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Thread: Spammers....grrrrr

  1. #1
    Administrator Robin's Avatar
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    Spammers....grrrrr

    I know there has been an increase in spam recently. I hate it. I really hate spammers with a passion. On the other hand, I really appreciate that no one on this forum has been whining about it. There are people who diligently click on the Report Post Icon and make the message disappear into moderation where it then wait for me to come down with what I like to think of as Thor's Hammer of Spam. (on a side note, I really like Paul's description that I delete and ban first and don't bother asking questions later)

    Here's the deal. There are things we could do to make the forum more restrictive. We could review every new user before they are can post a message or we could moderate every message from a new user before it's posted. Paul and I really don't like these options. It is really important to us that if a new user to the forum wants to post a legit question, they can as soon as that question strikes them. That means that we have to put up with some spammers getting through.

    Blocking spammers is an arms race of whack-a-mole. Just when you think you have a line on how to block them, they pop up in again. We have the forum configured so that if one person clicks on the triangle ! icon (bottom right of a post), the post goes into moderation. Once the post is in moderation, I deal with it (think Thor's hammer). Paul was a bit skeptical of one report and a post goes into moderation because something else that we feel very strongly about is that we don't censor (unless it's spam). The users on this forum have been amazing and only report and item if it is actual spam, legit messages don't get reported.

    I can assure you that we are getting serious about some upgrades to the forum, website, and addition of a wikki. Changes will be coming.

    So, thank to everyone who has taken a few seconds to report spam. And thank you to everyone who has been tolerant of the increased spam coming through on the forum.

  2. #2
    Senior Member+ MichaelMeissner's Avatar
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    One thing that would be useful is if I'm reporting spam on one post, that for the same user's other posts, that the 15 second timeout doesn't apply.

    I have been noticing a few 'spams' actually are for things some Teensy users might want. I tend to be more lenient with those.

  3. #3
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    Have been seeing a number of posts that are very generic comments in stale threads that are most likely just to build a user history and confirm an account works. Do you want us to flag content less posts in dead threads as spam, or leave them be until the bot comes back to and posts an actual link out of the site? It's a tricky question since sometimes real people take the time to say 'hey I found an answer, thanks' in indifferent English. Forum software wise is it possible to have links in high risk posts broken/hidden from crawlers/scrapers (and counting a paycheck for the scammer) while still allowing a human to navigate them?

    A white list process that allowed new users to post links but renders them as plain text sans http..etc until another registered user clicked an 'activate link' button would be one method but depends on clever forum software.

  4. #4
    Administrator Robin's Avatar
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    I look at every post that is reported as spam to see if it is a false positive (there are very, very few). Recently I've banned some people who have made several posts that consist of something like hiiiiiiii, thanks for the info, or great idea.

    I ask that you use your best judgement. The users on this forum haven't let me down. There are a few new users that have been caught up in my banning, but when apoligzie, un-ban them, and explain the situation, they are pretty understanding.

    The timeout settings are tricky. I've been tinkering with them. We are still eyeing some different forum software that will hopefully be better.

  5. #5
    Senior Member PaulStoffregen's Avatar
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    I'm also hoping Xenforo will bring more options. Was originally planning to migrate in July, but K66...

    The timeout was recently reduced to 5 seconds. It's some sort of safety feature to rate limit a bunch of fairly expensive back-end admin things the forum does.

  6. #6
    Senior Member+ defragster's Avatar
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    Spammers....grrrrr :: +1

    Nice the 15 sec limit was dropped - I thought I was slowing down as I did two today and didn't get held up!

  7. #7
    Senior Member Constantin's Avatar
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    I'm continuously amazed how efficient the forum is at detecting and flagging spam. Time and time again, I try to mark something as spam only to discover that someone else was already doing it also and had made the thread invalid in the time it took me to select it, press the triangle and write "spam" in thr comment box. It's a pretty dedicated band of users here! Happiness!

  8. #8
    Senior Member Ben's Avatar
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    I don't know how much work is generated on Robin's side, but from my user-side and spam-reporting view spam is well controlled. No post lasts very long.

