Spambots

What features and fixes would you like to see here at erfworld.com?

Re: Spambots

Postby Balerion » Tue Dec 13, 2011 1:39 pm

My only concern with something like spamhammer is that it could be common enough to be part of the bot's script; all the bot has to do to avoid it is simply spam 10 times without the link, and then it's free to do what it wanted in the first place. And if it's a protection commonly used, that increases the odds of a bot knowing how to get around it.The advantage of a home grown solution is that unless they move to target this site specifically, the odds of the bot's code being able to get past it are low.

But since this would likely be easier to set up, what is stopping us from using it :D? It sounds like a quick install.
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Re: Spambots

Postby SteveMB » Wed Dec 14, 2011 12:29 pm

Balerion wrote:My only concern with something like spamhammer is that it could be common enough to be part of the bot's script; all the bot has to do to avoid it is simply spam 10 times without the link, and then it's free to do what it wanted in the first place. And if it's a protection commonly used, that increases the odds of a bot knowing how to get around it.The advantage of a home grown solution is that unless they move to target this site specifically, the odds of the bot's code being able to get past it are low.

But since this would likely be easier to set up, what is stopping us from using it :D? It sounds like a quick install.

The fact is that 99+% of spambots don't do anything like that -- they immediately post spam with easily detected features (links, non-English characters, obvious spam words -- every single one of the 23-post spambots we've had over the last few days include all three of these traits, now that I think of it). Screening out the overwhelming majority of spam automatically would reduce the volume to a level that the mods could reasonably handle without getting burned out.
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Re: Spambots

Postby Balerion » Wed Dec 14, 2011 1:49 pm

No, definitely agree; spamhammer looks like it would solve the vast majority of the problem right now. I am all in favor for installing it asap :)

My concern is, if it becomes popular enough as a tool to significantly cut into spammers (and I have no idea how many people use phpBB and how many would use a spam tool, so this could be me being paranoid), they will develop a work around for it. And that honestly is about a 30 minute job if they've written their bots well. And the fact that the work around actually requires them to post more spam is a little worrying :).

But I completely agree with you; if there is a solution already created, installing it is simpler and less time consuming than building a custom one. So my question becomes if there is anything we as the community can do to help in that process, as sooner is better than later :D
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Re: Spambots

Postby SteveMB » Fri Dec 16, 2011 3:38 pm

Balerion wrote:No, definitely agree; spamhammer looks like it would solve the vast majority of the problem right now. I am all in favor for installing it asap :)

My concern is, if it becomes popular enough as a tool to significantly cut into spammers (and I have no idea how many people use phpBB and how many would use a spam tool, so this could be me being paranoid), they will develop a work around for it. And that honestly is about a 30 minute job if they've written their bots well. And the fact that the work around actually requires them to post more spam is a little worrying :).

But I completely agree with you; if there is a solution already created, installing it is simpler and less time consuming than building a custom one. So my question becomes if there is anything we as the community can do to help in that process, as sooner is better than later :D


No solution is perfect.

That said, something needs to be done to limit the volume of spam ASAP. I'm going to be offline for about a week over Christmas, and I don't know which of the mods, if any, will be in a position to check in frequently. If the site is left wide-open as it is, it will accumulate a load of spam that will completely bury everything else and will take considerable to to clean up if the mods have to delete it all one piece at a time.
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Re: Spambots

Postby SteveMB » Fri Dec 30, 2011 1:58 am

SteveMB wrote:That said, something needs to be done to limit the volume of spam ASAP. I'm going to be offline for about a week over Christmas, and I don't know which of the mods, if any, will be in a position to check in frequently. If the site is left wide-open as it is, it will accumulate a load of spam that will completely bury everything else and will take considerable to to clean up if the mods have to delete it all one piece at a time.

