"Recent Post" funkiness

It seems that the "SPAM-report" topic keeps on popping up at the head of recent posts. There seems to be other funkiness in recent posts but I can't recall the exact nature of the quirkyness at this time.

I'm sure a Haskell based forum system would solve the problems.......just freaking kidding:)

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Fighting spam

Behind the scenes we have been fighing a huge and growing amount of spam posts to LtU. While we (Anton and myself) manage to block most of them, so you don't have to see them, the current procedure causes the tracker (the "recent posts" page) to show as updated threads with these "invisible" spam messages. Anton is working hard to solve this issue, and hopefully it will be behind us soon. In the mean time, please bear with us.

Re: Fighting spam

I'm not sure what Anton is doing (and would be quite curious to know from a technical standpoint), but one possibility that would kill two birds with one stone is requiring approval of the first post from a user. This would kill the spam, and also help with the "spirit" of LtU (cut down on the homework, Lisp, and flamewar-ish first posts). And if the moderators get too busy, the default could be to release the post after 24 hours if not approved. I'd think there could be dozens of potential moderators, so I don't see that as a bottle neck.

Approval Approved

I really like that idea. It would help new posters to learn the what level of dialogue that is expected, without public embrassment.

This is essentially what

This is essentially what happens now. Many new users that are put on probation, and only when their first message is non-spam does it get through and the user released. Until nowit was possible to handle this process manually, but we may make it automatic at some point.

Just a thought...

Not sure this has any value, but if we make the assumption that the main purpose of the spam is to bomb google.... Perhaps posts by new users could be made visible to those who are logged in, but invisible to those who are not. This would prevent the search engines and feeds from seeing these posts until they are cleared. But it also allows new users to come in immediately.

I don't think the spammers

I don't think the spammers will be sophisticated enough to notice, so we will be basically solving google's problem not our own spam problem.


I've just installed a change which should fix this problem.

Moderation of first posts would not have helped in this case, since the problem was with users already flagged as spammers, whose comments are automatically blocked. Preventing them from posting entirely often just leads them to sign up for another account. So we have a nice spam honeypot going, the success of which was affecting the tracker page.

We need to add a captcha-style question to the signup page to make it more difficult for spammers to sign up (I don't plan to use a graphic captcha, just a simple question with an easy fixed answer). Based on experience with other sites, I suspect that'll take care of most of the new spam accounts, since they tend to use bots to sign up.

There's also a Drupal spam module which we could install, but it's really intended for sites that allow anonymous comments, and I didn't want to rely on content filtering as a first line of defense.

Re moderation of first posts as a way to cut down on general offtopic noise, it's tempting. It's probably a tradeoff in terms of administration, though.

Re moderation of first

Re moderation of first posts...

If the solution outlined by Anton will not solve the spam issue, we will go this way, I presume. I have high hopes that the solution we currently have in mind will solve our spam issues.

Bayesian filtering to the rescue?

Couldn't we hack a bayesian filter thingy to sort out spam, trolls and off topic noise? There's a non-binary classification algorithm here, and there's plenty of capable and enthusiastic people here to implement it if necessary.

Spam reporting button?

I'm not sure if it'd be useful, but a report spam button (on a single message or maybe user) might be nice in case someone like johnrookie decides to spam every topic here.