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I'd like to plead with people to register here. Benefits of registration include, well, being able to leave comments here, as well as at any other Drupal site that enables distributed authentication (which means that if you're registered with any other Drupal site, you'll be able to use that username and password to login here*). You'll also be able to edit your comments. You'll have a signature at the end of your posts and comments, in which you can put any information you want, including a link to your weblog. You'll have the option to use an avatar too if you like. Also, if I decide to take a hiatus, it would be really easy for me to set registered users up as guest bloggers.

If you're on a computer you use often, you can just get your browser to save your login information so that you can login with one click. It might seem like too much trouble, but it's really not that bad, I promise! If you go ahead and register now, you can just login every time you come to the site and post as many comments as you like. This way you don't have to wait until there's a post you really want to comment on to register.

* Let's say you're registered at Kairosnews, which is another Drupal site. If you want to login here, you'd type in "YourKairosnewsUsername@kairosnews.org" and your Kairosnews password. If you're registered at Kairosnews or at any other Drupal site, you don't have to register here at all.

Where did I go?

You might be wondering why my blog was down all day yesterday and part of today. Well, that would be because thousands and thousands of spam comments hit my blog at once, taking down the server at Open Source Host. For several days beforehand, I'd been watching phpMyAdmin and running these commands:

DELETE FROM `comments` WHERE `subject` = 'insert spam subject here'

which would delete ~2000 comments at a time (and I did this more than once a day). Finally it was too much for the server to handle. After much discussion with Charlie about possible options, I agree that the only solution, at least for the time being, is not to allow anonymous comments. This means if you want to comment, you'll have to register here. I've got comments turned off completely now, and I'll wait a few days before turning them back on.

I've been adamant for a long time that it's best not to put up any perceived barriers to communication on my blog. People don't want to register on sites and login, even though I have to point out that logging in isn't any more trouble than leaving one's name, email, and URL every time one leaves a comment. I know that after I make this change, my number of comments will be drastically reduced. People who are just cruising by, who don't plan on commenting here long-term and don't want to make the commitment of registering with the site, won't leave comments anymore. People who comment here regularly but who don't want to register won't leave comments anymore. I worry that my blog will become more broadcast, more one-to-many. I don't want it to be that way, but it seems the alternative is no blog at all, unless I want to use a different software tool, which I don't.

UPDATE: More at Cyberdash and Dr. B.'s.

Unconnected thoughts and gestures outward

I'm trying to get back into the flow of work and shake this out-of-sorts feeling I'm experiencing. Last night I got back from a far-too-short trip, a place and a person it always twists and bends my heart to leave. My prospectus defense is Wednesday afternoon, 1:00-3:00, and I'm anxious about that. I have writing deadlines looming and grading to do this weekend.

But enough about all that. The most important thing in this post is this link to a recent presentation by Samantha Blackmon, David Blakesley, and Charlie Lowe titled "Teaching Writing, Collaboration, and Engagement in Global Contexts: The Drupal Alternative to Proprietary Courseware." You should all read their slides immediately; they've really done a great roundup of problems with hegemonic course management software like WebCT and Blackboard, and they've done an even better job spelling out most of Drupal's features. When I try to talk to people about Drupal, I find myself not even knowing where to start. I guess what I need to do is rank my two or three favorite things about it, or, rather, two or three salient differences between Drupal and the major course management applications.

I got a brief mention in my college's newsletter (I'm under "People.").

Are Sam and I the only ones who will be knitting at CCCC? It makes no difference to me whether those in attendance knit or not; I just want to have a lively group there. Email Sam or me if you'd like to find out the time and place.

Speaking of knitting, you can get in touch with Betty Burian Kirk if you'd like to have a knitted item made of your dog's fur. (Via Marginal Revolution.)

I hate it when people confuse the words "reign" and "rein." I wish Brendan would devote one of his Writing Pedantry posts to this problem.

Blog Post Online Readers, CC Licensed

There's a good discussion on Kairosnews about free, collaboratively authored, online, Creative Commons-licensed, open-access composition textbooks. As you might guess, I like the idea, but the planning and execution are going to be very tricky if a group actually gets together and does this thing. But as I was writing my comment, it occurred to me how easy it would be to assemble an online reader for a first-year composition course. There's so much writing talent in the blogosphere, and many bloggers have Creative Commons licenses. I might just do it: Find great, essay-style posts that model qualities of good writing style and argumentation, group them into themes, and copy them into my course site. I could use Drupal's collaborative book module. I'm excited! I'm already thinking of posts I might want to use, like for a unit on the war, I'm thinking of Mike's post titled The Photos and Jeanne's And in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink: A scattered and contradictory post on responsibility and Abu Ghraib (To be sure, Jeanne doesn't have a CC license, but maybe she'd give permission for her work to be reproduced for educational, noncommercial purposes.). I'm also thinking of Jeanne's recent post titled Democrats, Aristocrats, and the Torturer's Assistants.

Such a reader could be assembled for any class; I'm thinking too of an intro to Gender Studies class. I might use something along the lines of Dr. Crazy's "Why Women's Studies Sucks" series (Part I and Part II, and hat tip to Jonathan for those), and the responses from The Little Professor and others. Ummmm, yeah, my argument would be stronger if these blogs actually had CC licenses, I know (heh), but again, they might allow their work to be used for this purpose. If not, there are many with CC licenses who have excellent work on their blogs, like Rad Geek, Lauren, and many more. The more I think about this idea, the more I like it. Reduced cost to students, more freedom for the instructor to design the course around themes, and more opportunity for the students to be an active audience, conversing with the authors of the work if the students also blog, or even if they don't, as most bloggers have an email address displayed.

Problems with Trackback

I have to disable trackbacks for the time being due to too much $p4/\/\. Gah. More later. They haven't been deleted, just made unavailable for the moment.

Public Speaking Course Web Site

I'm teaching Oral Presentations in Professional Settings this semester and, while I'm in favor of having students post to course weblogs in most courses, I make an exception for speech courses. Requiring students to blog in a course focused so strongly on oral communication feels superfluous, like it's more for me than the students.* I am, however, using Drupal as a content management system for course materials this semester. I'm envisioning the course site primarily as a space for me to make announcements, provide online resources, and post notes from class (although the students are more than welcome to post if they like). Notice my list of links in the left sidebar; if there are any you think I should add, please let me know.

* That's really because I haven't thought of a good way to make blogging an integral part of the course. If you have ideas on how to do it in a speech course, I'd love to hear them!

Testing Taxonomy Access

This post should be private, available only to admin privileges since it is tagged with the "private" category in the access vocab.

The category permissions are set here:


Now with avatars

I have now enabled avatars for comments, if you'd like to start using one.

Also, does anyone know how to keep Drupal from automatically sending trackbacks every time you link to someone's blog? It's a little embarrassing! It happens whether you link to an individual post or to the main page (in which case it just sends a trackback to the first post, I think).

UPDATE: I've also changed the comment settings to allow you to leave your email address and/or URL without having to register, so now it's more like MT and WP.

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