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#1 Excalibur

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Posted 25 January 2008 - 07:14 AM

After seeing a couple of Forum attacks over the past several days and seeing a couple of user names from early this morning that looked suspicious (bottom of the page), I thought I'd take a look at the Members list. Ugh! Is there a way that someone could cleanup, prune, delete some of the fictitious names from the Members list? Some of them are nothing more than gobbledygook, some are very obvious (especially some more recent ones), and some, I'm sure, are considered offensive.

I know house cleaning of this nature is probably pretty low on the priority list, but it will just continue to get more out of hand as time goes on. IF a cleanup was going to be done, maybe a post on the Forum that said something simple so that people would know what to do if there name got accidentally deleted. "We are in the midst of housecleaning the Members list. If your name is accidentally removed in the process, please sign up again. We regret any inconvenience this may cause, but it is a necessity."

#2 Excalibur

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Posted 28 January 2008 - 03:38 AM

Now I wonder how do user names like blogforlove, CHEAPVIAGRA-FREEPORN, and CHEAPSOFTDOWNLOAD become validated Members? Yes, three of our newest Members, registered within the past 24 hours, and one of them was so nice as to leave a wonderful post on the TMG7 page.

#3 Excalibur

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Posted 28 January 2008 - 03:54 AM

While I understand the need for it, it is somewhat ironic that a new member can immediately post about buying Viagra, while an established member must wait and have their post approved before it will appear in this part of the Forum. :wacko:

#4 Bob Velke

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Posted 29 January 2008 - 05:43 AM

While I understand the need for it, it is somewhat ironic that a new member can immediately post about buying Viagra, while an established member must wait and have their post approved before it will appear in this part of the Forum. :wacko:

All members have the same rights in the same forums -- except that (due to recent spam) you now have to be a Senior Member in order to upload a file attachment. As you have said before, I think that our moderators do a very good job at catching and removing spam in a timely manner so that only the most frequent forum visitors are likely to encounter any spam. But it is unrealistic to expect that the spammers will go away completely. When a message is deleted as spam, the poster (and, in most cases, his IP and/or email domain) is permanently banned.

A new member has to validate his subscription and that eliminates the spam bots. The spammers you have seen have used an IP/domain that were not previously the source of spam and then manually created an account and password, manually validated it through email, and manually posted a message. The only way to catch such a person before he posts spam is to preview and approve every new user account and every post before it is visible by the public. Not only would that frustrate and delay a lot of real users who are trying to get help but it would be a huge burden on the forum moderators, most of whom are volunteers.

Spam is a fact of life on the Internet. I suspect that we have been targeted recently because some forum member validated a spammer's tactics by clicking on a link in his message. We can ride it out until they go away and thereby annoy a very few users or we can moderate everything and make life much more difficult for everyone.
Bob Velke
President
Wholly Genes Software

#5 Excalibur

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Posted 29 January 2008 - 07:09 AM

Thank you, Bob. I appreciate you taking time to reply.

I'm sure the new attachment policy is a result of this mornings spam posting in The Master Genealogist v7 Forum. I believe having to be a Senior Member to post an attachment is a small price to pay to rid the Forum of picture postings. Plus, if a valid Member (not yet a Senior Member) had an attachment that needed posting they could talk with an Administrator or Moderator and it would get posted. In my humble opinion, a good move. :)

I am aware that spam is not going to go away. On the other hand, an automatic subscription validation does not eliminate all spam bots. The spam bots of today are very sophisticated and, as I understand it, some are able to get through an automatic validation. If a human did the validation, it could very well eliminate more spam bots and many other undesirables. I do not believe that asking a prospective member to wait six, 12, or 24 hours for validation is an undue hardship on the prospective member. Once that human verification element was in place, spammers might not be so eager to register and post. I realize that your staff is small and that it would take some quantity of time to accomplish this on a daily basis, but it might be worth the effort. I definitely would not want to see all posts approved. Ugh!

