Tuesday May 23, 2006

Automatic Weblog Posting

I produce two weekly memes (writing prompts): ...in other words... (a quote prompt) and Word Beads. Both are updated automated by background tasks.

I wanted people who play to be able to leave comments or links to their weblogs. When I started the memes, I installed a guestbook application to handle comments. Unfortunately, the guestbook was attracting far too many spammers! So I looked around for an alternative.

Implementation Plan #1

My initial thought was to install a different guestbook, specifically one that uses a CAPTCHA to try to thwart spamming. Unfortunately, the CAPTCHA capability relies on a few PHP modules that a) are not configured by default and b) don't seem to want to work for me no matter what I try. So, for the time being, I've given up on the guestbook. Sigh.

Implementation Plan #2

When the guestbook program didn't work, I decided instead to use a dedicated weblog to post the current "game" and capture comments. (Well. Duh. :-) However, in order to support the weblog format, I needed a way to post the weekly prompts automatically. An important part of producing these memes, for me, is that they are generated and updated automatically.

I did a little research and found some promising code snippets. I improved on those until I had a script that did the job. Then I improved on that some more to allow control from a configuration file. (I use the same configuration file I've been using for my automated weblog notification script.) Note that the current posting script is very simple — it handles a title and body and uses the default weblog category.

If you're interested, the scripts are online, linked from my sample code page. If you want to post to a TypePad or Movable Type weblog and you want to specify the category, you should also read Jay Allen's discussion of how to do that.

Automatic Weblog Posting ( in category Trivial Pursuits , WebTech ) - posted at Tue, 23 May, 00:53 Pacific | «e»