Whats up with the Spam bots?

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Re: Whats up with the Spam bots?

Postposted on Fri Mar 09, 2012 6:37 pm

Captain Ned wrote:
JohnC wrote:Implementing a simple rule of "no links allowed for freshly registered users until "x" number of posts" would've decreased this spam by a huge degree

Unfortunately, not supported by a base phpBB install or any of the plug-ins.

If someone out there plays with phpBB and knows of a way to implement this without custom coding, contact forum member morphine soonest.

http://www.phpbb.com/customise/db/mod/d ... re_x_posts ?

Also, maybe this might work:
http://www.phpbb.com/community/viewtopi ... &t=2127067
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Re: Whats up with the Spam bots?

Postposted on Fri Mar 09, 2012 6:43 pm

JohnC wrote:Implementing a simple rule of "no links allowed for freshly registered users until "x" number of posts" would've decreased this spam by a huge degree...
As long as your "x" = infinity. For any non-infinite value of x, the spammers will just put up x posts full of non-link garbage, and then start posting link spam again. So we would be exactly where we are now, except the mods would have to get rid of x additional posts from each spammer. And if the probation is time-based, the spammers will plant an initial post and then return x days later to do their spamming. Both of these points came up earlier in this very thread. I don't see any way to implement this solution without requiring new posters to request permission to link and for the mods to manually approve it. That could create a burden for the mods, but the Cap'n at least didn't think so.
The spammers can still theoretically put links in text form (non-clickable, with spaces between characters), but that will greatly reduce any chance that someone will actually follow those links and most likely decrease the willingness of spammers to use these particular forums.
The whole point of this spam is SEO -- they're not relying on dumb humans clicking the links, they're relying on dumb spiders indexing them and raising the linked site in various search/legitimacy rankings. So links as text have no value, which is why stripping the url tags out would be sufficient. However, for the reasons I mentioned above, I think it would be better if the post was un-submit-able if it included links and you didn't have linking permission.
Also, the Captcha for new users should be more than "see those letters, now copy them into textbox below" - any illiterate person can learn to overcome this, so can some bot programs. Instead, it should be a simple question (which would randomly change) where someone has to type in a simple non-numerical answer in English, which should discourage the illiterate spammers from foreign countries. Those 2 simple things should do it... Unless, of course, the moderators still "enjoy" manually cleaning up dozens of spam posts in various threads :wink:
There's a whole CAPTCHA industry, and a corresponding counter-CAPTCHA industry. I'm not going to presume to know what would work at this point, especially given the tight trade-offs between driving away new users (not all of whom have English as a first language) with high barriers and driving away the rest of us with excessive spam.

The sad reality is that no two things, simple or not, is going to just "do it." There's an arms race here, and unless the financial incentives on the other side change, that's never going to end. The job of the good guys is to do what they can without driving legitmate users away through sheer inconvenience (and without driving themselves crazy in the process).
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Re: Whats up with the Spam bots?

Postposted on Fri Mar 09, 2012 6:49 pm

UberGerbil wrote:The sad reality is that no two things, simple or not, is going to just "do it." There's an arms race here, and unless the financial incentives on the other side change, that's never going to end. The job of the good guys is to do what they can without driving legitmate users away through sheer inconvenience (and without driving themselves crazy in the process).

And the balancing act so far leans toward the user, as it should be. We know spam won't stop, we'd just like to wake up and not find 93 posts to be nuked in the few minutes I have between shower, shave, ironing, and departure for work.
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Re: Whats up with the Spam bots?

Postposted on Fri Mar 09, 2012 6:50 pm

bhtooefr wrote: Delete all their posts (or maybe all but one), and ban the user?

You mean something like this:
http://www.phpbb.com/customise/db/mod/anti_spam_acp/
"an easy one click ban link from their profile which clears out their profile and posts" ?
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Re: Whats up with the Spam bots?

Postposted on Fri Mar 09, 2012 6:54 pm

JohnC wrote:
bhtooefr wrote: Delete all their posts (or maybe all but one), and ban the user?

You mean something like this:
http://www.phpbb.com/customise/db/mod/anti_spam_acp/
"an easy one click ban link from their profile which clears out their profile and posts" ?

Can it do all about one? We would like to leave one post for posterity purposes.
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Re: Whats up with the Spam bots?

Postposted on Sat Mar 10, 2012 6:26 am

LMFAO!
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Re: Whats up with the Spam bots?

Postposted on Sun Mar 11, 2012 12:33 pm

UberGerbil wrote:As long as your "x" = infinity. For any non-infinite value of x, the spammers will just put up x posts full of non-link garbage, and then start posting link spam again. So we would be exactly where we are now, except the mods would have to get rid of x additional posts from each spammer. And if the probation is time-based, the spammers will plant an initial post and then return x days later to do their spamming. Both of these points came up earlier in this very thread. I don't see any way to implement this solution without requiring new posters to request permission to link and for the mods to manually approve it. That could create a burden for the mods, but the Cap'n at least didn't think so.

