Good comments: Adam Rice and Phillip Lamb, on their technical problems

Adam Rice and Phillip Lamb were both unable to comment, so they sent me letters.


I hope you're the right person to contact; if not, my apologies.
We need a better way for readers to tell us about technical problems. One of our suggested mechanisms is to have a front-page link to a form for reporting glitches, much like the link for submitting suggestions for stories. Until then, we'll all keep improvising.
The last couple of times I've tried to leave a comment on Boingboing, I've gotten the following error:

Your comment submission failed for the following reasons:
Text entered was wrong. Try again.

I admit this may be true in an epistemological sense, but in a formal sense, the text I entered was entirely innocuous.

Would you believe I've occasionally been getting that one too? I don't know why that error message turns up. I wish it weren't even in the system. It keeps giving readers the idea that we use automated content-based message filtering, and that something they've written has infracted the filters' rules.

Not so. The only content-based filters on Boing Boing are the people who edit it. If you get an error message saying "Text entered was wrong," it's the error message that's in error.

Back to Adam Rice:

The other interesting thing is that the page where this appears shows me as logged out, although I am logged in from the main boingboing page, or gadgets.
I feel your pain. I had the same problem for a couple of days this week. David Harmon's reported it too.
My comments were not such pearls that the Internet cannot function without their presence, but I thought I'd bring it to your attention.
Well said, and thank you for bringing those problems to our attention.

Onward to:


Hi there - not sure if you're the right person to send this to, but I can't seem to find a tech email on BoingBoing's site. ... Hope I'm not inconveniencing you!
Not at all. We really do want to hear about technical problems.
I and other people have had trouble submitting comments lately, getting a "Text entered was wrong. Try again" error message.

It seems like the following is happening:

1. User logs in

2. User does logged-in user stuff, including commenting.

3. User goes to sleep, or hibernates, or eats a Polish Sausage or whatever.

4. User comes back to BoingBoing, bleary-eyed because it's 3am and when you gotta get your fix you gotta get your fix.

5. User's session has timed out (rut roh!) but due to either a caching bug or perhaps a session timeout bug, the comment form still shows up.

6. User submits a comment, but sadly it doesn't go through, and they see, "Text entered was wrong. Try again."

7. User wrecks their apartment with a frying pan.

8. User eventually logs back in and is able to comment normally.

We're sorry about your apartment--and, presumably, your frying pan.
This is my hypothesis, and I've tested it (somewhat) and it seems valid. Just letting ya know. I'll email this to whatever email address I can find for your admin, assuming I can find one.
Thanks! I'm pretty sure the Polish sausage is a local artifact. The rest, we'll have to have a look at.

What hardware and browser were you using? (Adam, same question.)


UPDATE: Semiotix comments:

I'm very disappointed to hear that the "Text entered was wrong" message is simply an indication of some sort of login error.

I've gotten the message several times, and, assuming that it was autogenerated in response to wrong ideas, have modified my beliefs (and comments) accordingly until I reached--so I thought--right text, and therefore right thinking.

Now you tell me that I haven't been engaged in a Socratic struggle for truth all this past week? That I changed my beliefs for no reason?! Well, thanks for nothing.



  1. “My comments were not such pearls that the Internet cannot function without their presence, but I thought I’d bring it to your attention.”

    OK, THAT one is clearly a loon, back away slowly now…..

  2. Are you saying that you can confirm that there is not a Polish sausage-related anti-BoingBoing global conspiracy? TFSM appeared to me in a dream last night and suggested it was possible, so I’m conflicted.

    Also, what can the BoingBoing staff do about the lack of pierogi houses in Los Angeles?

  3. The browser I was and am using is the current version of Safari.

    And Takuan clearly has me dead to rights.

  4. Yep! It just got me with that message trying to post this comment.

    I guess the “Text entered is wrong” is referring to a type=”hidden” field in the form, and the error message is directed at the programmer rather than the person who is commenting.

    Please could Boing-Boing provide an error message that is meaningful to the user, or save the comment and prompt to log-in again? “Text entered is wrong” is subliminal for “trash your apartment with a frying pan” and many of us mortals are falling foul of this insidious instruction.

  5. Is this the result of a cyber-attack? By the ROs? The TSA? The PRC? Previously I only had to log in about once a month.

  6. Phillip Lamb must have done some software testing at some point. Nobody writes detailed bug reports like that unless they’ve had to professionally test software. It just doesn’t happen.

