Can't moderators preview and delete spam before its posted?

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Can't moderators preview and delete spam before its posted?

Postby billvelek » Fri Oct 12, 2007 10:22 am

I just posted the below message in reply to spam in the 'Beer Tools Pro Software' section, but I'm reposting it here in case it doesn't get read; it was bad enough when the 'General' section was constantly spammed, but the problem seems to be getting worse with the spread to other sections.

I've complained about this before without any official response or results, but I'll try one more time. I 'own', if you will, three Yahoo discussion groups; the settings are that ALL new members are moderated until their status is changed to unmoderated. It is my policy to not change that status until the member posts their first "on-topic" post, at which point they are removed from moderation. If the newbie posts spam, not only is the message blocked but that member (at least their email address) is removed and is permanently banned. Naturally, spammers keep getting new throw-away email addresses, but at least I'm the only one who sees their spam, and none of my members _EVER_ have to put up with it. So I naturally find it really irritating to have to constantly see spam on these forums. While it's not aggravating enough ... yet ... to cause me to leave, it is pissing me off because the problem seems to be just ignored. I just don't understand why something isn't or can't or won't be done about this. In my last post/complaint, I offered to be a moderator to help filter spam, and I'm still willing to do that.

Now, some folks will say that I should just ignore the spam. The problem is that if you don't click on the spam message, even when it is pretty obvious that it is spam, then the icons on the message board remain yellow, signifying an unread message -- something that I use to easily tell when there is a new post -- so I click on every message even if I don't plan to read it, and then I click again to return to the index.

Please ... let's do something about this annoyance.

Thanks.

Bill Velek
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RE: Can't moderators preview and delete spam....

Postby wottaguy » Fri Oct 12, 2007 2:59 pm

Hi Bill,

As one of the moderators of this board, I am only granted access to moderate the "general" thread. I agree that spam has always been a problem with this board. As I am not familiar with the forum software that is being used here and of it's capabilities to have someone "preview" any new postings before it is made public I cannot address this issue directly. The way it's been working is that when someone posts a message it is posted into it's respective thread. If it is spam and in the "general" section I can "catch" it after being posted and can remove it from the thread. It reminds me of a lot about this life and how things usually work...after the fact instead of preventative. I wish I had more access and user rights to help even more but the powers that be has only granted me the access that I have already mentioned. Also, I do have a full time job and work for a living and cannot "moderate" the board all the time. But I do the best that I can with the tools and access rights that have been granted to me.
I hope that the ADMIN's can address this on going problem soon as well. I would like to gain full access rights to the board if possible to be able to do more. Also, if the board software does not have the capability to set up an area so that moderators can screen all new postings before being made public, then perhaps the Admins should look around for software that can.

I do feel your pain...hang in there!

Ron S (_)3
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Re: Can't moderators preview and delete spam....

Postby jeff » Fri Oct 12, 2007 3:45 pm

wottaguy wrote:I hope that the ADMIN's can address this on going problem soon as well. I would like to gain full access rights to the board if possible to be able to do more.


I didn't write the forum software, but I have performed many modifications to the software that have probably reduced the spam load to about 10% of what it would be without them.

    I modified the code to automatically disable BBCode for posts made by user accounts less than 48 hours old. This prevents search engines from indexing links posted by spammers, and prevents inappropriate images from appearing on the site.
    I wrote a script that runs every 6 hours for removing bogus spam user accounts. It probably deletes around 30 to 40 accounts every day.
    Every few hours Lathe and I check for spam posts in order to delete them as soon as possible. We have the same user privileges as wottaguy for performing these tasks. Granting additional access is not going to make it any easier.
    I have utilized all of the blacklist tools available in the forum package including domain blocking, username blocking, email confirmation, and image verification

wottaguy wrote:Also, if the board software does not have the capability to set up an area so that moderators can screen all new postings before being made public, then perhaps the Admins should look around for software that can.


I understand that the existence of spam is frustrating, but it is going to be a reality with any open source software. This is because the spammers examine the code in the software to locate its vulnerabilities. It is available to everyone, so viewing the code is accessible to all. I have looked around for other solutions, but haven't found anything that I am satisfied with.

Additionally, I have put a lot of work into this forum. Switching to a new system would waste a lot of that effort. It would also be a shame to have to start from the beginning again. There is an enormous amout of great information here that I think the public benefits from greatly. Moving the data to another forum is a tedious and painful process if it is even possible at all.

Lathe and I hate the spam too. We spend hours battling it, and I think we have been extremely successful. When you have a forum on a site that receives between 200,000 and 300,000 page views each month, you become a prime target.

