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

Posted: 5/21/2014 1:43:01 AM
DiggyDog

From: Jax, FL

Joined: 2/14/2005

I'm a member of another forum that charges a nominal fee - a couple of dollars - to become a member.

That seems to keep the spammers away.

Of course, it most likely keeps quite a few potential members away, too.

Captchas and questions Do a good job of keeping bots out.

is the a way to s disallow posting links completely for the first few posts? Or until after validation by a moderator?

 

Posted: 5/21/2014 4:27:52 AM
Jason

From: Sammamish, Washington

Joined: 2/13/2005

There are ways to do all these things, but I just haven't had time to implement them.  I manually cleaned up the database tonight to get rid of the latest round of spam, and I've added a quick shortcut for the administrators to use in the future if this happens again. Normally when we delete a spam user, all their posts are removed. But in some conditions the forum database gets corrupted and we see artifacts of those posts left behind in the recent posts page.  I'm still trying to figure out how that happens and redesign the system so that won't happen.

The second problem is that spammers keep coming.  I have CAPTHCAs on new user registration, so we know they're real people and not bots.  Next I plan to make calls to a spam filtering service before posts are approved.  This will add costs to running the site but should be effective.  This is the top of my priority list for fixing things on the site, but it may be a couple weeks before I've had enough time to get it all done.  I've tried setting up a laptop so I can work on it during my ~2.5 hours of commute time on the bus each day, but unfortunately I've run into a bug in the latest version of Visual Studio 2013 that is preventing the site from running under a debugger... It's always something :) 

As always, I appreciate everyone's patience while I work on this.  I wouldn't blame anyone if you never came back though.  Nobody should have to put up with this crap.  To be honest, I regularly question whether it's worth the effort and the junk you all have to put up with just to keep the site running. 

Posted: 5/21/2014 12:43:44 PM
dewster

From: Northern NJ, USA

Joined: 2/17/2012

"I have CAPTHCAs on new user registration, so we know they're real people and not bots.  Next I plan to make calls to a spam filtering service before posts are approved.  This will add costs to running the site but should be effective."  - Jason

I'm curious Jason: how many (real) new users do you get per day?

Posted: 5/21/2014 2:59:43 PM
Jason

From: Sammamish, Washington

Joined: 2/13/2005

Trade secret!

Just kidding. We are averaging 2-3 new users per day, but I admit I have not done much analysis to determine which are real and which are fake.

Posted: 5/21/2014 3:36:17 PM
gtc

Joined: 3/30/2012

@Jason: "To be honest, I regularly question whether it's worth the effort and the junk you all have to put up with just to keep the site running."

The spam attacks are a nuisance, and I'm particularly resentful of criminals posting spam ads offering false identification and passports, but I'd hate to see the site disappear because of spam management being too taxing an administration task for you.

I've mentioned earlier that moderation of new member's posts can be effective at catching the hit and run merchants. Would it be difficult to implement such a thing for this site?

Alternatively, perhaps consider migrating the site to something like the phpBB forum platform where you get such moderation functionality built in, plus other benefits?

 

 

 

Posted: 5/21/2014 5:22:23 PM
dewster

From: Northern NJ, USA

Joined: 2/17/2012

"We are averaging 2-3 new users per day, but I admit I have not done much analysis to determine which are real and which are fake."  - Jason

I wonder which might be more work:

1. You (or Thierry?) manually signing up new members.

2. Cleaning up after spammers / bots.

I suppose there will be a bit of back and forth with #1 which could be some work.  And language barriers might obscure real applicants. 

It's too bad we don't have enforceable laws against this kind of vandalism.

Posted: 5/21/2014 8:49:24 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

"It's too bad we don't have enforceable laws against this kind of vandalism." - Dewster

"enforceable laws"? We cant even get enforceable laws for a single nation, or a common set of ethics or rights that are universally accepted by us "creatures crawling on the planets face - lost in time, lost in space, and lost in meaning" - (Rocky Horror Picture Show)

Nah - I don't think any technology will solve this problem - but a fee of say $2 - $5 for the right to post non-spam will! - if there are 2 to 3 members signing per day, there certainly aren't that number posting! So free membership, but a token payment that spammers wont like for anyone who wants to use the ability to post - and continued termination of even paid membership if they post spam.

Perhaps the option for wanna-be posters to email a moderator (on a special email address so that the option can be removed if spammers abuse it) and get free rights if they are destitute and genuine..

"This will add costs to running the site but should be effective. " - Jason

IMO that's the wrong way 'round - Collect $ from people rather than increasing your costs!  ... As long as you don't charge on a per-post basis - cause if you backdated that I could be (more) bankrupt!

;-)

Fred.

Posted: 7/3/2014 5:52:20 AM
Jason

From: Sammamish, Washington

Joined: 2/13/2005

I deployed a professional-grade spam filtering service tonight, so let's hope that helps cut down on this crap.  It may miss a few posts here and there as it learns what is and isn't spam, but it should cut WAY down on the junk that gets through.

 

Posted: 7/3/2014 6:28:31 AM
gtc

Joined: 3/30/2012

Thank you for that.

 

(PS: I PM'ed you)

Posted: 7/3/2014 9:59:49 AM
Thierry

From: Colmar, France

Joined: 12/31/2007

Ha... 10 new spam posts... I flagged them as spam one by one (to help the algorithm learn) before I nuked the user and his posts definitively. The ip address said that the spammer is located in Jaguarari/Bahia/Brazil and is a client of Global Village Telecom. More info here

His ip address has a bad reputation and is listed on several DNS black lists. I wonder if we couldn't use these lists, i.e. from spamhaus.org to do an additional reputation verification during the sign-up process.

Each spammer will get an atomic wedgie for free!!! :-)

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