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Recognizing Spam on FriHost





Ankhanu
Spam is an annoying and almost unavoidable aspect of the FriHost forums. While our humble moderators and admins do their best to remove spam if it appears, they're not around 24/7, and threads occasionally persist… If a thread persists, the chances of someone commenting on the thread and making it more of a headache to deal with increase. As such, I'm going to give a quick run down of how to spot spam so that users can report it and not comment on/perpetuate spam threads.
Some spam is more obvious than others, some are clearly promoting a specific product throughout the thread/post, others seem to be about something else, then insert the unrelated spam... some are a little more tricky, posting something that seems quite legitimate, and linking their spam within. For example, they might create a thread asking for advice about a piece of software, providing the link so that you know what they're talking about... they appear to be legitimately interested, but are simply scamming users into clicking the link. This last kind can be very tough to root out as spam, and requires a critical judgement call. I'm going to concentrate on the more obvious forms of spam and what to look for to recognize them.

First, almost all spam has a link to another webpage within them… look for the links, they highlight as blue (unless the spammer is more creative and changes the colour to blend in or show up differently), and many are simply a copy/paste of the spam URL, though some are within URL tags. If a link seems out of place, or seems to be advertising, mouseover them and see what the URL is that they point to (In Firefox, the URL shows up in a greyed box in the lower left corner of the window); often the URLs are obviously for something trying to sell to you, or otherwise describe the sort of site they lead to.

Second, spam threads are almost always about some sort of "interest" topic: software, business, celebrities, etc., and the spam may or may not be related to the topic it's in. Threads about your favorite show, movie, actor, actress, etc., are frequently spam (though there are a few genuine threads about these topics, so don't be too hasty!!). These threads are frequently posted in forums they wouldn't obviously belong, for example, a thread about a TV show in a Science forum… more often than not, they're simply in the General Chat forum.

Third, spammers are almost never long term contributing members, and have single, or a handful of, posts… most, if not all, of which are spam. Generally, if you see a new user with multiple new threads suddenly appear in the General Chat (or other) forum, or in the blogs, you've got a pretty clear red flag that each of those threads are going to be spam. Fortunately or not, the rules for spam in the blogs seem to be a little loose... much as the rules for what can be posted in blogs in general. It may be difficult to successfully have blog spam removed.

Fourth, look for false signature blocks. These aren't always easy to spot, but, often, something just doesn't quite look right. In these cases, the poster simply enters the links at the bottom of their post, trying to pass them off as a signature. Sometimes they use a separator, sometimes they don't even bother. They tend to look something like this:
Quote:
Thread body text

Spammy spam | More spammy spam | and some more!

Quote:
Thread body text

-----------------
Spammy spam | More spammy spam | and some more!

Quote:
Thread body text
_________________
Spammy spam | More spammy spam | and some more!

Quote:
Thread body text

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Spammy spam | More spammy spam | and some more!

If you're ever in doubt and want to check if you should report or not, just click the "Quote" button. If the signature block is false, you'll see it and its tags/URLs right there in the quote text. Click back, and report away!

I'll refine this as I think about it, but, these four tips should help you recognize forum spam and help you resist replying to it, or clicking on the links they provide.

A common current spam example - (This is all I can remember off the top of my head right now, I'll add more as I encounter/remember them)
(I'm removing the http://www. portions of the known URLs so they don't highlight automatically as links.)

4easysoft.com/total-video-converter.html
This is one of the most popular spam sources at the moment, frequently with numerous threads created every day, sometimes not quite so often. Most threads created spamming for this and similar services are created to seemingly discuss some new technology, software or show/movie. These threads are almost never in the forum they should be in, generally showing up in General Chat, though occasionally in other forums.

The last example that I reported of this one is quoted below, so you can see the way that they tend to build the threads:
User: carlmullin120, Thread Title: What Nexus Q mean to Google wrote:
Google in the past few years have been looking for ways to people living center. They want people to find share value through Google, as the interests and the fun they gain. Nexus Q as the continuation of the last June, appear in front of our eyes.

Operating principle

The main function of the equipment is to share and closely linked with Google's cloud services. Because the device itself has no internal storage, so all of the content broadcasted through it should use Wi-Fi from the clouds. Each music through it plays will have small cache, and then directly play by independent sound or family entertainment system.

