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Katya
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bots

Post by Katya » Thu Aug 25, 2011 8:25 am

I believe there's a way to change the forum settings so that all new members have to be approved by an admin before they can post. I assume that would solve the bot problem in the short term, at least, although it would also prevent people from posting until they were approved. Just a suggestion, maybe while we work on a better solution?

C is for
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Re: bots

Post by C is for » Thu Aug 25, 2011 9:00 am

Yay! I figured out how to do that. It only took several minutes of wandering around the administration panel, which I find very counter-intuitive. I also found out that we've had CAPTCHA on for registration, something I was not aware of.

Hopefully this approval will help. I'll try to remember to check it at least once a day.

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Laser Jock
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Re: bots

Post by Laser Jock » Thu Aug 25, 2011 9:43 am

With this turned on, how do we decide if a given new signup is genuine or not?

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Marduk
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Re: bots

Post by Marduk » Thu Aug 25, 2011 10:07 am

Laser Jock wrote:With this turned on, how do we decide if a given new signup is genuine or not?
That's what I'm worried about. Also, I think many people will be scared off by having to "be approved" and just won't sign up at all. Personally, I don't think dealing with the bots is too much of a hassle.
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Katya
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Re: bots

Post by Katya » Thu Aug 25, 2011 10:08 am

Laser Jock wrote:With this turned on, how do we decide if a given new signup is genuine or not?
Name, email, website - If they look non-spammy. (In my experience, "real" people look very different from spam signups, but, yes, one of the downsides of this approach is having to guess at the difference.)

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Re: bots

Post by Katya » Thu Aug 25, 2011 10:10 am

Marduk wrote:
Laser Jock wrote:With this turned on, how do we decide if a given new signup is genuine or not?
That's what I'm worried about. Also, I think many people will be scared off by having to "be approved" and just won't sign up at all. Personally, I don't think dealing with the bots is too much of a hassle.
I don't think it's a good long term solution (and maybe not even a good short term one), but I personally hate waking up to what seems like a dozen new spam threads in the morning. (Depending on what time you habitually access the forum, maybe you're not seeing how much spam we're getting?)

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Re: bots

Post by C is for » Thu Aug 25, 2011 10:47 am

Oh, trust me, I'm seeing it. I'm deleting it. Also, yeah, it's pretty easy to tell when someone is spam or not. I doubt we have very many Icelandic board fans. Edit: Oh yeah. The main way I do it is to check their email addresses. That's the most obvious tell for spambots.

Also since changing this setting I have noticed that I get an email every time there's a new account to be approved, so I can take care of it almost immediately.

Also we're not getting very many real new members anyway, so I am not sure that a little matter of approval would scare them off.

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Rifka
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Re: bots

Post by Rifka » Thu Aug 25, 2011 11:32 am

What about requiring people to type the letters in a picture thing in order to submit a comment/start a thread? Would that be too annoying for people wanting to post?

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Re: bots

Post by Dragon Lady » Thu Aug 25, 2011 11:47 am

Rifka wrote:What about requiring people to type the letters in a picture thing in order to submit a comment/start a thread? Would that be too annoying for people wanting to post?
For every post? Yes. That would be too annoying. I hate doing it to comment on blogs and that happens maybe once per week. I post in here practically daily or more.

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Marduk
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Re: bots

Post by Marduk » Thu Aug 25, 2011 11:54 am

Personally, I delete about 3-6 spam posts per day. To me, that isn't much of a hassle. It takes about a sum total of 15 seconds in a given day. I can't speak for anyone else as to how much they are doing it.
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Re: bots

Post by Katya » Thu Aug 25, 2011 12:49 pm

Marduk wrote:Personally, I delete about 3-6 spam posts per day. To me, that isn't much of a hassle. It takes about a sum total of 15 seconds in a given day. I can't speak for anyone else as to how much they are doing it.
Given the ratio of new spam members to real new members, it would be less work to manually approve the occasional real new person. (And I, for one, find it frustrating to have to wade through all of the spam posts before someone gets around to deleting them.)

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Re: bots

Post by C is for » Thu Aug 25, 2011 1:59 pm

I just hate having spam accounts on the site at all.

Also, since beginning this new approval thing, I've successfully clotheslined 3 potential spammers.

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ahem.
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Re: bots

Post by ahem. » Thu Aug 25, 2011 2:10 pm

C is for wrote: Also since changing this setting I have noticed that I get an email every time there's a new account to be approved, so I can take care of it almost immediately.
I am also getting those emails.

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Re: bots

Post by C is for » Thu Aug 25, 2011 2:27 pm

ahem. wrote:
C is for wrote: Also since changing this setting I have noticed that I get an email every time there's a new account to be approved, so I can take care of it almost immediately.
I am also getting those emails.
Yeah, I figured all the admins were. But I think I'm winning at getting to them fastest.

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Laser Jock
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Re: bots

Post by Laser Jock » Thu Aug 25, 2011 2:29 pm

The other thing we might look at is allowing new members to post to a specific area of the forum only, introducing themselves and asking for full access. That way we at least limit where spambots can show up, and if their "introduction" makes no sense, they're even more obvious to delete.

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Marduk
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Re: bots

Post by Marduk » Thu Aug 25, 2011 2:55 pm

Meh, either way, if we have to wade through all spam bots to weed in new members, it really doesn't matter what the ratio is. But, as long as someone else is doing the work, I suppose it is not as important.
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Re: bots

Post by Rifka » Thu Aug 25, 2011 3:39 pm

Laser Jock wrote:The other thing we might look at is allowing new members to post to a specific area of the forum only, introducing themselves and asking for full access. That way we at least limit where spambots can show up, and if their "introduction" makes no sense, they're even more obvious to delete.
I like that idea.

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Re: bots

Post by Katya » Thu Aug 25, 2011 5:00 pm

Can we make our own captcha? Given the nature of the forum, it would be pretty easy to make someone trivial for a human to answer, but hard for a bot to figure out. (E.g., "What institution sponsors the Board?")

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Laser Jock
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Re: bots

Post by Laser Jock » Thu Aug 25, 2011 8:19 pm

Katya wrote:Can we make our own captcha? Given the nature of the forum, it would be pretty easy to make someone trivial for a human to answer, but hard for a bot to figure out. (E.g., "What institution sponsors the Board?")
Yeah, I did some looking and that type of thing is referred to as a "question and answer" captcha, which is supported in the current version of phpBB. I'd have to see if the themes we're using are modern enough to support it (the architecture for captchas changed in 3.0.6, and so if we have any older themes they may break), but if people want this it's quite doable. And I agree that it could be pretty effective, too.

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Re: bots

Post by C is for » Mon Sep 26, 2011 12:29 pm

So. Approximately a month since we changed that setting (I meant to post this yesterday, actually, but whatever) and we've gathered 237 spam accounts, 0 of which have been real.

Thoughts?