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Lots of spam lately


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Akismet would deal with spam, yes, but David's idea would also deal with probably 90%+ of the threads that are closed due to violating Rule #6 - Thread titles must be descriptive and specific -- NOT generic. Think of the workload this would save Rick and the mods. Besides that, this would actually improve the forum's organization. Bug reports, feature requests, plugin requests, and basic troubleshooting would all be in their own centralized location.

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Think of the workload this would save Rick and the mods.

So they can spend time creating threads instead.

Bug reports, feature requests, plugin requests, and basic troubleshooting would all be in their own centralized location.

Bug reports and troubleshooting already have their own location and unpopular feature requests quietly fall into late pages.

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Also, if PDN crashes for someone and they post the log but no-one can help them so it gets little attention. If it was a post in a long thread I doubt Rick would find it - but if it was a thread in a section with one thread per log not only the logs that receive the most attention from other users (which may or may not be the most important ones) are seen by the development team.

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I don't know if this is possible with the Forumer software, but would it be possible to allow members with under a certain post count (say 50 or so) be allowed to post new threads only in a specific forum? The idea is, we could have a "New Members Area" forum or something like that, wherein new members who are just stopping by for a little support/feature request could post their threads, thereby limiting most of the spam to one forum. To keep down the spambots, maybe you could also require new members to enter the text in a box (like during registration) before posting a new thread. Also (again, I don't know if this if possible with the Forumer software), would it be possible to make new members unable to post entirely until after they had read the Rules thread? I know of another forum that has done something like that; however, I believe that's a vBulletin forum rather than a Forumer forum.

EDIT: Correction, this other forum had it set up so that members had to post in a certain thread before they could post anywhere else on the rest of the forum. Actually, that might work as well. If you put it in the rules that members need to post in a given thread (call it the Introduction Thread or whatever), that would pretty much take care of the people who don't read the rules. :)

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EDIT: Correction, this other forum had it set up so that members had to post in a certain thread before they could post anywhere else on the rest of the forum. Actually, that might work as well. If you put it in the rules that members need to post in a given thread (call it the Introduction Thread or whatever), that would pretty much take care of the people who don't read the rules. :)

The unfortunate thing is that there are idiots on the internet who will ask "WHY CAN'T I POST!!111!??/!" in PM's and e-mails to moderators, Rick, and other users.

Most people never read the rules, it's like the Terms of Agreement when you install a PC game. You click, "I have read the following agreement", and play your game.

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The unfortunate thing is that there are idiots on the internet who will ask "WHY CAN'T I POST!!111!??/!" in PM's and e-mails to moderators, Rick, and other users.

Most people never read the rules, it's like the Terms of Agreement when you install a PC game. You click, "I have read the following agreement", and play your game.

So make it so they can't PM either. Sure, it would suck for the people who join and don't read the rules, but if we plaster up in big red signs everywhere "YOU MUST READ THE RULES IN ORDER TO POST", they can't really complain much, can they? And the Rules would contain a detailed description of how to join the group that lets you post.

That would take care of the spambots, but unfortunately I can't see that it would do much about the Chinese dudes who get hired by some American company for $3 an hour to go and spam random forums. Of course, maybe we could add a little button during registration that says, "If you are joining this forum for the purpose of advertising, please click here." Then they would click and be banned. :roll:

Actually, that just gave me an idea. What if we add a separate forum for advertising, then just forget about it? The spammers would post their threads and be happy, the members would just never go in there, and the mods would no longer be overworked. :)

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So make it so they can't PM either. Sure, it would suck for the people who join and don't read the rules, but if we plaster up in big red signs everywhere "YOU MUST READ THE RULES IN ORDER TO POST", they can't really complain much, can they? And the Rules would contain a detailed description of how to join the group that lets you post.

What if people don't understand and just leave?

Of course, maybe we could add a little button during registration that says, "If you are joining this forum for the purpose of advertising, please click here." Then they would click and be banned. :roll:

I doubt that's possible and that even spammers are that naive.

Actually, that just gave me an idea. What if we add a separate forum for advertising, then just forget about it? The spammers would post their threads and be happy, the members would just never go in there, and the mods would no longer be overworked. :)

I doubt that would help much with spambots.

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So make it so they can't PM either. Sure, it would suck for the people who join and don't read the rules, but if we plaster up in big red signs everywhere "YOU MUST READ THE RULES IN ORDER TO POST", they can't really complain much, can they? And the Rules would contain a detailed description of how to join the group that lets you post.

What if people don't understand and just leave?

A possible solution to that would be an introductions section - if users don't understand why they can't post, they post there and someone responds with "read the rules."

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A possible solution to that would be an introductions section - if users don't understand why they can't post, they post there and someone responds with "read the rules."

That would probably limit the spam to the intro section, since I can't see that many spammers would bother to read the rules that they're just going to break anyway...

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We're not going to present that big an obstacle to support.

