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

Posted: 2/6/2014 1:08:03 PM
gtc

Joined: 3/30/2012

In addition to the existing arsenal of anti-spammer procedures think that automatic initial moderation of new members for a number of posts is probably the most effective weapon. It's a pain for legitimate new members to not have their questions appear when they submit them, and thus it requires moderators to monitor and release genuine initial posts quickly, but most spammers are not going to hang around for that process.

There is also the need to tell the new member that their post has been queued for moderation, and why.

The function to put member's posts "in moderation" of course requires a good deal of programming if it's not already in place.

 

Posted: 2/7/2014 1:25:16 AM
Jason

From: Sammamish, Washington

Joined: 2/13/2005

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.

 

Fantastic idea.  That should be pretty simple to add and may already be implemented in the editor component we use.

Posted: 2/7/2014 4:14:19 AM
FredM

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 WaveCrafter.com . ...................................

Joined: 12/7/2007

I do not really see how "nofollow" will reduce spam - I presume this is an attribute only visible to bots and anyone able to hack the site - I doubt if most of our unwelcome visitors would even know it was there or be bothered if it was - Also, it looks to me like most spam we get is "dragnet" stuff.. It about looking for the one fool who clicks on a link or emails the dodgy password seller.

Yeah - one doesnt want some spammer to gain page ranking - But unless they know they wont gain ranking, they will post anyway, while those legitimately linking to their (or other)sites and contributing here (open.theremin for example) will lose deserved ranking.

IMO, we need to stop them from posting - thats priority one.. Stopping them from posting must be done regardless of any other action (like "nofollow") and if we stop them from posting there is no need for "nofollow" or other actions IMO.

I also read that ""nofollow" is copyrighted, and you pay a fee to use it (?) - Rather make money, even if only $1 for full membership (with right to make legitimate posts) , than throw it away! ;-) .. I also fear there is another potential spam mechanism they have not yet used here, but I have seen used on one other site - not going to say what it is as dont want to give anyone ideas..

IMO, its member registration and what is accessible to new members that the whole matter must come down to - no rational community in the real world accepts a stranger and gives them instant access to everything without having any idea who they are - There needs to be some "validation" process IMO.

What this "validation" mechanism should be is the question IMO - a small fee seems simplest, or perhaps a verification email may put some spammers off, or ask for something verifiable that a spammer wouldnt be happy to disclose but wouldnt bother a genuine user..

Fred.

Posted: 2/7/2014 8:51:58 AM
GordonC

From: Croxley Green, Hertfordshire, UK

Joined: 10/5/2005

"I also read that ""nofollow" is copyrighted, and you pay a fee to use it (?)"

That seemed unlikely to me, so I had a little look around to see if I could confirm it. I found this (my emphasis):

The specification for nofollow is copyrighted 2005–07 by the authors and subject to a royalty free patent policy,

Here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nofollow#Concept_and_specification

Posted: 2/8/2014 1:30:34 AM
FredM

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 WaveCrafter.com . ...................................

Joined: 12/7/2007

Thanks Gordon - At least thats one less thing to worry about!  ;-)  ...

 

Posted: 3/30/2014 9:14:21 PM
FredM

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 WaveCrafter.com . ...................................

Joined: 12/7/2007

Its getting real bad again..

Is it possible to implement some quick temporary discouragement? Perhaps create an invisible "New members first posts" thread which is pre-moderated, and only allow new "members" to post to this until they are approved, at which point their post is moved to an appropriate public thread?

Im sure there would be many members at TW who would be happy to examine such posts and "sort" them if the task was a burden to Jason and Thierry - Im sure a major consumer of time for the moderators is the job of deleting spam posts from multiple forums and restoring order - if new "members" had no access to these, the work would be simplified / reduced greatly (?)

Fred.

Posted: 3/30/2014 11:40:16 PM
Thierry

From: Colmar, France

Joined: 12/31/2007

Fred, you are right, it's actually a real pain. Most times I'm aware of spam quicker than most of TW members because everything pops up on my RSS reader, but I can't be online 24h/24 just to nuke every spammer... 

I really would prefer a different sign-up procedure for potential new members. I'd ask for real name, street address, website, a short bio, a captcha, (in summary more personalized info which would also made public in case of approval, i.e. be automatically copied into the "Roll-call" thread) so that we moderators might review that and then decide to approve the new membership or not. IMHO this wouldn't make access to the TW knowledge more difficult since everybody may continue reading everything and finding answers thanks to the search function even when not signed up. But it would greatly help reject spammers who aren't interested in filling up lots of profile data and waiting for approval.

