Something to combat Spambots

erindalc

Popular Member
Mar 3, 2015
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Can we get some sort of system where new users require moderator approval to post more than a few times/make new threads? Because this is getting ridiculous. Ignoring and reporting isn't going to make the problem go away.

I would imagine this requires @Quetzi s attention since he's director of IT?
 

Quetzi

Jack of All Trades
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Aug 20, 2012
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There is already a system in place that stops the vast majority of spam that I'm continually poking at so that new messages that get through are picked up in future. On a daily basis we handle between 100 and 500 messages in the moderation queue, this is with CAPTCHA, email confirmations and screening against a known spammer IP DB. The nature of the beast is such that the messages continuously change and evolve in order to get past the filters, what you see getting through on the boards is what happens when they manage to do it. There is a fine line between stopping all spam and making the forums uninviting and unfit for purpose, new users do need to be able to post without being moderated, because once you are in the spam queue its very easy for a legitimate message to get treated as spam. Not to mention a lot of new users post asking for tech support, having to go through a moderation queue before you can even think about getting help is not practical.
 
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erindalc

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There is already a system in place that stops the vast majority of spam that I'm continually poking at so that new messages that get through are picked up in future. On a daily basis we handle between 100 and 500 messages in the moderation queue, this is with CAPTCHA, email confirmations and screening against a known spammer IP DB. The nature of the beast is such that the messages continuously change and evolve in order to get past the filters, what you see getting through on the boards is what happens when they manage to do it. There is a fine line between stopping all spam and making the forums uninviting and unfit for purpose, new users do need to be able to post without being moderated, because once you are in the spam queue its very easy for a legitimate message to get treated as spam. Not to mention a lot of new users post asking for tech support, having to go through a moderation queue before you can even think about getting help is not practical.
Yeah I agree that we don't want to make the forum unwelcoming, and that wasn't what I meant. The spambots typically post multiple times fairly quickly and are new accounts, so I have some hypothetical criteria for blocking them:

1. Significant number of posts at once soon after account creation. (Also perhaps posting exactly following the expiration of the spam timer)
2. High number of foreign characters and/or numbers in each post.

Obviously these will only work with the current spambots, but I feel similar rules could be established for each scenario of mass spam.

Also perhaps an additional moderator or two active during the early morning hours of EST (where I consistently see spam bot posts) would also be helpful. I feel this would be a better long term solution.
 

sgbros1

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Jul 29, 2019
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Also perhaps an additional moderator or two active during the early morning hours of EST (where I consistently see spam bot posts) would also be helpful. I feel this would be a better long term solution.
Last I heard some non mods can clear spam using a tool that they are given access to. So new mods are probably not required
 

erindalc

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Last I heard some non mods can clear spam using a tool that they are given access to. So new mods are probably not required
I know there used to be quite a few of them, but I feel many of them are no longer active. Also many moderators aren't particularly active anymore either.
 

Scottly318

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Jul 29, 2019
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Late evening is when I see a lot of spambots. I'm cdt (in MN). And between 2000 and 0100 is when I notice them. Normally they're gone quickly but not until they've been posting for nearly an hr. I report them as soon as I see them.
 

rhn

Too Much Free Time
Nov 11, 2013
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IMO it is not that bad any longer. Very few spam bots get through, but problem is that when one does it can span 100+ threads in a short amount of time. So it looks bad.

As one of the "spam cleaners" I try to get rid of them as soon as they come up. But even with a thousand spam cleaners, there will be gaps between one of us visits the forum/subforum. But perhaps it would be possible to set it up so at a certain number high of "Report"ings a thread gets automatically removed and held for moderation? Though I suppose that could be abused :/

End of the day, it is really not that bad any longer. It used to be much worse.
 

Quetzi

Jack of All Trades
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Aug 20, 2012
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I tend to clear the queues and do a clean up as one of the first things I do once I get to work, most spambots seem to hit between 6 and 10am GMT and I do my clean between 10 and 12 usually. If you do spot a large amount of spam that needs to be dealt with fast then you can ping me with it on twitter and I can usually get to it fast. My phone is never far away and I can clean with that, though I do need to sleep occasionally. In most cases reporting the thread will get it on the 'look at this first' list when a moderator is next on.
 
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Pyure

Not Totally Useless
Aug 14, 2013
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On a typical work day (mon-fri) I check for and delete spam a few times an hour between 9AM and 5PM EST.

Doing my part :)