One of the best things about Mollom is the great feedback I get from our users. One example is this e-mail I received with the subject line of "Our experience with Mollom -- extraordinary". After a conversation with the author, I asked if I could post his e-mail here, and he agreed.
I run Young Writers Project, a nonprofit in Vermont that uses Drupal extensively. Our mission is to help create generations of confident, passionate writers and we have discovered that online writing using Drupal is a very powerful tool to get kids to write and build supportive learning communities.
Our main site, youngwritersproject.org, uses Drupal 5 and is a place where registered Vermont (and N.H.) students can share work, offer each other support and get feedback from professionals and college mentors. We now have 3,100 student users out of a total student Internet-age population of 45,000.
We also have a new site designed for schools and teachers, ywpvt.net, that uses Drupal 6. We envision this becoming a vibrant place for teachers to share ideas, problems and knowledge. We have a growing library of innovative, “best practices” for Digital Writing that anyone is free to use.
Off the code for that site we have 18 customized Drupal sites used by individual schools as online classrooms within the school curriculum. These classrooms are hidden behind closed Organic Groups.
In all that we do, we try to make these sites safe and free from spam bots. No easy task but, knock on wood, we have been successful in keeping unwanted material off the sites.
The downside to the way we’ve set up the sites is that it does not allow the freedom of more anonymous posting that sometimes can yield exciting learning experiences.
On January 27, we decided to try an experiment. We suggested to schools across our tiny state to take seven minutes out of their day and have the students, teachers, staff and guests write. Knowing that a lot of Vermont is still not fully in the Digital Age, we knew that much of the writing would be with pencils and paper. But we set up a special site, vermontwrites.ywpvt.net, for those who wanted to post online.
To make the site easier to use we decided to allow anonymous posting and anonymous commenting and to have the site operative for only a short time. That’s when we connected with Mollom.
We monitored the site all day. We had well over 400 posts and several hundred comments – not a lot but a great deal given the tiny size of Vermont and the experimental nature of our idea (at least 12 percent of the state’s schools participated in the overall project) – and we had not one piece of spam. Mollom blocked 39 spam attempts.
That is extraordinary. We did not have to intercede on any unwanted traffic. We were able to have a site that was designed and used by young kids and have it work the way we wanted.
And, frankly, this was an eye-opener for us. And it has opened our thinking to other projects – a regular statewide writing exercise using a site that could encourage more schools, teachers and students to use online technology; writing projects that connected schools here with counterparts around the country and world; and other ideas that would benefit greatly from an “open” site that allowed for easy posting.
Mollom allowed a project to succeed. Mollom also opens the door to new potentials. Thanks.