Keep in mind where he's coming from. AFAIK most of our mods are in the US, and it seems to me that the Cap'n is often the first mod to hit the forums in the morning. He sees all the spam that has come in while the other mods have been sleeping.

Even discounting this, the ratio of legit members to spammers among new account registrations is pretty low. It likely would be less work for the mods to manually approve each new member to post links.

Welch wrote:LMFAO!

Assuming you're referring to the post above yours, saving one of the spammer's posts does have a couple of legitimate purposes: It means we have a record of the spammer's IP address, and we also have the context to go back and re-evaluate the ban if someone contacts us asking why they were banned. The spam post gets moved to a hidden forum, so it no longer serves the spammer's intended purpose (SEO).
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Re: Whats up with the Spam bots?

Postposted on Sun Mar 11, 2012 1:12 pm

just brew it! wrote:Keep in mind where he's coming from. AFAIK most of our mods are in the US, and it seems to me that the Cap'n is often the first mod to hit the forums in the morning. He sees all the spam that has come in while the other mods have been sleeping.

Most weekdays I roll in here around 6:00AM Eastern, so I usually see messes that occurred between 2:00AM Eastern and then.
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Re: Whats up with the Spam bots?

Postposted on Sun Mar 11, 2012 1:16 pm

Ahhh, I was under the impression that Fox was just having a bit of fun. All valid reasons to hold onto a spare post in a hidden forums. How often have you had requests from a user claiming to have been ban for spamming when they weren't though?

I understand the conundrum that you guys as moderators have with this issue. Short of requiring new users to write an essay about why they want to post on the TR forums, I think this issue is just one that will have to be lived with until the spammers get to the point where its no longer beneficial to post here. Keep up the good work guys, we appreciate you cleaning up the forums for us.
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Re: Whats up with the Spam bots?

Postposted on Sun Mar 11, 2012 6:05 pm

Welch wrote:Ahhh, I was under the impression that Fox was just having a bit of fun. All valid reasons to hold onto a spare post in a hidden forums. How often have you had requests from a user claiming to have been ban for spamming when they weren't though?

It does not happen often, but it does happen occasionally.
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Re: Whats up with the Spam bots?

Postposted on Mon Mar 12, 2012 3:12 pm

The other thing could be, copy the post and relevant details into a "spam log thread" or something before nuking them.
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Re: Whats up with the Spam bots?

Postposted on Mon Mar 12, 2012 3:23 pm

bhtooefr wrote:The other thing could be, copy the post and relevant details into a "spam log thread" or something before nuking them.

Less effort to just save one of the posts.
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Re: Whats up with the Spam bots?

Postposted on Mon Mar 12, 2012 4:20 pm

just brew it! wrote:Less effort to just save one of the posts.

Though making split/move/ban username/ban IP into a single mouse click would not go unappreciated by me.
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Re: Whats up with the Spam bots?

Postposted on Tue Mar 13, 2012 8:46 pm

just brew it! wrote:It does not happen often, but it does happen occasionally.


What percentage of bans have been upheld after an appeal? Archiving posts is cumbersome, and likely of negligible benefit.
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Re: Whats up with the Spam bots?

Postposted on Wed Mar 14, 2012 2:17 am

You know. I've always wondered why TR kept all that crap spam around for.. NO one ever comes back and revokes them. I mean the only thing I can think of is they enjoy archiving 1,000s of endless IP's from china, Singapore, India, Pakistan, Russia, Korea, Philippines, and wherever else the spammers are routing from these days. useless junk i tell ya, unload it!
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Re: Whats up with the Spam bots?

Postposted on Wed Mar 14, 2012 2:53 am

I mentioned this earlier since it works for my site but I'll bring it up again since I found the same sort of mod is available for PHBB. http://www.phpbb.com/community/viewtopi ... &t=1340275
That mod integrates the Askimet anti-spam into the site which will block the spammers via this:

What this MOD does is send various things (username, User IP etc) to the Akismet service for spam testing. If it is classified as a spam post or user, it will be blocked. To use this, you will need an API key from Wordpress. These are free. You may get one from http://wordpress.com/api-keys/

It works because the spammers tend to keep coming from the same IPs and using the same login. So when a spammer gets discovered and reported they are then blocked from registering at any other site until they change their login info. It took the spam that made it onto our site from tens of spam accounts a day down to maybe one a week. It's much easier than playing whack a mole with spammers.
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Re: Whats up with the Spam bots?