    Normal people report bugs as follows:
    “Nothing works!”

    Or, if you’re lucky, you get a slightly more specific report, such as:
    “I can’t comment!”

    Then you get the academic user who knows just enough to be even less helpful:
    “Your site keeps saying my comment was wrong. I have a doctorate in Artificial Intelligence, so that qualifies me to tell you that your comment truthiness validator is buggy.”

    Or, there’s the tech-savvy user who tries to be helpful:
    “I think your firewall is blocking my comments.”

    Only an experienced and competent software tester replies with a detailed bug description which includes reproduction steps.

  7. I suspected PLA goons too, but I think it all likely stems from whatever was done to reverse the order of comments under individual profiles (now the most recent is first)

  8. I’m very disappointed to hear that the “Text entered was wrong” message is simply an indication of some sort of login error.

    I’ve gotten the message several times, and, assuming that it was autogenerated in response to wrong ideas, have modified my beliefs (and comments) accordingly until I reached–so I thought–right text, and therefore right thinking.

    Now you tell me that I haven’t been engaged in a Socratic struggle for truth all this past week? That I changed my beliefs for no reason?! Well, thanks for nothing.

  9. I’ve gotten it a couple-few times. I figured, in my minimally-savvy way, that it was something to do with a time-out, but who knows?

    I’m using Firefox under OSX 10.4.11, if that helps.

    Meantime, how difficult is it to put on the front page a technical report button linked to a hotmail or gmail address? Not as elegant as a purpose-built solution, to be sure, but it’ll do the job until something more techy is sorted out.

    Edit: I now get to emit a Nelson Munz-style “Ha-ha” at myself, since not only did I get the “wrong text” error, when I tried to log in, I got a MovableType error “No entry_id”.

  10. As well as the comments issue, I’ve been having trouble accessing BB altogether. I diagnosed this as a DSL issue and had ATT techs out twice this week. They predictably placed the blame on BB, TPM and Dkos for the tardy screen loads. Still not diagnosed to my satisfaction, and I’m at the point of putting a ‘scope on the phone line to watch their signal for myself.
    As far as the commenting, so many of my pearls have gone into bit limbo that I now compose in a TXT file and paste in. That way if it’s ‘lost’ I have a backup.

  11. It smells like the error is intended to be in response to a missing CAPTCHA field. I’ve had it myself, under Firefox.

  12. Is the power cable securely connected to the equipment?

    Now, seriously: Did any piece of software got recently upgraded on BoingBoing?

  13. #4 Danegeld,

    Actually, I think the “text entered is wrong” refers to the captcha text you are supposed to enter when submitting an anonymous comment.

    As pointed out above, the system is logging users out (or timing out), so when they go to enter a comment (thinking they are still logged in), the system, thinking the are anonymous, wrongly looks for a captcha-entry along with the comment just submitted. Of course, the person wasn’t presented with a captcha entry-box, so the system doesn’t recieve it, and so informs the user “text entered is wrong” regardless, in reference to the captcha text.

    ..that is, providing captcha is still in use on the BB anonymous comment form. I can’t remember..

  14. How to comment on Boingboing:

    1. Direct your browser to
    2. Check the upper righthand side to see if you are logged in. If not this is the time to do so.
    3. Select the post you wish to comment on and compose your witty, insightful or flame baiting comment now.
    4. When you are done, select your entire comment and copy it to your clip board.
    5. Click “preview”, do not under any circumstance click “post”.
    6. If your post does not appear you probably need to login again because it’s been three hours since you refreshed the page. Do this now and then paste the comment you have saved to your clipboard. You remembered to do that right?
    7. Check your post for spelling or grammatical errors. This is also the time to reconsider calling Teresa a fascist pig, making fun of Cory because he enjoys steampunk or complaining about the Boingboing hoodies.
    8. When you are satisfied click “post” now. If you are successful the system will offer to send you back to the original post. (If not hit the “back” button on your browser and try again.) Do not click that link if you wish to see your comment and admire your priceless contribution to humanity. It won’t be there. Instead, go to either the Boingboing front page or some other site for a minute, then return to see your post and reassure to yourself that you still matter to the rest of the universe.
    9. Repeat as needed.

  15. I’ve been occasionally getting the “Text entered was wrong” message for the past few days. I figured somebody’s plugged in an error-correcting modem somewhere along the line.

    I was using Safari 3.0.3 on MacOS X 10.4.10, till last night when I upgraded to Safari 3.1 and OSX 10.4.11. Haven’t seen the error message since the upgrade, but it’s been less than a day.

