#1  
Old 10-12-2017, 06:14 AM
Richard Pearse Richard Pearse is offline
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More and more spam!

It seems that there is ever more spam finding its way on to our boards. Are there plans afoot to try and curb the influx? E.g., first time posters have their first post authorised by a mod.
  #2  
Old 10-12-2017, 07:21 AM
Telemark Telemark is offline
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There is a lot of spam, but it's easy to avoid, disappears quickly, and doesn't interfere with my enjoyment of the site. Mildly annoying, but not worth putting a higher bar to posting for new users.
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Old 10-12-2017, 08:34 AM
John DiFool John DiFool is offline
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Thanks to time zone correspondences it shows up a lot in the early morning hours...
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  #4  
Old 10-12-2017, 11:12 AM
Colibri Colibri is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard Pearse View Post
It seems that there is ever more spam finding its way on to our boards.
The amount of spam varies from day to day. I don't have the impression that it has increased drastically recently. Around 90% of the spam we get comes from a handful of streaming spammers, I believe mostly in Bangladesh.

Quote:
Are there plans afoot to try and curb the influx? E.g., first time posters have their first post authorised by a mod.
We are reluctant to impose barriers to new members who wish to join the board. The present levels of spam are a nuisance but it is generally removed pretty quickly. And having to have the first post "authorized by a mod" would actually make more work for us, since we would have to review not only spammers but other new members.
  #5  
Old 10-12-2017, 04:19 PM
kunilou kunilou is offline
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Originally Posted by Telemark View Post
There is a lot of spam, but it's easy to avoid, disappears quickly, and doesn't interfere with my enjoyment of the site. Mildly annoying, but not worth putting a higher bar to posting for new users.
You say that now, but if Running Coach ever takes a week off from the Board, we'll never recover.
  #6  
Old 10-12-2017, 04:30 PM
running coach running coach is offline
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You say that now, but if Running Coach ever takes a week off from the Board, we'll never recover.
That's an awful nice message board you have there. It would be a shame if anything were to happen to it.
Fortunately, I'm not greedy.

  #7  
Old 10-12-2017, 04:33 PM
Chronos Chronos is offline
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While the reports are certainly appreciated, we also see spam that isn't reported, or that's in other forums so that we don't see the reports ourselves. I think I end up nuking more spam in GQ (where I don't see the reports) than in CS (where I do). And often when I follow a spam report in CS, some other mod (often from another forum) has beaten me to it.
  #8  
Old 10-12-2017, 04:35 PM
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  #9  
Old 10-12-2017, 06:17 PM
Colibri Colibri is offline
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Originally Posted by Chronos View Post
While the reports are certainly appreciated, we also see spam that isn't reported, or that's in other forums so that we don't see the reports ourselves. I think I end up nuking more spam in GQ (where I don't see the reports) than in CS (where I do). And often when I follow a spam report in CS, some other mod (often from another forum) has beaten me to it.
I've always had the feeling that GQ got a lot more spam than other forums, but since I don't get reports from the others I wasn't sure. I just did some research and found out what a spam magnet GQ is.

These are the figures for the number of threads deleted as spam in each forum over the number total number of threads in that forum in the past week, and the percentage.

ATMB: 2/17 (12%)
CCC: 2/8 (25%)
GQ: 76/199 (38%)
GD: 8/62 (13%)
Elections: 0/14 (0%)
CS: 7/159 (4%)
GR: 2/47 (4%)
IMHO: 3/128 (2%)
MPSIMS: 3/94 (3%)
BBQ: 0/30 (0%)

This doesn't include spam posted to threads, just threads started by spammers. But as I said above, the latter accounts for about 90% of all spam.

GQ gets about 10 times more spam than the other large forums. I have no idea why the streaming spammers prefer GQ so much. (This is also evidence that it's humans posting the spam rather than bots. I don't know how bots would produce such a heavy preference for one forum.)
  #10  
Old 10-12-2017, 06:26 PM
Chronos Chronos is offline
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Maybe some bots are just set to pick the forum with the most threads?
  #11  
Old 10-12-2017, 06:38 PM
Colibri Colibri is offline
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Originally Posted by Chronos View Post
Maybe some bots are just set to pick the forum with the most threads?
Then why are there spam threads in forums with very few threads?

