Lesson Learned: Don’t Publish Comments You Can’t Understand…

I can’t understand what you’re saying…
Photo copyright Tanya Hill, 2009

I’ve been pretty inactive on this blog for a couple of weeks, since I’ve been back in Washington State taking care of some business. When my wife Tanya and I flew in, we brought just one laptop with us – my trusty MacBook Pro.

Tanya – who’s a prolific photographer as well as an artist – has been putting in long hours learning and using Adobe Lightroom 2, after I downloaded trial versions of both it and Apple’s Aperture photo software. Lightroom won the initial evaluation hands-down, and we’ll buy a copy when the “30-day free evaluation period” runs out. I’ll write more about that in a later post.

Anyway, that means I haven’t had much free computer time to write new posts. So I’ve contented myself with reading mail and news a couple of times a day, and monitoring blog comments.

I suppose I should have known better. When a Japanese-language comment came in, I merely scanned the first mail notification and Published it. However, when a second Japanese comment came in a day or two later, I began to get wary. How did I know what these comments said?

So I ran the first one through Google translator. I’ve seen lots of “Google translator howlers” on the Web, so I wasn’t disappointed when the translation yielded English which was unintelligible.

However, it’s a fairly safe bet that any comment containing the phrase “I am a runaway girl” probably doesn’t have much to do with The Future of Reading 🙂

So I deleted the comment. The second one also made no sense in Google translation, but was clearly about potential commercial relationships involving women, businessmen and hotels. So I deleted it without publishing it.

Conclusion: There’s a new kind of spammer in town, and I need a new rule. “If you can’t read it, don’t publish it…

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4 thoughts on “Lesson Learned: Don’t Publish Comments You Can’t Understand…

  1. Anonymous

    Working as a professional translator, I sometimes encounter people who question my career choice, telling me I will be obsolete within a decade or two – using Google Translate and other machine translation tools as an example.Makes me laugh and sometimes cry, when people don't realize how complex language is, and also how they are satisfied with only "sort of" understanding something – not longing or striving for a well-written, well-edited text.

    Reply
  2. Bill Hill

    Yes, I completely agree with you.Of course, these are the same people who told us 20 years ago that human thinking would be obsolete and artificial intelligence would rule the world.(They're still saying it, and they're still wrong).Language is rich, complex, full of idioms and nuances. And it changes constantly, despite efforts to stop it doing so (e.g. some well-intentioned but often misguided efforts in France).When someone shows me the computer which could have written Shakespeare's works from scratch, then I'll believe machines can understand language.When no-one speaks or writes Japanese, Korean or Arabic any more, and the whole world speaks only the drivel of Twitterese and "Text 4U", then I'll believe…It was a fine career choice…

    Reply
  3. dan

    Bill, that wasn't one of my Japanese forwards was it? watashi wa sugoku chimpoon kampoon demo moshi wake imashseno, dare ka? I don't think it was watashi, but i do remember sending you one nihongo translation about reading and computer screens. Domo domo, I mean, sorry sorry. if that was moi.

    Reply

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