I'd greatly prefer looking over new profiles than deleting spam.

Posted: 3/31/2014 1:22:43 AM
FredM

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 WaveCrafter.com . ...................................

Joined: 12/7/2007

" I'd ask for real name, street address, website, a short bio, a captcha, (in summary more personalized info which would also made public in case of approval" - Thierry

I understand, and can see that the above would add "value" to membership - But IMO it probably goes too far..

Thinking from the perspective of someone thinking about signing up - they may (are fairly likely to) be new to theremins, and not familiar with TW - may not have the confidence or feel inclined to disclose a lot of "personal" data, perhaps being unsure (regardless of any assurance given) of how such data may be used / abused.. I probably wouldnt have given my address to TW 7 years ago, spam is not the only issue - unsolicited physical mail and phone calls rank up there with spam as curses of this age.. Yes, more comprehensive 'bio's'  and / or a "catalog" of those interested in theremins would be useful to other members (and commercially) - but this should be an opt-in if initiated, not a condition for membership IMO.

In fact, as I see it, "membership" is not the real issue - the real issue is in whats posted to TW.. As you point out, everyone has access to the forums and database for reading / viewing them - The only additional thing that membership confers is the ability to post (and now PM - which is perhaps another potential source of future problems / spam).

IMO, it matters nil what country or bio or website or email host the applicant presents (or whether they can decipher captcha ;-) - What matters is what they post - and in particular what they submit in their first (or perhaps first few) posts.

If the first posts are vetted, this should be enough to determine "suitability" to our world ;-) Someone who posts spam isnt going to (unless they are extremely unusual - and we could probably cope with such miniscule number of "dedicated" spammers) post any genuine believable theremin related questions or content.. Someone whos first posts are 'trivial' and might be "fillers" - perhaps including the word "theremin" but in a context that is "questionable" could have "approval" and membership delayed until they either prove themselves as spammers or show in subsequent posts that they are genuine..

But in the majority of cases, I think it will be clear from their first post whether they are "worthy" of membership (and be granted membership as soon as this has been established beyond reasonable doubt) or spamming scum (to be cast into the lake of fire or sent to Guantanimo).

Surely this would be easier (not the Guantanimo bit, sadly.. ;-) than ammending the registration process? - I see pre-moderation of new posters frequently on other forums - a simple message pops up with something like this:  "As you have not posted (or have not submitted enough posts) previously, your post is awaiting moderation - Your post will appear once it has been approved, and when moderators have decided that you are not a potential spam threat, you will be able to post without pre-moderation"

 

"The function to put member's posts "in moderation" of course requires a good deal of programming if it's not already in place." - GTC

This is possibly the "fly in the ointment" - But to me, if at all possible, it looks like by far the best soultion.

Questions: (more for my curiosity than because I really know why im asking them ;-)

How many members does TW have?

How many new genuine members does TW "sign up" each month / year (average) ?

How many spamming "members" are deleted each month / year (average) ?

Fred.

Posted: 4/24/2014 2:27:02 PM
gtc

Joined: 3/30/2012

Aggressive spamming of this website by criminals seems to be on the increase, presumably because it's a soft target.

Time to do something about vetting new members.

 

Posted: 4/24/2014 5:32:12 PM
FredM

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 WaveCrafter.com . ...................................

Joined: 12/7/2007

"Aggressive spamming of this website by criminals seems to be on the increase, presumably because it's a soft target. Time to do something about vetting new members." -gtc

"I also cleaned up some 400+ spam comments that had made it through our walls between Dec. 9th and 10th.  I've disallowed non-registered users from posting comments.  Sad to have to do that, but at least it'll cut down on spam junk." Jason, 2011.

Looks like its been bad for quite a while.. But it gets really serious when they break into a site and use it as a host for their activities -

Thanks for sorting the email issue out, Jason - I just got emails that were obviously blocked by the problem, but now came through.. and I managed to get a new password, so Freddy's back! LOL ;-)

(I never realised that clicking the forgotten password button actually reset the password - I had assumed the original password would be mailed.. So by doing this, and not getting the email with the new password, I had completely locked myself out of TW)

I have expressed my opinion on member vetting, and wont bore everyone by repeating them ;-) - To me, pre-moderation of the first few posts is a way to resolve "casual" spam - but if spammers are hacking the site, then theres a whole different, and probably far more dangerous problem.

Fred.

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