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doug thomas
(sparky52804) - MLife

Locale: Eastern Iowa
Spam on 10/20/2012 08:42:54 MDT Print View

I don't know about the rest of you, but I'm getting REALLY tired of all the spam on this site. I've about had it with getting emails telling me about post to some of the threads I'm following only to find out that some a-hole has posted a message telling me that I can buy Louboutin shoes, or Uggs boots, or some other product that has nothing to do with backpacking what so ever!

Maybe it is time for Beartooth to hire a forensic computer analyst to find out who is posting these shameless advertisements and put them out of business permanantly.

I don't pretent to have all the answers, but SOMETHING neds to be done.

Thanks for allowin me to vent for a bit.

drowning in spam
(leaftye) - F

Locale: SoCal
Re: Spam on 10/20/2012 08:56:56 MDT Print View

It won't be a second moderator, nevermind that that's the easy, free and most effective solution.

Terry Trimble
(socal-nomad) - F

Locale: North San Diego county
Spam on 10/20/2012 11:36:46 MDT Print View

I was a moderator of hobby board you really need a team of about 5 or 6 devoted members of the board as moderators assigned to certain sections of the boards in different time zones to stop the spam.

On the BackpackingLight board you will need at minimum of 12 moderators. Ryan will need to reward them once a year or every 6 months with maybe sample gear or t shirts or equipment from manufacture for their efforts.

Also you also need a couple well trusted moderators that are moderator monitors like I was. To make sure the other moderators don't get power hungry and unfairly deleting real posting or thread on the board who believe in freedom of speech.

But the moderators monitors need to know when it is time to close a flame war down when it has become unproductive and use server space. I always gave a one day notice in the flame war to get last words in before I shut it down. Then some members would start a new thread to get the flame war going again so I would redirect it in to the old flame war thread so no one could reply.

Being a moderator is thank less job you really need thick skin to be a moderator.I will never do it again.

Daryl and Daryl
(lyrad1) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest, USA, Earth
Spam Forum on 10/20/2012 13:28:44 MDT Print View

Why don't we set up a separate forum for spam? Those who want to post and read spam can go to that forum. Those who don't....don't. Duh!

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Spam on 10/20/2012 20:10:41 MDT Print View

Hi Doug

> hire a forensic computer analyst to find out who is posting these shameless
> advertisements and put them out of business permanantly.
If you could do this you could make a fortune! Seriously.

The problem is that what they are doing is using some only-just-legal SW to create accounts on Forums and post lots of messages. EXACTLY the same as what you and I do. But they do it for money.

It's called by some Search Engine Optimisation, but it is really a bit of a fraud. When Google detects a company doing this (not BPL but someone like Louboutin) they crash their ranking way down. That does not seem to stop them though.

Trust me, we dislike it as much as you!!!!!!

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: Spam on 10/20/2012 20:33:56 MDT Print View

Roger, part of the problem is that BPL is going to rapidly decrease in popularity due to all of the spam debris cluttering the aisles.

I've gone to IP address blocking for where spam affects me most. The good news is that it reduces the spamming greatly, and at least on a temporary basis. The bad news is that it might block a tiny percentage of new users as collateral damage.


Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife
Another one! on 10/20/2012 20:56:03 MDT Print View

I just came on; looks like another attack starting. Obviously just blocking these spammers has no effect. In the meantime, few of us are going to try to go through all those spam posts to find anything useful. I know I'm not!

Suggestions (I know these work fairly well elsewhere, although nothing is 100%--it would have to be a combination of several):

--Volunteer moderators, spread across time zones, to watch for spam and deal with it promptly
--Moderation of new members (only needed with non-paying members, since presumably the spammers won't pay $25 to spam)--maybe one week and 10 posts would be enough?
--Prompt deletion of spam posts--leaving them up means the spammers are successful and will soon be here full time. IMHO, this should have priority over the indexing problem, although that also needs to be addressed.

System modifications:
--New member verification (only needed with non-paying members)--through email and Captcha
--Not allowing more than x number of posts per hour
--Not allowing posts with links for first 10 posts
--Linking to IP lists of known spammers to disallow registration
--Banning IP addresses of spammers

Edited by hikinggranny on 10/20/2012 20:59:31 MDT.

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Re: Another one! on 10/20/2012 21:05:20 MDT Print View

"leaving them up means the spammers are successful and will soon be here full time"

I'd say that's already happened. This has become a near daily occurrence, if not daily.

USA Duane Hall
(hikerduane) - F

Locale: Extreme northern Sierra Nevada
Spam on 10/20/2012 21:48:30 MDT Print View

The stove forum I belong to is getting hit too. I've been lucky I guess, no emails getting generated to me.

Harald Hope

Locale: East Bay
chuckle on 10/20/2012 22:53:20 MDT Print View

IP address blocking, unless done with a bit more than random treatment, is a waste of time, once you understand the actual technology used to deliver the payloads, ie, the member signups and forum postings. Years ago I used to do such things too, it's a total waste of time, unless you do it in a more advanced way, that most generic forum software out there doesn't support.

