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A proposal to stop spam
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9point9
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 21, 2006 1:24 pm    Post subject: A proposal to stop spam Reply with quote

Edit: This is now obsolete. The test forum I set up held back the spammers for some time but eventually they got round it. I pulled it down recently as it had failed.

I have written this as something needs to be done. Please read through and say if you agree or not. Any suggested edits will be made and then I'll send it to the admin. I will put every username agreeing to it on the proposal as if it was a signature.

Moderators: Sticky if you wish for the moment. I'd really like all of your agreement on this.

Quote:
In the last year oooforum.org has been deluged with forum spam, largely posted by spam bots. Members and moderators have done a good job of reducing the levels by tagging spam posts with 'sp*msp*msp*m' before deletion, however human time can not match the speed of posting of a spam bot. The only way to block these bots is by modifications to the CMS, phpbb.

Forum spam has had an impact upon the forums. A number of members have left citing forum spam as the reason. Much of the spam received relates to goods or services that are illegal throughout much of the world and are considered an offensive nuisance by most users. New comers may be scared off by offensive material seen and in a worst case scenario, they could take legal action against oooforum.org for apparently allowing such material to appear, regardless of the spam cleanup efforts of many forum members that they may not see.

Spam is largely about advertising. Even if most of the forums members would know not to click on any of their offers, some might. The links they provide also serve as a method of improving their search engine rankings, by a link merely appearing on the forum, their website may get more hits without the visitors knowing that they're a spammer. By blocking forum spam bots outright we could significantly curtail the advertising efforts of these organisations. Remember that companies who are dealing in counterfeit goods, pirated software, pornography and under the counter medicines may be run as semi-legitimate front ends for organised crime.

Spam bots are not very intelligent programs. They are very effective only because phpbb is such a widespread CMS and all phpbb work in almost the same way. By changing the posting method, forum spam can be blocked.

Some discussion has taken place about writing software to block forum spam however there is no need to write a home made solution as there are well tested examples of this software already in use. The phpbb security modifications page lists a number:
http://www.phpbb.com/phpBB/catdb.php?cat=57

What I propose is to implement this modification:
http://www.phpbb.com/phpBB/viewtopic.php?t=210055

This will give a 5 second minimum time to write a post (rather than a repeat post time limit). If a post takes less than 5 seconds to write, the preview is displayed. A spam bot is so stupid that it will think it has posted correctly. A normal user will take more than 5 seconds to write a post and the post will appear as normal. If the user takes less than 5 seconds, they'll get the preview and can then click another button to post it. This mod is listed as taking 3 minutes to install. That's about how long I spend SP*MSP*MSP*M'ing per day! It's only two sections of code to copy and paste in one file.

If it doesn't work, it can be rolled back very easily as only one file needs to be backed up and edited.

It may be that this is not enough to fully block spam long term. Spammers do change their tactics and there are occasional manual spams but this does at least make things harder for them. Other modifications are available and if necessary, they could be implemented at a later date.

We ask this as we feel it would protect the helping environment that oooforum.org should be. All that is needed is some admin input to implement this.

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Last edited by 9point9 on Thu Sep 13, 2007 8:28 am; edited 5 times in total
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noranthon
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 21, 2006 9:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

FWIW, I agree. You need to check your spelling, is all.
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 21, 2006 9:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

FWIW I, too, agree with the proposal.

Just a minor critique:
The passage
Quote:
Remember that companies who are dealing in counterfeit goods, pirated software, pornography and under the counter medicines may be run as semi-legitamate front ends for organised chrime. If someone can deliver thousands of grey market products to the gullible, they would also have the ability to deliver hard drugs to dealers, weapons, fissile materials, biological hazards to terrorists and children into prostitution. It is in everyones interest to stop them.
while true smacks a little of scare tactics. Have a think about whether it adds to the proposal or otherwise.
(Personally I would take it out - but I have no strong feelings either way)

+ + + +

PS
I nearly did not post this one.
Quote:
A number of members have left citing forum spam as the reason.
Given the identity of the poster (your good self) I am sure this is true. However, I have not seen these posts myself. Is this over-selling the problem and solution?
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hol.sten
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 21, 2006 10:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dale wrote:
However, I have not seen these posts myself. Is this over-selling the problem and solution?

At least, it is what has been written here: http://www.oooforum.org/forum/viewtopic.phtml?t=44013. Or didn't I get David's point correctly?

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9point9
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 22, 2006 12:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

noranthon wrote:
You need to check your spelling

Fixt. Need to get a browser with inline spellchecking!

Dale wrote:
while true smacks a little of scare tactics. Have a think about whether it adds to the proposal or otherwise.

I'll edit that down a bit by getting rid of the last sentence.

As for members leaving, I've had a search but couldn't find the example I wanted. About 6 months ago we had a user who clocked up about 100 posts and then shortly after the spamming started, left citing the spam. I think his post about him leaving may have been removed as it was in reply to a spam post. It may have been weatherlawyer as he can be seen in many posts to have strong views on the subject.
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 22, 2006 4:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

One swallow doesn't make a Spring.

The major point is that 3 minutes work is going to save many people a lot more time. The present system depends on the goodwill (and time) of members willing to tag and time by the moderators in deleting.

Unproductive and distracting.

It would be a shame to obscure the real virtue of the proposal with dubious and easily rebutted arguments.
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 22, 2006 5:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I cant speak on behalf of the system administrators so I will just comment on the thing about people leaving. The one that left was perhaps a little too sensitive, but he also left when this TIPCELL spammed like crazy.

I would be the first user here to cheer anti-spam automation. Its a nice feeling for me that I can delete what I see, but it is also a "oh nooo not again feeling". However, the spam is removed pretty fast so the overall impression on oooforum.org must be pretty good.
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hol.sten
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 22, 2006 11:35 pm    Post subject: Re: A proposal to stop spam Reply with quote

9point9 wrote:
say if you agree or not.

I agree.

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pulsifer
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 23, 2006 7:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The spam isn't driving me crazy, but it is annoying. If something simple can be done, it might be a good idea.
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Last edited by pulsifer on Mon Jan 22, 2007 7:05 pm; edited 1 time in total
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 23, 2006 6:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Seems like a good idea to me.

I agree.
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 24, 2006 1:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Probably the best solution so far - (even if not brewed in Denmark).

I agree

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PostPosted: Sun Sep 24, 2006 9:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I definitely agree.
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Bhikkhu Pesala
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 25, 2006 10:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I agree. It is a bit annoying.
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 25, 2006 10:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Please implement this mod.

These spams are much annoying

I support the proposal
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 25, 2006 1:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

+1 for the 5 second minimum between posts.


EDIT -

Question then - How does one get the results of the straw poll in front of someone that can either change the required file, or the one that needs to request the change be made?

Can one of the moderators here push this forward?
Does it require an email to the OO.o council to request it be done?
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