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Thread: Require new registrations to post sensibly before being umoderated?

  1. #1
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    Require new registrations to post sensibly before being umoderated?

    I applaud openness and inclusiveness, and being willing to assue the best of anyone registering.

    On the other hand, maybe it's time to consider some meeasure to reduce "register new user, spam and run" tactics. Some possibilities - require answering a Teensy-related technical question when registering. Moderate new registrants for their first five posts, or until the are seen to post Teensy-related material instead of spam.

    In other news: oakley sunglasses, advance shoes, gucci bags.
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  2. #2
    Senior Member+ MichaelMeissner's Avatar
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    Cool

    On various forums, I've had the random thought that in addition to weeding out the spammers, we should weed out members who actually order this stuff from the spammers if there was some way to find out.

    I've thought that anybody replying to a thread that has been dormant for a period of time like 2 weeks or a month should be subject to review before the general public sees the post. I would make an exception for any poster that had participated in the thread when it was active, since that is presumably somebody coming back with new information.

    I would hesitate to put in any sort of technical question, since it would eliminate people who are just starting out. After all, we all started not knowing this stuff, and presumably most of us come here to learn. Also different people have different levels of knowledge, for example would you test for electrical knowledge and eliminate people like me who are mostly software jocks? Teensy's seem to draw more from people who have already used other systems like Arduinos, but I could certainly imagine that people who never have done anything finding the Teensys and starting with them.
    Last edited by MichaelMeissner; 03-25-2013 at 12:59 PM.

  3. #3
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    It's been a while, so I can't recall.. but does registration here even have a captcha?

  4. #4
    Senior Member PaulStoffregen's Avatar
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    Robin and I have talked about more automatic anti-spam measures. So far, our feeling is the extra inconvenience to legitimate users and possibility for "false positives" isn't worthwhile. We really do not like the idea that a brand new user would be unable to immediately ask a question. An extra question at registration might make sense?

    Currently we're using the Akismet filter (yes, we paid for a single-site license), which is automatically moderating almost all of the hundreds of daily spam messages. But some do get through every day. But no filter is perfect. Over the last several months, at least a few false positives have occurred too, causing quite a lot of trouble for the people affected.

    Robin's looked into some forum mods that automatically block spammers based on a number of criteria. The trouble is that no filters are perfect and some of them achieve their spam effectiveness at the expense of trouble to real people.

    Right now, our main strategy is to respond as quickly as we can to spam reports, so....

    Please use the "Report Post" button. (it's the little black triangle icon under each message)

    Don't bother writing anything in the report, just type "spam" so it's not empty.

    Something else we explored, and I *really* want, is the report spam button to automatically moderate the message. Well, within some parameters... perhaps if more than a certain number of reports are received, perhaps where people with 50+ messages posted count as many reports? (and maybe other anti-abuse measures?) I spent an afternoon searching for such a vBulletin mod, but only turned up lots of other people asking for pretty much the same thing! I briefly considered try to write it myself, but that seems foolish with so many things to do on software for Teensy 3.0. If anyone can find such a mod for vBulletin version 4, please let me know?

  5. #5
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    Sounds good. I quite often see spam messages prior to you guys getting to them (likely because of Oz/US timezone differences) so anything that allowed users with a track record to have a more active role in removing them would be a positive step.

  6. #6
    Senior Member+ MichaelMeissner's Avatar
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    Ah, missed the triangle. So many forums with slightly different interfaces.

  7. #7
    Senior Member PaulStoffregen's Avatar
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    Hmmm.... maybe this would be worth looking into?

    http://portal.areyouahuman.com/signup

  8. #8
    Administrator Robin's Avatar
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    *sigh* You have no idea how much I hate the spammers.

    Currently we have a 2 tier approach. As Paul mentioned, we use a service called Akismet that identifies spam and flags it as a moderated status so regular users don't see it. I then go through and delete the messages and ban the users. As we can see, it's not perfect, but it is pretty darn good. We do get a few false positives, however, it is very few compared to the number of actual spam posts. At one point we were getting almost 1 spam post per minute! Thanks to Akismet, regular users saw almost none of them.

    This brings me to tier 2. I got tired of deleting hundreds of spam posts per day so I went on a crusade to figure out where they were coming from. After looking at the IP addresses of the thousands of users accounts that had been banned for spam I was able to identify about 30 address where most of the spam was coming from. After I blocked these IP addresses the amount of spam dropped considerably. Now I try to track the IP Addresses of the users accounts who post spam that doesn't get caught by the filter and when I see multiple users with the same IP address I add it to the block list.

    It deciding what are next steps will be, Paul and I have discussed adding questions to the registration process, adding an "are you human" test, and installing a mod called Spam-o-Matic. We will most likely start with adding a question or two the registration process. With whatever we do it is very important to us the legitimate users not be prevented from registering and posting (including links and attachments) quickly.

    I'm sorry that you all have to be exposed to a few spam messages each day. We are discussing what else we can do to improve the experience for users.

  9. #9
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    Limits on URLs, attachments, and pics to new users might help.

  10. #10
    Administrator Robin's Avatar
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    The challenge we have with limiting URLs and attachments is that it can hinder/limit a new user from posting a complete message asking for help (or sharing information about a cool project). Frequently these posts include a link to where programs were downloaded from, a file attachment of the code that was used, and a picture of screen shot showing an error message or cool project. We want this information to be posted.

