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  1. #51
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    Banning an entire country's IP address might work but would the same country be banned from the sitepoint marketplace too ??

    Just kidding !

    Spam is an ever present danger. It reminds me of a story.
    An insect came into a man's house. So the man sprayed lots of insecticides and pesticides into his house. Still he couldn't stop the insects. Now he went to his garden and found the source of the insects, so he cut down all the trees which seemed to contain these insects. No it didn't work either. And the final solution ..burn down the house.

    The forum is for all of us discussing and enjoying issues which are present all over the world. The internet has demolished all barriers among all countries enabling free flow of information. And yes SPAMMERS are *****ds but should we burn our own house due this ? Lets find other intelligent ways to tackle the problem.

    And BTW does google really care about links from forums nowadays so why this noise about signatures ?? beats me

  2. #52
    SitePoint Addict kuldeepkaundal's Avatar
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    "A blanket ban of all IP addresses from problem areas (like India)"

    Not Good, everybody is not a spammer!
    Not da best but not like da rest.

  3. #53
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    Quote Originally Posted by zshanthi View Post
    And BTW does google really care about links from forums nowadays so why this noise about signatures ?? beats me
    no, google doesn't, but this message hasn't gotten through to the numpties who are doing the spamming
    rudy.ca | @rudydotca
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  4. #54
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    99% of spam comes from already documented IP addresses and e-mails... are you running any sort of forum spam blocking like say:

    www.stopforumspam.com

    After a forums I maintain was recently hacked (No shame to it getting hacked, after surviving around 2K brute force attempts a DAY for six years -- seems to be a high priority target) we went to relaunch, and I wanted something a bit more robust to take the load off our moderators. It's a fairly high traffic forums, though not quite the size of here. to put it in perspective:

    Relaunch clean, fresh copy of SMF -- Jan 22
    Member joins since: 2,169
    Posts Since: 58K~
    Member joins rejected by "Stop Spammer" plugin (which uses stopforumspam.com): 33,943

    33,000 attempts to join that are all a nasty case of 'obvious spam is obvious'. In the month and a half or so since the new version went live, we've had exactly ONE spammer get past it, and I caught THREE false positives.

    Mind you the forum in question is on SMF, but the plugins page does say they have one for vBull:
    Stop Forum Spam - Contributions

    Though the mod seeing updates is vBull 4+ only, the one for 3.x from what I hear doesn't NEED new updates. (Once something works, why mess with it?)

    I HIGHLY recommend implementing it if you haven't already, and honestly I think it would let you skip the rest of the stuff you're looking at doing as a waste of time.

    -- edit -- just don't enable "block by username", it's useless banning even simple names like "peter". Just enable e-mail and IP addy checking, and poof -- end of problem.

    ... and be sure to check the approval list for false positives, reject, notify on the ones you're 100% sure of to increase the 'level' of ban on SFS, and if one slips through the cracks, REPORT it so it helps everyone else using the system.

  5. #55
    SitePoint Wizard Stomme poes's Avatar
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    If SitePoint chooses to IP-block entire countries, I will hand in my Mentor badge and probably resign as a member as well.

    Discrimination over things people cannot change about themselves (like their skin colour, or what country they live in) irks me, because it's blatantly Wrong with a W.

    I have little to say about automated systems, except that they always seem to hit me. Another forum I was once quite active on had a large change and added something called "Mollum". That steaming pile of garbage was brown and stinky, blocked accounts randomly, added a bazillion captchas that WebVisum couldn't solve to everything, and now I rarely post over there (it's a good forum though). Garbage software with strange complex algorithms nobody understands guarantees people who've done no wrong get sucked up into it and mods will waste time trying to figure out what obscure whatever triggered the defective immune response. It's like giving your forum lupus.

  6. #56
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    The best way to do it is to make every user to have a signature but i don't understand why spammers are postings spams on site point. I Personally believe signatures must be everyone to prevent spammers using the site point in a bad way.