There's 4.x billion ipv4 addresses out there, and soon, with ipv6, there will be untold billions more. You can use IP addresses as a foundation for more aggressive blocking, but you can only do that using programming, and a bit better understanding of how this stuff works behind the scenes than most forum people have, on the back end of things.

Backpackinglight is doing what they can do, they have certain limitations however, and that's just how it is.

For moderation to be used well however, you definitely need someone from each time zone watching the boards, if the boards are attracting attention from spammers on an ongoing basis, ie, fresh new signups and spam postings, and if those postings are remaining up for more than an hour or two, the spammers work is done. bpl has to decide on how they want to handle this fact, if it continues, different actions have to be taken, if it slows, different story.

Spammers are just people, usually people running software written by other people, they get paid by other people (or the spammer may also generate their own websites, it varies) who have sites that in most cases are worthless one off throwaways, or spyware traps, or whatever else they think they can pull a small marginal income from, you don't need forensics, the stuff is well understood, if you want a list of today's or this week's current fresh temp sites being marketed, I'll give you one, not that it will do you any good, there will be a new list out tomorrow. Since we don't have legal standing in Belarus, Ukraine, Russia, China, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, or most other popular spammer locations, I'm not sure what forensics would help anyway, most spammers don't base their operations out of the usa, though some do. Most of the processes involved use the same exact technologies that the internet itself uses, software, automation, databases, some trial and error, so really all spamming is is exploiting weaknesses in the methods and software that runs the internet and websites in general.

The actual problem is more of a game of perception than anything else, spammers basically see the internet as a resource that can be exploited, the same way oil companies see an oil field/basin, or Kentucky coal mine operators see mountain tops, ie, covers for their coal, they have little emotional investment, they sell a service/product to anyone who wants to pay, like anyone else involved in marketing or resource exploitation. Spammers, that is, understand the actual structure and nature of the internet and web search and marketing quite a bit better than the average person. It's useful to understand this, these guys are just working doing what they do, like most of us. If you think of the type of spam you don't even question anymore, it might help put it into perspective: television advertising, radio ads, other media ads. Different there is you have to pay to place it, but spammers have grown to realize that there is a way to get ads up without paying, and links, and other things, that is a fact. There are also lots of ways to stop them, completely, but that requires certain things that I don't believe bpl can do at this point. Basically picture it this way, you had a jar of pennies on your front lawn, for years, nobody paid attention to it, but then one day, someone realized that it was there, and started grabbing a few, then they told their friends, then soon they realized they could just use scoops instead to grab the pennies. At that point, you can change the idea of just leaving out the jar of pennies (which means, essentially totally free and open and uncontrolled access) to something a bit more robust. Many choices. Spam is a technical problem, that has technical solutions, like most technical problems. Using endless man hours to do it manually, is not in general a very good solution though it is good enough for now in some lightly targetted forums, but I believe in the next wave of improved spamming software, forums might not find that adequate any longer.

There is an easy way however to not see any more internet spam, turn off your computer and go out for a hike, you'll find that method is 100% successful. I personally guarantee it, I have tried it repeatedly, and it works. For example, being occupied with other things, I haven't seen spam here since that last bunch that was all deleted with the new delete button, so I'd hardly call this particularly bad at this moment.

drowning in spam
(leaftye) - F

Locale: SoCal
Re: Spam on 10/21/2012 04:18:55 MDT Print View

I feel bad for you guys that started or renewed your membership this year or have a lifetime membership. As I said above, and has several here have been saying for the past year, this site needs more moderation. Even that simple step cannot be done. Ryan Jordan should have stepped in long ago to rectify this issue, but has failed to do so, and may have doomed BPL. Bob said this site will rapidly decrease in popularity, and from what I've seen in the past couple days, that's already happened. The value in this site is now almost solely in the articles. Hopefully those of you that value the articles have saved or printed copies because I doubt the site will stick around for long with the forum in this state...especially you MLIFE'ers.

Terry Trimble
(socal-nomad) - F

Locale: North San Diego county
spam on 10/21/2012 09:54:52 MDT Print View

I think the reason the spaming started out in the first place was because of the small brand keywords links at the bottom of each posting. That Ryan signed up for back awhile ago to keep the board going.
I am guessing the spamers found us that way.

I remember a way the board that I moderated on other boards I have posted on got rid of the spamers. I have seen it also done On the Speed TV forums is move the forums to a slightly different domain name and home for Backpacking light. If Ryan is not using his own servers then move to a different server.
You keep this domain announcing it shut down go to this new domain name but the new fourm domain has better anti robo signing and anti spamer security software.

Edited by socal-nomad on 10/21/2012 10:02:35 MDT.

Harald Hope

Locale: East Bay
amazing on 10/21/2012 10:33:15 MDT Print View

Spammers 'find' you because there is a forum online that is ranking for its topic areas in search engines. Or because they add you to a list of forums to spam that is distributed globally, usually you pay for the lists, they are products that you buy, like a newsletter from an investment company. And the way they develop those lists is similar to how google 'finds' your webpages, or how email spammers harvest email addresses, then validate/test them for being valid, although of course they can also manually target a specific forum that is considered high value.