  16. Hmmmm, if I have time I’ll make that into a flowchart or someone else may if they wish.

    I recommend that boingboing require a commenter to preview their comment first before being permitted to post. That might help curb emotions a bit especially if there is a note that one should think first and reconsider what they have to say. Also, instead of sending people back to the original post, kick them to the front page automatically. Just a couple of suggestions.

  17. I found out a little more about the problem… A three-hour time-out might explain some cases — I had thought it was because I didn’t have scripts enabled for And yes, I’m pretty sure the message is meant to refer to either the two obscured words, or to the copy-and-paste part, of the anonymous-comment screening.

    Oddly, that CAPTCHA sequence seemed to work even before I permitted Perhaps the copy-and-paste part was the fallback for when the scripts are disabled?

    Anyway, I agree it’s a horrid error message.

  18. Well I’m glad you’re working on the problem (I knew you were). :) I’ve left 3 or 4 comments today without getting logged off or the dreaded “wrong text” message. Also, I just noticed that my favorites are working again. Yay!

  19. PS: I’m using Firefox running on Ubuntu. I’ve gotten the “No entry_id” when I tried to log in in the middle of (fiddling with) posting the comment — sounds like it’s trying to reference the not-yet-completed comment.

  20. Noen,
    what I do, is:

    when i’ve written the comment out, instead of copying it, i just go to the preview button step (6.), but i press the command key (apple) and open the preview in a new tab, that way the comment is still in the first tab, and i can proceed or log-in in the second tab..

  21. I got that “entered wrong” error a couple days ago. I think it was a session timeout, fwiw. It only happened once, and I haven’t seen it today. I’m using FF 2 on Mac OSX 10.5.

  22. Noen,

    Are you monitoring my keystrokes? That is exactly what I do when I make a comment. Somewhat embarrassingly, I’ve been doing that since I started posting comments, not just since the tech problems started.

  23. I think you should implement a filter such that if any statement in a comment is false, then it gives the “text entered was wrong” error. If they are all true, then it lets the comment through.

    Just think about how much more accurate and factual our conversations could be. As a nice side benefit, mathematicians and scientists could use it to determine the validity of their theorems and hypotheses without all that painstaking hard work.

  24. How about if it just rejected comments containing the following:

    ‘you people’
    ‘grow up’
    ‘get over it’
    ‘I don’t mean to…’
    ‘this will probably start a flame war…’
    ‘straw man’
    ‘this is old news’
    ‘can you stop posting about…’

  25. SamLL: they should also implement an FTL commenting feature. Just my input.

    If they DID do as you suggest, I’d put in “This text is wrong” and watch the universe implode when I submitted it.

  26. I would write “text entered is correct” after session time out for the same effect.

    Yes, Antinous, I am.

  27. Antinous 26: I’ve told you people won’t stand for that.

    Some nights, I just like to relax and watch TV. I had to grow up in a very tense environment, and sometimes I thought I’d never get over it. Sometimes I flip out even though I don’t mean to.

    If you flame someone with a sharp tongue (or pen), this will probably start a flame war. I’ve never seen a group think* together so well. The Scarecrow was the straw man in The Wizard of Oz. And the scam victim said “This isn’t my money, this is old newspaper!”** The Western rider said to the English rider, “Can you stop posting about? You make me nervous.”

    Word and phrase bans, not simple to implement. Context-sensitivity is hard to do, and context-free gets bad results.

    *Yes, I know, but if you don’t ban the spaced version the trollage will just use it in place of the unspaced version, won’t they?

    **And vice versa.

  28. When I was in real estate, wouldn’t allow me to enter a property description if it had, for instance, a family room, black marble countertops or a white picket fence. I got a language violation error message.

  29. we should have a contest for a new error message:

    my entry:


  30. Ha Ha Ha… i just now tried to input an entry to follow up Takuan and got the Text wrong error.

    BTW, I had a window with the input box, as though I was logged in. Hitting Back, I get just the comments, no text entry box. Log in, I get the text entry box Consequently logging in, I get the text entry box.

    “Isn’t it about time you bowed down to your new machine overlords?” with “Uhm…” “Uh…” “Sure”

  31. I got the same text entered is wrong error recently. Running Firefox on Mac OS 10.4.11

  32. I’ve seen the same on safari (latest on os 10.5), with me having rebooted since the previous time I’d logged in.

    There is a proxy on my university network, but I don’t think I’m using it (I certainly haven’t manually configured it to use it).

