Not again

No comments had appeared for a couple of days, at least. And not even spam. That always makes me suspicious. Sure enough, the settings for “users must be registered and logged in to comment” and “administrator must always approve a new comment” were checked again. I did not check them.

So, even with the changing of passwords, upgrading to new Word Press, and stripping out of some suspicious code, something is still amiss.

Comment problems again?

I should know that when even the spammers stop “commenting,” as they did sometime last week, something is wrong.

I just checked the Word Press settings and found that the box that says that one must be “registered and logged in” in order to comment was checked. I did not check it.

How can a setting check itself? The answer, the previous of several times this had happened, seemed to be a hacker. I changed my password and made other fixes (with help of some of this blog’s greatest supporters). And yet this has happened again.

As of the moment, all recent posts should be open for comments. Older ones are still automatically shut down. I hope to insert some code in the near future that will automatically re-open them.

As always, thanks to my readers for their support and patience as we work out the bugs.

Bugs can be the downfall of any orchard, including the virtual kind.


I am in the process of updating Word Press, which powers this blog.

Some features may be disabled for a bit.

Update (to the update): The new version of Word Press is installed, but at the moment you need a direct link to get to any post other than this one. This process may not be complete today, but please be patient.

Further update:
It seems things are back in order. (Thanks, Steven!) There remain various other things to be done before the virtual orchard is completely back in business.

Blog navigation

Espen sends this note, which may be of use to folks trying to get around the latest spontaneous combustion of the virtual orchard:

To access comments, chop off the last bit of gibberish which as of now is included in the links. It seems all posts have gotten new addresses, namely date, title, and something like the following:


This needs to be taken off to get to a post. Of course, most of them will say that the “soil has been over-planted”, including the latest update on comments (Blog problem update). Also, now leads directly to that last post.

Again, I have no idea why these things are happening; I have not tinkered with settings or installed any new plug-ins.

Thanks, Espen, for the note.

The setting that checks itself

Suddenly the comments stopped.

Turns out that in the Word Press “settings,” the option, “Users must be registered and logged in to comment” was checked.

Now, I know I never checked this setting. So I guess it checked itself.

It is now unchecked. Of course, what its status might be tomorrow is anyone’s guess..


It looks like Word Press is playing a trick on us. The comment forms are shut. I have no idea why. It was not anything the Head Orchardist did.

In the meantime, I have opened a few manually. But I can’t exactly go an open them all that way.

As always, WP advice is welcome in comments here–assuming the form stays open.

Blog problem update

FURTHER UPDATE: It looks as if the standard links are working again, as of Friday mid-afternoon (Pacific time zone in the USA). It wasn’t anything I did, that’s for sure. So, if it can fix itself, it could just as easily break itself again…

It seems that links within F&V work so long as “/blog” is in the URL, but not without it. Up to now, URLs have worked with or without “/blog”.

URLs for navigating around the blog do not routinely have /blog in them, but adding them gets you to the desired page–including the comment form.

For instance, if you wanted to comment on the recent entry on Afghanistan’s elections, the default for the comment form is This will not work. But the following modified URL will open up the comment form:

It might be slow and inconvenient, but it works.

Advice for anyone who is able to read this…


F&V rises again!

We had an outage lasting 18 hours or so, caused by some problem at the host.

Once things were up and running again, I finally replaced the finca photo in the banner. I figured it was about time I stopped having what is now someone else’s house on my blog.

Preparing the Ground to Plant

I thought I would write a quick intro post before doing some planting here in the orchard.

My name is Steven Taylor and I am an Associate Professor ((until 8/1. at which point the “Associate” part goes away.)) of Political Science at Troy University. I blog over at PoliBlog on whatever strikes my fancy (mostly electoral politics and democracy). ((Matthew actual guest-blogged over at PoliBlog right before starting F&V.))

I am the author of Voting Amid Violence: Electoral Democracy in Colombia and am currently working on a project with Matthew and two other co-authors on the US in comparative democratic perspective.

I have known Matthew since I was an undergraduate at UCI and Matthew had just finished his doctorate. I shall not detail exactly how many years ago that was.

BTW, it strikes me as odd (and hopefully not an omen) that I am starting this on April Fool’s Day…

Programming note for 2010

There will be a few changes around here. First of all, I am about to hand over the keys to the potting shed to several propagators. That is, there will be others aside from me who will be allowed to post.

I will let them introduce themselves on their own terms.

This decision is prompted largely by the fact that I will be away from the San Diego area for an extended period this year. I have been awarded a Lady Davis Foundation Fellowship to be a Visiting Professor at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem. In addition to this extended gig, I will be traveling in the U.K. and Germany, in connection with my NSF-funded research on Party Personnel Strategies. I also plan to make a “side trip” to Estonia to give a seminar in Rein Taagepera‘s Logical Models Program at the University of Tartu.