What about the Members list? When an IP/domain/User has been banned, can't that persons name be removed from the Members list? What will ever happen to those names on the Members list that have never validated, dating back as far as 2004? What will ever happen to those names on the Members list that are offensive or bogus? There are hundreds, if not thousands, of those that could be removed.

What can I do to help?

#6 Vera Nagel

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Posted 29 January 2008 - 07:31 AM

I'm sure the new attachment policy is a result of this mornings spam posting in The Master Genealogist v7 Forum. I believe having to be a Senior Member to post an attachment is a small price to pay to rid the Forum of picture postings. Plus, if a valid Member (not yet a Senior Member) had an attachment that needed posting they could talk with an Administrator or Moderator and it would get posted. In my humble opinion, a good move. :)


100 % d'accord with you, Tom and Thanks :thumbsup: to Bob for doing this.
Thanks, Vera

Moderator of the German TMG User Group

#7 Bob Velke

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Posted 29 January 2008 - 08:00 AM

I'm sure the new attachment policy is a result of this mornings spam posting in The Master Genealogist v7 Forum. I believe having to be a Senior Member to post an attachment is a small price to pay to rid the Forum of picture postings.

Actually, that won't do it. This morning's post, for instance, didn't use uploaded images. It used embedded links to images that are on another server. (I'm not telling spammers anything that they don't already know). To disallow that, I'd have to disable all text formatting, including bold, italics, etc. Again, a pretty hefty price to pay since we're now getting less than one spam message per day. They are really bad, to be sure, but most people don't see them whereas everyone would be affected by the most aggressive measures to stop the spammers.

I am aware that spam is not going to go away. On the other hand, an automatic subscription validation does not eliminate all spam bots. The spam bots of today are very sophisticated

The spam messages of late have not been automated.

If a human did the validation, it could very well eliminate more spam bots and many other undesirables.

Disallow them based on what, their name? While there are some obvious exceptions, the vast majority of spammers use innocuous names. And if they were rejected because of an offensive name, don't you think that they'd come back with an innocuous one? We'd spend a lot of time trying to predict who was going to be a spammer, ultimately fail, and annoy other people with false positives in the meantime.

I definitely would not want to see all posts approved. Ugh!

I don't see any other practical alternative to the present system.

What about the Members list? When an IP/domain/User has been banned, can't that persons name be removed from the Members list?

If a person has been deleted, then he can re-register. To keep him off, I have to ban him which leaves his name visible on the member list. (Either that or ban his entire IP or email domain but that isn't always appropriate).

What will ever happen to those names on the Members list that have never validated, dating back as far as 2004? What will ever happen to those names on the Members list that are offensive or bogus? There are hundreds, if not thousands, of those that could be removed.

When a person is banned, there are typically a hundred or more other members who, in hindsight, have similar-patterned names (IPs/emails) and might be simultaneously purged. (All of those accounts were typically added by bots but the spammer only bothered to validate one or two while the others are stuck in the "Validating..." group). But it would be a lot of work to purge them, we'd run the risk of purging innocent members, and, as I said, it would give the spammers more flexibility than if we ban them and leave them there.

I'm looking into tools that might operate on groups of member accounts at once but, given the downsides, I'm not sure that they would help.

What can I do to help?

Thanks for the offer but, unless I hear from moderators otherwise, I don't think that problem is manpower. Again, we're averaging less than one spam message per day. Of course, if we resort to moderating everything, then we'd probably need to take on dozens of additional moderators -- but that would be a shame all around.
Bob Velke
President
Wholly Genes Software

#8 Excalibur

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Posted 02 February 2008 - 12:15 PM

Bob,

The Forum spam and abuse has really been curtailed over the last several days. I can see you upgraded the software (love this new posting screen), but don't know if anything else was done. I just wanted you (and any others) to know that I appreciate whatever action was taken. It is definitely noticeable! Maybe the abusers will find somewhere else to play for awhile. Thank you :)




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