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Astrokitty... oh hai!
Astrokitty, plagued by one of his admiring fans...
My last go at Ask Me Anything is here: whereupon I did indeed answer mani questions, with hardly any Special Møøse Effects. My number is up again today!

I am one of six developers on our tech team (yes, we've grown!). It's a great group to work with, which is good, because while we're not all in the same city, we are communicating all day every day as we work on our little section of the day's tasks. It's been exciting to be able to incorporate new people into our group and to get the chance to learn from their experiences and share skills.

I was the project manager for DK 4 and did a great deal of the coding for it; currently I have the rather amorphous title of "Systems Specialist." Whatever that means, what I do here is a combination of looking after the database and optimizing data queries, pulling out usage statistics, building out administration & management tools, assorted other coding and feature development, testing everything everyone else builds, and covering the help desk. The helpdesk task feeds directly back to the administration tools; I'm doing my best to write more systems to make that a smaller job. The testing feeds helpdesk ... as the person who receives all your cards and letters, I'm the person most motivated to ensure that we don't release bugs and that any error messages make sense, and to try to develop FAQs that can answer questions without me. But most of my days are spent writing and developing code.

We are making good progress in our port of the main pages of the site (like the front page and story pages) over to Ruby on Rails. Last time I wrote, we were looking forward to deploying the new signup pages. Now, those changes are up and true to our hopes, they are already streamlining both bogus spam signups and helpdesk inquiries.

luncheon loaf - for those times when Spam ™ is too upscale.
luncheon loaf - for those times when
Spam ™ is too upscale.
The new signup process eliminated the waiting periods to comment or diary. This had three major impacts. One was that although we had a lot fewer spam signup accounts, we had far more spam postings. The second was that we had far more—not just as a percentage but in an absolute count—far more legitimate users sign up for accounts. The third was that our daily count of users making their very first comment on the site increased significantly also. I haven't run the math for the real statistics but I'd say by about a factor of three. Most of them are real people commenting in good faith - and we hope they'll come to appreciate our community here.

However, the influx of actual spam comments, which shifted the annoyance from the locked garage out back to the front lawn, was a definite downside. We had good countermeasures in place that would get spammers banned in minutes, but the problem was the robots can post very, very fast, and there was clearly a human tuning them against some of our defenses. Some of you have noticed that our new despaminate3000 has been deployed against the spam comments with excellent success. Not only is he nabbing spammers immediately after the first spam comment, but he's also able to hide spammy comments immediately. We have some more work to do there, but at the moment he's been so effective that the comment attacks have stopped. I'm glad about that and I'm glad that the community doesn't need to spend quite so much effort helping us to counter them by hiding those comments.

My bio, like all the other staff bios, is on the masthead.

So, ask away.

Sign at Point Arena, California, recycling dropoff:
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