There's no real correlation. GD has proportionately more spam than CS, IMHO, or MPSIMS, even though it has many fewer posts.

These are threads posted by the same spammers who hit GQ, based on their username, email, and thread title styles.

Last edited by Colibri; 10-12-2017 at 06:41 PM.
  #12  
Old 10-14-2017, 06:37 AM
Cicero Cicero is offline
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Originally Posted by Colibri View Post
Then why are there spam threads in forums with very few threads?

.
Some spam bots may be set that way, not every spam bot.
  #13  
Old 10-14-2017, 10:23 AM
Colibri Colibri is offline
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Originally Posted by Cicero View Post
Some spam bots may be set that way, not every spam bot.
Cite? Can you provide a specific example of a spambot that works that way?
  #14  
Old 10-14-2017, 12:02 PM
Siam Sam Siam Sam is offline
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Sshh, dear, don't cause a fuss. I'll have your spam. I love it. I'm having spam spam spam spam spam spam spam beaked beans spam spam spam and spam!
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  #15  
Old 10-14-2017, 12:10 PM
Colibri Colibri is offline
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Originally Posted by Siam Sam View Post
Sshh, dear, don't cause a fuss. I'll have your spam. I love it. I'm having spam spam spam spam spam spam spam beaked beans spam spam spam and spam!
You got it. I sent them your address.
  #16  
Old 10-14-2017, 01:25 PM
engineer_comp_geek engineer_comp_geek is online now
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Originally Posted by Siam Sam View Post
Sshh, dear, don't cause a fuss. I'll have your spam. I love it. I'm having spam spam spam spam spam spam spam beaked beans spam spam spam and spam!
Lovely spam, wonderful spam!
  #17  
Old 10-14-2017, 07:24 PM
burpo the wonder mutt burpo the wonder mutt is offline
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Bloody Vikings!
  #18  
Old 10-15-2017, 07:00 AM
Cicero Cicero is offline
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Originally Posted by Colibri View Post
Cite? Can you provide a specific example of a spambot that works that way?
Immediately after your cite that spambots act the way you maintain.
  #19  
Old 10-15-2017, 11:38 AM
engineer_comp_geek engineer_comp_geek is online now
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I'm not convinced that they are using bots at all. I suppose it's possible that they have part of their system automated, but my best guess is that they are manually copying and pasting. They use the same user name and e-mail on multiple sites on the internet. They copy parts of existing posts and thread titles. It also seems to take them a while to cycle through all of the message boards that they spam, and I think they could go a lot faster if it were automated.

Two main spammers are behind most of the streaming spam we get (which is most of our spam these days). I call them Mr. Smith and Mr. Houssain because those names show up in their e-mail addresses in various combinations. They are pretty good at bypassing our spam filter. They also seem to put more effort into spamming than most folks put into normal 9 to 5 jobs.

Actual spambots seem to be getting more and more rare, probably because they usually end up getting caught by our spam filter and almost never get a post through. Most of them don't even bother trying any more. Humans can quickly change what they are doing to try to evade a spam filter. A bot has to be re-programmed, and that takes a lot more skill than simply copying and pasting.

We did seem to have a bot system of some sort that figured out how to automatically register users here. For a while we were getting numerous registrations with (some random name)041@(some random e-mail host) followed by (some other random name)042)@(some other host), etc. with the numbers counting up in sequence. I banned most of those before they even posted, and after a couple of months they stopped registering.
  #20  
Old 10-15-2017, 12:49 PM
Loach Loach is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Colibri View Post
I've always had the feeling that GQ got a lot more spam than other forums, but since I don't get reports from the others I wasn't sure. I just did some research and found out what a spam magnet GQ is.

These are the figures for the number of threads deleted as spam in each forum over the number total number of threads in that forum in the past week, and the percentage.

ATMB: 2/17 (12%)
CCC: 2/8 (25%)
GQ: 76/199 (38%)
GD: 8/62 (13%)
Elections: 0/14 (0%)
CS: 7/159 (4%)
GR: 2/47 (4%)
IMHO: 3/128 (2%)
MPSIMS: 3/94 (3%)
BBQ: 0/30 (0%)

This doesn't include spam posted to threads, just threads started by spammers. But as I said above, the latter accounts for about 90% of all spam.

