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

Created by will on Jan. 15, 2015, 12:02 p.m.
  • Sticky
  • @andy.fancher: There is a search function, it just isn't very accessible. Rallier put a link to it in the "New to the forums?" thread before he stepped down as a mod.

  • @kim_a: I'm not really talking about the search function, but more the part where a new post in an old thread doesn't get bumped under the thread subject. I hardly ever pay attention to the "Latest Topics" portion.

  • @will: I'm sorry... its not your fault at all and it has to be a big drain on both your time and life-force.

    Keep up the good work, we do love you guys. :)

  • *Knock on wood* The spam problem seems to be getting better. I usually surf the forums at work on Sunday nights, and I don't think it was too bogged down with spam. Woo!

  • @will: Is there anything else that the non-moderator section of the forums can do to help with the problem other than basic flagging?

  • Wow, it seems to be working @will: Nice work!!!

  • As a new user, I have to say that the amount of spam totally turned me away from these forums... When you look at the list of posts, and just so many are spam, it just makes the forum look inactive and uncared for, even if the mods are fighting to clean it up. But I finally got around to posting my project, so it didn't drive me permanently away.
  • @will: I'm really sad that your valuable time is being taken up by dealing with this. It is a crazy situation that has no easy solution beyond what you are trying. I had stepped away from the forums through frustration and even though I have been loving the rest of what you guys do, I still felt like something was missing.

    Things are looking better, so you are winning the battle. Please realise that we do appreciate you hard and thankless work.

  • The spam problem has gotten a lot better, whatever you're doing, its helping... and I actually think forum activity has risen these last few weeks :)

  • Well, that didn't last long. I just flagged about two pages of spam.

  • @firebird: There is still a bit of spam that gets backed up on weekends.

  • So I just realised I never actually replied to this thread properly other than my effort to investigate and mitigate the "Joey" menace. This effort seems to have gone UNHEEDED like most historic attempts to disrupt the establishment's ploys to exploit the common man. WE'RE WATCHING YOU "JOEY"!!!! YOU HAVEN'T FOOLED ALL OF US!!!!!!!

    Personally I came to the site first and then later the forums. It seems at some point a few years back I tired of posting on forums as a general rule. Then along comes Tested!

    I believe I posted in the forums before becoming a paying member but it was nothing particularly useful or spectacular and the forums were certainly not what drew me to the site. The podcast and video content were definitely the key draw for me.

    And just to beat a dead horse, the spam thing is definitely a significant issue. I have no idea what the solution is nor do I have any useful advice to offer but I confess it does result in me checking the forums less than I otherwise would.

  • I see the spam problem still exists.. Anyways, how would everyone feel about reporting on all the teams in NASA CubeQuest Challenge? You know, testing everybody. I can promise you access to at least one time, ours! Team Miles.
  • What do other sites do? I haven't seen so many attempts to sell winkle cream on the internet since the late 90's.

  • CAPTCHA and blocking posts containing URLs for non premium members may work. I've seen a few other forums take this approach and the difference was like night and day.

    You've said that the spam is being posted by actual humans, right? What kind of forensic evidence did you find to support that?

  • A spam post in a thread about spam. just a touch ironic.

  • Do you ever accidentally remove legit posts thinking they're spam? I posted something in the general discussion forums earlier today, and now I don't see any sign that I ever posted anything. Granted it was my first post, but I don't THINK I did anything wrong... Maybe it was some sort of automated sweep?

  • @TheBigBad: as I posted in the other thread, it's unlikely. Usually you end up getting banned straight away. There are some new filters on Tested I think--I haven't really been briefed on them. Perhaps @will can give you a definitive answer...

  • My first account on this site got banned, can't understand why (and would love to get that username back), hoping the premium member status of my current account inoculates me from banning (unless I start trying to sell pills enlarging certain things). I'm not here at the forums that often but when I've been there's sure been spam around.

    If spammers send actual users here I guess the best you can do is look for (anti)patterns and hold stuff for moderation. But then you have to assign people to check the moderation queue and that's both boring and time consuming.

    Best of luck to your spam hunting efforts.

  • I'm brand new here to the forums as a member and have an etiquette question about spam. Before I found this thread I found some spam threads and flagged them. But then I started seeing a bunch and wondered if it was worth doing. Is that something that is helpful or not?

    Thanks all.

  • @John Nanci: I'd say it probably is, it is my understanding that by doing so all the spam posts ends up in a nice, ordered list for the mods, so they don't have to weed through them. :)

  • @will is there a setting you can put into the flagging system to tell us when a post has been flagged. If I Flag something it says Flagged. But as soon as I go away and come back the option to flag again is there.

  • @will said:

    Did you come to the forums first or the site?

    I came to the site first, then started investigating the forums.

  • Just stumbled across this nifty article (see links below) which is about how to handle trolls and it made me think of's spam problems.

    see the quote about how algorithms can troll the trolls:

    Some time ago smart developers of the German data journalism agencyOpen Data Cityhave tested such a tool with the name "Troll throttle", with whom not only troublemakers can be identified but also be relegated. On a blog Michal Kreil and Linus Neumann invited trolls to enter captchas — aka security codes to differentiate between man and machine — and although these entries were probably correct, the trolls were repeatedly prompted to enter again — until they gave up over sheer frustration.

    This article points out how an increase in troll activity threatens the dialogue between a news provider and its audience.

    I found it interesting to read albeit the proposed counter measurements are not easily to be obtained for the average joe putting his stuff out on YouTube or Facebook.

    €: if you are interested in the matter, I propose starting the article half way through because it needs some time to hit its mark.

  • Its pretty clear that the forums have become a wasteland. I can't think of another website that is besieged like this one.

  • I hope Will is good with me putting this out. I think it shows pretty clearly they ARE doing something.

    We get thousands of automated spam post attempts every day. There are also several hundred seemingly human spammers who create new accounts and post one or two things before they start getting filtered. We usually miss about 15 a day, which is a pretty good ratio. If we had tools set up to let users flag and ban those, we'd be in really good shape, but alas...

  • dddddddddddddddddddddddnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn

  • Yeah, it's up to about 60 pages now. I'd say make it premium only, at least until some proper measures can be found. You say that the forum is an entry point for the website but if I were a newcomer to a forum that opened with 60 pages of spam I can't imagine it would be quickly added to my favourites. While I can't imagine users going premium purely for a forum, combined with the other great material on the site a smaller but higher quality forum may encourage some to take the plunge.
  • Personally I'm not a huge fan of the forum software here, it really lacks the usability of something like Xenforo or hell even vBulliten from back in the day, they also have a much much larger community who have developed pretty good search engines and spam filters, just my $0.02.

  • @will: I was thinking today that if you could ban and delete all posts with a link (or strings like "
    http" and ".com") in the title it would remove a lot of the spam. Regular users don't do this (and shouldn't anyway imo) so it'd be an effective way to cut down on spam.