Updated on 01.27.10

The Simple Dollar Weekly Roundup: Comment Bug Edition

Trent Hamm

Earlier this week, I found an issue with the software I was using to manage comments for The Simple Dollar. I deleted a single character in a single line of code, breathed in deep, refreshed the page…

… and 7,000 (!) comments appeared in the moderation queue.

The bug was a simple one. Ordinarily, comments that need to be moderated are assigned a particular number in the database – let’s say it’s a 1. If I approve the comment, the number becomes 0. If I don’t approve it, the comment gets the number 99 and effectively vanishes.

The bug essentially revolved around the fact that some comments for moderation were being assigned the number -1 instead of the number 1. In a code edit, a – sign had been stuck into the code in front of a 1, effectively turning it into a -1. Thus, when I would view the comments that need moderated, I would only see the ones with a 1 and not see the ones with a -1. I’m not sure what percentage of comments this was affecting, but I’d estimate around 25% of them.

Anyway, I’ve got a lot of comments to deal with. I’m going to go through these in batches because it would take several days of nothing but comment moderation to deal with that many comments.

Here are some personal finance articles of interest. This past week, I spent a lot of time reading some lesser-known personal finance blogs and I’ve chose to highlight some of them this week.

Recipe for Survival: 23 Ways Restaurants Save Money This article summarizes very clearly why I don’t like eating out unless we’re eating out someplace quite nice. I simply have much more confidence in the food I cook at home. (@ coupon sherpa)

I don’t want to retire I think the biggest problem for many of us when it comes to talking about retirement savings is that we simply don’t want to “retire,” because often the word “retire” comes with a sense of being old and idle and incapable, whether that’s actually true or not. We don’t want to think about being the generic definition of a retiree. (@ a gai shan life)

When Pigs Fly: How I Fought My Parking Ticket and Beat City Hall A very humorous story about fighting a parking ticket with some good advice to boot, this article mostly made me wonder whether or not it was really worth the time. I think it’s more about the principle of the thing. (@ len penzo)

10 Frugal Ways to get Fit this Winter My frugal way of staying fit during the winter has been EA Active. (@ squawk fox)

Also, I’ve had several articles of mine appear on OPEN Forum, and I’ll be linking to them over the next few weeks. These articles usually focus on small business issues. Here are three recent ones.

Efficient Billing: A Big Key to Solving Cash Flow Problems Being organized when you’re running a small business is key, particularly when it comes to efficiently billing your customers. Here’s some advice on how to do that.

Six Steps to Audit-Proofing Your Small Business The most effective way to audit-proof yourself? Keep a paper trail of every dime going in and out of your business. Here are some effective ways to do just that.

Two Key Numbers You Need to Know to Manage Your Small Business These two key numbers come back to two key elements of a successful small business: cash in hand and effective billing. It’s all about the cash flow, after all.

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  1. lurker carl says:

    What a job, best of luck slogging through all those comments. Isn’t modern technology wonderful? Can’t live with it and can’t live without it!

  2. Shannon says:

    “These articles usually focus on Here are three recent ones.” ?

    Trent, is it so hard to proofread articles before you publish them?

  3. Johanna says:

    “I think the biggest problem for many of us when it comes to talking about retirement savings is that we simply don’t want to “retire,” because often the word “retire” comes with a sense of being old and idle and incapable, whether that’s actually true or not. We don’t want to think about being the generic definition of a retiree.”

    That would almost have made sense if you hadn’t included “old.” You’re saying, basically, that you don’t want to think about getting old, and therefore you don’t want to prepare for it.

    (I’d love to get old, by the way. It’s better than the alternative.)

    Watching my parents enjoying their retirement (they’re both 63 now, and they’ve been retired since they were 58) has only confirmed my feeling that I want to retire someday, preferably before I hit 60. They divide their time between my childhood home and a cabin overlooking a river in Maine. On nice days they go kayaking on the river (which is tremendously good exercise, and which makes them a whole lot less idle and incapable than I am). My mom volunteers at a botanical garden, and my dad builds model trains. They travel frequently – they just got back from a week in Florida, and they’re going to South America next month.

    And the thing is, neither of them had *such* a high-paying career. My dad was a civil engineer, and my mom was a high school teacher (and she took ten years off from her career to raise my brother and me). This is what’s possible in a lifetime of being sensible with money. I find them an inspiration.

  4. DanL says:

    Aren’t you using some sort of blogging prepackaged setup like WordPress or Drupal or something?

  5. Crystal says:

    Whoo-hoo…I’ve been posting comments for the past 3 months that have stayed in “moderation” status. Let’s see if this gets through. :-)

    That retirement article is proof that we all see things differently. When I think “retire”, I think financial independence, travel, and volunteer work. When my husband thinks of “retirement”, he thinks of travel, lounging around with his video games, and continuing to officiate high school sports. We love the idea of retirement and look forward to growing older together. Every day alive is a small success, right? :-)

  6. Johanna says:

    And about the comments: Why not just delete them all? Most of them are probably on posts where the discussion has pretty much dried up. And speaking just for myself, I’ve long since assumed that the one or two of them that (I’m guessing) are mine would never see the light of day anyway, so it wouldn’t bother me in the least if you just trashed them and got on with the blogging.

  7. Shevy says:

    7,000! Wow.

    This isn’t going to represent 25% of all your comments presumably. This problem only happened to comments that had been *sent to moderation*, right?

    That means comments with links and first time commenters mostly, or people who usually comment from one computer and are using a different one this time.

    Johanna is a very frequent commenter, so it may not matter to her if you just delete her comments that were stuck in limbo. First time commenters, on the other hand, probably ended up with a bad feeling when they tried to say something and it never appeared. They’d probably appreciate it showing up, even long after the fact. Besides, new people read through Trent’s archives all the time and they’ll benefit from seeing these comments.

    On a related topic, I’ve had a Facebook friend request pending since I joined FB (Shevys Misc) and you’ve never confirmed me. Do you devote much time to Facebook these days or not?

  8. Kai says:

    Thanks for letting us know what happened with the comments. I too had some sit in moderation hell for long enough to just give up, but it’s nice to know there was an actual problem that won’t be happening anymore.

  9. Squawkfox says:

    Hopefully my comment makes it through!:D I just wanted to thank you for the mention Trent.

  10. Rachel says:

    If you haven’t already, it’s worth your money to get EA Sports Active More Workouts. Much better than the original in terms of bugs in the software and I find the workout to be more fun and effective.

  11. Len Penzo says:

    If you ever get a parking ticket give me a call, Trent. I’ll take your case pro bono – er, assuming I don’t get arrested for practicing law without a license. ;-)

    Thanks for including me in your round-up!


    Len Penzo dot Com

  12. sjw says:

    As a first time commenter, I never got out of moderation the 3-4 times I tried. I finally gave up until the mention of the issue. It did put me off the blog somewhat, though I continued to read, I always wondered why my comments hadn’t been approved.

  13. Trent Hamm Trent says:

    Johanna: old is not a number.

  14. Pam says:

    I knew I should have sent an email to you about my comments not showing up! The last attempt I made was in December. Glad to see you found the bug.

  15. nicole says:

    6,900 of those (give or take) belong to me– don’t delete them!

  16. Revanche says:

    One of my commenters made a very good point about retirees being busier than ever.

    Thank you for the mention!

  17. Janis says:

    Johanna said: (I’d love to get old, by the way. It’s better than the alternative.)

    Precisely, Johanna! I’m always saying this to folks who tell me how much they hate having birthdays.

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