Posted tagged ‘blog’

Spamming the blog fastidiously

August 20, 2013

As I have mentioned before, this blog receives about a dozen or two spam comments every day, most of them filtered out by the spam service of WordPress. Occasionally I check the quarantine folder to make sure no comments have been caught there that were actually legitimate.

One thing that strikes me in reading the spam comments is that many of them use very curious language. I am not commenting on the quality of their English: some of the spammers come from various overseas countries. But there is a pattern of expression that I find interesting. So for example, most spammers call this a ‘weblog’ rather than a ‘blog’ – which is notionally correct but strange. Less correct is the very frequent use by spammers of the word ‘fastidious’. Just today one urged me to ‘keep up the fastidious work.’ That does have a meaning, but probably not what he thought. And a total of 28 spammers have used ‘fastidious’ in their bogus comments over the past week.

Is there some spammers’ glossary that they use, designed to persuade filter systems that the comment is genuine? But why would it contain ‘fastidious’?

Just wondering.


This blog: the next generation

June 4, 2010

As many readers will know, from July 13 I embark on a new phase of my life. On that day I shall hand over the presidency of DCU to my successor, Professor Brian MacCraith (who will shortly write a post for this blog). I am then taking a sabbatical for a year, and so while I have a number of writing projects I am working on, I shall have a little bit more time than I do now.

One plan for me is to develop this blog a little more. While I shall continue to write what are essentially editorial-type posts on a more or less daily basis, I am also intending to add new sections including news and views from around the higher education system. To do this most effectively, I am hoping to attract a number of people who might be willing to act as contributors or correspondents. Ideally I would like a correspondent from every higher education institution in Ireland, and maybe some covering other countries, particularly the UK and the United States (maybe also Australia and Germany). If any reader would be interested, do please let me know. I cannot offer money, alas, but there is lots of glory! Though for the institutional correspondents, I shall also be happy that they remain anonymous to readers (though not to me, but I shall keep it confidential). For those who might be interested in providing regular or occasional commentary, I would very much welcome such participation (in this case not anonymously, however).

Furthermore, if you don’t want to write for the blog but want me to run a story or a comment, you can always contact me in confidence.

The shape of the blog as I now intend it will therefore be a daily editorial-style comment published in full on the home page, and sections linked from the home page with summaries of stories from individual institutions or other jurisdictions. There will also be sections that are unrelated to higher education, perhaps covering curiosities from culture, politics, entertainment and the performing arts.

If you would like to be involved – and I hope many of you will – please drop me an email at This email address will continue to be good after July 13.

Blog news

September 18, 2009

Over the coming week, this blog will carry two interviews: one with Danny McCoy, Director General of the Irish Business and Employers Confederation (IBEC), and the other with David Begg, General Secretary of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions. Both men are asked to comment on Ireland’s economic prospects, and on the relationships that exist between their organisations and the country’s universities. Danny McCoy expresses a guarded welcome of NAMA, while David Begg suggests we might look more closely at the Nordic countries in planning our future economic and social policies.

Over the following period, the blog will also feature interviews with Don Thornhill, Chair of the National Competitiveness Council and former Chair of the HEA, and Batt O’Keeffe TD, Minister for Education. In addition, the blog will feature a guest post by Tom Boland, Chief Executive of the Higher Education Authority.

Blogging anniversary

June 4, 2009

It is now exactly a year since I wrote the first post for this blog. It was my initial cautious outing into the blogosphere, and I attracted 2 visitors that day; I was rather surprised by that at the time, since I had told nobody I was starting a blog, and really wanted to test my blogging skills before inviting anyone at all to read the stuff. A week or so later my regular readership had increased to a very healthy 7, and I more or less had mental images of all seven of them. Well here we are, one year on, and several mentions in newspaper articles and radio shows, and indeed an Irish Times profile of the whole thing. My readership has also gone way past seven.

