Trolls and spammers killing online interaction(25 Nov, 2014)

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Trolls and spammers killing online interaction(25 Nov, 2014)

Postby aardvark_admin » Tue Nov 25, 2014 8:24 am

This column is archived at: http://aardvark.co.nz/daily/2014/1125.shtml

Will spammers and trolls continue to force publishers to unload their comments/forums onto existing social media websites such as Facebook and G+?

What do Aardvark readers think? Facebook? G+? The existing forums?

Is there an opportunity here for someone to set up a fully maintained forum service for the world's publishers that would take care of moderation, nixing spam and crushing trolls -- whilst providing a configurable, customisable consistent platform for discussion?
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Re: Trolls and spammers killing online interaction(25 Nov, 2

Postby GSVNoFixedAbode » Tue Nov 25, 2014 8:56 am

Definitely keep the forums Bruce!!

I was extremely disappointed when Dashware decided to drop their phpBB forum last year due to a few spambot accounts being set up and going to town through all the threads. The Dashware admin didn't know/realise there were simple ways of dealing with the deluge or didn't want to spend the time. Thy took down the forum completely, and said to use FB. This lost a huge wealth of user information/feedback/discussion. FB does not allow you to easily search back through forum/thread histories which is one of the great things about these forums.
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Re: Trolls and spammers killing online interaction(25 Nov, 2

Postby latewings » Tue Nov 25, 2014 9:09 am

Definitely keep the forums Bruce!!


Ditto. It's one of the endearing features of this site is that we grumpy old men can fester in self righteousness without trolls and spammers getting in the way of a good moan. :D
Last edited by latewings on Tue Nov 25, 2014 9:44 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Trolls and spammers killing online interaction(25 Nov, 2

Postby Perry » Tue Nov 25, 2014 9:15 am

A bouquet to that poster!
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Re: Trolls and spammers killing online interaction(25 Nov, 2

Postby Stevesub » Tue Nov 25, 2014 9:25 am

Bruce, it ain't broke so no need to fix it. FB and G+ are both a pain in the rear end, unfortunately I have my reasons for using FB to keep up with what the well spread out around the world whanau are up to easily and quickly plus a few other links.
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Re: Trolls and spammers killing online interaction(25 Nov, 2

Postby DigiDog » Tue Nov 25, 2014 10:12 am

Ditto... I don't use either FB or G+ and wouldn't comment if they were the only option.

Speaking as an admin of the ScamBusters forums I can testify that keeping forum spammers at bay is a thankless task. Spammers look for phpBB forums with a Google rank of 3+ and supply their minions with a list of sites to hit. Some of it is done by bots, other times it's cheap asian labour getting a few cents for every site they where manage to register. My monthly logs always contain a number of spam referral sites like http://cmba-uk.com/cgi-bin/Gucci/gucci-purses-prices-p-41.html which belong to the spam montherships.

We've always required new signups to be approved by an administrator, but checking IPs and/or email reputation can be time consuming. These days our forums are restricted to NZ and AU only which makes the job easier. Our captchas were effective for a while till the bots mananged to work them out. Nowadays we use a Q&A system on signup with Qs a bot would be unlikely to know. "What's the first name of the current All Black captain?" -- that sort of thing. And to cap it off, I run an enormous 1Mb+ .htaccess file which, while it slows the site a little, knocks out entire countries - dozens of them.

We were getting 10-15 bad signups a day last year... at the moment we're getting none. It's a pain, but it's just part of running public-facing forums these days.
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Re: Trolls and spammers killing online interaction(25 Nov, 2

Postby aardvark_admin » Tue Nov 25, 2014 10:15 am

Yes, the "magic word", even though it's clearly listed on the Aardvark front page, seems to stop most spam dead.

Also, using a 4th-level subdomain for the forums seems to eliminate most of the bot traffic.
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Re: Trolls and spammers killing online interaction(25 Nov, 2

Postby greven » Tue Nov 25, 2014 11:53 am

I use facebook a lot for discussing tech related articles with my like-minded facebook contacts, but every public facebook and G+ page gets overrun with crap.
The theory behind the move to facebook comments is sound, but it falls apart every time a big company implements that strategy. It is not just the trolls & spammers you have to worry about on Facebook - there is no good way to deal with uninformed people who have no real interest in the topic, but want to chip in their 2 cents anyway when they stumble across your discussion thread. Dedicated forums raise the barrier to entry, helping with the quality control.
Your forum may be a bit short on content, but what it does have is quality.
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Re: Trolls and spammers killing online interaction(25 Nov, 2

Postby hagfish » Tue Nov 25, 2014 12:04 pm

There are frameworks like Discourse and Disqus. I haven't used them, but I suppose they could be examples of the 'forum service' you mention. When there's a problem with one of these services, I expect there's a bit more support than the kindness of strangers on Stack Overflow.

Whatever it is, it's handy if it doesn't require login/authentication via FaceBook or Twitter. I deactivated my FB account early this year, and am weaning myself of Twitter. Next will be Reddit...yes... I am a hopeless case.

I like the community here. Sometimes I have to read a comment a couple of times to get the gist of it, but it's usually worthwhile. The signal/noise ratios are pretty good on GeekZone, Vorb, and Hammock Forums, too. I suppose the admins are on the case with those sites, because it's their main business.

As far as spam goes, I got an email recently begging me to remove some company's spam from a site I used to run. Apparently Goog has changed the PageRank system to punish forum spam, and they were getting hurt. Laugh? I nearly did.
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Re: Trolls and spammers killing online interaction(25 Nov, 2

Postby DigiDog » Tue Nov 25, 2014 1:36 pm

hagfish wrote:As far as spam goes, I got an email recently begging me to remove some company's spam from a site I used to run. Apparently Goog has changed the PageRank system to punish forum spam, and they were getting hurt. Laugh? I nearly did.

I'll bet that email came from one "Sam Maugans". I've never quite got my head around this one but his name crops up frequently on the web. The request sounds almost genuine, but this line gave it away.
These links were created by a former SEO company with whom we no longer have a relationship with...

That claim is absolute rubbish. The link in question was posted by one of our members to show where stolen images being used in a TradeMe scam had originated. I just trash these emails and forget them.
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