Request for Feedback: Spam, possible solutions, and a bit about you

Created by will on Jan. 15, 2015, 12:02 p.m.
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  • @andy.fancher said:

    @MAGZine Is there any way to keep the flag system for abusive behavior, or will that render your idea useless?

    I realize that you all need to be sure before you implement anything, to prevent account deletion that isn't warranted. Can you or the powers that be implement something in the meantime to help slow the bleeding? A measure that's not perfect, but a way you can tweak it to see what would be the best from experience?

    I can do post-deleting only. That would probably be the half measure. That, or we manually review the logs to make sure no users real users would be deleted and continue manual spam cleanup until (or if) we're sure we want to flip the switch.

    I've finished a very early-stage implementation ("that was easy"), and started running it on my virtual machine. We'll see what crops up overnight, I guess, while I wait for more community/Will input.

  • @MAGZine@will Whatever you guys end up implementing, we appreciate it immensely. This is a community I'm proud to be part of, and that starts from the top and filters down to us.

  • @MAGZine: So, you want feedback....

    First, it's really good to see any forward movement on this.

    Second, I think a trial period is certainly in order if you go the proposed route. I basically never got my posts back (as far as I know) from the last time I was accidentally banned (Thanks Will! lol). Not that I was seriously attached to them, but I was in the middle of a thread or two when it happened. So I would want to know (if I were in your place) in advance exactly how many false positive it's looking like.

    Third, I am sorry that the system doesn't allow other options - since I think much of the spam could be curbed/managed by the suggestions some have made (including Will's comments). Restrictions on new users, proxy banning, etc....

    And lastly, looking at the TOS for that service, it looks like we (well, Tested) would be legit even if it had to be the $50 month one which could be covered by premium memberships (12 of them).

    Anyways, that's my feedback. I hope it is useful somehow. You certainly know more than I about the underpinnings of this forum operation.

  • Will and I are discussing, hopefully we'll find a solution that works.

    In the mean time, I noticed the first two pieces of spam today went undetected (third was one properly classified). I've modified the script to report as an older version of internet explorer (apparently browser version is a good indication of if you're a spammer) and changed the posting IP address to a United States proxy. I guess that this is really the only way I can tune performance. I've written an email to askimet asking about neutral user-agents and ipaddresses, we'll see what they say.

  • @MAGZine Is there any way to flag a post without going into the actual thread? Or possibly flagging a user who is a spammer? I try to flag some of the spam I see each night, but it is so time consuming to do it that way.

  • @will Thank you for your continued diligence to try and corral this problem. I love a spam free forum asa much as the next person, but it is refreshing when the higher ups like you are active in their own forums.

  • I am quite happy to spend a few minutes a day banning folk that want to make my p*nis bigger

    As to quote scotty

    You cannae break the laws of physics jim

  • Oh, There is something being hammered into the forge. Maybe now the forums can be a full fledged forum thriving on activity.

    Developing custom stuff, its tedious work, but if it works, you should be set for life in spam prevention.

  • In the meantime, I'm tempted to make a modification to delete posts that it detects as spam (no ban). Looking through, the system definitely seems to err on the safe side--some spam gets through, but the majority does not.

    @will: thoughts? If I can get a list of usernames current registered, I can make a user safe-list--users who would never be checked for spam. I can also scrape it, since you might not have access to a list, or there may be privacy issues in sharing such a thing.

    Last night's statistics:

    Bad posts not marked as spam: 7/99

    Bad posts marked as spam: 92/99

    Good posts not marked as spam: 2/2

    Good posts marked as spam: 0

  • Ummm...this may be a false alarm, but I think that here be spammers...

  • Good to know you guys are working away this, I assumed you would be but an open discussion about it gives another level of comfort.

    As far as 'Premium-Members-Only' or anything like that (skimmed this thread hard so if that's been resolved then ignore me), it would definitely be a bit of a barrier to new people, most of the time people aren't willing to pay money without seeing what's on the other side first. If that happened I'd pay the money to go premium, because I'm planning to when I can anyway and even if the forums aren't super active I've listened to a huge amount of the podcast and feel like it's worth it to me.
    I started listened to the podcast, then came onto the site looking to get involved in the forums and then started reading the articles after that. I've always liked forums more than places like Reddit/FB groups/whatever because you can have interactions with people about a whole range of topics in neatly sectioned threads.

  • I realize that this is an off day for pretty much every work schedule known to man, but the spam is looking rather interesting. While the posts still show, the user that wrote it doesn't. This leads me to believe that the users are banned before anything else. Is getting rid of the posts along with it something we will have to wait for when the kinks get worked out?

  • Just wanted to give my thumbs up for all you guys!

  • Thanks for the work guys

  • During registration there should be a couple of AI questions, like:

    Gary has a wife. What is her husband's name?


    Leave this space empty


    2 + two is?