It can add songs or change the playliste by anyone with Google Music, the response was very quickly. You can also put it with television broadcast the video in YouTube and movies rent from Google Movie. If you are already using Google Music will know, it allows users to upload free up to 20000 songs, and then you can use the Nexus Q to play with the highest 320 KBPS.

Why everyone can control the play list

What must be pointed out is that the play list is temporary, the 24 hours after you success add a song to your Nexus Q, even if you disconnect connection can also enjoy it. So Nexus Q can not actually become a tool we collect music, it just provide a temporary share. At the same time, even if you share a music, someone cannot see your other music content.

ShareGoogle Movie is different from music, you must abide the rules that once view the must finish in 24 hours.

It isa giant leap of Google

It is a small step for the Google to enter the first step to hardware manufacturing, Nexus Q is a good try. The whole I/O on somewhat show last year "Tungsten plan" showed that Google at least at the beginning of last year began to look on the home entertainment field, until today a formal products finally came. Maybe you don't think this device is of big use, but had to admit that it from design to manufacturing all impressed, this change many people's perception that Google permeated with engineer group can't make a cultural design sense. Believe after the successful purchase of MOTOROLA mobile department, Google will go more hard in this way.

But it is still not perfect, even some drab. High prices brought to consumer limited function, and the idea of sharing not enough popularization, the condition of sales of the products may not very hot. In addition, tie users to Android and Google Play can't compatible with other platforms and applications. More awkward is, this looks too good equipment makes Google TV position some questioned. Is not absolutely on the closed problem platform and the application, the reserved MicroUSB interface is a proof.

If u guys want to learn more about how to convert video between different video formats, u can visit (http:/www. removed by Ankhanu) 4easysoft.com/total-video-converter.html.
Cosmoslayer
This post is not considered one? Razz
truespeed
Frihost seem to get a lot of spammers with usernames with a first name/surname ,eg: MartinLewis.

They usually start in the introductions section and make another post elsewhere and add their signature links never to return,then repeat and rinse with another name the next day.

The seo type threads seem to attract a lot of spammers too and certain random threads seem to get a lot,probably the same spammer seeing he got away with it one day so goes back the next time to add more links with a different username in the same thread.

I don't see a way of stopping it other than as Ankhanu says,being aware of it,reporting it and most importantly not replying to it.
deanhills
Cosmoslayer wrote:
This post is not considered one? Razz
Laughing Haha! Spam about spam.

Just imagine your typical person who responds to spam posts actually reading Ankhanu's lenghty post. Inevitably those who don't need to read it will end up being the only people to read it.

I don't think education about spam could ever compensate for lack of moderating. And we do have a lack of moderating here and a shortage of active moderators. There are also plenty of threads in this sub-forum that clearly belong somewhere else. Like you Ankhanu, I'd be itching to climb in. But alas we're only concerned members here. I'm sure Bondings must be aware of this.
coolclay
I think the spam here gets sorted out fairly quickly through the report feature. I know when I see posts I report them ASAP, and they are gone shortly thereafter. But like you said when the spammers are actually people there is not much anyone can do about besides what is already being done!
Ankhanu
Aye, spam tends to get sorted pretty quickly, but, sometimes people don't seem to recognize that threads are spam and try to hold a discussion with the long-gone, never to return spammer. This CAN allow a spam thread to persist, and is kind of annoying. I made this as a sort of PSA thing to help people recognize spam and not contribute to its persistence... though Dean does have a solid point with the fact that those who are most likely to respond to spammers as though they were genuine are also unlikely to read this thread and learn its message. All the same, they are armed with the tools, it's up to them to use it Wink
johans
deanhills wrote:
Cosmoslayer wrote:
This post is not considered one? Razz
Laughing Haha! Spam about spam.

Just imagine your typical person who responds to spam posts actually reading Ankhanu's lenghty post. Inevitably those who don't need to read it will end up being the only people to read it.

I don't think education about spam could ever compensate for lack of moderating. And we do have a lack of moderating here and a shortage of active moderators. There are also plenty of threads in this sub-forum that clearly belong somewhere else. Like you Ankhanu, I'd be itching to climb in. But alas we're only concerned members here. I'm sure Bondings must be aware of this.


super like spam about spam... lol
busaboss
there are a lot of spam threads in frihost nowadays and it is really irritating at time because they will just post a thread with their link and then go. That is so uncool Cool
deanhills
coolclay wrote:
I think the spam here gets sorted out fairly quickly through the report feature. I know when I see posts I report them ASAP, and they are gone shortly thereafter. But like you said when the spammers are actually people there is not much anyone can do about besides what is already being done!
I've never been able to understand why we have to report spam threads/posts in order for them to disappear. Most of the spam occur in the General Chat forum. I'd have thought it the easiest thing to just glance through them quickly as they usually stand out like a sore thumb. If someone engaged a spam post I'd have thought it easy too to just delete the spam thread or send it to spamcan. Next place I'd be able to pick up on it easy is the View Posts Since Last Visit feature. Reports should only be used as ancillary to moderating, not the sole source of moderating.

