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Do something about the trolls


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#1
Prasys

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Hello

I thought of bringing this up. How about a way of stopping those guys who post one-liner non-sense such as

"First" (here is an example of it , I am not nitpicking the original poster , but its just to name a few -> http://www.insanelym...howtopic=209983

and other 4chan style meme posting which is not funny.

The reason why is that sometimes its just pretty hard to get the right information you want especially with the number of posts in a thread. Apart from that it makes the forum look cleaner

I am quite sure that the administrators can impose something like minimum number of characters needed before a post is made. This would certainly make someone to think twice before posting those one liners

My 2 cents worth

Cheers !

#2
Ed

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Hey Prasys

Sorry I've only just seen this. Just a few days before you posted that, we did actually implement a 5-post restriction so that new members can only post in existing topics until they hit 5-posts - once they reach 5-posts, they are then allowed to create new topics.

It's not perfect, and inevitably it's upset a few people, but so far it seems to be controlling the spamming/trolling of the forum - victim of our success really, the forum is so popular and our staff are stretched!

-Ed

#3
kthnx

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I sympathise with why you did this, having moderated giant forums before, but it really isn't the best solution. Without going into too much depth, I'd consider;

a. Consolidating your forums into clearer topics (reducing subforums etc)
b. Better division and allocation of stickies
c. A clearer flow for new users - they're less likely to post rubbish threads if they can easily find the info they're looking for
d. Promote some of the userbase to low-level mods (janitors)
e. Try and increase post quality - less of these "lol" and "how strange!" replies will vastly decrease the load on your moderators and increase the time they have to look at actual proper posts

This happens to every forum as it grows. Sooner or later you need a bottom up redesign or it just gets out of hand and the moderators can't do their jobs.

#4
Tozzo13

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The five post limit is annoying to get around, I have recently installed OSx86 and now I'm having trouble with my CD drive that is unlisted on this forum. It is difficult to moderate these forums, but it would help if users were encouraged to report users.

#5
Alessandro17

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d. Promote some of the userbase to low-level mods (janitors)


That is a funny notion! I haven't heard that in any forum.
Conversely one could argue that all mods are "janitors", in a sense.

#6
Poco

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<-- "InsanelyMac Garbage Collector" :P

#7
Alessandro17

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<-- "InsanelyMac Garbage Collector" :P


Exactly! I had your "custom title" in mind :P

#8
lsdelirious

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This site could always add a feature that allows logged in users to permanently ignore comments from specific users. That way users could self filter out the worthless posters... maybe if a certain member got enough ignores it would trigger a notice for an admin to review their account, or even just auto hide their comments YouTube style ala "Comment hidden due to low rating"

Not sure if that would put too much stress on the database, but the php would be pretty easy to code

#9
XLR

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Prasys, i am disappoint.

#10
Poco

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This site could always add a feature that allows logged in users to permanently ignore comments from specific users. That way users could self filter out the worthless posters... maybe if a certain member got enough ignores it would trigger a notice for an admin to review their account, or even just auto hide their comments YouTube style ala "Comment hidden due to low rating"

Not sure if that would put too much stress on the database, but the php would be pretty easy to code

IPB already allows you to ignore users through the 'My Controls' http://www.insanelym...amp;CODE=ignore

It's not perfect (sorta hidden) but it still should work.

Poco

#11
aylamrin

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More than anything else is the recent increase of spammers selling everything from shoes & their laces to mobile phones and shaving creams. I do not know if this would be feasible, but if some sort of keyword and/or hyperlink filter could be put in place, some sanity might be restored.

And, borrowing from that janitor idea, it might actually help to distribute restricted moderation tasks to some folks. I mean, let it be upto them whether they choose to accept (availability, time etc.) this.

If this menace continues to grow, then harsher measures like permanent IP ban etc. could be tried out ...


My 2 cents ....

#12
Poco

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More than anything else is the recent increase of spammers selling everything from shoes & their laces to mobile phones and shaving creams. I do not know if this would be feasible, but if some sort of keyword and/or hyperlink filter could be put in place, some sanity might be restored.

