In the meantime, to ameliorate the situation, I was fortunate enough to be able to get some help from fellow blogger and friend Matt Jacobs, who is something of a Movable Type jockey (Matt is employed by my friends at Apperceptive, who are responsible for some of the most ambitious Movable Type projects anywhere). I’m all thumbs when it comes to working on the server side of the equation, so it was great to have Matt help me make some critical changes to my set-up that, hopefully, will result in some speed gains.
Comments are the linchpin, of course, and most of the work he did focused on reigning in the regular assault of junk comments fired at Movable Type every day and that in turn bog the system down. Matt deleted the thousands of comments held up in Movable Type’s junk pile and optimized the MySQL database powering it, which hopefully cleared out enough cruft to help the system run a little faster.
He also installed BlogJanitor, a plug-in that can automatically close comments on posts of a specific age. So, as of now, posts older than thirty-days will be shut down to new comments. For those of you who go on holiday for longer than thirty days at a time and miss out on your chance to add remarks, you have my sympathies.
Finally, Matt recommended TinyTuring, a plug-in that requires a CAPTCHA-like validation before comments can be posted. It’s as simple a test as you can ask for: just manually enter the randomly selected character specified by the one-line instruction that appears at just before the “Submit” button. You can see that in action now at the bottom of this page. I was reluctant to add further complexity to my comments form, but I’m desperate enough to stamp out comment spam that I’m willing to give it a try.
The Need for Server Speed
Hopefully with these changes, you’ll notice some meaningful improvement in comment speed. I admit though that none of these efforts are likely to help this site break any records for responsiveness. That’s because I suspect, when it comes down to it, the biggest speed culprit is the server itself; these sites are served by Dreamhost, and are therefore undernourished in terms of processing power. One day, I’ll move everything over to a dedicated box, one day…