During my absence, from early April till some time in August, I do not plan to be blogging much (if at all). Moreover, as my extended time off-line in December and early January showed, moving and settling into a new house and finca can be time-consuming, on top of one’s regular responsibilities.

Starting the multiple-planters model well before going on sabbatical will allow me to continue contributing with the new team and to assess how things are going, before heading off.

At some point in the coming weeks, I hope to adjust the template just a bit to make the blog appear a bit less as a personal website, which it still will be, but obviously to a lesser extent.

2.9 coming soon?

It looks as if Word Press will be releasing version 2.9 soon. So I will hold off for now updating the blogging software.

I may yet shut down comments until the update is installed, to ward off spammers. But for now I am leaving them open. Bulk-deletion is annoying, but not all that difficult, as long as the filter keeps holding the spam in moderation rather than letting even a small percentage of it to sprout in the orchard (as had been the case till yesterday when I adjusted some settings).

Comment approval

To deal with the increasing spam–yes, it has gotten worse since I noted it the other day–I have temporarily enabled a function that will not allow a first-time commenter to comment without my approval.

If you have had an approved comment here before, it should work as always.* If you are trying to comment for the first time, your comment will go into a queue. Please do not re-post; I will get to it when I can. And, I will warn you that I may accidentally delete a legitimate comment, as I am getting 100 or more comments in the moderation queue a day. Sometimes I just bulk-delete them, but I will try to be careful and look for any that should be cleared and allowed to post.

I am hoping this measure is one I can suspend before too long, once I get the new Word Press installed, or a better spam-protection plug-in.

* And I hope that spam that the filter has let through, but I have subsequently marked as spam or simply deleted, does not count as an “approved comment.” This is a test.

Under attack

This site has been subjected to a rather massive spam attack overnight.

You may have seen some of the unwanted comments, but believe me, you saw a fraction. I did not count, but there may have been a hundred or more that the spam filter did intercept, but I still had to manually delete them because they were in moderation, rather than in the spam queue (where all can be deleted with one click).

I believe I accidentally dumped some legitimate comments in my haste to get through them all. I apologize if you were the victim of my hasty deletion. Feel free to re-post a deleted (non-spam) comment if you still have a draft.

I have had a message in my “dashboard” for months about a new version of Word Press being available. (In fact, in the time I have delayed updating, an even newer version has become available.) I have not had the time; and the site is sufficiently complex that updating is not straightforward (at least for someone of my limited website skills).

If these attacks continue, I may have to shut down comments temporarily until I can get the time to address the matter. Or I may at least have to shut down all older comment forms–older plantings, and a few specific ones, are more likely to get attacked by these pests. I would really hate to do that, because one of the things that really makes this blog work is the ability and willingness of readers to re-propagate an old planting when there is some new development.

Hang in there, loyal F&V visitors.

F&V is green!

Of course, that subject line is no surprise at all. Ladera Frutal proudly grows its fruits only with natural methods, the house has a solar water heater, and our green leanings when it comes to votes are well advertised. But, thanks to the virtual orchard’s host, we are greener still. I received the following from PowWeb:

Dear Matthew,

Looking to bring green practices to the Web? Good news: by hosting with us, you already have.

How We Went Green
Since we’re not able to generate wind power onsite, we offset our energy use by purchasing Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs).

The energy grid must maintain a full supply of power without overflowing. When wind power is added to the grid through RECs, the amount of energy produced by fossil fuels is reduced.

As a result, our offices and data centers are 100% powered by renewable energy, which means your site is completely green.

Our commitment prevents the release of 2,660 metric tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere each year. That’s equivalent to planting nearly 2,390 acres of trees, or removing 510 cars from the road.

Read more about our efforts »

Comment issues–again

It seems as if the most recent posts (plantings) are allowing comments, but older ones are shut down. I have no idea why this might be happening; rest assured that I have not gone back and shut down the comment form at older posts. In fact, one of the things that really makes this blog “work” is that I have readers who will remember an older dicussion, be aware of something new that is relevant to it, and go back and comment. At the moment, that feature appears unavailable.

I have selectively corrected the comment closure on a few older items that I know have some recurring interest, but obviously I need a universal, not a particularistic, solution.

One solution might be to upgrade the version of Word Press, which is not the latest by any means. But I need a bit more time (and a lot more patience) than I have right now to do that. So, things will be slightly less functional for a bit. I am sorry for that.

In the meantime, and for as long as this post remains available for comments, if an issue comes up that you want to comment on, just let me know here and I will re-open the older post. (Or just post here as if it were an “open thread”; not an institution I normally favor, but can accept under the circumstances.)

And thanks, as always, for reading. And commenting. When you can.