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Filtering the Spam out of the Internet





imagefree
I hope General Discussion is the best place to start this thread because I need general internet users' participation about what they think about the usual spam techniques applied by BBoards and Blog Tools.

As a web user, i hate the spam controlling techniques like

1. Not allowing more than 1 pm/post in X seconds.
2. Using nofollow for links given in posts, and treating everything as suspecious.
3. Using automatic scripts to delete the message/comments/post that matches spam pattern.
4. Using captcha (for accessibility reasons).
5. Keeping a strict control over comments, so that when i submit a comment to some article, it is first submitted for moderation and after a few days it appears on the face of the page where it was posted. So, it looses the original purpose.

You too might have something to share about what type of spam prevention techniques create problem in smooth surfing. Also share what do you think would be the best way to stop spam on Blogs and BBoards (share even if you have few words).


(This thread has nothing to do with frihost's policy against spam. This is a general thread to get involved those for whom the web is there, but who are not asked as to what they feel is disturbing for them.)
deanhills
What I find irritating most of all is when the anti-spam steps are complicated, such as having to decipher a word letter by letter, and one cannot read the letters easily as they may be distorted or be running into one another, or worse, when one registers for something, and the e-mail does not arrive in your e-mail box.Etc. I grin and bear it, but hope they can find something a little easier and hazzle free.
meep
The 1 pm/post in x seconds shouldn't be a problem, since most quality posts are of such a length that by the time you're done posting you've already spend x seconds on typing it.

Using automatic scripts is a different thing all-together, there is nothing more annoying than writing a post, and then have it deleted by the server because it matches a "Spam Pattern".

I don't really got any problems with captcha though, usually if you can't decipher it you can press the sound button to hear the letters. It's an annoying voice though.

The site where you have to wait for your comment to get approved are usually the sites that I can't be bothered posting on too, isn't that a weird coincidence?Laughing
imagefree
meep wrote:
The 1 pm/post in x seconds shouldn't be a problem, since most quality posts are of such a length that by the time you're done posting you've already spend x seconds on typing it.

Yes you are right, and may be it works for more than 99% of cases, but everyone has a different scenerio. What if you are in hurry and you have to post a few pms to several people but you are forced to wait and waste time that you dont have?

I used to pm rapidly on frihost but never faced the problem (may be they have no such time restriction), but recently i joined a forum where there were very very tight controls. I just tries to get in contact with moderator, but i had to wait because the interval between two pms was little high.

These 4 points (in my first post) are what i thought are irretating. Suggest your own too, and share your experience.
imagefree
I just thought of a solution (but it doesnt apply to all cases). It will prevent just automatic submissions, not the manual spam.

Most of the internet users have javascript enabled. With the help of javascript you can use captcha without actually asking user to type the captcha text.

What happens usually is when the page is loaded (or sent from the server) the server has mostly no clue of what captcha image is going to be displayed on this page and what text would be on that image. Once the page is loaded, in the next step the request for images is sent to server. The captcha image is requested in the same way. When captcha image is requested, the server generates a random text, saves it to user's session, writes it to image and then sends image to user's browser.

Just rewriting the scenerio, before the page is sent to the browser, when the server is generating the page, generate the random text, save it in session against some unique key and then output the random text as javascript:
Code:
captcha_text    =  'CaPtChA';

Next use some javascript to write it as a hidden text field so that when the form is submitted, the captcha text is also submitted transparently.

For those people who have javascript disabled, use <noscript> and request an image in a way that will have the same captcha text on it as was used in the javascript version.
Code:
<noscript><img src="/captcha.pl?unique_id_against_witch_captcha_text_is_stored_in_sessions" /></noscript>

This way only a fraction of users will need to manually type the captcha text.

Although this simplest form of this solution will have some problems like reloading image will result in same image again, etc but it can be enhanced with more features and more flexible control over the session value/change in session value.
ankitdatashn
Well Spam protection can't be neglected totally. The measures mentioned in the starting post are somewhere needed in aggregated way to restrict the spam that one of the method might not catch up. But however I do agree that any one of the method should not be used with full force!
Bikerman
imagefree wrote:
I just thought of a solution (but it doesnt apply to all cases). It will prevent just automatic submissions, not the manual spam.

Most of the internet users have javascript enabled. With the help of javascript you can use captcha without actually asking user to type the captcha text.
Many users don't have jscript enabled, so you are immediately limiting the scope a little..
Quote:
What happens usually is when the page is loaded (or sent from the server) the server has mostly no clue of what captcha image is going to be displayed on this page and what text would be on that image. Once the page is loaded, in the next step the request for images is sent to server. The captcha image is requested in the same way. When captcha image is requested, the server generates a random text, saves it to user's session, writes it to image and then sends image to user's browser.
Yep.
Quote:
Just rewriting the scenerio, before the page is sent to the browser, when the server is generating the page, generate the random text, save it in session against some unique key and then output the random text as javascript:
Code:
captcha_text    =  'CaPtChA';

For those people who have javascript disabled, use <noscript> and request an image in a way that will have the same captcha text on it as was used in the javascript version.
Code:
<noscript><img src="/captcha.pl?unique_id_against_witch_captcha_text_is_stored_in_sessions" /></noscript>

This way only a fraction of users will need to manually type the captcha text.

