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My opinion: definitely a bot (not amused)

Travel Forums System Talk My opinion: definitely a bot (not amused)

1. Posted by Sander (Moderator 4833 posts) 8y

That New Zealand spammer? Definitely a bot. A human would've gotten the clue by now. The first time there might've been a human training it, but now it's just running on automatic.

Erm... and then I saw that it has an edited post. FSCK! It's a human. GAAH! How incredibly annoying!

Denying it the ability to post doesn't even slow it down - there's a new account within no time. I just deleted four pages of photo comments, and saw that beyond those there was one legitimate photo comment, and then a further four pages of photo comments deleted by another mod.
In the times before one of the Overlords smites the accounts (kudos as always for the swift actions there), the "all threads" view which I usually use to see what's new and what all needs responding to is pretty much useless, since this bot keeps digging up age old threads, and half the time manages to get in at least a dozen replies before being shut down. I pity the members who've subscribed to those threads for all the emails they're getting. (I got 14 just because of photo comments; guess I have too many featured New Zealand photos.) :)

I think we need some more drastic measures. Maybe a rate limiter - For the first 24 hours after the first post by a member, they need at least five minutes between posts (and photo comments, and...)
Are these spammers still coming from the same IP range? I understand not wanting to block an entire /24 or more, but maybe an exception could be built in that accounts from certain IP ranges need to be manually approved before being allowed to post? Or registrations from certain IP ranges get a captcha? (horrible though those are; edit: and useless against a human like this - meh!)

Also: blacklist posts for containing certain string (e.g. the URL which is being spammed). Member gets a 6-12 hour timeout on posting because of the attempt, which should be enough time for you overlords to review the attempted posting and see if it's really spam or an unfortunate false positive.

[ Edit: Edited on Mar 29, 2008, at 3:26 AM by Sander ]

2. Posted by mojorob (Moderator 1047 posts) 8y

Yeah, I was marking a whole load of those posts as spam a little while ago!

[ Edit: Edited on Mar 29, 2008, at 3:14 AM by mojorob ]

3. Posted by Sander (Moderator 4833 posts) 8y

Wow, you nuked that archana in no time flat; its posts were still saying "just posted" when the member title already was "Inactive" - impressive! :)

4. Posted by tway (Travel Guru 7273 posts) 8y

I was wondering why I was getting so many notifications for that post--all saying the same thing. Plus some characters were coming up as gibberish symbols. Hmph!

5. Posted by bentivogli (Travel Guru 2398 posts) 8y

I'm surprised to hear that apparently new users don't get captcha's at all right now; any reason for that?

6. Posted by Sander (Moderator 4833 posts) 8y

Captchas suck. Accessibility for them is horrible. They are broken and so won't stop determined bots. And they aren't generally necessary here, as travellerspoint's own unique registration system isn't quite large enough a target yet for a bot writer to figure out how to register with it. (Actually, I figure we probably have some general case bots registering with their spam URL set as their website, but since we don't show URLs for new members, and such bots aren't intelligent enough to figure out how to post, that doesn't have any impact.)

7. Posted by Utrecht (Moderator 5596 posts) 8y

So, after seeing that saloni50 which is obviously the same again, here comes a simple suggestion which will probably be found impossible again to implement (well that is ethically, not technically)

'New members can not make any photo comments unless they have at least 5 posts'. Of course, after 5 spamming posts this would be possible as well, but in general without they knowing it they might think otherwise.

Drastical, but just possible in my opinion (but not really member friendly, but hey, is that necessary) is to make it only possible after uploading at least one photo, or using some of the other features at least.

Cheers!

[ Edit: Edited on Mar 31, 2008, at 11:55 PM by Utrecht ]

8. Posted by Sam I Am (Admin 5588 posts) 8y

I've deleted those photo comments Utrecht. I might have figured out another way to stop this guy/girl for now (fingers crossed).

One suggestion by Sander that is similar to yours, let slightly less drastical (it would not be very nice for new members who joined up to comment on a friend's pic to find out they had to post in the forum first ), and I think definitely the way we will be going is to time limit things. So you can make x posts in x minutes for example in the forum. Ditto for the photo comments. In the meantime, if it's spam, it will generally be flagged as such and the users account blocked from posting. Essentially the spammer has to keep starting new accounts if they want to keep posting. This tends to deter most of them as they realize it's not going to be much use if they can only get 2 posts in every 10 minutes or so...

9. Posted by bex76 (Moderator 3719 posts) 8y

sounds like a good idea - that spammer was incredibly annoying