Doing things like domain name changes simply means you are off the list until you are back on it again. I find it hard to believe that people are actually operating forums with so little understanding of how things work out here in the internet. I guess in the case of forums where one doesn't operate the software, that's the only way to handle it if it gets bad enough. That low understanding, by the way, is what makes the spamming work in the first place, it's kind of like running Windows without antivirus or a real firewall (like a router) then getting surprised that you got a virus or rootkit. If you understand that the internet is like an inner city, not particularly safe or secure, and act on that basis, the issues go away. Most large forum software packages have extensions for spam that work great, so the problem of small forums getting spammed is usually either picking a bad platform in the first place, or using an obsolete package, that has no extensions for spam handling (wordpress, for example, has had spam stuff that catches 100% of automated spammers for years), or failing to add anti spam modules manually, or failing to handle spam on that backend of the platform. This really is not rocket science.

Moving a well established domain name to a new one to escape spam is like moving because someone vandalized your house's mailbox.

The solution to forum spamming is to solve the issue, not to run away from it, and have it reappear in a week or two or three, but, as Terry hints at, sometimes people are using forum software that for whatever reason can't be updated or modified, but there's no reason at all to change the domain name, you simply set up the new forums, then change the website domain dns to point to the new hoster. It's no wonder that spammers have such great success.

These particular spammers certainly have a sense of humor, they are spamming the spam threads, which is kind of funny if you think about it.

Edited by hhope on 10/21/2012 10:38:23 MDT.

Bruce Tolley

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Spam: Why not turn off guest registration for 2 or 3 days? on 10/21/2012 10:35:52 MDT Print View

First the good news
The search engine optimization (SEO) bots are posting on this site because of BPL's rich content which results in high rankings on Google searches. As others have noted on BPL, the bot's posted cross links back to the other sites, raises those sites rankings in Google searches.

The bad news
The bot's postings are ruining the site. Cannot we not simply prohibit new guests from registering for a few days or a week so the rest of us, especially those who have paid can use the site? The volunteer staff and owner could use that time to put together a corrective action plan. The triage is not working.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Spam on 10/21/2012 10:50:27 MDT Print View has been up and down like crazy for about the same time period as the spam appearing here.

Dustin Short
(upalachango) - MLife
Bots on 10/21/2012 13:30:43 MDT Print View

Looks like bots (also gotta love the irony that this thread was spammed itself!). Is there a reason BPL can't implement a captcha system for new member registration (or even to post)? This alone makes the site slightly less desirable, and more importantly slows down the rate of attack (spammers tend to be lazy).

Probably the simplest method to implement and should have been put into use a long time ago.

doug thomas
(sparky52804) - MLife

Locale: Eastern Iowa
Re: Re: Spam on 10/21/2012 13:43:43 MDT Print View

Thanks Roger. I was wondering if you could tell us what is being done to prevent this. From my end all I see is a bunch of posts and threads being deleted. That really doesn't help stop the spam, just makes it more difficult for us to find and use the threads we are after.

drowning in spam
(leaftye) - F

Locale: SoCal
Re: amazing on 10/21/2012 16:01:33 MDT Print View

These particular spammers certainly have a sense of humor, they are spamming the spam threads, which is kind of funny if you think about it.

I get a chuckle out of that too.

What's actually happening is the spammers is spamming recent threads. We discuss spam so much now that it's a recent conversation in 3-4 threads. Old threads aren't bothered, but if you bump it during a spam attack, it'll be spammed too.

Harald Hope

Locale: East Bay
yeah on 10/21/2012 21:03:07 MDT Print View

Yep, that's what it looks like, re recent threads, though I don't see it all the time, but I'm not looking that much either, for spam that is. However, my experience with spammers has shown me that they do offer personal attention at times, and they let you know that, in pretty funny ways at times.

What actually worries me is the serious gap between engineering reality and beliefs when it comes to spammers and spam. The notion that there is a connection between getting a virus on windows and forum spam, for example, is so totally wrong that it's hard to explain just how wrong that is. There is no connection, there is no more risk of forum spam giving you a virus than there is of your own posting giving you a virus. Unless you click on the link the spam has in it, then the remote site could be designed to install spyware or whatever on your MSIE, almost certainly not firefox or chrome. No hacking is involved or required to spam forums, it's exactly the same thing you do when you post, except it's automated.

The reports of viruses spreading between bpl members is, sadly, only explainable by infected member systems getting the contact information via email harvesting of other bpl members, which is normal and expected behavior among normal windows computer users.

The delete spammer button programming is deleting threads from forum listings, ie, it has a major bug, like this thread for example, which I only found via my browser history. But it appears to have come back by my posting in the thread again, in the forum thread listing that is. So if you see a thread vanish, just try to find it in your history of your browser, then post to it, and it can maybe return to the forum listings.

Fun fun.

Edited by hhope on 10/21/2012 21:07:42 MDT.