    Edit:


    Link changed by Spike to remove the obvious spam link drop.
    But I will leave the post here as a reminder of what we are up against.....

  7. #57
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    How incredibly stupid are spammers? answer see above
    Mike Swiffin - Community Team Advisor
    Only a woman can read between the lines of a one word answer.....

  8. #58
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    I think your mentor badge is safe Stomme, I am pretty sure that IP block would be unjustified and not happen.
    Mike Swiffin - Community Team Advisor
    Only a woman can read between the lines of a one word answer.....

  9. #59
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stomme poes View Post
    Discrimination over things people cannot change about themselves (like their skin colour, or what country they live in) irks me, because it's blatantly Wrong with a W.
    I hardly think blocking an IP range for India can be qualified as "DISCRIMINATION" against all Indians. While certainly it affects those who are not spammers, I don't think anyone is claiming that all Indians are spammers - just that enough Indians are spammers that it affects interaction with the region.

    As a metaphor... would you take a leisurely stroll through the mountains of Afghanistan or the jungles of Colombia? No. Not because you believe all Afghanis are terrorists or all Colombians are guerrillas, but because there is enough of a presence in those regions to make you apply special consideration.

    Stating that "India is not a problem area for spammers" is politically-correct bull, to the degree of being delusional.

  10. #60
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    I wrote a vbulletin plugin many moons ago for 3.5 that employed bayesian filtering to stop spam, and it was quite effective. I imagine it still would be. If I was going to expand on it I'd add a spam button for users to click. When enough users hit the spam button spam goes away. Users are tracked for accuracy in this system - if they mark as spam a post that isn't spam the system silently removes their privileges to can the spam. Once a user has demonstrated they accurately report spam their single report can destroy the spam.

    Everyone starts with a score of 1. When the moderator confirms a report they made as indeed spam their score goes up by one. It takes 10 points worth of user complaints to can spam and, yes, users can individually have 10 point scores. If a moderator has to unmark spam all users that marked it have their spam read score set to -10, so they have to build their score back up with accurate reporting. If a moderator feels someone is gaming the system to mark posts that shouldn't be marked they can be banned from it.

    As to the bayesian filters, those worked by giving each incoming post a spam score based on factors characteristic of spam.

    • First Post
    • Post has a link
    • Post has multiple links
    • Post has a URL from a known spam domain.
    • Post is short
    • Post has more link than unlinked
    • Post all linked.


    And so on. The system learns by storing the URL's that the spammer linked to. At the end of the day the spammer can't get away from the fact they have to point to somewhere. This learning process can be used on its own or supplemented by a common pool such as stop forum spam.

    Another key part of my approach was that spammers aren't banned - they are sent to global ignore using vBulletin's Tachy-goes-to-coventry feature. This allows the spammer to continue "posting" - often betraying his other links and teaching the system how to block his crap should he ever wise up and switch accounts.

    Finally, some heurestics might help. I supplemented the above by using a plug in to simply time user registration. Spam bots know the post format of vbulletin and can fill out a response in less than a second. The server can time the quickness by which the account was created - and especially detect when a spammer tries to post in an account without even being sent the form! In these cases again, the system lets the bot make the account, immediately sends it to coventry and then proceeds to learn from the bot the characteristics of its spam.

  11. #61
    SitePoint Wizard Stomme poes's Avatar
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    As a metaphor... would you take a leisurely stroll through the mountains of Afghanistan or the jungles of Colombia? No. Not because you believe all Afghanis are terrorists or all Colombians are guerrillas, but because there is enough of a presence in those regions to make you apply special consideration.
    Is completely the opposite of what we have here at SitePoint. SitePoint is not going to India. People from India are coming here. So this is not letting any Afghanis or Colombians into your house because they come from places with terrorism.
    Country-based and country-wide IP banning is, in my opinion, wrong.

    Stating that "India is not a problem area for spammers" is politically-correct bull, to the degree of being delusional.
    It's your statement, not mine (if you thought I said that somewhere).

