TR Forum Spammers

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Re: TR Forum Spammers

Postposted on Fri Jan 03, 2014 8:05 am

Captain Ned wrote:
Flying Fox wrote:More proactive? Some F5-ing the latest posts list at 3am ET and killing posts is not proactive enough for you? ;) :P

I've been on vacation since before Christmas but my usual morning work-day routine finds me thudding into my desk chair at about 6AM ET to kill the early AM spam. It's the rare AM where I don't find some either live or in the junk drawer.


I think a lot of those posts in the junk drawer may be ones I've flagged. I'm in Asia and I notice that a lot of spam starts popping up around 2-3am EST - maybe this is the time at which these types of posts have the longest "life."
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Re: TR Forum Spammers

Postposted on Fri Jan 03, 2014 9:09 am

I catch my fair share of the middle of the night spammers. Due to health reasons I keep odd hours and you can find me wide awake in the middle of the night more often than not.

I think I have only made one mistake and reported something that did not need to be. It looked like spam at first glance so hit the report button. Then at second glance I noticed the post count of the poster then recognized the name. Realized I had made a mistake but no one ever said anything about it.

I don't understand why being able to post a link is so important though. How often is a link necessary when asking for help? Just a glance through recent posts shows no one asking a question with a link. The links don't come into play until some one replies most of the time.

Just make it clear up front, no URL's until they get past a certain post count. If they can't wait give them a button to hit asking for approval. Seems to me the requests would be a small number compared to how many spammers you have to deal with each day.
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Re: TR Forum Spammers

Postposted on Fri Jan 03, 2014 9:43 am

Khali wrote:I think I have only made one mistake and reported something that did not need to be. It looked like spam at first glance so hit the report button. Then at second glance I noticed the post count of the poster then recognized the name. Realized I had made a mistake but no one ever said anything about it.
That's because the mods do review individual reports, to prevent abuse and accident like the case that you mentioned. The fact that you see nothing means the mods were already at work. Most spam posts are removed within minutes of appearing and the fact that most gerbils don't see them is because the mods are working very hard to deal with them. Mods do strive to make things smooth and uneventful, and it is not a sign that they are slacking or anything. :roll:

Khali wrote:I don't understand why being able to post a link is so important though. How often is a link necessary when asking for help? Just a glance through recent posts shows no one asking a question with a link. The links don't come into play until some one replies most of the time.
A few newbie posts asking for help (either build plan or during the build) will either post links to their components either on their first post or responses will ask them to list those components. If you frequent the SBA and General Hardware forums you would know.

Khali wrote:Just make it clear up front, no URL's until they get past a certain post count. If they can't wait give them a button to hit asking for approval. Seems to me the requests would be a small number compared to how many spammers you have to deal with each day.
That's the debate. This may scare people away when TR wants to grow its readership. The debate swings back and forth from time to time. Pretty much all the arguments were made and repeated just like these repeating threads. Just because someone sees the mods missing some threads does not necessarily mean there is some spam epidemic going on. As have been linked above these "omg spamz!" threads are not new. Everyone is an expert.
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Re: TR Forum Spammers

Postposted on Fri Jan 03, 2014 10:20 am

Khali wrote:I think I have only made one mistake and reported something that did not need to be. It looked like spam at first glance so hit the report button. Then at second glance I noticed the post count of the poster then recognized the name. Realized I had made a mistake but no one ever said anything about it.

A few false-positives are inevitable; we do read the posts before junking/banning, so we generally catch those. If it looks like an honest mistake I generally don't bother saying anything (I just close the report). Occasionally I'll PM the reporter to explain why the post has been left up.
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Re: TR Forum Spammers

Postposted on Fri Jan 03, 2014 10:58 am

BIF wrote:Hmmm, it would be very interesting to see a world map showing huge swaths of TR-Banned geographic areas. :o :)


I would *love* to see that. TR's geographic spam source map would likely correspond with general spam/malware map.
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Re: TR Forum Spammers

Postposted on Fri Jan 03, 2014 10:59 am

I've made false positives, too, and a mod has always PM'd asking if they missed something, but no, the error is all on my end. :oops:
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Re: TR Forum Spammers

Postposted on Fri Jan 03, 2014 11:05 am

I report on average about 3-4 a week, so I'm curious, ballpark, how many are actually posted and removed over that same one week span. I would fully support a 10 post limit for new users before they can post a link. The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.
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Re: TR Forum Spammers

Postposted on Fri Jan 03, 2014 11:10 am

Flying Fox wrote:
Khali wrote:I don't understand why being able to post a link is so important though. How often is a link necessary when asking for help? Just a glance through recent posts shows no one asking a question with a link. The links don't come into play until some one replies most of the time.
A few newbie posts asking for help (either build plan or during the build) will either post links to their components either on their first post or responses will ask them to list those components. If you frequent the SBA and General Hardware forums you would know.

Most definitely. Plenty of new users bring links to parts or part lists asking for a sanity check.

