How to eliminate this barrage of crap for $1,000,000

Posted: 1/24/2014 10:33:39 PM

From: Tucson, AZ USA

Joined: 2/26/2011

Actually my proposed idea is to add another password box at log-in with a simple question only someone serous about theremins would know the answer. Like:  “What is the first name of the person regarded as the Mother of theremin music?”  Or “What is the first name of the Father of the theremin?”


Posted: 1/24/2014 10:38:18 PM

From: Eastleigh, Hampshire, U.K. ................................... Fred Mundell. ................................... Electronics Engineer. (Primarily Analogue) .. CV Synths 1974-1980 .. Theremin developer 2007 to present .. soon to be Developing / Trading as . ...................................

Joined: 12/7/2007

Lets limit new "members" to one first post if they attempt to post within say 24 hours of signing up, then stop this limitation if their post isnt spam.. Or perhaps only allow new subscribers to post a week after signing up..

There MUST be a way to stop this without inconvieniencing genuine members too much! -

Dont know what software is possible or available - but couldnt duplicate messages on multiple forums be detected? Couldnt the whole process be automated, so that as soon as a duplicate posting is made by a newbee (or for that matter, anyone), those posts and the "member" are disabled pending review?


(by "disabled" I mean they are abducted and held without food or water in some smelly wet dungeon! )

I dont think a theremin question is the answer - Newcomers may be genuine but have absolutely no knowledge about theremins..

If the offer was serious, I would be able to sort the problem out in 2 months for a fee of $1000,000 ! - I know three programmers who would do it happily for £100k each, and even with the exchange rate as it is, the remainder would come in real handy! ;-)

Posted: 1/25/2014 3:37:35 AM

From: Hillsborough, NC (USA)

Joined: 2/13/2005

Keep the ideas coming guys.  I tried CAPTCHA and that didn't seem to stop the highly motivated folks.  It tells me the spam is not automated, which means we need some other method that would discourage them but not get int he way of "legit" users.

i will be working on the bug tonight that results in the All Forums list still showing spam titles after we delete users. Hopefully that won't be a problem by tomorrow.  

Thanks for your patience folks.

Posted: 1/25/2014 7:39:33 AM

From: Eastleigh, Hampshire, U.K. ................................... Fred Mundell. ................................... Electronics Engineer. (Primarily Analogue) .. CV Synths 1974-1980 .. Theremin developer 2007 to present .. soon to be Developing / Trading as . ...................................

Joined: 12/7/2007

"Keep the ideas coming guys." - Jason

Not easy when one doesnt know whats technically feasable.

My feeling is that it should be unique to TW - as in, not some standard scheme like Kaptch which spammers have found ways round. How easy is it to sort members by criterion such as length of membership, and limit their actions as a result of such sorting? - It seems that most spammers sign up and start posting almost immediately - so if it was possible to limit new members to say 1 post per day for the first week, most of the duplicate spam would dissapear (perhaps)..

The simplest? Charge a membership fee - perhaps $5 one-off.. Spammers wont pay!

Thanks for all your efforts, Jason ..

I know you arent in this for money - but you certainly would be entitled to $5 from each of us just for the phenominal effort you put in! - If you are unhappy about people being put off by the $5, even $1 would probably stop spammers, but certainly not stop any genuinely interested people!

Posted: 1/25/2014 9:02:59 AM

Joined: 7/23/2010

I'm not sure what content management system is used here on, but there are some effective spam-fighting solutions, and, for example, akismet ( provides an API that allows it to be easily adopted to any website.

Posted: 1/25/2014 10:17:17 AM

Joined: 12/27/2013

It's puzzling why a spammer would expect sales in such a specialized, small and quite smart community.

As for the solution, word filters might be worth a shot. If the first 5 posts contain blacklisted words, the account is temporarily disabled and the posts hidden. Words like: handbags, counterfeit, shoes, passports .. A static word list should be quite effective already. More elaborate solutions would use a Bayes-filter, which is what e-mail spam filters use.

