bit flakey to me. I don’t know why it’s being caused but I can only hazzard a guess that it’s the time lag in polling the akismet servers…but that may unfair on the akismet guys and may reflect on my lack of understanding of exactly how it works as I’ve never used it myself. Perhaps it operates something along the lines of a no-wait-ping – just showing the comment to the person making the comment until it gets the answer back from akismet. Yo no sé.

  3. Adam – I didn’t misquote Michele – I copied and pasted what he said.

    Roger – I’m not sure that it is Akismet causing the problem. Akismet is the default anti-spam plugin for WordPress. If it was the problem commenting would be broken on far more sites surely.

    Bernie – that surprises me. I had no idea that comment previews could cause firewall issues for people. I turned off the previews on this site about a week ago when troubleshooting this problem.

  4. MacManX emailed me the following comment which he failed to leave after several attempts:
    How many undesired comments is Akismet catching on an average daily basis? If it’s more than 100, you may want to install Bad Behavior to lighten the load on Akismet and WordPress’ commenting system.

    Also, if you are using Akismet, you should keep your comment moderation list and blacklist clear for optimum efficiency.

  5. MacManX,

    thanks for persisting (and eventually emailing me) with your comment.

    I had problems in the past with Bad Behaviour so I am slow to try this again.

    I have cleared the moderation and blacklists, as suggested.

    Also, I have updated Akismet to the latest 1.2.1 and optimized my MySQL database using phpadmin as you suggested via email.

  6. My Border Manager problem is something at my end related to session time-outs. It seems the website sends a different session ID than the comment preview pane and when that happens all commenting subject to previews may fall over.

  7. One thing I saw yesterday was that the long post refused to “commit” but the one liner I posted complaining about the problem went in instantly. I don’t know if that helps.

    It worked fine this morning. Nothing worse than an intermittent problem!

  8. Tom, I thought it was pretty clear that I was saying you were taking Michele out of context: He said plugins AND anti-spam measures were probably the problem, and you immediately focussed on anti-spam measures. As I’ve explained to you, the number of plugins you run is most certainly a contributory factor. Not possibly or maybe, certainly.

  9. I thought it was pretty clear that I was saying you were taking Michele out of context

    Ah, I understand now Adam. I didn’t get that from your last comment, sorry.

    On the plugin front< i don't actually have that many plugins enabled on this blog. I maintain several other client blogs which would have more plugins than this one and which have no commenting issues.

  10. Fair enough Tom, I thought you said you had more on this than the CIX blog. It really is very odd though, I just tried posting this comment and it timed out to a blank page. It’s very hit and miss, I’m wondering is there some kind of networking problem somewhere.

  11. I don’t know if you’re doing it right now, but if you’re not, you should think about installing a caching plugin to lighten server load. After all, the more and finer-grained caching you do, the fewer hits you make on the DB. A good caching plugin will also add the proper HTTP headers to allow HTTP caching to work properly. The only downside of this is that you might not see quite so many hits as the load will have been distributed across the various caching proxies dotted around the world, but it will make your site automagically more responsive.

  12. As an alternative to Keith’s suggestion, you might want to activate WordPress’ object cache by adding define('ENABLE_CACHE', true); after the define WPLANG; line in wp-config.php.

    Either way, a blog as popular as this one should have some sort of cache running.

  13. Now here’s a weird lead for you.

    Every time I tried to post the comment that I eventually emailed to you, I used “James” as my name. I also used “James” the first time I attempted to post the comment above. On the second try, I used “James (aka MacManX)”, and the comment went through.

    I don’t recall ever using “James” to comment here before, but I have frequently used “James (aka MacManX)”. So, maybe the name has something to do with it, though I don’t see how that could make a difference under WordPress’ commenting system.

  14. James,

    I have implemented the cache’ing as you suggested (thanks Keith for the suggestion as well!).

    The name thing is just bizarre. My moderation and blacklists are empty so it can’t be anything there.

    Any chance that’s just a coincidence?

  15. Possibly that weird Javascript thing you use for comments? People may simply have Javascript disabled; have you checked that it degrades gracefully?

  16. Arzt – the only plugin I have for commenting is the default Akismet plugin which ships with WordPress. I turned on caching, as suggested by Keith and James in the comments above and I’m hoping that will help.

    Rob – the Javascript/Ajax commenting has been switched off.

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