  9. #9
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    Is it not possible to permanently block the IP of the registrant once it's discovered as a spammer, like the new one this morning? This of course does not prevent them from using another IP to register again from a new location and name. Hopefully, they would run out of IPs before we run out of patience.

    It's very encouraging to see that the legitimate readers recognize the spam for what it is and not view the post. The spammers apparently are not smart enough to realize that their content is not of interest to anyone on the forum.

  10. #10
    Senior Member+ defragster's Avatar
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    Got this in email today and somebody already Spam marked the post - this is evil as anyone posting on the thread will get the message with links that transition to active user email:

    Here is the message that has just been posted:
    ***************
    as a precision Frequency Standard very good


    *togel online terpercaya (http____m8m8id.com/my/judi-togel-online)*
    *bandar togel terpercaya (http______m8m8id.com/my/judi-togel-online)*
    *tgoel singapore (http_____m8m8id.com/my/togel-singapura-togel-singapore)*
    ***************

  11. #11
    Senior Member+ KurtE's Avatar
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    I know from another site I used to be a moderator on, that at times you could ban by IP address, but you had to be careful.

    That is, for example I don't have a fixed IP address. Each time I reset my Microwave receiver, it is possible that my service provider will give me a different IP address out of their pool. There were times when that other sites Admin would be more aggressive and ban IP addresses, that they would then get responses from other users who happened to then be given that IP address. I think that happened a lot from Universities and the like.

  12. #12
    Senior Member Ben's Avatar
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    Yeah the notification emails from subscribed threads are an issue. Is it possible to delay the email for a couple minutes and then only send it out if the post has not been reported? Might not be worth it to implement in the old forum software, but maybe something to keep in mind for Xenforo.

  13. #13
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    It might be worth logging the IP used by this recent spammer to see if there's a pattern that could be blocked. If their provider issues a new IP then I thought it would only change in the last octet.

  14. #14
    Senior Member Constantin's Avatar
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    IIRC, Robin has done just that, blocking IP blocks originating from specific corners of the Internet. i prefer the community giving back by helping Robin flag spam as it prevents inadvertently banning innocents with dynamic IP addresses. That said, I'm simply grateful that PJRC maintains a forum, that technical questions are being answered, etc because that's a lot of work (even if you don't have to deal with spam).

    Then there are the users here like that 'Holzkopf' Constantin. If there ever was a better target for Robins version of Mjolnir...
    Last edited by Constantin; 08-22-2016 at 11:19 AM.

  15. #15
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    The recent ones are easy to spot but I prefer not to view them to get to the flag. Is there any other way to mark them as spam?

  16. #16
    Senior Member+ MichaelMeissner's Avatar
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    Thanks regarding the 5 second timeout, I didn't realize it had been reduced.

    One minor thing that I wish, is when a post gets blocked from other users seeing it, that the sub-forum unread status gets adjusted to pretend the post never happen. I tend to use the sub-forum read status containing unread articles as an indication to visit the sub-forum. I then read the articles, and explicitly mark the forum read to clear the status. If after I clear the status, somebody posts offering their Hawaiian entrees, and other poster decides to flag it, when I go back to the main menu, the sub-forum should be unread (assuming no other real articles were posted). As I said, this is minor, and if it isn't easy to implement, don't worry about it.

    The Teensy forum is the only one I use that I have to explicitly mark the sub-forum read once I have in fact read the articles to clear the sub-forum unread status.

  17. #17
    Administrator Robin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Arctic_Eddie View Post
    It might be worth logging the IP used by this recent spammer to see if there's a pattern that could be blocked. If their provider issues a new IP then I thought it would only change in the last octet.
    I regularly look the IP addresses of incoming spam. This is where the the game of whack-a-mole comes into play. Spam comes from all over. When I see a pattern I'll ban the IP address or block of IP addresses, but frequently it's a one and done kind of thing with those bast..... uuhhhhh.... scourge of humanity.

  18. #18
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    The recent spammer must have access to a lot of web entry points but his subject material is always the same, live sports streaming, and nothing I care about.

    If I view a post to get to the flag symbol, does it still show as viewed? I've noticed that the poster is usually online and apparently watching for hits.

    Good luck using your hammer, thump-n-dump.

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