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Spam, spam, spam, ... and more spam

Discussion in 'General Issues and Discussion Forum' started by admin, Oct 6, 2008.

  1. admin

    admin Administrator Staff Member

    Members do not see these Ads. Sign Up.
    I previously talked about a Day in the Life of Admin and some of the spam fighting that goes on here. There was a previous thread on How much spam gets deleted?

    Recently the problem has got worse; software that the spammers use have broken some of the security protocols on registration and they can now automatically join up to post their crap (eg viagra; mobile phones; nike shoes). This has been widely discussed on Administrator forums.

    There are 3-5 million forums on the web which is fertile ground for spammers to troll for business.

    Just to illustrate the extent of the problem, here is what we do to fight it:
    1. On registration, there is a Captcha that has to be typed into a box (this is what the spammers have develped coding to get past)

    2. A while ago, we implemented and additional step and there is a arthrimetic question that has to be answered before registration (spam bots are not yet smart enough to answer them and all forums that use that software have a different question). HOWEVER, the spam bot software that automatically crawls the web to register and post messages can stop here and wait for its human master to answer the question).

    3. Certain email adress and IP address are banned (eg anyone using an @mail.ru email address can not register), but most spammers now use @hotmail.com or @gmail.com .... so that will only stop a few

    4. A few days ago I installed a program that measure how long it takes to fill out the registration page --- if it less than 15 seconds, then it obviously a bot and not a real person, so that registration is blocked (several 100 a day a blocked by this!)

    5. Yet another program I just installed draws on a database of known spammer user names, email addresses and IP addresses that forum admins contribute to (and we contribute to as well) - all new registrations are automatically checked against that database and they get automatically blocked.

    They are the steps in the registration process. It works well against the automated bots, but does not work well against the human spammer, so:

    6. Another program we installed can now check a messages for certain keywords (eg nokia; ringtone; viagra; etc) or any message with a link in it (spammers always have links to their crap) for anyone who has less than a certain number of posts --> these posts automatically get moved to the moderators forum for screening. Have caught a lot in the last few days and there will always be some false positives - eg a new poster can include a link to something, but the post will have to be approved before its publically available and we check it. This is the trade off between getting newbies to post and stopping the spam.

    7. As well as advertising their spam, spammers are also wanting links to their site. Generally, the more links to a site, the better it ranks in the search engine, so part of the spammers game in posting in forums is to get more links. To counter or discourage that, all links posted at Podiatry Arena are what is called 'nofollowed', which means you and I can follow the links, but the search engines do not, so the spammer just wasted their effort.

    8. The last line of defence is the spam busters: Donna, Elaine and Deco are forever vigilant and report spam when it gets through all the above steps, where the messages gets deleted and the member banned. We have banned 693 members.

    There is more that we can do, but at this stage choose not to:
    1. Require email validation of new users. Ie you have to reply to an email before you can post; but the spammers can do that and the software they use is set up to do that.
    2. Require Admin approval of all members before joining. A number of forums do this, but all you can do is screen out suspicious looking user names which is not reliable --- potential for a false positive is too high. I have however, turned this on for short periods of time when we are under attack.

    If you see no spam; then its all working. If you see an occasional one, then its never there for long.

    Its an onging battle.....(in the time it took me to write this post, the new software blocked 13 bots)
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2008

  2. Craig:

    An incredible tale....sounds like a sci-fi movie plot to me....full of evil automated creatures and heroes. Who would have thought that all this goes on behind the scenes at Podiatry Arena???? No wonder you are losing so much hair!:drinks
  3. admin

    admin Administrator Staff Member

    ... and I just spent the last few hours installing and trying to get working additional software to get the PM (private message) system under spam control. There are now restriction on the number of PM's that can be sent in a 24hr period and a restriction on the number of members a PM can be sent to at a time. Spammers join just to PM as many members they can broadcast their rubbish via the PM system.

    I have no idea if this spam is happening unless I get one myself or a member complains ... usually by then its too late. At least with this new modification they are restricted to only sending a small number per 24hrs, until they get banned...

    ...it is an ongoing battle.
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2008
  4. admin

    admin Administrator Staff Member

    This is what we up against:


    Redirect to:

    • From other capitalisation: This is a redirect from a title with another method of capitalisation. It leads to the title in accordance with the Wikipedia naming conventions for capitalisation, or it leads to a title that is associated in some way with the conventional capitalisation of this redirect title. This may help writing, searching and international language issues.
      • If this redirect is an incorrect capitalisation, then {{R from miscapitalisation}} should be used instead, and pages that use this link should be updated to link directly to the target. Miscapitalisations can be tagged in any namespace.
      • Use this rcat to tag only mainspace redirects; when other capitalisations are in other namespaces, use {{R from modification}} instead.
  5. CraigT

    CraigT Well-Known Member

    Hi Admin
    Keep up the good work
    Happy to report spam if I see it- how is this done?
  6. admin

    admin Administrator Staff Member

    There is a little red triangle in the top right of each message - just click on that and Moderators and Admin get email notification (its not just for spam; its also for posts you may have a concern about). THANKS
  7. NewsBot

    NewsBot The Admin that posts the news.

    Here is more on spam:

    Forum spam

    A post containing spam links.

    Forum spam consists of posts on Internet forums that contains related or unrelated advertisements, links to malicious websites, trolling and abusive or otherwise unwanted information. Forum spam is usually posted onto message boards by automated spambots or manually with unscrupulous intentions with one idea in mind: to get the spam in front of readers who would not otherwise have anything to do with it intentionally.


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