One way I can think of to thottle the number of spam threads is to force a cooldown between new threads until a certain post count is reached. Of course, then you could run into problems with spam posts in individual threads, creating more work for mods tracking them down. You can't put the cooldown on individual posts because it would prevent exchanges needed for new users, who ask questions, get responses, and ask follow-up questions.

So basically...I think we're probably at the best system we can get. Since the bots tend to post threads (not replies), mods can nuke them all at once. Unless you can get a better system to confirm that a user is human, I guess.

Btw, thanks to all the mods who keep the forums clean. We do appreciate it :)
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Re: TR Forum Spammers

Postposted on Fri Jan 03, 2014 11:11 am

Walkintarget wrote:I report on average about 3-4 a week, so I'm curious, ballpark, how many are actually posted and removed over that same one week span.

I haven't really kept count lately, but I would guess it averages something like 10 per day. We may get double that on a bad day.
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Re: TR Forum Spammers

Postposted on Fri Jan 03, 2014 11:39 am

The log shows 268 moderator actions in the past 168 hours (one week). 99 spammers were banned during that period.
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Re: TR Forum Spammers

Postposted on Fri Jan 03, 2014 11:51 am

OK, so my guess was off by nearly a factor of four if counting individual spam posts, but close to correct if counting spammers! :o
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Re: TR Forum Spammers

Postposted on Fri Jan 03, 2014 11:57 am

just brew it! wrote:OK, so my guess was off by nearly a factor of four if counting individual spam posts, but close to correct if counting spammers! :o

The HoB really makes it easy to rack up kill markings.
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Re: TR Forum Spammers

Postposted on Fri Jan 03, 2014 12:01 pm

When an evil spammer registers to post one SPAM message, it can generate up to four moderator actions in the log.
0: A helpful user clicks on the Image "Report this Post" icon to report the SPAM.
1: A vigilant moderator moves the flagged SPAM message thread to the junk pile, removing it from the visible forum posts.
2 through 4: A capable administrator bans the spammer's email, bans their IP address and closes the user's report on the post.
Last edited by JustAnEngineer on Fri Jan 03, 2014 12:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: TR Forum Spammers

Postposted on Fri Jan 03, 2014 12:04 pm

JustAnEngineer wrote:2 through 4: A capable administrator bans the spammer's email, bans their IP address and closes the user's report on the post.

If the post is still in the open forums, the Hammer does all three at once plus nukes the offending post(s). If it's in Junk, the report has to be closed manually.
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Re: TR Forum Spammers

Postposted on Fri Jan 03, 2014 12:33 pm

Khali wrote:I don't understand why being able to post a link is so important though. How often is a link necessary when asking for help? Just a glance through recent posts shows no one asking a question with a link. The links don't come into play until some one replies most of the time.
Flying Fox wrote:A few newbie posts asking for help (either build plan or during the build) will either post links to their components either on their first post or responses will ask them to list those components. If you frequent the SBA and General Hardware forums you would know.


I do frequent those forums. SBA for example, two of the ten latest posts had links in the OP's post. One was posted by JustAnEngineer so links wouldn't have been a issue for him since he isn't a new member. The second one was from mvp324, a fairly new member with 20 posts. Looking at what he linked the links were not necessary, a part name/number would have sufficed to ask a question.
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Re: TR Forum Spammers

Postposted on Fri Jan 03, 2014 2:58 pm

Captain Ned wrote:
Hz so good wrote:Wait, whaaa? I was just apologizing, because I forgot that being a forum mod is a difficult job, too. I didn't mean any offense. I'm just used to a world where I don't have to deal with people, I just shepherd packets to and fro. I truly am sorry folks!

*eep* :oops:

Sorry. Goes to show how the fine line between real emotion and sarcasm/snark is not well-served in a text-only environment. Pseudo-tags come in handy in these situations.


No worries! I forget that tone and inflection don't carry in text, too. I'll try to make use of Psuedo-tags from now on. :D
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Re: TR Forum Spammers

Postposted on Fri Jan 03, 2014 5:31 pm

I think that despite the spam being annoying, it is being removed quickly enough that it isn't really a problem. In the cases when people need help with something, limits that prevent them from asking for help easily or effectively won't make them patiently wait a few days/weeks or make 2 dozen on-topic posts in other ongoing discussions. It will make them either spam to get past the limit or just go somewhere else.

I just took a quick glance through every forum here, and I didn't notice a single piece of spam (except for the 9000 topics JawesomeArt started, but those aren't link spam). Given how well the TR staff are currently dealing with the spam, I think limiting new accounts would almost certainly come out to a loss.
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Re: TR Forum Spammers

Postposted on Fri Jan 03, 2014 5:37 pm

Melvar wrote:I just took a quick glance through every forum here, and I didn't notice a single piece of spam

I look at the TR front page quite regularly and I see spam pop up in the "hot forum threads" section all the time. It's the only reason I even report it because it's so frikking obvious and it's right there on the front page!
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Re: TR Forum Spammers

Postposted on Fri Jan 03, 2014 5:51 pm

That's by far the place where it's most noticeable (for me at least). Still, it gets posted, and it gets dealt with. My point was that it isn't clogging the forum. It is a minor annoyance, not something that actually makes it difficult to use the site.
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Re: TR Forum Spammers

Postposted on Fri Jan 03, 2014 5:56 pm

Firestarter wrote:
Melvar wrote:I just took a quick glance through every forum here, and I didn't notice a single piece of spam

I look at the TR front page quite regularly and I see spam pop up in the "hot forum threads" section all the time. It's the only reason I even report it because it's so frikking obvious and it's right there on the front page!