    It seems that to fix it I had to open a new tab, log in and post the message from that new tab; logging in in a different window and then refreshing the old tab didn’t work. Well, either that or I’ve now triple posted to the topic on Mark’s gran’s 107th Birthday

  33. All these comments, and nobody’s asked the obvious question?

    Where is the source code?

    There is no real excuse for a content-based site of any size to have bugs in its software. Any such site which is failing to co-opt its users into improving it has only itself to blame.

  34. I wish this had happened to me before I read about it. Trying to get my brain around ‘Text entered was wrong’ would have entertained me for quite awhile.

  35. Hey cool, my commentary was put to use! Perhaps now if I write my President and give him a few reasons to fix the economy and get out of Iraq, he’ll listen too!

    Anyway, Stu Mark, the only way there could be a Polish Sausage-related conspiracy at BB is if Ditka himself were secretly controlling the webbertubes…

    And: Shutz, ya, I’m a web developer for (I’m probably about to violate the comments policy now) EchoDitto. I will pass your thoughtful comments on to my supervisor, who will surely give me a huge bonus.

    And, Teresa, THANKS! Glad to see this has sparked some useful dialogue.

  36. As long as we’re airing grievances in our own little Festivus in April, there were a few questions I had, though a couple seem to have been rectified today, so now I only really have one question:

    What’s the point of the friends list on people’s profiles? No one is alerted of being on one another’s lists, and there doesn’t seem to be any other reason than to denote who you’d want to socialize with if that option were available. Which it’s not.

  37. All this makes me think about how positive and comforting the confirmation message is. People need some confirmation in their lives. “Yeah, I just posted to BoingBoing. Alright!”

  38. Why not do a search for that string in your language file, and work back to the function that triggers that output? (On your server, in the movable type directory, somewhere in a php file). Would be more efficient than just chatting about this glitch in public.

    BTW, I juts got the same error too, I think the session expired server-side but the client cookie wasn’t cleared or something similar (I’m not familiar with Movable Type, sorry). I seemed to be logged in, submitted my comment, got the error message and was logged out. Logged in again, and it worked. Definitely, a “Sorry, a, error occured, please log in again to post” message would be more appropriate, and I doubt the good people at Six Apart (MT’s publishers) would have left such a message on purpose. So: either a MT bug, or a BB misconfig. (search the string first, than look at session related stuff, including timezone settings).

    Don’t you have a webmaster or something????

  39. Folow-up on my previous post:

    (For BB webmaster)

    This message is indeed triggered by the CAPTCHA function. So problably, when a session expires, and the user has a “remain logged in option” set, the script will attempt to re-login the user in SILENT mode, but DOESN’T skip the CAPTCHA procedure (it should!!), which leads to the output of this error message.

    So you have to figure that one out now!

  40. That post was kind of long, considering it just said “I have received reports of this weird error, and even though I’d been getting that error myself, I hadn’t bothered talking to the people who have a clue of what to do about it.” Taking users’ comments and throwing them away (in a way that doesn’t even let them navigate back to their comments with their browser’s back button) is super bad; an update declaring the bug fixed is long overdue.

  41. An answer, from mighty tech guy Jonathan Schreiber:

    I believe that we have fixed the root cause for this. BUT users could still see this problem if they have an old cookie that was set pre-fix (the fix went in yesterday around noon). So my suggestion for all BB commenters is to logout (via the logout link, upper right), then log back in again.

    After doing a logout/login, the cookies and session will match and they won’t have an issue with the system “thinking” they’re logged out any more (i.e. no more “text was entered wrong” error messages). Is it worth updating the post with the login/logout suggestion for anyone who may still get the bug?

    I’d say it’s very much worth it.

  42. Re. “Oops, something went wrong: Invalid value “C:\Documents and Settings…photo.jpg” (etc)


    this is still an issue for me – despite logging in and out, and so forth

    also tried the same through IE, and receive the same message

    please advise



  43. So what’s with the photo thing? I have that problem. I’m trying tiny little icons with .jpg and .gif extensions, to no avail.

  44. Can’t seem to add profile images at the moment…

    Error Message:
    Oops, something went wrong: Invalid value “jeshii_on_the_death_march.jpg” for profile field: photo

    Win XP, Firefox 3.0.1

    Tried scaling down the image and making the name of the file unique, but no dice. Got down to 100×75 before I gave up. Any ideas?

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