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Chad

Reporting Topics & Posts (SPAM)

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Hi everyone,

 

As you might have seen, we've recently had an influx of spambots getting through the forum's built-in spam mitigation features. This happens from time to time as spammers always find new ways of getting through. The main spam prevention service of the forum software uses machine learning to improve itself over time, using data we submit when flagging a member as a spammer. 

 

Unfortunately, your humble volunteer moderation team and I can't be present here 24/7, so sometimes things don't get noticed right away. However, I've just enabled a new feature that may help us, and it requires a little bit of help from y'all. It's something called "auto-moderation", and it works like this.

 

Say you notice a topic that is obviously from a spammer. If you haven't noticed before, there is a "report post" link in the upper-right of every post:

forums-report-post.png

 

If you click that (preferably on the first post of the topic if the topic is spam), you'll see the following form in a dialog:

forums-report-post-dialog.png

 

Select the 2nd option "suspected spammer / spambot", and click "submit". This alerts the mods and myself to the topic in question. Here's where it gets a little more helpful than before. If 3 people report the post, it gets auto-hidden from members. We are still notified and we can then perform our due diligence in banning the spammer, etc, but this should help everyone at least see fewer garbage posts mudding up the feed.

 

I understand that this recent barrage of spammers have been pretty relentless in that they post dozens of topics at once, so I don't expect this to be 100% fool-proof. It should help some though.

 

Thanks!

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28 minutes ago, Zen Traveler said:

I feel like I've been deputized. 

You get one bullet Barney.

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3 minutes ago, CECAA850 said:

You get one bullet Barney.

Number one with a bullet? 🤔 I like it! 😤

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Bueno.

 

 

I really think this new feature will help.  There's nothing worse than logging in first thing in the morning and seeing the report box full.

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Nice little feature.  That last little spambot attack was the worst I had ever seen, with hundreds of threads in three hours.

 

Mods including Chad do a great job, but I doubt they are up at 3am looking for spambots.  Only @teaman and I are apparently up at that hour.

 

Now we just need one more volunteer for the graveyard shift patrol to shut the spammers down!  🙊

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1 hour ago, CECAA850 said:

There's nothing worse than logging in first thing in the morning and seeing the report box full.

I can dig it. It really makes me wonder why they do something like that....Otoh, what's more sinister is what Facebook uncovered which was bots posing as people sending out crap in English and those people forwarding it to their friends. Crazy and we had documentation of that in a long lost forum where folks were linking to/referring to it as well. {Note: Btw, not trying to stir up anything as much as reminiscing.} 

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2 minutes ago, wvu80 said:

Now we just need one more volunteer for the graveyard shift patrol to shut the spammers down!  🙊

Now you are the guy with bullets to spare! :) 

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3 minutes ago, wvu80 said:

Only @teaman and I are apparently up at that hour.

One more early riser will shut them down. 

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7 minutes ago, CECAA850 said:

One more early riser will shut them down. 

Or someone in Europe who still likes us enough to help with internet security.  I'm doing my part by helping them patrol Amsterdam in my spare time so perhaps you guys can find someone to reciprocate: 

 

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I would bet it's someone that works for Bose...

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Looks like you need more security to stop these guys (I've reported at least 3 posts in this section within the last few minutes).  It looks like they're fairly malicious--waiting until local time lunch hours, etc. while thumbing their nose at your anti-spamming efforts.  I don't believe that filtering on geographic location of the user's IP address is going to work since IP spoofing is pretty common. You could filter on use of foreign characters, since this forum is clearly English-only (and that's okay--diyAudio does that, too). 

 

I'd recommend some sort of more positive control - like locking out anyone under 5 posts from posting a new topic without individual human approval for each post.  Many forums do this, so it's not an unprecedented policy. 

 

Chris

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59 minutes ago, Chris A said:

I'd recommend some sort of more positive control - like locking out anyone under 5 posts from posting a new topic without individual human approval for each post.  Many forums do this, so it's not an unprecedented policy. 

 

I think that's been suggested in the past.  Great Idea.  Other forums have a 10 post minimum prior to posting in the garage sale area but that's a whole 'nother bucket of worms.

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3 hours ago, CECAA850 said:

One more early riser will shut them down. 

Actually, had not yet gone to bed!

 

Tim was doing some business a couple of nights ago, and my son was bored so he called and woke me up at 2 am just to small talk so I was awake at 3am!

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1 hour ago, wvu80 said:

Actually, had not yet gone to bed!

 

Tim was doing some business a couple of nights ago, and my son was bored so he called and woke me up at 2 am just to small talk so I was awake at 3am!

I am usually up til about 4am every morning before turning in.

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2 hours ago, Chris A said:

I'd recommend some sort of more positive control - like locking out anyone under 5 posts from posting a new topic without individual human approval for each post.  Many forums do this, so it's not an unprecedented policy. 

I've considered it, but I think that actually puts a lot more potential work for mods and myself. Spammers come and go in waves, but real people sign up and post here every day. Many other forums have dozens of moderators. We have a handful, yet probably proportionate to our active member base.

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3 hours ago, teaman said:

I am usually up til about 4am every morning before turning in.

I'm just cyclic...  Some days up til 3 or 4 and others up at 7 after crashing @ 10...  Drives me insane!  Hopefully it'll sort!

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2 hours ago, Dave1290 said:

I'm just cyclic...  Some days up til 3 or 4 and others up at 7 after crashing @ 10...  Drives me insane!  Hopefully it'll sort!

That's funny as I have my version of what you described.  I've found my circadian rthymn is not a 24 hour cycle but often a 48 hour cycle.  It takes more than one day for me to get my days and nights corrected sometimes.

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2 minutes ago, wvu80 said:

That's funny as I have my version of what you described.  I've found my circadian rthymn is not a 24 hour cycle but often a 48 hour cycle.  It takes more than one day for me to get my days and nights corrected sometimes.

Cloned?  hahahaha!

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14 hours ago, Chad said:

I've considered it, but I think that actually puts a lot more potential work for mods and myself. Spammers come and go in waves, but real people sign up and post here every day. Many other forums have dozens of moderators. We have a handful, yet probably proportionate to our active member base.

I stopped counting at 40 spam postings--all in Korean--(at the time that I wrote this post) from at least 3 spam user names.  At this rate, it looks like you may have a persistent actor behind this. 

 

Perhaps a stop-gap action similar to the one mentioned--human approval of new user posts--until the "waves of attackers" decide to do something else with their time. It might be less bothersome in the short term than cleaning up after the attacks. (There are only so many unique alphanumeric object identifiers available for key fields in any online databased forum, along with the issues of backing up a forum database full of hidden posts and threads.)

 

I recommend consulting with the US State Department to see if they have similar attack reports on other similar sites. State is the surrogate for the actual government agencies that you can't contact that monitor this sort of thing. 

 

Chris

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