It seems like it takes a while for the "Hot forum threads" list to update after a thread gets nuked. I wish the front page would "catch up" faster; this would make the spam less noticeable.
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Re: TR Forum Spammers

Postposted on Fri Jan 03, 2014 6:02 pm

just brew it! wrote:
Firestarter wrote:
Melvar wrote:I just took a quick glance through every forum here, and I didn't notice a single piece of spam

I look at the TR front page quite regularly and I see spam pop up in the "hot forum threads" section all the time. It's the only reason I even report it because it's so frikking obvious and it's right there on the front page!

It seems like it takes a while for the "Hot forum threads" list to update after a thread gets nuked. I wish the front page would "catch up" faster; this would make the spam less noticeable.

A lot of times (may be except early morning ET zone), when you click on the spam thread (you can most likely tell, why are you clicking on it anyway? :P), it would have been moved already and you will get the "topic does not exist" message.
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Re: TR Forum Spammers

Postposted on Fri Jan 03, 2014 6:04 pm

Would it be possible for the 'Hot forum threads' on the front page to only show threads with at least one reply, without applying the same rule to the 'View active topics' page? That would hide nearly all of the front page spam while still letting people see all the new topics if they follow the 'Hot forum threads' link.
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Re: TR Forum Spammers

Postposted on Fri Jan 03, 2014 6:05 pm

Flying Fox wrote:A lot of times (may be except early morning ET zone), when you click on the spam thread (you can most likely tell, why are you clicking on it anyway? :P), it would have been moved already and you will get the "topic does not exist" message.

Yes. And my point is, the server obviously "knows" the thread has been nuked. Why is it still listed on the front page, even after a refresh Might have something to do with the way optimization/caching is implemented for the front page or something; I am not privy to the inner details of how the site is coded.

Melvar wrote:Would it be possible for the 'Hot forum threads' on the front page to only show threads with at least one reply, without applying the same rule to the 'View active topics' page? That would hide nearly all of the front page spam while still letting people see all the new topics if they follow the 'Hot forum threads' link.

I was actually about to suggest that, but had second thoughts. It would also hide legitimate new threads. Not sure if the tradeoff is worth it.
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Re: TR Forum Spammers

Postposted on Fri Jan 03, 2014 6:28 pm

The spam in this forum is a very small, small percentage of user posts. The mods are doing fine at eliminating it. Don't click on it. Don't reply to it. Report it.

I honestly don't see a big problem here, but that's just me. I mostly hang in the Porch and R&P, so my viewpoint may be limited. But after being here for 12 years, I can't say I've seen a huge increase in spam.
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Re: TR Forum Spammers

Postposted on Fri Jan 03, 2014 6:31 pm

Vrock wrote:But after being here for 12 years, I can't say I've seen a huge increase in spam.

Let me introduce you to 6AM on the average weekday. :wink:
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Re: TR Forum Spammers

Postposted on Fri Jan 03, 2014 6:45 pm

Captain Ned wrote:
Vrock wrote:But after being here for 12 years, I can't say I've seen a huge increase in spam.

Let me introduce you to 6AM on the average weekday. :wink:

I would say that the fact that Vrock hasn't noticed a huge increase in spam is an indication that the current system works reasonably well. :wink:
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Re: TR Forum Spammers

Postposted on Fri Jan 03, 2014 6:46 pm

just brew it! wrote:
Captain Ned wrote:
Vrock wrote:But after being here for 12 years, I can't say I've seen a huge increase in spam.

Let me introduce you to 6AM on the average weekday. :wink:

I would say that the fact that Vrock hasn't noticed a huge increase in spam is an indication that the current system works reasonably well. :wink:
Yup, that's what I was trying to say. :)
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Re: TR Forum Spammers

Postposted on Sat Jan 04, 2014 10:32 am

Firestarter wrote:
Melvar wrote:I just took a quick glance through every forum here, and I didn't notice a single piece of spam

I look at the TR front page quite regularly and I see spam pop up in the "hot forum threads" section all the time. It's the only reason I even report it because it's so frikking obvious and it's right there on the front page!


Yeah, the hot threads list is helpful because it lets us find the spam straightaway instead of letting it languish in a corner for months, slowly driving links to the spammers' sites.
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Re: TR Forum Spammers

Postposted on Sat Jan 04, 2014 11:02 am

derFunkenstein wrote:I've made false positives, too, and a mod has always PM'd asking if they missed something, but no, the error is all on my end. :oops:


I report every thing this guy posts, so I'm probably on top for reporting.
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Re: TR Forum Spammers

Postposted on Sat Jan 04, 2014 11:44 am

Yay, playoff football today. The Hammer is already warmed up and will likely see much further use.
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