Although this simplest form of this solution will have some problems like reloading image will result in same image again, etc but it can be enhanced with more features and more flexible control over the session value/change in session value.
Clever idea and if you thought it up for yourself then well done. I use a related technique to stop spam harvesters hitting my server email forms - basically just using css to set any email fields to hidden using display:none
Arty
The best guard against spam is akismet.
Xanify
Eh, anti-spam filtering is a necessary evil. You think that stuff is bad; having to wade through pages and pages of badly-written ads would be far worse.

What I hate most about captcha is that sometimes people implement it wrong and it doesn't work. I can read the letters, clear as day, but when I type them into the box it errors out. Argh. Broken captcha scripts are the worst.

I vastly prefer what Ubuntu uses for its forum: a simple challenge/response that a human would find easy, but a but would not. "What colour is an orange?" "What is two plus three?" and so on.
chatrack
Captcha method work good in case of auto form submission spam bots.
Torspot
Agreed, Captcha works prty good. Although, i think that nothing beats the good ol work of a good moderator:D
Bikerman
Poster fined $20FRIH for creeping to the mods - Bikerman

Laughing Wink
Nameless
imagefree wrote:
What if you are in hurry and you have to post a few pms to several people but you are forced to wait and waste time that you dont have?

How often do scenarios like this actually happen though? I'm trying to imagine what PMs could be so important and sudden that they couldn't wait / have been done earlier for whatever else you're supposedly in a hurry for ...

Anyway, anti-spam stuff doesn't really bother me. The only significant thing you mention is comments requiring manual approval, but given the effectiveness of some other methods I'm a little dubious of whoever's moderating them for other reasons.
ProfessorY91
I'm okay with limiting the number of posts per given time period, and I'm okay with capchas. So my opinion (and I'm probably in the minority) is: Use whatever you need to to prevent your life from becoming a hassle because of spam. Particularly if you're creating some sort of forum or online community that uses spam control tools.

Aside:
In my mind spam filters have evolved to the point that very little gets through, even if I do post my email on the internet, even with a mailto link. sample@gmail.com for example, will actually get very little spam, due to gmail's agressive spam filters.

Then again, I know very little about forum building or the like. All I know is that I'm a happy user who doesn't mind typing in the occasional capcha to prove that I'm human, even if its once every few pages or something like that.
menino
I have seen a lot of spams lately, and not just emails, but also in forums, in facebook, orkut and the likes, for companies trying to market viagra and other unrequired items.

Spammers should be penalised because spamming wastes a whole lot of time, and is quite embarassing for most people.

I believe that one spamer was fined by google last year for over a million dollars in damages.
If only spammers would use better techniques for marketting, like how facebook does for thier ads, I think that could be acceptable, based on the users history and likes / dislikes.

Since SPAMMING engines are easy to make using a php code even, its impossible to eliminate SPAM altogether.
missdixy
I don't know much about how it's possible for computers to detect spam or what would be some better solutions, but i absolutely hate hate HATE captcha. Especially when i can't read the letters clearly and have to keep refreshing the iamge to get one i can even begin to attempt to write. Some places use captcha that is clear to read, but it still annoys me because it's like an extra step, but i definitely get flat out angry when it's impossible to read and I literally spend minutes there that I wouldn't otherwise. Evil or Very Mad
deanhills
missdixy wrote:
I don't know much about how it's possible for computers to detect spam or what would be some better solutions, but i absolutely hate hate HATE captcha. Especially when i can't read the letters clearly and have to keep refreshing the iamge to get one i can even begin to attempt to write. Some places use captcha that is clear to read, but it still annoys me because it's like an extra step, but i definitely get flat out angry when it's impossible to read and I literally spend minutes there that I wouldn't otherwise. Evil or Very Mad
I feel exactly the same about captcha. Didn't realize that is what it is called. Almost as though they deliberately try and make it difficult so that one has to do it in at least two or even three attempts. MOST annoying.
Nameless
deanhills wrote:
Almost as though they deliberately try and make it difficult

Well, YES. The whole point is that it shouldn't be readable by a bot, so text has to be a skewed, coloured or whatever else. Occasionally I'll confuse an l for a 1 or something, but ~90% of the time it takes me <15 seconds.
metalfreek
I have filling captcha. They are sometimes so irritating especially when I make 2/3 mistakes. But what can I say, CAPTCHA is necessary evil just like friction.
deanhills
Nameless wrote:
Well, YES. The whole point is that it shouldn't be readable by a bot, so text has to be a skewed, coloured or whatever else. Occasionally I'll confuse an l for a 1 or something, but ~90% of the time it takes me <15 seconds.
I guess if one can subtract the energy wasted on getting furious at the whole process, then yours is a good example for getting it under 15 seconds. I probably spend at least a few seconds anticipating that it may not work. Probably much faster not to think about it, and just do it as fast as possible. Smile
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