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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  • 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

  • @MAGZine: I'd rather keep deleting the users manually, since the user database is relatively clean right now. If you just delete the posts, we'll have a bunch of active users who are bad, with no way of knowing who they are. If you can give me a list of the people you delete every night, I'd be ok with you mashing the ban button on them. But only if you can generate a list.

  • @Baruthulous: We are aware.

  • 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?

  • @andy.fancher: That happens when there are tons of posts to delete from a single user.

  • 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...

  • @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?

  • @KennyKO: It takes time to implement and wouldn't solve the problem. The pace of the posting and signups is strongly indicative of human involvement. We already have a CAPTCHA on the signup, so adding more captchas will just annoy the people who we actually want to be posting.

    We're rolling more stuff out tomorrow that should hopefully solve a lot of the problem.

  • @Foe: The views on spam are coming mostly from social media spammers. So people get a link on Twitter or Facebook, then click through to a page on our forums. They don't expect actual users of this forum to click the links or fall for the solicitation.

  • 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.

  • @kim_a: FWIW, I haven't seen 100+ pages in more than a year. Occasionally, we get an automated spammer that figures our stuff out and we shut them down, but for the most part, it's 5-6 pages, which means a few hundred new accounts a day, each with one post each. The automated accounts don't even get that many posts before they're killed anymore.

  • @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.

  • @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.

  • @kim_a: I can't believe I'm arguing about this, but since July when Rallier quit, I've only seen a few days that people figured out how to post more than a couple of messages per account. I clean them out myself every day and I usually do them all in one fell swoop, but it hasn't been more than 20 pages since January when some stuff changed. Even when the occasional account figures something out, they usually only get between 100-200 posts, so that would be 10 pages of spam for that one account, plus another 10-20 that represent the 150-300 accounts I delete every day. (I keep stats, so I can give management data about the percentage of my life I've wasted on this to date). Occasionally, spam has built up for multiple days because I've been sick, on vacation, or frankly sick of dealing with it.

    Your solution won't work because of stuff that you would have no way to know. I'll explain why after we roll the next wave of anti-spam stuff.

    We're hoping to turn something on that should have a dramatic improvement very soon.