If a Moderator should check through the General Chat Forum they'd pick up on a at least one double thread and a few that do not belong in the General Chat Forum. They'd also see spam posts that have been missed since they probably have not been reported. I'd also fix some of the headings in the General Chat Forum threads that don't have caps or that don't make sense. It does not have to be perfect of course, but it's far from perfect as it is right now.
hitose
The truth is that everything here is Spam, from the moment I have to post for duty and not because one wants it involves the brain keep dry when making a post, you post no sense, trying to please the Frihost desire.

In other cases there are some bot here, only very occasional advertise somewhere with malware or virus, although I guess the moderators have done well because we hardly know them go to these heretics.
truespeed
deanhills wrote:
I've never been able to understand why we have to report spam threads/posts in order for them to disappear.


It is a quick way for the mods to locate the spam,i am not saying it is the busiest of forums but some days i will come here and there will be a couple of pages of new posts,the moderator could click on every post looking for spam which would be time consuming,i know because it is what i do on my forum as spam rarely gets reported,so any help with quickly locating the spam is good for the moderators and good for the forums.
Bondings
Thank you for the post, it is quite interesting and the information about spam is pretty accurate!

I would like to add that sometimes I have the impression that some spammers write a normal post (without links) and then later on add the links, hoping it won't get noticed anymore. It also seems that spamming has been increased lately. Finally I think most spam on Frihost is posted manually.

And to answer deanhills, I don't agree that most of the spam in the General Chat. Quite a lot occurs in movies/series topics, introductions, seo and a lot in random topics. Reporting a spam post makes sure that the spam post gets handled certainly. And it is really easy to miss/overlook one, especially if the spam links are only added afterwards.
deanhills
Bondings wrote:
And to answer deanhills, I don't agree that most of the spam in the General Chat. Quite a lot occurs in movies/series topics, introductions, seo and a lot in random topics. Reporting a spam post makes sure that the spam post gets handled certainly. And it is really easy to miss/overlook one, especially if the spam links are only added afterwards.
I probably did not say it right. Let me try again. Reporting I'm sure is a great help. I have no problem with that, but it would appear that that is the only way spam is dealt with. With the report function only. My point is that it may not be that efficient to only rely on reporting of posts in order to catch spam. I'd have thought a Moderator could take a look at the General Chat page and immediately see things that have been missed by the Report Function. In other words not solely relying on reports.

I did not go through this page meticulously. My eyes just picked up on stuff spontaneously. Like a double thread and threads that belong elsewhere. If there is a zero post thread then that already says that may be a spam post - in one glance. Why do Moderators have to wait until someone reports it in order for it to be dealt with? The zero post thread is dated 14 June.
Ankhanu
Basically, it looks like you're complaining that you don't see the spam removed that you didn't see posted...
I've been on the forum and watched spam disappear as I was clicking the thread to report it. The moderators ARE removing spam, and you're not seeing it... They're doing their job, but they're not here 24/7, occasionally some persists so that it gets read by users like us. Mods don't *wait* for spam to be reported, they're just people who have other things to do in their day too.
Ghost Rider103
deanhills wrote:
Bondings wrote:
And to answer deanhills, I don't agree that most of the spam in the General Chat. Quite a lot occurs in movies/series topics, introductions, seo and a lot in random topics. Reporting a spam post makes sure that the spam post gets handled certainly. And it is really easy to miss/overlook one, especially if the spam links are only added afterwards.
I probably did not say it right. Let me try again. Reporting I'm sure is a great help. I have no problem with that, but it would appear that that is the only way spam is dealt with. With the report function only. My point is that it may not be that efficient to only rely on reporting of posts in order to catch spam. I'd have thought a Moderator could take a look at the General Chat page and immediately see things that have been missed by the Report Function. In other words not solely relying on reports.