Postposted on Wed Mar 14, 2012 3:30 am

bryanl wrote:
It should be possible to be anonymous on the internet (eliminating anonymity is what enables regimes to track down and punish their critics, for example),


perhaps we might consider John Hancock and the other signers of the US Declaration of Independence in regards to appropriate ways to address grievances against governments.

IMHO, much of the problem with spam, trolls, and other I'net nuisances is that of avoiding accountability for one's actions.

I also don't think 'regimes tracking down critics' is as much of a problem as, for example, those folks like Salman Rushdie. Governments have a lot more difficulty being anonymous than some religious nut.

We need better social solutions to abuse on either side than separating people from the consequences of their behavior. That starts with connecting the identity of a person with his behavior.


Salman Rushdie is a religious nut? Maybe read his wikipedia page (at the least) he's a person who has a government sanctioned price on his head and lives in a weird public hiding. Maybe I misread what you were saying. Apologies in advance.
I agree that the atmosphere of the internet is a lack of accountability but then its also its strength. Funnily enough youtube videos have some pretty terrible comments on some of the most benign videos.
Its also a fake sense of anonymity because to an extent anyone can be traced backed to the "source" a lot of the time. There's just to many kids on the internet... Battlefield 3 is the worst when some kid leaves his Mic open.
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Re: Whats up with the Spam bots?

Postposted on Wed Mar 14, 2012 7:48 pm

CityEater, from your post count it looks like you're new around here, so -- welcome! -- and a head's-up: please read the post immediately following the one you replied to (and notice the poster's name is a conspicuous color that indicates mod status). If you want to continue this line of debate in the R&P forum, feel free. This thread is precisely about keeping unwanted posts out of threads, so let's stick to that ourselves.
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Re: Whats up with the Spam bots?

Postposted on Wed Mar 14, 2012 9:00 pm

My apologies. I was off topic and out of line.
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Re: Whats up with the Spam bots?

Postposted on Fri Mar 23, 2012 6:46 am

Here comes the spammers!

Man the fort!

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Re: Whats up with the Spam bots?

Postposted on Fri Mar 23, 2012 11:40 am

CityEater wrote:My apologies. I was off topic and out of line.
No biggie. Just the standard netiquette around here. Stick around, ask questions, have fun.
Krogoth wrote:Here comes the spammers!
So far all I see is you.
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Re: Whats up with the Spam bots?

Postposted on Mon Mar 26, 2012 12:04 pm

seems like the most current spammer got away with 13 posts...:

Code: Select all
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how the HELL is that even possible for a new user? there needs to be limits! And look at his join date too... we got spam terrorist sleeper cells at work here!
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Re: Whats up with the Spam bots?

Postposted on Tue Mar 27, 2012 9:21 am

I want to make life as easy on the mods as possible. Is clicking the Report Spam link worth it for them? Would they see it otherwise? If clicking it makes it more of a pain, I'll stop.
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Re: Whats up with the Spam bots?

Postposted on Tue Mar 27, 2012 9:27 am

derFunkenstein wrote:I want to make life as easy on the mods as possible. Is clicking the Report Spam link worth it for them? Would they see it otherwise? If clicking it makes it more of a pain, I'll stop.

Please keep filing reports.
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Re: Whats up with the Spam bots?

Postposted on Tue Mar 27, 2012 9:32 am

Clicking the "report this post" link helps us tell at a glance whether there's new spam that needs to be dealt with. It is also *vastly* preferable to posting in-thread (since posting in-thread is easier for mods/admins to miss and also bumps the spam thread to the top of the Hot Threads list on the front page).
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Re: Whats up with the Spam bots?

Postposted on Tue Mar 27, 2012 9:36 am

thegleek wrote:seems like the most current spammer got away with 13 posts...:

Code: Select all
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how the HELL is that even possible for a new user? there needs to be limits! And look at his join date too... we got spam terrorist sleeper cells at work here!


They're getting smarter.

We need to pull the plug. You know, if we haven't given them ICBM launch capabilities yet. :)
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Re: Whats up with the Spam bots?

Postposted on Tue Mar 27, 2012 9:42 am

Fredric Brown summed it up in a very short story written in 1954.
http://www.alteich.com/oldsite/answer.htm
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Re: Whats up with the Spam bots?

Postposted on Tue Mar 27, 2012 9:55 am

Then so I shall. Thanks for hard work, guys.
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Re: Whats up with the Spam bots?

Postposted on Tue Mar 27, 2012 10:09 am

thegleek wrote:Archiving 1,000s of endless IP's from India...
There have been about 700 so far this year.
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Re: Whats up with the Spam bots?

Postposted on Tue Mar 27, 2012 12:05 pm

JustAnEngineer wrote:
thegleek wrote:Archiving 1,000s of endless IP's from India...
There have been about 700 so far this year.

So is that a low or high #?
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