Bayes filters are probably the best long-term solution. They can be trained with good and bad texts. Feed the Bayer filter all existing posts and mark them as good. Feed it all spam and mark it as bad. As you already have thousands of good posts, training the filter should work very well. Have a flag for new users that makes their posts go through the filter.

I'd be happy to help as far as I can. Does the server run on Linux?

There are several free Bayes spam filters available:


Definitely agreeing with FredM by the way. Add a donation page! It should be voluntary tho. ... or you could sell cool merchandise like t-shirts at

Posted: 1/25/2014 2:32:19 PM

From: Northern NJ, USA

Joined: 2/17/2012

Jason, I recall having trouble signing up with the automated system and you finally just emailed me my password.  Are there so many new members daily that you couldn't deal with each one semi-manually as you did for me?  Just wondering if setting up an imperfect automated system and dealing with the mess after the periodic breeches in security is more trouble than it's worth?

I wonder if we'll accidentally get our first sentient software as a result of developing all of these inverse Touring tests!

Posted: 1/25/2014 6:26:33 PM

From: Hillsborough, NC (USA)

Joined: 2/13/2005

Thanks for all the awesome ideas. I'll think about them all.  I definitely don't do this for the money, but the idea isn't off-putting ;)  Truth told, just seeing the exchange of ideas and conversation here is payment enough for me, but we must do something to stop the spammers.

I just made some changes that got rid of the stale forum summaries on the "All Forums" page.  I also hopefully fixed the "nuke a user" tool to avoid those pages getting stale again in the future. 

If you find any topics where clicking on the "Last" page button doesn't work, please let me know.  I think some of the topic summaries might still have the wrong counts.  I'll work on a more stable fix for that tonight (just out of time at the moment).

I used to have a donation button and will be happy to bring it back. We actually do sell t-shirts from CafePress, but a) not many people discover that link on the store menu above, and b) I am not an artist :)

The whole site is written in ASP.NET MVC at the moment. I chose that because I worked on Visual Studio for 11 gears, but having just left Microsoft, I am looking at alternatives as I modify pieces of the site going forward


more thoughts soon....





Posted: 2/6/2014 8:17:36 AM

From: Croxley Green, Hertfordshire, UK

Joined: 10/5/2005

Can I suggest that you use "nofollow" links in the forums. It may not discourage spammers from spamming (*), but it will ensure that they don't get any pagerank benefit from their spammage.




(*) Or it may. If I was a savvy spammer I would target forums that don't use it.

Posted: 2/6/2014 9:03:02 AM

From: Eastleigh, Hampshire, U.K. ................................... Fred Mundell. ................................... Electronics Engineer. (Primarily Analogue) .. CV Synths 1974-1980 .. Theremin developer 2007 to present .. soon to be Developing / Trading as . ...................................

Joined: 12/7/2007

I really want Jason to add a "nuke" button..

If there was a "nuke" button which established members (perhaps Jason could have a code which could be emailed to trusted members and was required to initiate a destruct sequence) could activate, and which eliminated all postings and suspended the spammer further to examination, then we could act when we see an attack happening.

Its really frustrating seeing the board fill up with crap - and it would be oh, so satisfying to nuke them! ;-)

Only problem is id spend even more time at TW waiting for spammers so I could nuke them - yeah, I know - its sad! ;-)

Weather knocked out my internet yesterday (and my phone) and I felt lost! - strangely internet came back but phone is still dead - I can live with that! ;-)

I am inclined to think the solution may be at the registration stage - How hard would it be to have say the first postings requiring pre-moderation, and if these are theremin related, allowing full membership - but if spam, terminate membership... Or perhaps allow one initial posting and if they try to post another they get a polite message that until approved they are only allowed one posting per day.. If this is flagged to the moderators they can quickly be welcomed or rejected.

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