 

The Doctor: There was a goblin, or a trickster, or a warrior... A nameless, terrible thing, soaked in the blood of a billion galaxies. The most feared being in all the cosmos. And nothing could stop it, or hold it, or reason with it. One day it would just drop out of the sky and tear down your world.
Amy: But how did it end up in there?
The Doctor: You know fairy tales. A good wizard tricked it.
River Song: I hate good wizards in fairy tales; they always turn out to be him.

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Ugh. No no no. This idea of having a group everyone has to join before they can post is a terrible, terrible way to go. Spam prevention methods should make it easier for the regular users and harder for the spambots - this method would do just the opposite. The spammer would only have to figure out the process once for however many bots they plan to release, where as every single real user would have to figure out the process on their own.

I wrote my own blog system, so I've had to deal with more than my fair share of Spam - I just cleared out my Spam log yesterday, and I already have over 500 attempted spam posts. Trust me - some spammers do in fact research the site they're spamming, even ones that are stupid enough to post from the same IP for each one. Each time I modify the program and update posting regs to reflect that, the spam bots that hit my site change their tactic to suit within three weeks time. This site is a little different, in that it requires registration, but once an account is created, the bots can go to work just the same.

Eventually the bot makers would figure out what we're doing, and their bots could - if the creator was pathetic enough - be written to apply their account to the group before they post. Alternately, the accounts could be created manually before the bot is given the credentials for it - we can't stop accounts created by humans, as humans are the ones we want to let through.

I'm not exactly sure what capabilities Forumer lets us have to combat this, but as far as I'm concerned, we can toss the "Posting group" idea out the window right now.

What if we add a separate forum for advertising, then just forget about it? The spammers would post their threads and be happy, the members would just never go in there...

Spam is based on the use of referential links to a pay-per-hit site to make money. When Google, Yahoo, MSN, et cetera spider the site for changes, they hit the links and those people get paid. Were we to allow this, we'd still be facilitating Spam, and that's not a message we really want to give.

... and the mods would no longer be overworked. :)

Honestly - speaking for myself anyway - we're not really overworked. I don't really see Spam as being a problem unless it's pornographic, or if accounts like Lifeempitte and JOneronego from the other day replace the entire front page with Spam in an hour and a half. These days, people are so used to Spam we tend to just shrug it off, unless it meets one of the aforementioned criteria.

Nonetheless, it's quite apparent that we're getting more Spam today than we were this time last month, so something in either PHPBB or Forumer has been found and is being exploited, and the sooner we can identify and remedy that problem, the better we'll all be. In the mean time, report each Spam post you see, and one of your friendly neighborhood Mod staff should be along to deal sweet justice shortly. ;)

I am not a mechanism, I am part of the resistance;

I am an organism, an animal, a creature, I am a beast.

~ Becoming the Archetype

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Dan said it better than I ever could have. He's exactly right on all counts. Everything you guys have suggested attacks the symptoms (spammers) and not the cause (a fundamental vulnerability in our spam protection system). Even the idea I presented on the last page is only a stopgap measure. We may as well just lock the forum if that's what we're going to do.

Honestly - speaking for myself anyway - we're not really overworked.

Nah. Not too bad here, either. 'Course, you've been gone for a while... :-P

something in either PHPBB or Forumer has been found and is being exploited,

I think the problem is that we're on the Forumer frontpage, as Simon noted. We're just a bigger target than usual.

Each time I modify the program and update posting regs to reflect that, the spam bots that hit my site change their tactic to suit within three weeks time.

That sounds like a fascinating game of chess!

 

The Doctor: There was a goblin, or a trickster, or a warrior... A nameless, terrible thing, soaked in the blood of a billion galaxies. The most feared being in all the cosmos. And nothing could stop it, or hold it, or reason with it. One day it would just drop out of the sky and tear down your world.
Amy: But how did it end up in there?
The Doctor: You know fairy tales. A good wizard tricked it.
River Song: I hate good wizards in fairy tales; they always turn out to be him.

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Each time I modify the program and update posting regs to reflect that, the spam bots that hit my site change their tactic to suit within three weeks time.

That sounds like a fascinating game of chess!

Argh, now I'nm thinking up rules for Bot Chess.

Anyway, why is it just recently we've been getting spammed? SOmething to do with the few Conficker victims who weren't cured?

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Each time I modify the program and update posting regs to reflect that, the spam bots that hit my site change their tactic to suit within three weeks time.

That sounds like a fascinating game of chess!

Argh, now I'nm thinking up rules for Bot Chess.

Anyway, why is it just recently we've been getting spammed? SOmething to do with the few Conficker victims who weren't cured?

I think Simon is correct: we've got a big target painted on our chests because our forum is on the Forumer homepage.

 

The Doctor: There was a goblin, or a trickster, or a warrior... A nameless, terrible thing, soaked in the blood of a billion galaxies. The most feared being in all the cosmos. And nothing could stop it, or hold it, or reason with it. One day it would just drop out of the sky and tear down your world.
Amy: But how did it end up in there?
The Doctor: You know fairy tales. A good wizard tricked it.
River Song: I hate good wizards in fairy tales; they always turn out to be him.

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