Movable Type Works to Block Blog Spam

Six Apart, proprietor of LiveJournal, is releasing a beta version of its publishing software, with features tailored to the increasing enterprise use of collaborative blogging.

With a focus on adding administrative control and spam-fighting features, the maker of Movable Type is updating the popular Weblog-publishing software.

Six Apart Ltd., which also runs the TypePad and Live Journal blogging services, posted a beta release of Movable Type 3.2 late on Wednesday and expects to introduce a general release by the end of the month, company officials said.

With the new version, the startup company partly hopes to address the increase in blogging among enterprise and organizational users, said Anil Dash, vice president of Six Aparts professional network.

The company also is trying to thwart a rising menace—the rise of spammers filling blog comment sections and stuffing trackbacks with unwanted and irrelevant comments and links.

Six Aparts fine-tuning of administrative features may come none too soon, as major software competitors are beginning to unfurl blog tools.

IBM earlier this week launched a preview of a blog-publishing tool and detailed plans to add a blogging component to its upcoming Workplace Designer 2.5 release.

/zimages/6/28571.gifRead more here about IBMs plans to release enterprise blogging tools.

But Dash said that the upcoming Movable Type update puts the software steps ahead of current and potential competitors when it comes to providing features for IT and blog administrators.

"Were maybe halfway to where wed like to be," he said of the enterprise-focused features. "The next key phase is going to be integration."

With Movable Type 3.2, Six Apart has added a centralized administration view called System Overview, which administrators can use to track activity across hundreds or thousands of blogs and manage feedback and trackbacks across all the blogs, Dash said.

Administrators also can create specific blog templates and styles that will be applied to new blogs.

In releases later this year, Six Apart plans to address integration, so that Movable Type will work in conjunction with enterprise search, directory services and portal software, Dash said.

On the spam-fighting front, Movable Type 3.2 includes a feedback-scoring mechanism for comments and trackback links that works similarly to e-mail spam filters like Spam Assassin, Dash said.

/zimages/6/28571.gifClick here to read more about a previous Movable Type patch released to address blog spam.

Based on the scoring, comments and trackbacks that appear to be irrelevant are sent into a junk folder, where bloggers can view them and decide whether to adjust the filtering.

"This is a fundamental feature for people using blogs to reach an outside audience," Dash said.

The new Movable Type release also simplifies the process for turning on Six Aparts comment authentication service, called TypeKey.

One of Movable Types top competitors, the widely used open-source blog tool WordPress, already boasts a series of spam-fighting tools, according to its lead developer, Matthew Mullenweg.

Mullenweg said in an e-mail interview that WordPress previously had added features not only for moderating comments but for using blacklists to block spam. Plug-ins also have added Bayesian filtering to comments, he said.

"Since the release of 1.5, every WordPress blog is basically a black hole for spammers, because nothing actually shows up on the site unless the blogger manually approves it," Mullenweg said of the February release. "At the same time, it doesnt slow down the conversation among site regulars or frequent commenters."

/zimages/6/28571.gifCheck out eWEEK.coms for more on IM and other collaboration technologies.