Predictamancy Successful. Admittedly, this is one that a novice in some other field could have pulled off....
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Re: Spambots

Postby Balerion » Mon Jan 09, 2012 6:34 pm

So..... what is holding up implementing this ;)? Is it just a matter of someone finding the time to do it (which i completely understand if it's the case), or is there an objection to the idea?
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Re: Spambots

Postby 0beron » Tue Jan 10, 2012 3:52 pm

http://www.phpbb.com/customise/db/modif ... ti-spam-9/

Various tools offered that are compatible with phpBB, right on their website. All it would take is Rob/his webmaster spending like 5 minutes to skim the handful of options and pick something they feel is appropriate. Because really ANYTHING would be better than it is right now.

Additionally, I would LOVE to see an increased pool of low-level mods to spam-cleanse. Take volunteer users who are active and have a record of quality posts and give them the power to delete individual posts. Even if those deletions have to be approved en-masse by a high-level admin, all the deleted posts will be from a handful of users so it'd be easy to see the power isn't be abused. I would volunteer in a heartbeat, I visit the forum once a day, at minimum.
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Re: Spambots

Postby SteveMB » Tue Jan 10, 2012 10:37 pm

0beron wrote:http://www.phpbb.com/customise/db/modifications/anti-spam-9/

Various tools offered that are compatible with phpBB, right on their website. All it would take is Rob/his webmaster spending like 5 minutes to skim the handful of options and pick something they feel is appropriate. Because really ANYTHING would be better than it is right now.

Additionally, I would LOVE to see an increased pool of low-level mods to spam-cleanse. Take volunteer users who are active and have a record of quality posts and give them the power to delete individual posts. Even if those deletions have to be approved en-masse by a high-level admin, all the deleted posts will be from a handful of users so it'd be easy to see the power isn't be abused. I would volunteer in a heartbeat, I visit the forum once a day, at minimum.


It's not even a matter of the situation as it exists right now.

A few months ago, we were getting spambots that dropped a few posts on the board. After that, we got a more aggressive breed that dropped a couple dozen (23 was a common number for some reason) spam posts. This weekend, I got back to my computer to find that several even more aggressive spambots had hit the board (one of them left about 150 spam posts).

Even if deleting hundreds of posts one by one on a daily were a feasable solution -- which it isn't -- the problem is escalating. Word has gotten around that this board is 1)fairly high-traffic and 2)a Happy Huntring Ground devoid of anti-spam defenses, and the scavengers have congregated.
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Re: Spambots

Postby Balerion » Wed Jan 11, 2012 12:08 am

So it sounds like this problem is going to get worse ><?

If its a matter of needing the manpower/time to make the change, I am willing to volunteer, though I have no idea if trusting a complete stranger would be helpful :). Or if you guys need more spam mods in the mean time, I can throw my hat in with 0beron to volunteer to help with that. But it sounds like there are systematic problems here that need to be solved before they get much worse.
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Re: Spambots

Postby SteveMB » Fri Jan 13, 2012 1:08 am

Balerion wrote:So it sounds like this problem is going to get worse ><?

Sure looks that way. I've been chipping away at the accumulation from last weekend one post at a time (since mod-level access doesn't include the "delete all posts from account X" option) in what little time I've had this week, and not quite keeping up with the new intrusions.

Frankly, it's getting a bit demoralizing to swat flies one by one when nobody seems to be paying attention to the suggestion that it's time to screen off the windows.
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Re: Spambots

Postby Sieggy » Fri Jan 13, 2012 6:50 am

I agree - I spend a fair amount of time each day flagging spam, and it just keeps on flooding in. I really enjoy the forum, but am getting really tired of the spam I'm wading through. Where the hell is the admin on this, and why haven't simple, basic protections put in place. This is a nice site, but it's like a really nice house that the builders forgot to put in the locks so that anyone can come through and vandalize as they like.

