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The bots are taking over!

Discussion about the documentation, main Rainmeter site and forums.
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kyriakos876
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The bots are taking over!

kyriakos876 » September 22nd, 2018, 10:40 am

I've noticed that the spam posts are becoming more frequent and when I browse "New posts" it's pretty annoying trying not to click on a link instead of an actual post.

Why not ban having links in the the title? A normal person wouldn't use a link as a title anyway...
But then the bots could add their links into the post making them even harder to spot. So, maybe ban sharing a link (on title and on a post) for known spam websites. This would a take a human to copy and paste every new url that appears into a .txt to avoid banning rainmeter itself, or google, youtube, deviantart and so on.

So my conclusion is, somebody could make a post and pin it in a forum that will have the latest .txt including the spams website and people in the forum like me, can add a link they noticed it's bad in that .txt and upload it with a time stamp so that everyone knows which is the latest version, then a moderator can update the file in the first post and so on.

I don't if it's stupid or if there is stuff I don't know about that would make this impossible in the first place or if you have thought of it already (about fighting the bots in another way not this specifically) but here's my idea.
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FreeRaider
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Re: The bots are taking over!

FreeRaider » September 22nd, 2018, 11:40 am

The only thing I can do is report them :x
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jsmorley
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Re: The bots are taking over!

jsmorley » September 22nd, 2018, 11:53 am

I don't believe these are bots, but just farms of actual people. We have a pretty good system for keeping bots out, and I think that is working ok. To keep people from posting this stuff, we would probably have to use a system, which we could, where first posts by an account would not be presented publicly, but would have to be "moderated".

I'm hesitant to do that, as it would be pretty discouraging for a new user who has a question to be forced to wait before anyone could see the question.

If things get worse, we might have to go that route, but at least for now, I am able to kill the posts and ban and delete the user account, as soon as I see it. While some stuff gets through for a few hours or so while I'm asleep, I clean things up as soon as I get up, and keep an eye on it during the course of the day.
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kyriakos876
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Re: The bots are taking over!

kyriakos876 » September 22nd, 2018, 12:58 pm

Sounds exhausting to manually delete the posts and ban the users but yea, having to wait for verification to post something is something that's made me not use a couple of forums in the past... Maybe if it gets worse you try something lighter like sending for verification only suspicious posts with those links rather than all of the posts which would be harder for the maintainer and the normal people.

Also, what kind of people go around posting stuff like this... don't they have anything better to do? :x
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jsmorley
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Re: The bots are taking over!

jsmorley » September 22nd, 2018, 1:06 pm

kyriakos876 wrote:Sounds exhausting to manually delete the posts and ban the users but yea, having to wait for verification to post something is something that's made me not use a couple of forums in the past... Maybe if it gets worse you try something lighter like sending for verification only suspicious posts with those links rather than all of the posts which would be harder for the maintainer and the normal people.

Also, what kind of people go around posting stuff like this... don't they have anything better to do? :x
I don't have all that much control with the phpBB forum software. About the only thing left to do is to "queue" the first post of any new account for moderation, and I'm not thrilled with that idea unless things get significantly worse. It's not that bad to manage this, as it is a "one stop shop" to ban the user email and / or IP, delete the user, and delete all his posts in one place with one action.

There is a window of time at night in the eastern US, where the two people who have the right "admin" access to take this action are generally both asleep. That means that a few of these accounts / posts are generally waiting for me when I get up in the morning, which is annoying, but as long as it is the 3,4,5 a day that it currently is, we can live with it.

I'd be delighted to give other trusted users here access to take this action, but it's tricky with phpBB. The problem is that while any Global Moderator can "ban" a user, they would have to then manually delete any associated posts, and that can in fact be a lot of work. The only way the function that allows for banning / deleting the account / deleting all posts in one step is an "admin" function, and while I can tailor an account to add just this functionality, even just this is something that is risky in the extreme. The problem is that there is, and can be, no restriction on "who" this action can be taken on, so a great amount of care must be taken to be sure that the right account is acted on. It's an action that can't be undone. All it would take is one careless moment, and an admin could in theory delete every post balala or someone ever made, thus irreparably damaging the usefulness of the forums..
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kyriakos876
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Re: The bots are taking over!

kyriakos876 » September 22nd, 2018, 1:27 pm

jsmorley wrote:..... The problem is that there is, and can be, no restriction on "who" this action can be taken on, so a great amount of care must be taken to be sure that the right account is acted on. It's an action that can't be undone. All it would take is one careless moment, and an admin could in theory delete every post balala or someone ever made, thus irreparably damaging the usefulness of the forums..
This indeed sounds risky... and when there's not such a big issue there's no need for that now, or probably ever. Maybe something like "hide" the post until checked by an admin would be less risky? Anyway... just wanted to get this out of my head as I've thought of posting about it several times, at least now I have. :)
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jsmorley
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Re: The bots are taking over!

jsmorley » September 22nd, 2018, 1:29 pm

kyriakos876 wrote:This indeed sounds risky... and when there's not such a big issue there's no need for that now, or probably ever. Maybe something like "hide" the post until checked by an admin would be less risky? Anyway... just wanted to get this out of my head as I've thought of posting about it several times, at least now I have. :)
I have to work with what phpBB gives me to work with. We have no interest in tearing apart the canned code for phpBB to change baked-in functionality, and destroy any possible ability to upgrade the software.
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kyriakos876
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Re: The bots are taking over!

kyriakos876 » September 22nd, 2018, 4:31 pm

jsmorley wrote:I have to work with what phpBB gives me to work with. We have no interest in tearing apart the canned code for phpBB to change baked-in functionality, and destroy any possible ability to upgrade the software.
Haven't used phpBB to be honest so I don't know the options but I'm sure that tearing apart the code is going to be a headache let alone when needing to update. I guess you're right, it's not that bad.
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Active Colors
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Re: The bots are taking over!

Active Colors » September 23rd, 2018, 3:52 pm

kyriakos876 wrote:Sounds exhausting to manually delete the posts and ban the users but yea, having to wait for verification to post something is something that's made me not use a couple of forums in the past... Maybe if it gets worse you try something lighter like sending for verification only suspicious posts with those links rather than all of the posts which would be harder for the maintainer and the normal people.

Also, what kind of people go around posting stuff like this... don't they have anything better to do? :x
It is not very time consuming to remove a spam and ban a spammer for me. Living in a different time-zone than jsmorley I regularly take care of the spam which appear while jsmorley has his sweet dreams.
I do not know personally a way to make deletion of spam posts automatized, however if there is such a logic in phpbb to check if a new user posts some kind of link the system could put it on hold until a moderator checks the post while a post without links will be posted normally for new users.