  12. #62
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stomme poes View Post
    If SitePoint chooses to IP-block entire countries, I will hand in my Mentor badge and probably resign as a member as well.
    Philisophically I agree, but from a pragmatic point of view -- not so much.

    MAYBE it's just because I've never ONCE had a legitimate user account on any site from Nigeria or Pakistan... There are certain... "dens of inequity" where unfortunately the people in said locations suffer because of the actions of others.

    But as I often feel like saying to people who wonder why I advocate screwing with certain countries "Clean up your own damned house before we have to do it for you."

    Certain countries have a total lack of law, regulation or authorities and as such are "hives of scum and villainy"... Nigeria, Somalia, Pakistan... others still haven't "matured" enough to participate as equals in the international community... Russia and China come to mind.

    See why before I put stopforumspam in place I had a ban on all mail.ru addresses and massive bans blocking MILLIONS of IP's from Russia, Germany, China, and pretty much every third world hole in the planet's backside like every country in the west coast of Africa.

    Though I did at least RESEARCH the numbers via whois before banning an entire address block -- Typically I did so only when the numbers resolved to what sounded like a data center.

    Since there is NO legitimate excuse for a data center full of nothing but servers to be trying to make a forum account.

    Is it fair to everyone in those regions? No.

    Is it morally righteous? Probably not...

    Is it the best solution to the problem? Unfortunately, the answer is often YES.

    While it might cost you a member or two from those regions, it's often a better choice than losing hundreds of members who get fed up with all the spam.

  13. #63
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stomme poes View Post
    I have little to say about automated systems, except that they always seem to hit me.
    Which is where manual cross-checks are important, which is why I like stopforumspam -- I've only had three false positives and I caught all of them quite easily during the 'verify' part of the process -- AND they provide a mechanism for people who think they are being falsely blacklisted to lodge a complaint.

    ... and any such system SHOULD have the option to whitelist people with a admin/mod contact to get on that whitelist should they fail the check.

    It's a bit like rules 39 and 40.

    Rule 39. CAPSLOCK IS CRUISE CONTROL FOR COOL

    Rule 40. EVEN WITH CRUISE CONTROL YOU STILL HAVE TO STEER

    With any automated tool you need to still "steer" where it's going.

  14. #64
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    Quote Originally Posted by deathshadow60 View Post
    ... than losing hundreds of members who get fed up with all the spam.
    "fed up with all the spam" ??

    really?

    sitepoint forums routinely see several hundred posts per day, so would you please go over the last day's posts and point to, oh, let's pick a number and say three spam posts

    if you can find three, that's still a far cry from putting us in danger of "losing hundreds of members"

    seriously, it isn't spam that's the issue, it's those seo numpties using fake signatures because their 90 days aren't up yet that's the real problem here
    rudy.ca | @rudydotca
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  15. #65
    SitePoint Guru bronze trophy TomB's Avatar
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    Keep in mind that internet usage in all the countries mentioned is growing and it's very likely that more and more legitimite users from those countries will want to join sitepoint. India especially, given that english is one of india's offical languages.

    So even if IP bans will affect few real users at the moment, long term that will not be the case.

  16. #66
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    Quote Originally Posted by r937 View Post
    "fed up with all the spam" ??

    really?

    sitepoint forums routinely see several hundred posts per day, so would you please go over the last day's posts and point to, oh, let's pick a number and say three spam posts
    .. and that's probably from the use of an active and possibly overworked moderation staff constantly killing them.

    Quote Originally Posted by r937 View Post
    if you can find three, that's still a far cry from putting us in danger of "losing hundreds of members"
    BECAUSE they are actively killing them, and getting sick of having to do it and/or having it cut into what's practical to kill. If not this thread WOULDN'T EVEN EXIST.

