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Thursday, September 17, 2009

No More Spam!

So I've eliminated the spam problem with a Wordpress upgrade!

It was quite an experience to get the upgrade done,  I've never done any website administration and it turned into a two day project.

My first step was to download the newest version of Wordpress but I had no idea how to get it onto my site.  I read some web tutorials about FTP servers and uploading to them.  In my mind an FTP server was some server that you loaded your stuff onto and then you somehow transferred it tor your site.  It took me quite a while to figure out that FTP is basically just another way to log into your site that requires a username and password and such and from there with the help of a Firefox plugin I just needed to drag and drop my files.

After I uploaded the new Wordpress I found out that I had 1600 spam comments.  I guess the Russians are really into following my minor life events and seeing what I'm reading.  There were so may spam comments that my browser refused to load the comment screen.  Unfortunately Wordpress doesn't have a delete comments button on the main administration page, you have to load the comments to delete them.  Of course there is another solution which is to load up your Wordpress database and go to town deleting them old school style in SQL.  I found this tutorial on how to proceed.

So of course at 2 AM with nothing better to do I decided to go to town and take on SQL database editing.  The first thing I had to learn was how to access the mysql program.  That was quite an adventure in clicking links all over my hosting sites administration page.  I finally found it in what turns out to be an intuitive location and launched the program.  I had to create a password to get in but as soon as I loaded it up it was pretty easy going from there.  That part of the experience reminded me of my days in community college computer class where one of the modules was on creating and querying databases, something I thought I'd never use and I guess still haven't since I didn't use the query function, I just deleted all the spam comments manually.

So now I'm set, or wait maybe not.  I go to check out my nice new spam free site but I'm getting an error, cannot connect to database.  No problem, it's probably just an issue with me not closing the mySQL program or something so I go play a game of Warcraft III while I wait for it to close on it's own.  After the game ends, two games actually Warcraft III is like the chips that you can't have just one of, I check again and it's still down.  I then try logging into mySQL and logging off and then logging off my admin login but no luck.   So off to another tear through Google and Bing to find the solution.

The first two search pages are full of stories about this same error and about 80 percent of them are about Wordpress.  All the forum answers say it's a hosting issue and to contact your hosting company.  I was a bit suspicious though because so many of them were issues specifically with Wordpress and because I'd just been of course modifying my site.  On the third page I found a helpful post finally that said that the config file needs to have your SQL database password correct for Wordpress to connect.  Ah HA!  Hadn't I changed that password when I logged into the database?  Sure enough that was the problem, after a couple of false starts where I typed an extra apostrophe around the password it's working again, spam free.

To eliminate future spam I've taken the temporary measure of adding a registration requirement for spam prevention, if you want to comment just use the Facebook link in the about me page, I'll have a more permanent solution soon which I'm sure will be another learning adventure like either a captcha login or a question and answer plugin.  I've seen those but it's 5 AM and I'm not up for any more installing right now.  I really do see how programmers pull all nighters now though.  It's fascinating to start a project and I just want to see it all done, if I didn't have a job I have to go to I could spend three days tweaking my blog with barely a few hours of sleep.

If any of you need help installing Wordpress or upgrading an old version  let me know!  I'm a half expert by now.

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Hey I appreciate you leaving your thoughts behind! Be well my friend.