And, borrowing from that janitor idea, it might actually help to distribute restricted moderation tasks to some folks. I mean, let it be upto them whether they choose to accept (availability, time etc.) this.

If this menace continues to grow, then harsher measures like permanent IP ban etc. could be tried out ...


My 2 cents ....

Yes we recently did disable the 5 post block (right around the time the search was fixed). One of the useful things it did was block the new topic spammers (the in-topic ones stayed). We can block URLs, it's more a point of actually doing it (we need a list of URLs to block).

We do want to appoint more staff and we will, but it takes time :thumbsup_anim:...

Banning IPs generally has no large effect since the spammers always have access to a bank of IPs. We could use wildcards earlier in the IP, but there is a greater chance that legitimate users will be banned. We'll keep these suggestions in mind (at least I will), and hopefully we'll put something together soon enough.

Poco

#13
Alessandro17

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And, borrowing from that janitor idea, it might actually help to distribute restricted moderation tasks to some folks. I mean, let it be upto them whether they choose to accept (availability, time etc.) this.


What I can't imagine (but maybe it is just me) is how moderation tasks can be restricted. You must give a mod of any rank at least the power to delete or edit posts and topics, and that on itself is an enormous power.
We do need more staff but, IMHO, we especially need more users who report.

#14
Poco

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What I can't imagine (but maybe it is just me) is how moderation tasks can be restricted. You must give a mod of any rank at least the power to delete or edit posts and topics, and that on itself is an enormous power.
We do need more staff but, IMHO, we especially need more users who report.

There are ways to restrict certain powers if you give forum based permissions (local mods), but not for global. To extend what you said, once you give deleting power, you might as well give it all. The only other powers don't have any 'destructive' consequences. Moving, editing topic titles, setting invisible... are not exactly large powers. In fact, all local moderators are given full powers other than viewing IPs.

We're always scouting for new people (although it takes time), so if you are interested in taking something up then you can contact me, Ed, or any other active member of the staff and they will (should) bring it up.

iPoco

#15
Alessandro17

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There are ways to restrict certain powers if you give forum based permissions (local mods), but not for global. To extend what you said, once you give deleting power, you might as well give it all.


Exactly.

#16
lsdelirious

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I wrote the php mailer script for my companies website, and one way we've really cut down on spam is setting a php session variable for the current time when the page loads and comparing time it took to fill it out... so if the form submitted in under 5 seconds, we know its going to be a bot because a human couldn't possibly fill out the required fields that quick even with an address assistant plug in.

You could try something similar, have a script to check for a certain ratio of text submitted to time it took to submit to cut down on spammers copy & pasting messages... worst case it would slow them down.

Another way would be to add a script that compares recent postings for similarity, since only a spammer is going to post essentially identical messages in unrelated threads. Too many identical postings, and it deletes/hides all instances of that post.

#17
aylamrin

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I wrote the php mailer script for my companies website, and one way we've really cut down on spam is setting a php session variable for the current time when the page loads and comparing time it took to fill it out... so if the form submitted in under 5 seconds, we know its going to be a bot because a human couldn't possibly fill out the required fields that quick even with an address assistant plug in.

You could try something similar, have a script to check for a certain ratio of text submitted to time it took to submit to cut down on spammers copy & pasting messages... worst case it would slow them down.

Another way would be to add a script that compares recent postings for similarity, since only a spammer is going to post essentially identical messages in unrelated threads. Too many identical postings, and it deletes/hides all instances of that post.


Whoa, that's going to be cool !!! I mean, seriously, if it can cut down by 90 % then we have achieved something !!! :)

#18
danielkza

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I wrote the php mailer script for my companies website, and one way we've really cut down on spam is setting a php session variable for the current time when the page loads and comparing time it took to fill it out... so if the form submitted in under 5 seconds, we know its going to be a bot because a human couldn't possibly fill out the required fields that quick even with an address assistant plug in.