GQ gets about 10 times more spam than the other large forums. I have no idea why the streaming spammers prefer GQ so much. (This is also evidence that it's humans posting the spam rather than bots. I don't know how bots would produce such a heavy preference for one forum.)
It was my gut feeling that GQ had the most. Nice to know my gut is well calibrated. It is also my gut feeling that there is an uptick of spammers during football season with most of them being for online streaming sites.
  #21  
Old 10-15-2017, 01:37 PM
Colibri Colibri is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cicero View Post
Immediately after your cite that spambots act the way you maintain.
I'm contending they're not spambots based on the pattern of posts to different forums that we see. You made the assertion that spambots exist that could produce that pattern; it's up to you to provide evidence to support that assertion.

Like engineer_comp_geek, my impression that they are not spambots (or not entirely automated at least) is based on having banned hundreds (in engineer's case many thousands) of the suckers. The fact that they concentrate on certain forums, and are clustered at certain days and times suggest that posts are not automatic. Also you would expect even more of them. When they first started, they would try to get off as many spam posts as possible before we banned the name and they had to use a new one. Now I rarely see more than one post made by the same username, even if for some reason it wasn't banned for some time.

Last edited by Colibri; 10-15-2017 at 01:58 PM.
  #22  
Old 10-15-2017, 01:53 PM
burpo the wonder mutt burpo the wonder mutt is offline
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I DON'T LIKE SPAM-bots!

Last edited by burpo the wonder mutt; 10-15-2017 at 01:53 PM.
  #23  
Old 10-16-2017, 01:07 AM
Colibri Colibri is offline
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Originally Posted by Loach View Post
It is also my gut feeling that there is an uptick of spammers during football season with most of them being for online streaming sites.
There might be, but I haven't tried doing a count. One of our streaming spammers right now is posting links to sporting events, but another is posting links to movies and TV shows.
  #24  
Old 10-16-2017, 01:28 AM
anomalous1 anomalous1 is offline
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It seems as though they are pretty easy to spot as it is. I know when I see something titled "Synthesis Of Hybrid Bread Cakes Turns Peanut Butter Into Pipe Flanges" or the like, that it is spam.
  #25  
Old 10-16-2017, 07:04 AM
Darren Garrison Darren Garrison is offline
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Originally Posted by anomalous1 View Post
It seems as though they are pretty easy to spot as it is. I know when I see something titled "Synthesis Of Hybrid Bread Cakes Turns Peanut Butter Into Pipe Flanges" or the like, that it is spam.
Either that, or Leo Bloom.

(Just kidding, Leo!)
  #26  
Old 10-16-2017, 09:06 AM
Chronos Chronos is offline
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The thing is, they're definitely preferring GQ for some reason. Now, whether that's bots preferring GQ or humans preferring GQ, I don't know for sure, but there still must be some reason they're preferring GQ, and I'd kind of like to figure out what that reason is. If they're humans trying to capture as many eyeballs as possible, you'd think that they'd try to find the correct forum (self-promoting spammers usually do this). And if they do have a preference for one particular forum for whatever reason, why isn't that preference absolute? It costs the same amount of effort to put a spam thread in any forum, so why not put it in the one they've decided is best?
  #27  
Old 10-16-2017, 11:44 AM
Colibri Colibri is offline
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Originally Posted by anomalous1 View Post
It seems as though they are pretty easy to spot as it is. I know when I see something titled "Synthesis Of Hybrid Bread Cakes Turns Peanut Butter Into Pipe Flanges" or the like, that it is spam.
The weirdest thing is that they appear to try to disguise themselves, but in totally ineffective ways. I can spot a spam thread instantly just from the title. Strangest of all is that recently they have been disguising spam as spam, advertising electronic equipment in the title but containing streaming links in the body. You would think they would get more people interested in their content if they just titled their threads "Get your streaming sports here!"

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chronos View Post
The thing is, they're definitely preferring GQ for some reason. Now, whether that's bots preferring GQ or humans preferring GQ, I don't know for sure, but there still must be some reason they're preferring GQ, and I'd kind of like to figure out what that reason is. If they're humans trying to capture as many eyeballs as possible, you'd think that they'd try to find the correct forum (self-promoting spammers usually do this). And if they do have a preference for one particular forum for whatever reason, why isn't that preference absolute? It costs the same amount of effort to put a spam thread in any forum, so why not put it in the one they've decided is best?
The streaming links are either for sports, which you would think would be more appropriate for The Game Room, or for movies and TV, which should go in Cafe Society if they were actually paying attention to forum descriptions.