I did not go through this page meticulously. My eyes just picked up on stuff spontaneously. Like a double thread and threads that belong elsewhere. If there is a zero post thread then that already says that may be a spam post - in one glance. Why do Moderators have to wait until someone reports it in order for it to be dealt with? The zero post thread is dated 14 June.


Ugh... I can't believe you even wrote this.


Quote:
but it would appear that that is the only way spam is dealt with.

Of course it would appear that way to you. You seem to be ignorant enough to think the spam that you see is infact the only spam that exists on Frihost. Rolling Eyes

Quote:
Why do Moderators have to wait until someone reports it in order for it to be dealt with?

We don't. This is your ridiculous ignorant opinion.

Staff can't be here 24/7, some of us can often be here extremely frequently (as I have been in the past months), and I have removed spam within seconds of it actually being posted, because I have methods of catching spam extremely quick, however I have to be active on the forum to catch it. I've banned hundreds of spam bots.

Sometimes the mods are on break, as I have been the past month or so. It's been a week or two since I've removed any spam, as sometimes the only chance I get to check Frihost is from my cell, making it difficult to remove spam, unless I see it in bulk only then will I do something about it from my cell.

I don't think it's worth going into great detail to explain it to you. You never seem to get the real point. Ank has seen it himself and has called it out in IRC how quick spam has been removed. I guarantee you don't even see half of the spam on Frihost, so you have no right to even comment on what spam gets reported. Especially since you have never used the report feature to report spam. Rolling Eyes

Anyways, on a more important note, great post Ank. It's great to see people posting useful content and tips rather than whining or complaining. Maybe this should even be stickied.
Ankhanu
Just gonna bump this topic... it's still relevant, and could use a read.
deanhills
It's too long Ankhanu. Most guys will just click past it. Can you provide us with a summary?
darthrevan
deanhills wrote:
Cosmoslayer wrote:
This post is not considered one? Razz
Laughing Haha! Spam about spam.

Just imagine your typical person who responds to spam posts actually reading Ankhanu's lenghty post. Inevitably those who don't need to read it will end up being the only people to read it.

I don't think education about spam could ever compensate for lack of moderating. And we do have a lack of moderating here and a shortage of active moderators. There are also plenty of threads in this sub-forum that clearly belong somewhere else. Like you Ankhanu, I'd be itching to climb in. But alas we're only concerned members here. I'm sure Bondings must be aware of this.


I would volunteer to be a moderator here, I am here a lot but I will for now Atleast report what I think is questionable. Even if unsure I will report and say what I think it is or unsure if that post may be considered spam.

The pack of moderator activity dean mentioned could be sorta fixed if there wad atleast a certain amount of activity to be met during a time frame(with certain consideration for real life).
Insanity
I don't know if we should place all the responsibility on the moderators... maybe people should just be mroe proactive in reporting spam.
Ankhanu
deanhills wrote:
It's too long Ankhanu. Most guys will just click past it. Can you provide us with a summary?

If it looks vaguely spammy, it's probably spam.
deanhills
Spam filters would be a definite help. We've suggested that in a few other threads.

Also appointing spam generals, say all posters who have reached 2000 posts get a button so they can send spam posts to quarantine where the quarantined posts can be dealt with by the Mods.

Just imagine how many people must have reported the first spam posts in the General Chat Forum tonight. Whereas if any of us had had that spam button to send it to a quarantine forum, it would have saved us reporting it, and saved every one else from responding to it.
Ankhanu
Those are all fine and good, but not currently things within our reach. As such, we have four options:
1) recognize and report
2) recognize and ignore
3) fail to recognize and ignore
4) fail to recognize and respond in the thread making things harder for the mods.

This thread is mainly about avoiding option 4), but also to encourage 1).
truespeed
Apart from bikerman and vanilla are there any other of the mods active anymore?
RosenCruz
Whoever is coding these bots, they could spend their efforts for sth else, better for the mankind. Mad
truespeed
Ankhanu wrote:

3) fail to recognize and ignore
.


How can you ignore something you have failed to recognize? Wink
Ankhanu
truespeed wrote:
How can you ignore something you have failed to recognize? Wink

You can ignore it as a thread in general, not specifically for the spam content.
deanhills
Ankhanu wrote:
Those are all fine and good, but not currently things within our reach. As such, we have four options:
1) recognize and report
2) recognize and ignore
3) fail to recognize and ignore
4) fail to recognize and respond in the thread making things harder for the mods.

