Timescapes - Digital Timelapse Discussion
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SPAM flood on Timescapes
http://forum.timescapes.org/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?f=11&t=3488
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Author:  Joachim Buambeki [ Fri Nov 26, 2010 12:15 am ]
Post subject:  SPAM flood on Timescapes

Hi,

the SPAM flood is getting really annoying and ruins the timescapes experience a bit.
I guess I reported more than a half a dozen in the last two weeks. This user is obviously a spam bot and uses the same scheme like the others and I reported it already a few times but no action was taken (nor did I get any feedback), there was a aprillove too but apparently this one got deleted.
What do you guys think about installing stronger Captchas or other stuff to prevent these bots from signing up?

Best Regards
David

Author:  timescapes [ Fri Nov 26, 2010 4:13 am ]
Post subject:  Re: SPAM flood on Timescapes

Joachim Buambeki wrote:
Hi,

the SPAM flood is getting really annoying and ruins the timescapes experience a bit.
I guess I reported more than a half a dozen in the last two weeks. This user is obviously a spam bot and uses the same scheme like the others and I reported it already a few times but no action was taken (nor did I get any feedback), there was a aprillove too but apparently this one got deleted.
What do you guys think about installing stronger Captchas or other stuff to prevent these bots from signing up?

Best Regards
David


Thanks for pointing this out. Mods, please bring the hammer down on these spammers. Ban them by IP and delete all their posts (do you guys have that power under current settings?). I noticed the recent influx as well.

The problem is, these spammers are very determined. They are actual human beings who spend time here posting half-ass comments, just so they can have their link to some company in their signature. No amount of CAPTCHA can stop them. Mods, be aware of any posters who have signature links to unrelated things -- like online Universities, retail outlets, etc.

Author:  milapse [ Fri Nov 26, 2010 7:54 am ]
Post subject:  Re: SPAM flood on Timescapes

We're knocking em out as fast as we can. Hopefully that sends a clear message that it's not worth their time. :lol:

Author:  JohnMyrstad [ Fri Nov 26, 2010 11:03 am ]
Post subject:  Re: SPAM flood on Timescapes

Links here are "follow" links which gives PR juice, and if its possible to make links "unfollow" in forum settings it will be less attractive for spammers. I have not checked in detail, but if link juice flows from Tom`s success ( 1.700 links in ) then its attractive to spam.

However this "link juice" also helps contributing members to get better search results for their homepages which is good thing. ( Tom lifting his community )

Author:  Joachim Buambeki [ Wed Dec 08, 2010 1:01 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: SPAM flood on Timescapes

3 spam entries in the same thread in 2 days. Not to mention the other threads that are affected too.
This is getting worse.

Author:  milapse [ Wed Dec 08, 2010 9:12 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: SPAM flood on Timescapes

We knocked em down. Thanks!

Author:  Zigmo [ Fri Dec 17, 2010 1:02 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: SPAM flood on Timescapes

Most human spammers use a script to find the online forums then register into all the forums found. A way to throw them off so that their script does not recognize that a forum is associated to a site is to not use the /phpBB3 or anything obvious like /forum sub-folders. They are looking for URLs with this. The bad part about changing it now is that you already have a lot of links in. This would render them useless.

I would add a Question on the forum that requires them to know a specific peace of information on the site. For instance "What do we call the elusive transition from day to night in time-lapse?" Answer being "Holy Grail". Link to the "The ULTIMATE time-lapse FAQ thread!" and ask a question about its content or even rotate several questions. This does to things. It waste the spammers time and it also insures that all users have read this thread that limits repeated questions.

Author:  Joachim Buambeki [ Mon Feb 28, 2011 3:38 am ]
Post subject:  Re: SPAM flood on Timescapes

Another sense offender:
memberlist.php?mode=viewprofile&u=3566

Author:  Jim [ Mon Feb 28, 2011 10:46 am ]
Post subject:  Re: SPAM flood on Timescapes

Most of the forum spam isn't a real person, it's a bot (program). I had the same problem on my fishing forum. A question stopped it; "What color is the ocean?".

Spam bots can't answer any questions, so it doesn't need to be technical or difficult to answer question. If you'd have asked me what the Holy Grail was, I would have said a movie ;)

Author:  Zigmo [ Wed Mar 02, 2011 7:20 am ]
Post subject:  Re: SPAM flood on Timescapes

Jim wrote:
Most of the forum spam isn't a real person, it's a bot (program). I had the same problem on my fishing forum. A question stopped it; "What color is the ocean?".

Spam bots can't answer any questions, so it doesn't need to be technical or difficult to answer question. If you'd have asked me what the Holy Grail was, I would have said a movie ;)


I understand. You would point them to the FAQ page and tell them to read it and the answer is in the text. A simple question will stop most but for more popular forums spammers will manually sign up and then input the user-name and password into their bot. If you force someone to read the FAQ spammers will not spend the time. They will move on.