I think it would be possible to program a bot to show more intelligent behavior than Mr. Smith and Mr. Hossain do.
  #28  
Old 10-16-2017, 12:03 PM
Darren Garrison Darren Garrison is offline
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Originally Posted by Colibri View Post
Strangest of all is that recently they have been disguising spam as spam, advertising electronic equipment in the title but containing streaming links in the body. You would think they would get more people interested in their content if they just titled their threads "Get your streaming sports here!"
I saw two of them recently with subject lines about anime when the links were for sports.
  #29  
Old 10-16-2017, 12:21 PM
aldiboronti aldiboronti is offline
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I'm seeing less of late. It's all down to timing, I think. If you come on the board at a time when few mods are around (basically when America sleeps) you may see more, all of which tend to vanish like early morning mists with the rising of the US sun.
  #30  
Old 10-16-2017, 12:58 PM
Chronos Chronos is offline
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It's not just that: The spammers themselves have activity cycles, too (strong evidence that there's at least some manual component to what they're doing). We mods can still see the spam on the list after it's nuked, and there's a lot more of it early in the morning than later in the day.

Quote:
You would think they would get more people interested in their content if they just titled their threads "Get your streaming sports here!"
I suspect that some boards have blacklists of some spam-related keywords, and that rather than trying to keep track of which boards have which blacklists, they just avoid those keywords altogether. This accounts for the subset which use oblique references to sports, like "With 11 men per side", or the like: They're avoiding the blacklists while still trying to get as close as they can to "get your streaming sports here".
  #31  
Old 10-16-2017, 01:34 PM
Colibri Colibri is offline
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Originally Posted by Chronos View Post
I suspect that some boards have blacklists of some spam-related keywords, and that rather than trying to keep track of which boards have which blacklists, they just avoid those keywords altogether.
That could account for some of the random thread titles, but not for the fact that they are now using words like "smartphone" and other words which you think would be blacklisted in thread titles. And the streaming spam, whether for sports or movies, includes "Live Stream" in the link (but this is edited in after the thread is posted).

I'm wondering when they're going to switch to bogus thread titles for Viagra.

(This said, I was astonished to find that one thread advertising iPhones actually was for iPhones.)
  #32  
Old 10-16-2017, 01:47 PM
running coach running coach is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Colibri View Post
That could account for some of the random thread titles, but not for the fact that they are now using words like "smartphone" and other words which you think would be blacklisted in thread titles. And the streaming spam, whether for sports or movies, includes "Live Stream" in the link (but this is edited in after the thread is posted).

I'm wondering when they're going to switch to bogus thread titles for Viagra.

(This said, I was astonished to find that one thread advertising iPhones actually was for iPhones.)
That's the next trick! It's brilliant!

Last edited by running coach; 10-16-2017 at 01:47 PM.
  #33  
Old 10-17-2017, 04:46 AM
Richard Pearse Richard Pearse is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Colibri View Post
The amount of spam varies from day to day. I don't have the impression that it has increased drastically recently. Around 90% of the spam we get comes from a handful of streaming spammers, I believe mostly in Bangladesh.
It may just be the time of day I'm on. It does seem that there is so much these days that running coach gets beaten to the punch by some other posters .

Last edited by Richard Pearse; 10-17-2017 at 04:46 AM.
  #34  
Old 10-17-2017, 06:45 AM
samclem samclem is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard Pearse View Post
It may just be the time of day I'm on. It does seem that there is so much these days that running coach gets beaten to the punch by some other posters .
Almost certainly the time of day you're on, which I believe is between the hours of 1AM EDT(US) and 8AM EDT(US). Almost all of the mods are US based(unfortunately). The Bangladesh spammers are virulent during those hours and usually only engineer_comp_geek is awake during those hours, and that only sporatically. So, the spam posted at that time sometimes remains until I get up and start banning about 6:30AM EDT(US).

During the US daylight hours the spam goes away a bit faster as we have 6-10 mods checking in quite often.
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