This thread is mainly about avoiding option 4), but also to encourage 1).
If someone responding to a spam thread was what triggered the bumping of your thread, it may have been sheer frustration on the part of that person. To report the same spam (different accounts but definitely same person) in multiples of four or more, over and OVER again can be frustrating, so the person probably just dealt with it in a humorous way. I think most of us are well versed in the reporting system. And those who aren't probably aren't interested to get involved to that extent.

Anyway for me there is a system to take care of the spam and we're trying our best to help, but not a system to tackle spam at its roots. Setting up a simple filter that requires a calculation or a judgment question can help in a big way. Ocalhoun's Brony Forum has ZERO spam. And the registration filter is VERY simple. Complete a sentence with a missing word that is well known to the Brony community. The question is on a rotating basis so it changes all of the time. And it really works. Truespeed has also made a great suggestion a couple or more months ago for disabling links for first posts. Matrix had a thread a few weeks ago that also ended in recommendations for spam filters, and Helios said he would be taking it to the Staff forum for discussion.
coolclay
I am glad this post got dug up. The spam seems to have gotten especially bad lately. To the point that I don't even bother going through and reporting them anymore because there is at least 10 or so. I just ignore them, but I have noticed that they don't get deleted as quick as they once did, whether that is because there are a lot more, or we just have less mods then we did at one point in time I don't know.

But I am sure with the smart people we have around here it shouldn't be difficult, like Deanhills suggested, to put some type of spam filter in place. I especially like the fill in the blank registration question. I have seen it on many forums lately and it seems to work great.
Ankhanu
deanhills wrote:
If someone responding to a spam thread was what triggered the bumping of your thread, it may have been sheer frustration on the part of that person. To report the same spam (different accounts but definitely same person) in multiples of four or more, over and OVER again can be frustrating, so the person probably just dealt with it in a humorous way.

Perhaps true, but the mods have requested (multiple times) that we NOT respond to spam, report it and let them handle it. Replying adds to the work load, making removal more difficult.

What I've taken to doing in those situations is to report the user, rather than the individual posts. Rather quicker than entering and reporting each individually.

deanhills wrote:
I think most of us are well versed in the reporting system. And those who aren't probably aren't interested to get involved to that extent.

True enough... kinda Wink

deanhills wrote:
Anyway for me there is a system to take care of the spam and we're trying our best to help, but not a system to tackle spam at its roots. Setting up a simple filter that requires a calculation or a judgment question can help in a big way. Ocalhoun's Brony Forum has ZERO spam. And the registration filter is VERY simple. Complete a sentence with a missing word that is well known to the Brony community. The question is on a rotating basis so it changes all of the time. And it really works. Truespeed has also made a great suggestion a couple or more months ago for disabling links for first posts. Matrix had a thread a few weeks ago that also ended in recommendations for spam filters, and Helios said he would be taking it to the Staff forum for discussion.

Yes, what's presented here is JUST help in recognizing spam so that it is properly reported/dealt with. It's barely even a bandaid solution. But, again, it's a user-level suggestion thread, things that we can do, not what the administrator or moderators can do. As you said, there are several threads in the Suggestions forum on various ways that the problem of spam might be dealt with before it shows up... and they've been seen by the admins/mods. Something that you might have noticed is that it's completely out of our hands as to whether or not they get implemented. All we can do is make our suggestions in the Suggestions forum and hope Razz

So, to summarize, 'cause, ya know, TL;DR, I'm sure: This thread covers what we can do and how to recognize spam when present. It's not about how to change the coding of the forum to prevent it, that belongs in the Suggestions forum.
deanhills
Ankhanu wrote:
Perhaps true, but the mods have requested (multiple times) that we NOT respond to spam, report it and let them handle it. Replying adds to the work load, making removal more difficult.
Well I guess its their job then to deal with guys that do it.

Ankhanu wrote:
What I've taken to doing in those situations is to report the user, rather than the individual posts. Rather quicker than entering and reporting each individually.
I'm dead certain most of us have been doing that. Sort of the logical thing to do for the veterans. For newer or irregular members, they may not be that focused but may try to report the posts without knowing about the extra links (in addition to the main report link) like reporting the author and reporting the topic.


Ankhanu wrote:
Yes, what's presented here is JUST help in recognizing spam so that it is properly reported/dealt with.
Thanks for that Ankhanu. Lots of effort must have gone into the writing of that post.
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