  • just flagged 10 pages of spam. and now i am really hungry for some indian food.

  • @KennyKO: These spammers are supposedly real people, so questions or captchas won't help much.

  • Based on what?

    I run a forum where I had a problem with spam, bots would make tons of accounts, and only after a while would they activate to post spam.

    First trick was to make a sub-forum that was only visible if you had an account, and you could only post there for your first post. This eliminated the spam, but still the number of accounts per day was growing
    So second trick was the stupid questions. And that did it. (By the way most Captcha don't work anymore.)

    Either way, if you make Registration harder, at a certain point it's just not worth it to create these spam accounts anymore.

  • @donbright said:

    just flagged 10 pages of spam. and now i am really hungry for some indian food.

    LOL!! And now you also want to fix your wrinkles and get ripped!

  • @jojonl said:

    @donbright said:

    just flagged 10 pages of spam. and now i am really hungry for some indian food.

    LOL!! And now you also want to fix your wrinkles and get ripped!

    just ordered 10 boxes of love potion / six-pack ab cream, will let you know how it works.

  • @KennyKO: Given the amount of new spam per day (100+ pages at times, for months) I would also have assumed it was automated, but the guys have said several times in this thread and elsewhere that it is real people posting...

  • Well, these are real people posting this stuff, so someone must be paying them to post it.

    Can we contact (or whatever) and get their affiliate license revoked?

  • @will personally I'd be looking at Joey. That guy seems shady. Sure he has popped into a few podcasts and comes off like an articulate, handsome and generally magnificent human being but THATS EXACTLY WHAT HE WANTS YOU TO THINK!!!!

    Seriously what do we know about this "Joey" character? We occasionally see him lurking about in the background of some shots or hear you guys call out to "Joey" on the podcast when some video magic is needed but DO WE TRUST HIM?!!?!

    I for one think we need to eradicate this menace.

    A great man once said:

    "all it takes for Joey to triumph is for some guy to do a thing".

    Think about it people.

    Think about it.

    Edited to ensure clarity of message

  • Do you have anything like spam o matic like on Vbull? I always found that really useful for getting rid of people quickly (if someone had made multiple accounts using the same IP it would delete all those posts and IP ban all those accounts).

    We also make it so that anyone who had posted less than 10 times would be flagged if they posted a link. Those posts would be sent to the admin area and not the main forum.

  • I'm sorry if I didn't read all the pages of this thread.

    Early in the thread there was a suggestion to limit posting to premium members, I think that would put a lot of people off. But if there was a small fee for "regular" membership, say a dollar or even half a dollar (or quarter), I bet spam would die instantly.

    If it stops real people registering make it so that the fee is refunded a week or two after you've made ten posts and you're still not banned.

  • I think there maybe a fundamental problem with the layout of the forum itself. If you notice, every new post is consolidated on one page in "Latest Topics" a link that you would typically see when you click the forum button on the main webpage. Doesn't matter if regular/premium people see it. It would be the new people or random visitors who click through the page that matters to the spammers. Regardless of which topic they post, it will give them exposure, guaranteed. If these are real people spamming then they have an easy way to get clicks/money from whomever they are being paid by. Most forum layouts are not like the one that Tested has setup, which I think is why this site is targeted specifically for that purpose.

    Just a thought...

  • I still don't see any indication why these would be real people. Random accounts plus random spam means bots to me. HAs my suggestion at least been considered? If so, what are the cons?

  • Yea, we don't have access to site data that you guys have to make accurate assumptions about the source of the problems, but in light of the current situation. I think the spam killing machine you guys are working on is doing a great job.

  • @will: I really don't want to beat you guys up over this and I know you guys are probably a lot more annoyed by the situation than the members. And that you can't really do much with the system and resources you have. Still, it has been 100+ pages more recently.

    For a few weeks in december and january there were 100+ pages every other night. Nscafe counted 150 pages+ on a weekday in January and a couple of days later when I checked, there were 15 pages of spam every 20 minutes or so in the morning hours pacific, most coming from single accounts that were making hundreds of threads in an hour or two.

    Some examples:


    I can only restate my suggestions:

    Limit the creation of threads to members with more than five posts.

    Limit the creation of threads to members that have been on the forums for a week after their first post.


    In order for the spammers to flood the forums, they would have to make five posts that don't get flagged for spam, and wait for a week. I suspect they wouldn't.

    From what I've seen, most new members post in the main-page topics rather than the forums. If a new, legitimate member needs to ask a question on the forum, they can search for a relevant discussion or make a few posts and wait for a week.

    Sure, the spammers could begin mass spamming other threads instead, but at least the forums wouldn't appear like a wall of spam at first glance and people would still be able to browse them.

  • @kim_a: I don't know that exclusion is the best thing to do in this case. Most of the threads I've seen don't update inside the actual subject, so people will have to do a lot of thread searching or hope someone else does to find their question answered.