My attitude is starting to come around to "why am I expending this effort when the site owner doesn't seem to care enough to keep out the spammers? If he doesn't care, why should I?". I like this site, I love the stories, but I'm getting fed up with all the crap flooding in. IOW, Rob, the vandals are trashing your place. Please take steps to prevent this!
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Re: Spambots

Postby Garion » Fri Jan 13, 2012 10:35 pm

I agree as well, I can definitely see that the interaction between the admins and this forum are minimal. I mean for boops sake, there hasn't even been an announcement (in the announcement section of the forums.) since november, and if they're working on a spam solution they should at least say they're working on it. (Not to mention I'm still waiting to get my tool registration information so I can get the access and what-not, but I digress.) I love erfworld, but the forums are kind of turning me off if this spam problem doesn't get fixed.
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Re: Spambots

Postby Balerion » Mon Jan 16, 2012 7:50 pm

Well... since this seems to be going nowhere:

I am going to go ahead and simply write a greasemonkey script to filter out posts that are likely to be spam from what I have to see sometime this weekend. If I actually end up doing this and am happy with it, anyone interested can pm me and I will quite happily share.
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Re: Spambots

Postby raphfrk » Tue Feb 07, 2012 8:54 pm

Heh, bad sign when the spam bot thread is being spammed :p

Anyway, I reiterate my suggestion that a few simple questions would make all the difference, things like:

Who is the protagonist of the comic?

What is Parson's overlord's name?

What is Parson's side's name?

Who is the leader of the coalition in book 1?

What is Gobwin Knob's croakamancer's name?

What is Gobwin Knob's dirtamancer's name?

What type of tool has Wanda (don't include Arken)? (maybe exclude as a spoiler)

What type of tool has Stanley (don't include Arken)?

What type of tool has Charlie (don't include Arken)?
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Re: Spambots

Postby SteveMB » Tue Feb 07, 2012 11:16 pm

raphfrk wrote:Heh, bad sign when the spam bot thread is being spammed :p


We got hit with several large-volume spambots; I haven't had time to clean up the mess one post at a time yet. I'll start chipping away as I can. EDIT: I cleaned up some of the mess, but haven't gotten them all yet.

Anyway, I reiterate my suggestion that a few simple questions would make all the difference


It doesn't even need to be that invasive -- a simple "If accountname X does not have Y or more posts, any posts containing hyperlinks or images are automatically rejected" filter would get rid of 99% of the problem.
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Re: Spambots

Postby Sieggy » Wed Feb 08, 2012 8:59 am

That and a 'Report Spammer' button - rather than trying to remove posts piecemeal, remove the spammer and all his posts at the same time. If you get more than, say, 3 clicks on the report spammer button, you can pull up the profile, look at the posts, and if it's pure spam, delete the account and block that IP.
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Re: Spambots

Postby 0beron » Wed Feb 08, 2012 9:33 am

All of these suggestions are great, but ultimately useless because it's pretty apparent that Rob doesn't care. While we now know that Mal did a crappy job of his responsibilities, there are now things Rob could easily do to address the issue (ranging from more admins, to phpBB add-ins that are designed to be used by the computer-illiterate) but doesn't. If he WAS seriously looking into it, I imagine that he would make a post to that effect, or have mentioned it in his thread about Mal.
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Re: Spambots

Postby BLANDCorporatio » Wed Feb 08, 2012 1:17 pm

Eh, well, it looks like he did: he asked for a new mod or two and I think Justyn was added to the mod group. So new mod, at least!
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Re: Spambots

Postby 0beron » Wed Feb 08, 2012 7:34 pm

Hmm, well here's to hoping. I think it'd make sense to have more than one, picked from us active posters? Speaking for myself, it's certainly not something I'd expect to be paid for haha, so idk. Time will tell
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Re: Spambots

Postby Sieggy » Wed Feb 08, 2012 7:37 pm

Well, I generally run down the Forum a couple of times a day flagging spam. I know someone else is doing this as well because I'll click on the report button and it says it's already reported, which is great! However it would be nice if once a spammer is identified, at least the Mod could block that user from any further posts, and then flag that user for the Admin to remove if Rob doesn't trust the Mod to do so . . .
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