    We are battling with a trade off - make it more difficult and limiting to post, making it harder for spam to get through and hinder legitimate users, or make it easy for legit users and risk exposing them to some spam.

  11. #11
    Senior Member Wozzy's Avatar
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    While I agree that the Spam is an annoyance, I also thank the moderators for dealing with it quickly and effectively.
    It's pretty east to spot it and flag it, I have been doing this since I started here.
    It's really not that hard to report the Spam if you happen to be the one that stumbles upon it.
    Just don't click the spam link because it only encourages spammers... I FOR ONE BOYCOTT ALL SPAM SUPPORTERS!

    I like the idea of giving a few trusted users the ability to delete or at least mask it until further review.
    There are some minor annoyances that we should all be willing to put up with in order to keep easy and open access to the forum.

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by Wozzy View Post
    I like the idea of giving a few trusted users the ability to delete or at least mask it until further review.
    There are some minor annoyances that we should all be willing to put up with in order to keep easy and open access to the forum.
    Agree. A lot of these spam attacks comes in bursts, so if people are willing to report multiple spam postings and waiting 60 seconds between each report, I am sure some of the more active spam-reporters wouldn't mind taking on a more involved role if that could help.

  13. #13
    Senior Member PaulStoffregen's Avatar
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    I switched the registration from the captcha to the areyouahuman game. Hopefully that will help keep the spammers out. We'll see.....

  14. #14
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    Great work Paul, I hope this will help with the spam issue. I just tried doing a new registration myself (feel free to delete the new user named "Silly Name" if you want :-). I did the areyouahuman game and it was certainly quick and easy. ...I hope not too easy!

  15. #15
    Senior Member PaulStoffregen's Avatar
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    12 hours after switching to areyouahuman, the level of spam (the stuff Akismet automatically moderates so you never see it) has dropped dramatically. At least so far, Areyouahuman seems to be very effective at preventing spammers from registering.

    The remaining spam appears to be from registrations that were completed before I installed areyouahuman. These spammers who register and then wait days or weeks are probably the ones more skilled at avoiding content filters, so we're likely to keep seeing some spam get through. Two messages that got through the filter today were from a registration completed on January 30.

    Please use the Report Post button for any spam you see. That does send a notification directly to Robin. She usually checks multiple times per day.

  16. #16
    Senior Member ZTiK.nl's Avatar
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    Usually when I wake up and check the forum (around this time) the forum is filled with 10+ spam posts.
    Today... none!

    As most others, I wasn't aware of the report button until you mentioned it, I will be using it from now on.
    Paul, thank you for the added layer, but even more so, Robin, thank you for your continuous work in trying to keep the forum clean for us end-users

    Three /cheers for Robin!


    P.S. Robin, unless you are the person sending all this spam, you have nothing to apologize for!

  17. #17
    Administrator Robin's Avatar
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    Yesterday I started deleting accounts from Banned Users. So far I've deleted over 10,000.

    My crusade against spammers continues...

  18. #18
    Senior Member Wozzy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Robin View Post
    Yesterday I started deleting accounts from Banned Users. So far I've deleted over 10,000.
    Wow... I never would have guessed that number would be so large.
    Double thanks for all your diligence, in working to keep this forum interesting, vibrant, educational and safe.

  19. #19
    Senior Member PaulStoffregen's Avatar
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    Well, the good news is areyouahuman seems to have completely stopped spammers from registering. Normally we were seeing hundreds of automatically moderated spams daily (that never were visible, thanks to the Akismet filter). Today, only 2. They're from prior registrations. I'm hopeful it will take a long time for them to adapt....

    The so-so news came today, less than 48 hours after installing areyouahuman, they announced their intention to start selling ad spaces on the games. Arrrrggg!!! They've added a "Branded PlayThrus" section to their FAQ page. I swear, I read everything on their site just 2 days ago and there was no mention of this.

    If the $19/month plan will let us shut off the ads (that isn't clear yet... I sent them a question), we'll certainly pay for it. Their other ones are pretty expensive!
    Last edited by PaulStoffregen; 03-27-2013 at 11:37 PM.

  20. #20
    Senior Member ZTiK.nl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PaulStoffregen View Post
    If the $19/month plan will let us shut off the ads (that isn't clear yet... I sent them a question), we'll certainly pay for it. Their other ones are pretty expensive!
    It does appear that way.
    From the FAQ:
    Can I turn off branded games?
    Yes—our Enterprise customers and subscribers to our paid plans can turn off branded games. Just log in to the Portal and choose a game theme other than “All.”
    If I understand this correct, Enterprise customers are people who rent/hire infrastructure as well.
    The Paid plans would be the 'Personalized' and 'Professional' packages (Prof. coming soon).

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by ZTiK.nl View Post
    Usually when I wake up and check the forum (around this time) the forum is filled with 10+ spam posts.
    Today... none!
    Same here. I usually see a bunch of spam first thing in (my) morning (UTC+1) and then it goes away some hours later. Last few days, not seeing any.

    Quote Originally Posted by ZTiK.nl View Post
    As most others, I wasn't aware of the report button until you mentioned it, I will be using it from now on.
    Paul, thank you for the added layer, but even more so, Robin, thank you for your continuous work in trying to keep the forum clean for us end-users

    Three /cheers for Robin!
    I had been using the black triangle to report spam, but wasn't sure if it did anything. Glad to hear it is worthwhile.
    And yes, well done Robin for fighting the spam so what I was seeing was just the tip of the iceberg. Great job.

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