Earlier this morning, the number of spam comments Akismet has snagged on my WordPress account (since December 2008) passed three million; last I looked, the score was 3,002,256. On these milestone occasions I reflect some on the blogging experience.
Archive for the ‘This blogging life’ Category
I’ve written occasionally about my linguistics dreams; typically, I have an unshakeable dream (it keeps coming back during the night) about some point of linguistic analysis that seems very urgent because it’s such a breakthrough; or a dream about some name that haunts me; or a dream about a term that cries out for analysis. On waking, the point of linguistic analysis turns out to make no sense at all; the name is of a real person, but no one of significance to me; and the term is of interest, but it’s not news to me. Yesterday, it was the last, and the term was the very formal philoprogenitive (‘having many offspring’ or ‘showing love for one’s offspring’ — NOAD2).
I rushed to my computer to search for the word — and found there a posting by me on this blog: “Our philoprogenitive congressmen” of 4/7/12. Many sighs.
Our forgetful scholars.
My postings on this blog range over a number of topics, and they also take a number of forms. Many of them are relatively short responses to things I’ve overheard, examples I’ve come across in my reading, or linguistic phenomena in the comics. Often light in tone, but with serious linguistic content. What to call this sort of posting?
The New Yorker used to call similar columns casuals; now they appear as items in the “Talk of the Town” section of the magazine. Another label recently came to my attention: the feuilleton. Not entirely perfect, but close. In any case, that would make me a feuilletonist.
Several recent changes in the Pages (as opposed to the Posts) on this blog: another publication (in .pdf format) that somehow got missed in earlier collections; and a revision of the Pages to include a section on XWriting, links to X-rated material of several kinds.
While I was sleeping, the tally of spam comments reported by Akismet for this blog passed two million; at the moment, it seems to be 2,000,736. Obvious trash is filtered out automatically, without my even seeing it. But every day there are requests from Akismet for me to moderate comments, most of which I’d characterize as non-obvious trash, some of them fairly clever attempts to get me (and my readers) to link to a url that usually turns out to be a commercial site of one sort or another. Recently, many of these come from sites in Germany, I don’t know why.
Some of them are content-free congratulations on the marvels of my site. I have to look at congratulatory comments fairly carefully when they come from people I don’t recognize: a few of them mention specific content from one of my postings and have no commercial link, so they get a pass.
Others masquerade as requests for technical help of some kind.
And then there are the “advice” comments, designed to get a rise out of me: they report that there are a lot of misspellings (not specified) in my postings; or complain about some posting that I provided only “visuals” (images), when I should have posted more text; or complain about some posting that I provided only text, when “visuals” were necessary. Sigh.
Andras Kornai wrote me on Tuesday to comment on a prominent pattern he’d seen in online clickbaiting, exemplified by:
You Won’t Believe What This Cop Did When The Cameras WEREN’T Rolling. WOW!
Man Attempts To Hug a Wild Lion. What Happens Next Stunned Me
He’s collected hundreds of similar examples and wondered whether others had noticed the pattern (many have in fact been annoyed by it) and whether it had gotten a name (not so far as I know). In this particular schema, the “hook” is an expression of astonishment or surprise, which can be expressed in a number of ways, referring to the reader (“you won’t believe”, “you’ll be amazed”) or to the presumed writer (“… stunned me”, “I couldn’t believe”), in a variety of syntactic constructions. As a temporary expedient, I’ll refer to this as the SURPRISE! clickbait scheme.
The scheme is “semi-formulaic”, in a way that’s reminiscent of the precursors to snowclones (see “The natural history of snowclones”, here): a culturally significant idea is given a number of formulations; one version achieves special status (in a formula); and then this formula serves as a template for new expressions. The SURPRISE! scheme hasn’t yet crystallized as a formula, but it’s nevertheless recognizable by its form(s) and functions.
A moment out from posting more or less serious things to note this entertaining comment, which was snagged by my WordPress spam filter and turned up at the top of the queue (so I noticed it):
[N N fountain pens] On hearing this Anna sat down hurriedly, and [N N] hid her face in her fan. Alexei Alexandrovich saw that she was weeping, and could not contro [N N Fountain Pens] l her tears, nor even the sobs that were shaking her bosom. Alexei Alexandrovich stood so as to screen her, giving her time to recover herself…
A brief digression with Alexei Alexandrovich Karenin and Anna Karenina. And their damn N N fountain pens.
On AZBlog, three developments: still more spam comments; revisions of Pages; and the “About (academic)” main Page as the descendant of my old Stanford webpage.
Several correspondents have written to compliment me on the content and organization of the “About (academic)” page on my website (here). One went so far as to refer to the goldilocksian mean — not too small, not too big, and (though this isn’t in the Goldilocks fairy tale) “everything easily discoverable”.
These nice comments inspired me to spend yesterday adding to the “Handouts for conference papers” section of the page, adding links to handouts from four Stanford Semantics Festivals.
And then there’s the nice derivational formation goldilocksian ‘just right’, a useful (and, given that you know the fairy tale, easily comprehensible) innovative adjective, moderately frequent (on the order of 6k ghits, dupes removed) but not in the OED.
Self-aware cartoon characters come up here every so often — most recently, in a Scenes From a Multiverse strip (#2 here). Today’s Zippy brings us to self-aware diners:
With this posting, we reach a milestone: this is the 4000th posting in this blog. No wonder I have trouble remembering what I’ve posted on here!