Author:  Zigmo [ Thu Jul 07, 2011 5:11 am ]
Post subject:  Re: SPAM flood on Timescapes

BUMP BUMP BUMP! Spam is at a all time high.

Author:  Jay [ Thu Jul 07, 2011 6:08 am ]
Post subject:  Re: SPAM flood on Timescapes

Most of those little tricks won't work anymore. Don't even bother banning e-mails or IP's. More than likely they will not use the same one again. All it takes is one spammer to manually visit your site and they will know what the schema is for finding an answer. From there they can post or sell that information to others.

So far, I've had good luck with Peoplesign plugin. Very easy to implement as well - http://www.peoplesign.com. Currently you have some control of the plugin but in the future they are promising user customization which will really make this a strong deterrent.

Author:  iCe [ Sat Oct 08, 2011 6:06 am ]
Post subject:  Re: SPAM flood on Timescapes

This bot is spamming the video section. pp1234

I noticed that Yahoo (bot) is signed in at the moment

Author:  BerthaDUniverse [ Sat Oct 08, 2011 6:50 am ]
Post subject:  Re: SPAM flood on Timescapes

I try to actively report them when I see them (about 15 this morning alone), but if there is no mod online, who'll stop it?

Author:  Kaouthia [ Sat Oct 08, 2011 7:33 am ]
Post subject:  Re: SPAM flood on Timescapes

iCe wrote:
I noticed that Yahoo (bot) is signed in at the moment

Yes, that'll be the search engine. Not all bots are bad. :)

But yes, there does seem to be rather a lot of extra spam recently. Is CAPTCHA installed on here for new user registrations?

Author:  timescapes [ Sat Oct 08, 2011 8:41 am ]
Post subject:  Re: SPAM flood on Timescapes

Yes, these are actually human beings who are doing this. Tough to stop them. Mods should just ban them by IP and delete all their nonsense posts.

Author:  iCe [ Tue Oct 11, 2011 5:29 am ]
Post subject:  Re: SPAM flood on Timescapes

I saw the following on a photography forum that I frequent. It's an active forum hosted by a well known bird photographer and it seems to be spam free. Perhaps this is why:

Spam-O-Matic StatisticsSpam-O-Matic Statistics

3987 Spammers Denied Registration

425 Spammy Posts Automatically Moderated

Author:  iCe [ Tue Oct 11, 2011 5:33 am ]
Post subject:  Re: SPAM flood on Timescapes

Another handy tool is a report post button that sends a notice to the mods. Hats off to the mods by the way. It can be a thankless and time consuming job

Author:  flyvholm [ Tue Oct 11, 2011 8:46 am ]
Post subject:  Re: SPAM flood on Timescapes

iCe wrote:
Another handy tool is a report post button that sends a notice to the mods.

We do have that, it's in the lower right corner (exclamation mark) of every post (IIRC, I have different buttons for moderation tools now). But yes, if posts from new members required approval from moderators it would stop almost all spam from making it to the forum. It would be a bit of a hassle for new members and moderators alike, though, it might actually be less effort for moderators. If the spam is posted manually by humans as Tom says they would avoid forums requiring moderator approval since they would just be wasting their time with 0% chance of their spam getting posted. In other words, human spammers would stop targeting Timescapes. And perhaps whatever spam attempts are left may be easier to deal with before they are posted compared to what we do now: Ban user name, IP and delete each message separately. Unfortunately, for aspiring members it might take away from the image of Timescapes as an open and welcoming community, perhaps discouraging some from joining.

A little statistics: In the last two weeks 114 members have joined. 47 of these have made non-spam posts, 17 have been banned for spamming and the rest remain to be seen. An additional 4 spammers were banned who joined prior to 2 weeks ago (some create the account but leave it for a while before posting spam). A total of 85 spam posts deleted. One spammer, grace123, made 30 of those posts. Among the new members who have yet to post we find katie123 and adonis123, can't wait to see what they come up with. :| Judging from usernames (e.g. click "Members" link at the top, sort members by join date with newest first and judge for yourself) and already banned members my guess is that about 50% of new accounts are made by spammers at this point.

Author:  BerthaDUniverse [ Thu Oct 13, 2011 12:09 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: SPAM flood on Timescapes

flyvholm, thanks for the stats, it really helps the narrative.

