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Thread: Spammers sending private messages

  1. #1
    Senior Member PaulStoffregen's Avatar
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    Spammers sending private messages

    A few days ago, we had an incident where a spammer sent many private messages to random people, but made no public posts on the forum.

    Please report any PM spam. The reports really do help. We banned that spammer's account within a couple hours of the reports appearing.

    So far we've only had a few of these incidents. Each time, simply banning the offending account stopped the spew of spam. But I'm concerned the forum's private message system gives spammers a ripe-for-abuse communication channel. We don't monitor PMs. Since each message is seen by at most 1 person, the process to report spam and for us to shut the spammer down is much slower than on the public forum.

    Long term, I don't see any good solutions. Changing the forum's programming is not an option. The only viable long-term solution, if spammers exploit PM-only communication, might be to completely shut down the PM system.

  2. #2
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    What's the best way to report them? I've been getting spam from a user JamesMougs the past couple of days, the last a few minutes ago, and a few other now-blocked users before that.

    You could probably deal with it by requiring for example that users must be registered for ten days and have made five forum posts before they're allowed to use PMs. I think vBulletin can handle that with custom usergroups. There's also a "reputation" system that could maybe be used, not sure about that.
    Last edited by jeff; 02-27-2020 at 01:58 AM.

  3. #3
    Senior Member JarkkoL's Avatar
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    Have you tried this?

  4. #4
    Senior Member+ defragster's Avatar
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    I see that 'JamesMougs' got banned.

    Like when reading a post there is a 'Report Post' triangle symbol in the left of the message. Doing that should have the same effect.

    Preventing PM's until 10 posts if it works like noted in p#3 would make sense and not block posting. That would be better than losing any value PM's may have at times by turning them off.

  5. #5
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    Thanks, I had missed the little triangle...

  6. #6
    Senior Member+ defragster's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jeff View Post
    Thanks, I had missed the little triangle...
    Did you do that to one of the SPAM PM's? Not sure where that puts them for moderation.

    The same applies to SPAM post on a thread. One click hides it from view for moderator review.

  7. #7
    JamesMouges got banned but I still got spam from him today. Two messages in fact.

  8. #8
    Senior Member+ defragster's Avatar
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    Odd - don't see JamesMouges as user or banneduser … ghost? When JamesMouges didn't show in users earlier assumed there was a ban on account. No idea when that might have been done.

  9. #9
    Senior Member+ defragster's Avatar
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    The user is :: JamesMougs

    The 'Report Post' works to bring the issue to moderators.

  10. #10
    Sorry it's JamesMougs. I typo'ed there. The other one is RobertHub.
    https://forum.pjrc.com/members/70092-JamesMougs
    https://forum.pjrc.com/members/67004-RobertHub

  11. #11
    I did the "report post" thing

  12. #12
    Senior Member+ defragster's Avatar
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    Reported "PM" post showed for tracking.

    JamesMougs now on the banned list - and RobertHub already was some time prior.

  13. #13
    Senior Member PaulStoffregen's Avatar
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    I banned RobertHub, only moments before you tried.

    Tomorrow we'll look into the PM permissions. If we can't find a way to restrict brand new accounts from sending PMs, we might have to just completely shut off all PM access for everyone. It's just too hard to respond to spammer abuse when it's not public where everyone can see it and quickly report the spam.

  14. #14
    Or maybe screen new users a bit more stringent

  15. #15
    Senior Member+ defragster's Avatar
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    if notes in p#3 are still usable - 'Junior Member' could have that blocked until they post to the 'Member' threshold at 20 posts - without doing a whole new class of users as those notes suggest.

  16. #16
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    I just did a little searching, "Junior Member" etc. are "user titles", which aren't the same as usergroups. You'd have to set up a separate usergroup and promotion as described in those notes.

    Fyi, I often read the forums when I'm working on a Teensy project, but hardly every post - the information I need is almost always there already. So I'm still listed as a "Junior Member" after seven years... 20 posts might be kind of high for a threshold. Though I guess I've never really had the need to use PMs so far either.

    Maybe a combination of number of posts and days registered would be good? Apparently you can also use "reputation", but I don't think that's enabled on this forum and they say it's not necessarily a good idea to turn it on. It depends how dedicated these "online casino" spammers are, I guess it's easy enough to make five posts saying "good to know" or whatever, and wait a week or two. But it might be enough to deter them.

    Other options are to require the first couple of posts to be moderated, or to have a special forum topic where people can request advanced permissions, and maybe have to say something about why they're interested in Teensy etc., but that's a bit more work.

  17. #17
    Senior Member PaulStoffregen's Avatar
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    This same spammer reappeared today, sending more PM spam. I banned the new account. All 3 accounts were using IP numbers from a small range allocated to a large ISP in Malaysia. I've blocked that IP range, so hopefully he won't be able to return.

  18. #18
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    He's back again, user TrevorInogs. Is it also from Malaysia? I've set Private Messaging in General Settings to "Only from Contacts and Moderators" for now.

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