    Though honestly I would at least hope sitepoint sees more than "several hundred" posts a day -- unless of course that several hundred measures in the thousands... I've got a crappy little niche gaming forum of around 2000 active members (users that log in two or three times a week if not a day) that sees over a thousand legitimate posts a day and around 40,000 reads; which would have been several hundred thousand spams a day if not for the active moderation staff and large range address bans we were running before, and the stopforum spam mod we're running now.

    Which as of right now has blocked 34026 known spammers from joining... though this morning the server stopped having enough CPU to respond to apache requests because spamassassin was sucking on the CPU like it was a chromed trailer hitch... and how did I stop that? I banned an ENTIRE level C address range from ... Pakistan.

    Bad when a spammer is hitting the e-mail server so hard it turns into a DoS attack.

    Though really I think you completely misinterpreted what I was saying... though your post does beg the question:

    Just how many bans are you implementing a day on spammers? 1? 10? 100? On the forums I've been having my great struggle with we were starting to edge up into the high double digits shortly before it gave up the ghost and required a total relaunch from scratch; I was kind-of assuming Hawk and the staff here are facing similar numbers which is why she ASKED the question in the first place.

    Though that also plays into the broken stats on vBull -- let's just say I'm more than a bit skeptical about the 4000+ lurkers to 140 or so logged in members; worst a popular site forums should EVER see is twice the number of users logged in as lurkurs, meaning either that tracking method is broken/inaccurate (well it is vBull, I can't believe they have the cojones to charge money for that crap, ESPECIALLY v4), or you have some really ugly data-scrapers leaning the site up against the wall and having it's way with it.

    What are the sites real traffic numbers? The answer would be as much a part of finding a solution as anything else. Most REAL members logged in at once (as in registered, not the 4000+ data rapists), posts per day, views per day (as in actual forum page views, not just 'hits')?

    I'm just noticing the stats info is a bit less informative than the one I'm used to making it hard to scale how bad the problem here is.

    Just how bad is it?

    Quote Originally Posted by r937 View Post
    seriously, it isn't spam that's the issue, it's those seo numpties using fake signatures because their 90 days aren't up yet that's the real problem here
    THAT is a good point -- the question is how many of them are automated? "Me Too" posters just waiting to get their post count up or past their day count are a LOT harder to catch -- but most of them are again from known addresses that stopforumspam should be able to put a halt to them even joining in the first place, AND allow them to be reported for abuse.

    Though I'm not sure how the overpriced underfeatured poorly coded vBull integrates with it.

  17. #67
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    Quote Originally Posted by HAWK View Post
    How bad do you think this issue is? Which of the following does it warrant?

    • No signatures at all in problem areas (like the SEO forum)
    • No company or product names in usernames
    • Block open proxy registrants
    • A karma points system (ie you need a certain number before posting in problem areas)
    • A blanket ban of all IP addresses from problem areas (like India)
    I don't particularly like any of those options except for blocking open proxies. I assume your problem is not with automated spammers, but with humans who register and then make spammy posts. Isn't there a way to enforce a no signature until a certain number of posts rule?

    I happen to like signatures. I do not have one currently. But there are times when I've clicked on someone's signature and found some useful information. Another time I clicked on someone's site for his web development business and discovered we both live in the same metro area. I'd hate to see signatures eliminated.

  18. #68
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    Yes, we do get a far amount of spam. I try to help out as much as I can by flagging any spam posts I see and the moderators blast them into oblivion in pretty swift order.

    But, it'd be nice if the moderation staff didn't have to spend all of their time blasting spam. That time could certainly be put to better uses.

    I generally don't agree with block area IP bans either, but I think in this case they're justified. However, I think instead of a full on "this IP is from a bad place, sucks to be you", the registration goes into moderation or something so it can get approved and added. However, this doesn't really take any load off of the moderators, it just moves it around.

    What Michael suggested actually sounds like a really good solution. It wouldn't necessarily reduce the spam itself, but it could take some of the burden off of the moderators when it only takes a few good users to click a spam button and make it go away.


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