My approach to the blog has been simple enough – I’ll spend between 10 and 15 minutes a day on it, no more. That is what I had planned from the outset, and on the whole I kept to the plan. But in truth I had not anticipated the level of interest the blog has attracted, and I am well aware that I am only one person, with only so many interesting things to say, which I have probably nearly said by now. So I have been looking at ways in which I can provide something more varied. One of my intentions is to run a series of interviews about higher education with senior politicians and decision-makers and publish these on the blog, and I may also invite some occasional guest contributors. Watch this space. That is, if you are interested. And feel free to suggest things.

The main purpose of this (and I suppose any) blog is to communicate something. It had been my view that for many people university Presidents are probably a fairly mysterious group of people with ill-defined roles, and so I hoped to lift the curtain just a little and let people look in on my professional life, while also hearing occasionally about my other interests and obsessions. It is not for me to say whether I have been successful, but I am still of the view that it is a good thing for Presidents to address a wider audience and receive feedback. I have not patented the idea (and worldwide I am by no means the first university President to do so, though perhaps I am the most frequent blogger), and I hope others may try it also.

And so to all readers, my very warm thanks. My regular readers in particular are very kind to keep coming back. Someone reportedly once described this blog as ‘unbelievable drivel’. And who am I to say that they are wrong? At the least, this very post demonstrates a high capacity for self-indulgence. But if I have ever said anything of any interest to anybody, then it’s worthwhile.

This blog’s hit parade

December 7, 2008

This blog has been coming to you, on a more or less daily basis, for six months now. My approach to it is that I am willing to spend 10 minutes each day on it, and on the whole I keep to that; it would not be sensible for me to become a full-time blogger, I have other things to do. But even with those limitations, it has (so far) been a hugely positive experience, and I have in particular welcomes the feedback I have received, and the comments that readers have made.

I am not too focused on the statistics, but today I have, out of curiosity, looked more closely at which posts have received the most attention. And this has revealed an interesting pattern. The posts which have had by far the greatest number of readers are ‘Has Karl Marx left the university?‘ and ‘Personal pursuits‘. In fact, all those posts which have looked at issues of political philosophy and ideology have been widely read, as have those that have focused on the arts and literature. Given my own liking for the band A Fine Frenzy, I am also pleased that all posts that contain references to them immediately pick up a strong readership. The other topic that is always popular is consumer electronics and technology – any post that mentions various desirable gadgets gets numerous hits.

Blogging has become a global phenomenon, but for most bloggers (including this one) it is not a mass medium. And just as I firmly believe that while everyone may have a book in them on the whole it is good that not all of these are published, so I suspect that bloggers should avoid the temptation to believe that what we want to say in public always deserves to be put out there. It was stated a while ago on another site that this blog is ‘unbelievable drivel’ – and that’s quite possibly a reasonable judgement.

I may look at the possibility of developing this blog a little, perhaps inviting other bloggers to join as additional authors to provide some variety of content and style, and maybe some diversity of opinion.

So how can you find me?

October 6, 2008

WordPress, which hosts this blog, has a rather neat feature that allows blog authors to see what search terms people may have entered to find them. In my case, some of these are obvious enough (like “prondzynski blog”), but some others are less so – and in some cases it is downright mysterious or even funny how the particular searches actually got to me.

Here are some of my favourites.

describe dcu free no-obligation quote
cappuccino spellings
female-dominated society future
is feck a swear word?
how to run a small bookstore
iPhone screen goes blank
small bookstore what can we do 
how to properly use an expletive
spelling of august in Portuguese
expletive string
men who enjoy wearing a suit & tie
australian spelling is canadian spelling
spelling of the number fourteen in portuguese
correct spelling of arguement
social benefits of war
good old german retro
speaking in tongues blog
expletives from the 50s
is singing a song using rote memory
university delicious
brazil spelling of august
why were people afraid of old technology
10 common good manners and courtesies
retro photography of time
left of karl marx

And my personal favourite:

ferdinand von prondzynski drivel

Amen to that.