Author:  Kaouthia [ Thu Oct 13, 2011 12:22 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: SPAM flood on Timescapes

Honestly, I'm *really* surprised this thread didn't get picked up by a bot and have an ad for anti-spam software posted on it by now. Or did it get reported & deleted already? ;)

Author:  BerthaDUniverse [ Thu Oct 13, 2011 12:37 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: SPAM flood on Timescapes

Kaouthia, I report all your posts as spam... Muahahahahaaa! :twisted:

Author:  timescapes [ Wed Oct 26, 2011 10:12 am ]
Post subject:  Re: SPAM flood on Timescapes

Guys, do we think that actual humans are registering and making these posts? I just increased the complexity of the sign-up question a bit. Maybe there are ways to increase it further? Like we could say, "What is the first name of legendary non-narrative film director Fricke?" or something like that?

Author:  BerthaDUniverse [ Wed Oct 26, 2011 10:34 am ]
Post subject:  Re: SPAM flood on Timescapes

What does the creator of the "board" software have to address the problem...

Even your given question/reply scenario will be easy to get around (in time).

Looking at the spam, a lot of it seems suspiciously the same (same format even), so maybe they know this type of board is an easy target, and so they keep trying/coming back...

Author:  flyvholm [ Wed Nov 02, 2011 8:31 am ]
Post subject:  Re: SPAM flood on Timescapes

timescapes wrote:
"What is the first name of legendary non-narrative film director Fricke?"

Hmm, unfortunately it's easily googlable. Perhaps something like "What mode should your camera be in to avoid flicker?" along with a link to the FAQ thread? That shouldn't be a big problem for legit users while I'm not sure spammers would want to spend the time finding out.

Author:  Kaouthia [ Wed Nov 02, 2011 8:42 am ]
Post subject:  Re: SPAM flood on Timescapes

flyvholm wrote:
"What mode should your camera be in to avoid flicker?"

That one's kinda flawed though, as some cameras are finy in any mode. :)

Author:  flyvholm [ Wed Nov 02, 2011 10:12 am ]
Post subject:  Re: SPAM flood on Timescapes

Substitute DSLR for camera then.

Author:  Kaouthia [ Wed Nov 02, 2011 10:16 am ]
Post subject:  Re: SPAM flood on Timescapes

I meant DSLRs. :)

Some are fine in aperture priority or manual. Some flicker no matter what mode you're in depending on the lens.

But, still, I don't think there's any question that could be asked that can't be googled in 2 minutes.

Author:  flyvholm [ Wed Nov 02, 2011 12:39 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: SPAM flood on Timescapes

Kaouthia wrote:
Some are fine in aperture priority or manual. Some flicker no matter what mode you're in depending on the lens.

I'll have to object to both statements. Assuming you're talking of Nikons they are strange in that they seem to be able to adjust the exposure smoothly at times in aperture priority, at other times they start jumping back and forth badly. Shoot manual, wide open or with a manual lens, and you will not see that variability. I'd be surprised if this behavior isn't consistent across all Nikon DSLRs today. If you know of any DSLR that can shoot day->night transitions in aperture priority flicker-free, that would be big news. ;-)

Something that takes 2 minutes (without prior knowledge) would still be better than something that takes 5 seconds. Effectiveness depends on how spammers find Timescapes though. If somebody maintains a list with forums and procedures for joining - including questions/answers - and pretty much all spammers get to the forum through such "spamming manuals", then it would only be a matter of one determined spammer finding the answer. A better strategy in that case would be to change the question frequently in order to stay a step ahead. A question requiring a little "inside knowledge" would still help though. A handful of spammers have joined since Tom changed the question. Seems like less than before, but it's only been a few days. We'll see.

Author:  agour [ Wed Dec 07, 2011 5:22 am ]
Post subject:  Re: SPAM flood on Timescapes

still need something doing about this, I think ive seen about 6 spam posts in the past 24 hours alone.

Author:  leandroprz [ Wed Dec 07, 2011 5:36 am ]
Post subject:  Re: SPAM flood on Timescapes

Here are some modifications for the forum to prevent spam: http://www.phpbb.com/customise/db/modif ... ti-spam-9/

Author:  flyvholm [ Thu Dec 08, 2011 1:56 am ]
Post subject:  Re: SPAM flood on Timescapes

Changing the sign-up question reduced spammer activity somewhat for a while, but it's back up to speed. So I guess to really do something about the problem the question needs to be updated frequently, it needs to take more effort to find the answer (but then, this may just bring temporary relief as well) or we need to go about spam protection entirely differently. Not sure if any of the tools on the page leandroprz posted are more effective or if moderator approval of users' first post is the only really effective way...

Author:  agour [ Thu Dec 08, 2011 2:54 am ]
Post subject:  Re: SPAM flood on Timescapes

you should just autodelete posts that containt certain keywords (eg luis vuitton)

Author:  flyvholm [ Thu Dec 08, 2011 12:30 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: SPAM flood on Timescapes

Only some of the spam could be taken care of that way, and it's not an option for moderators who do most of the spam management. The tools we have are pretty awkward. Deleting a spam post and banning the user/ip takes ~15 clicks and ~10 page refreshes... :|

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