Reporting Ads

Several changes have been made to how reports on ads are handled. In one direction, in order for an ad to be removed, the website not only needs to see that multiple people are reporting it, but that they agree on WHY it should be reported. In general this will make it more difficult for ads to be removed.

On the other hand, if an account DOES have ads removed, and if it is having the ads removed for a consistent reason, then even ads that have not been flagged will be pulled from the site. Thus while it is harder for anyone ad to be removed, it is now possible that removal of several ads will cause the removal of a number of related ads.

The report ad button is in the lower right of the ads. Paid ads are exempt from reporting.

In order to make things as simple as possible, I’ve removed the ‘spammer’ option from the report ad button. This makes it less likely that I’ll get a mix of “not relevant to category” and “ad is spam on 4+ categories” reports, and thus more likely that the ad will actually be pulled. Since a spam ads are going to get pulled from the site after a couple of them are pulled, I think this ends up working out in the end.

I’ve also combined the “rude / offensive” report label with “inappropriate / not family friendly” option. The same concept is at play there, since they were similar concepts, I didn’t want to avoid pulling an offensive ad because the reports against it were split between two different labels.

As side note, there is also an option for reporting an ad as “marked as sold”. Reporting the ad in this way DOES NOT HARM the poster of the ad. It provides feedback that the ad is completed and can be removed, but does not count against the person posting the ad in any way.

Thanks,
Chris

Paid Ads

Again I extend my apologies to those of you inconvenienced by the classifieds rejecting paid ads earlier this morning. The problem seems corrected now.

What had happened is yesterday we had a scammer manage to post a bulldog ad as a paid ad, using a stolen credit card no doubt. I had gone into the subroutine to fix the bug that allowed them to get their ad through. In the process I managed to introduce another bug that started rejecting legitimate ads.
Thanks,
Chris

Paid Ads

Many paid ads are being rejected right now. I believe it is because of a bug I introduced into our code base yesterday. I expect to have the problem fixed before lunch time today, and will post an update here when I have done so. My apologies to those of you inconvenienced by this problem.
Thanks,
Chris

Image Uploads

Today we made an upgrade to the image upload portion of the website. Most people won’t notice, however certain types of jpegs and bitmaps will now upload correctly.

In completely unrelated news, Kid Rock’s new CD, “Born Free” was released today. I haven’t heard a single track from it, so I don’t have a review of it. I just know that it exists.
Thanks,
Chris

Election Day

Tomorrow, Nov 2, is election day.

In the last few days weeks there have been a lot of google AdSense ads purchased for political purposes. Because google ads make up a good portion of what keeps this site alive day by day, we have been running those google ads. It was brought to my attention that a fair number of them being run on the Pennswoods.net Classifieds were anti-Toomey. The closer I looked, the more it appears to me that they are at least in part targeting key words like ‘gun’, ‘rifle’, etc. It doesn’t surprise me, given that Sestak has the full backing of the Brady Campaign, and is rated F by the NRA (information from the wikipedia page for Sestak), that Sestak isn’t running pro-Sestak ads on those keywords. It would be wasted advertising dollars. Instead his campaign targets those key words with a negative campaign. Incidentally Toomey has an A rating from both the NRA and the GOA.

I offered to run some free pro-Toomey banner ads on behalf of the individual who brought this to my attention, but he declined to take me up on the offer.


My apologies to anyone who has been offended by the google advertising. It is a free market, google sells its advertising to the highest bidder. Of course google also tends to donate large sums to the democrats. That page is five years old, but go to google (or your favorite search engine) and search for “google political contributions” for more current bits.

For those looking for motivation to go out and vote, check out this article on Pajamas Media by Victor Davis Hanson, or stop by Gun Voters.


Regardless of your political leanings, please plan on voting tomorrow. The most certain way for all of us to lose is to allow a tiny percentage of voters to make the decision for all of America.

Thanks,
Chris

Google Maps

When I was in Bradford on July 21 I promised I’d add a link to the ads for google maps. It slipped my mind until Leo reminded me recently. It is now available, in the lower left right below where the city / state is listed for the ad. This does not give the location of the item, but the center of the zip code where the item was listed.
Thanks,
Chris

Ad Scoring Update

I’ve modified the way ads are scored. You’ll no longer be penalized for ads placed in the wrong category, etc. This is consistent with the way such ratings are normally used. Most people are more interested in knowing if the seller is a decent risk for purchases, rather than whether they can put their ads in the right category. The over all effect should be slightly higher, but more meaningful scores.

Having (free) ads removed for being in the wrong category will still trigger an automatic lockout on posting new ads. As always paid ads are not subject to the automated controls, and are removed only after review by a human (typically myself).

Normally I post notices of new updates to the PWC here, but I thought it might interest a few people to see a bit of the higher level thinking that goes into it. Twitter has recently changed their login / authentication mechanism. They formally did something called basic authentication, which means just a username+password like so many sites use, as well as something called OAuth, which essentially allows someone to log into one website (Twitter) and have other sites and programs know of the login via exchanging “secret keys” which are essentially short term login passwords that only the computers know.

The advantage of the OAuth method is that only Twitter handles your password, and someone writing a Twitter program (for the iPhone or a PC for example) doesn’t need to ask for your Twitter password in order to post your tweets to Twitter.

Unfortunately in this case there is a bug in the implementation. The secret keys need to be short lived for this to work, as they get handed back and forth by the computers, and can be captured by crafty hackers. This is why you don’t want to hand the password back and forth, but you need to change those secret keys frequently and silently so that if a hacker does capture them, they quickly become useless to the hacker. Twitter doesn’t do this.

Instead Twitter takes the approach that they will disable any given secret key when they discover it has been leaked, and let the author of the software using it worry about getting a new one from them. This works our rather badly in the case of iPhone applications, as it can take weeks or longer to get the iTunes store to approve even small changes in your software. Essentally this gives hackers the ability to break an iPhone Twitter app relatively easily. Desktop clients are less susceptible, because they can be updated much more frequently.

More information can be read here: ars technica.

Even small changes can have significant security implications which need to be considered carefully, and a big part of my job is to be watchful, and do everything possible to provide a secure site.

Chris

Amazon Payments

We are able to accept Amazon Payments once again. The same options you would use to pay on Amazon.com are now available to use for purchasing Pennswoods.ne tClassified ad upgrades. For those who are not fans of the Ebay/PayPal conglomerate, I am happy to be able to offer another form of payment.

Monday evening and again on Tuesday morning we had an outtage of the Pennswoods.net Classifieds. Our authentication server started to respond slowly, and then about 8pm it ceased to function at all. Unfortunately the first I heard of it was at about 10:30pm. After a reboot, the service was mostly back up and running by 11pm. The next morning there were still some errors cropping up, and a reboot of the webserver cluster fixed that issue as well. My apologies to all of you who were inconvenienced by this. I am working on replacing the single authentication server with a cluster of several machines. This should prevent a re-occurance of this sort of problem.
Thanks,
Chris

Screen names and indentity on the internet

Today brought the first of the upgrades that is a direct result of our recent meetings with PWC (PennsWoods.net Classifieds) users. Now there is the ability to set a screen name for your account. Doing so enables a “Member since…” tag, and a displayed rating. I can tell you that I’m not entirely happy with the way the rating system turned out. Tonight I’ll be modifying our servers so that a more direct formula can be used. I’ll update the formula description in the FAQ when I complete the changes.

Other than that, I’m pleased to offer the ability for members of the site to be able to brand their ads with their identity. Hopefully it will help bring an increased level of comfort and saftey in dealing with other members of PWC.
Thanks,
Chris