We would greatly appreciate it if our visitors would discern the real source of the problem and recognize that "Admins" are not to blame for spam. Please direct your dissatisfaction toward spammers, and not the people working hard to thwart their efforts.

Thank you.
Jeff
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It's undoubtedly the way the forum is set up

Postby billvelek » Fri Oct 12, 2007 3:47 pm

Ron, I'm not complaining about any lack of dilgence on the part of our moderators. I notice that spam is promptly removed, which is great but of small consolation to those of us who have already viewed or at least were lored into entering that specific forum. Let me explain what I mean about lore, and I think this will address just-cj's response to my similar complaint in another thread. When I surf this bulletin board, I start on the main page -- "The Hop Vine Forum Index" -- which has the icons for all the varous main categories of threads. When one of the icons is yellow, then I visit that forum because, except for what subject might be displayed in the right column, which is the last message posted and might even be obvious spam, I have no idea how many new posts are in that forum and whether there might be something besides what I can readily see is spam. So I don't want to ignore the 'yellow' status and skip that forum even if I see that the last message is for "Viagra", because I might be missing a previous post I've not read. Sure, I can notice the "Viagra" and skip that forum until I see an on-topic subject line on the right, but then the icon remains yellow, so instead of it being a convenient flag to check the forum, it would continue to remain on and cause me to repeatedly look at the subject line on the right. So what I do, instead, is go to that forum in case there is more than just the spam that is new -- often finding that there really isn't anything new. Now, this is an annoyance that probably bothers me more than others, and I don't see it as any big deal ... IF NOTHING CAN BE DONE ABOUT IT. My question is simply whether it can be fixed easily, and if so then DO IT; it not, then so be it. When it was mostly the 'General' forum that was affected, it didn't bother me so much because I could easily choose to ignore that entire forum because I'm not as active there. But now it is affecting the "BeerToolsPro Software" column, where I am very active -- not only with my own questions, suggestions, and concerns, but also trying to help newbies, too. So when I have questions or whatever pending, I like to promptly check for any follow-ups, so even when I see a subject line like "Save on Tramadol ...", which is clearly spam, I pretty much feel compelled to check that forum anyway in case there is also a post to a thread I'm following. I hope I'm making sense.

Now, I don't know the capabilities of this software. If it is like Yahoo, which allows all NEW members to be automatically moderated until a moderator changes their status, then that should be done here. It isn't going to cause anymore work for moderators who are already reading the posts anyway; all it does is delay the postings from that new member until they are checked first. Voila!!! No more spam for the masses. And once you see that the first time post is on-topic, you change the status to unmoderated so that future posts by that poster will not be delayed. As for the delay for first time posters, even if it amounts to days or a week, ... so be it. That's the price of being a new poster. And I would imagine that it is possible to have more than one moderator for a board, and I've offered my services to help; with two or more moderators, it is highly unlikely that there would ever be any significant delay of approval of first posts by new members. This method has worked extremely well on the groups I run.

Finally, just-cj, if you read this, I don't understand your suggestion about "Mark as Read"; it isn't going to work on first-time posts, which is where the problem lies.

Just trying to be helpful with my suggestion which I thought we ALL would benefit from.

Cheers.

Bill Velek
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Re: Can't moderators preview and delete spam....

Postby billvelek » Fri Oct 12, 2007 3:51 pm

jeff wrote:We would greatly appreciate it if our visitors would discern the real source of the problem and recognize that "Admins" are not to blame for spam. Please direct your dissatisfaction toward spammers, and not the people working hard to thwart their efforts.

Thank you.

Jeff, I was merely checking to see if your BBS software could be set to "Moderate New Members", which I don't think I ever received a definitive answer about; if so, that would be an extremely simple and effective solution. If you can't set that, then I understand your position and agree that it would not be productive to try new software, etc. ... however, I also don't know of any effective way to direct my dissatisfaction toward spammers.

Cheers.

Bill Velek
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phpBB

Postby warthog » Fri Oct 12, 2007 5:41 pm

hi bill,
this forum uses phpbb code (free software from php group). i recognize it because my forum [shameless plug] justddbrains.com[/shameless plug]uses the same software. it sounds like jeff has installed most of the available anti-spamming hacks that are available and made one or two of his own. i did add one to my forum, in the registration form that says "are you a bot?" it does wonders reducing the number of bogus users. spambots don't know how to deal with the question, but they will soon enough. php does allow for moderating user posts before going onto the forum, but my recollection is that it applies to all users not just a selected group.

hope this helps. meanwhile, good job to all for keeping the spam down to a dull roar.
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