You could try something similar, have a script to check for a certain ratio of text submitted to time it took to submit to cut down on spammers copy & pasting messages... worst case it would slow them down.

Another way would be to add a script that compares recent postings for similarity, since only a spammer is going to post essentially identical messages in unrelated threads. Too many identical postings, and it deletes/hides all instances of that post.

Spammers are not the only ones that copy and paste messages. Regular users use that too. I don't think it's a smart way to do things, for it will annoy people that are actually participating on the forum, and can be easily circumvented by any semi-determinate bad guy. Any delay one can possibly impose won't be both long enough for spammers to care and short enough for users not to bother.

Checking recent messages can also be a pain: how will you determine a match? Length of commons substrings won't work, because you can change a single letter after a few words and trick it. Doing more complex analysis than that will cause greater CPU stress for possibly no benefit. A simple equality check won't help either: it's common, if not the norm, for spam to have randomized content among it, and come from multiple sources.

Using something like Akismet or other spam-detection services might help. I know the former works well for blogs, but I have no idea how it will perform in a different environment.

#19
lsdelirious

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Spammers are not the only ones that copy and paste messages. Regular users use that too. I don't think it's a smart way to do things, for it will annoy people that are actually participating on the forum, and can be easily circumvented by any semi-determinate bad guy. Any delay one can possibly impose won't be both long enough for spammers to care and short enough for users not to bother.


Not necessarily... setting a very short timer (ie 2-3 sec) would cut down on spamming by bots (unless they were reprogrammed to wait, in which case it would slow them down). And as for human spammers... well it is true that a user might copy/paste, but are real users REALLY going to paste the same message in multiple forums in a short period of time? Seems to me like that would violate the site rule Only post your post once (1) anyways...

Also spam messages tend to be only a few sentences, where as things most users would write out and copy/paste like tutorials or code examples would tend to be longer, so you could probably tweek it to only analyze messages of typical spam length.

Checking recent messages can also be a pain: how will you determine a match? Length of commons substrings won't work, because you can change a single letter after a few words and trick it. Doing more complex analysis than that will cause greater CPU stress for possibly no benefit. A simple equality check won't help either: it's common, if not the norm, for spam to have randomized content among it, and come from multiple sources.


Php's similar_text() does a decent job and wouldnt be thrown off by single character changes... http://php.net/manua...imilar-text.php

As for CPU stress, I don't think it would be too bad if you only targeted users with fewer than say 25 posts, posting several messages in seperate threads within a short period of time... No need to check every post, only the last few and average out the %similarity. The only real problem I see with this idea is handling exceptions for quotes.

Also instead of analyzing the entire message, you could just try analyzing urls posted, since once again only a spammer is going to go around linking to the same site several times in unrelated threads in a short period of time. It still wouldn't stop spammers with a bank of different urls, but it would have stopped that Chinese Shoe/Clothing spammer over last weekend...

I know neither of these are perfect solutions but combined (ie how quickly did a user post messages of a certain similarity in unrelated topics?) I think they would be quite effective... no it wont stop the most determined spammers, but in my experience the majority will move on to an easier target rather than expend the effort to get around your filters

#20
oldtopman

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There are ways to restrict certain powers if you give forum based permissions (local mods), but not for global. To extend what you said, once you give deleting power, you might as well give it all. The only other powers don't have any 'destructive' consequences. Moving, editing topic titles, setting invisible... are not exactly large powers. In fact, all local moderators are given full powers other than viewing IPs.

We're always scouting for new people (although it takes time), so if you are interested in taking something up then you can contact me, Ed, or any other active member of the staff and they will (should) bring it up.

iPoco


I'm no coder, but would it be possible to make it so that it took 2-3 "Janitors" to delete a post?

Ex: J0s3 posts "joy 2 teh worldz"
Janitor 1 clicks delete
Janitor 2 clicks delete
Janitor 3 clicks delete
Post is deleted.

Also: I volunteer to be a "Janitor if that position is offered :) .





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