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View Full Version : New Member Registrations and Spam


Tamyrlin
06-15-2008, 09:26 AM
Okay - the spam got to be too much. After careful review of the type of email accounts being used to sign up for spam accounts, it should be easy for us to moderate registrations. It's unfortunate because there is a bit more work, but this way we avoid 95% of the spam.

Terez
06-15-2008, 09:27 AM
Are you saying it's more work to register, or more work for you guys?

Tamyrlin
06-15-2008, 09:32 AM
To moderate the incoming...well, technically maybe it's more work to delete the spam.

Terez
06-15-2008, 10:51 AM
Well, I've seen several of them register this morning, including a few since you last posted, so I'm assuming you haven't implemented whatever yet?

Weird Harold
06-15-2008, 11:01 AM
Okay - the spam got to be too much. After careful review of the type of email accounts being used to sign up for spam accounts, it should be easy for us to moderate registrations. It's unfortunate because there is a bit more work, but this way we avoid 95% of the spam.

Most spambots never return to post again. Rather than moderation -- which I assume mans a moderator actively enabling the registration -- just put a 24 hour auto-promotion from new user to youngling and disable posting for new registrations.

If you can find an auto-promote trigger to let you auto-promote in less than one day, -- say an hour -- that would work as well on most spambots without overly discouraging genuine new users.

ShadowbaneX
06-15-2008, 12:54 PM
a fair number of websites I've seen (and signed up for) have had randomly generated access codes which bots cannot figure out. Any chace of trying those?

Terez
06-15-2008, 01:55 PM
Yeah, the crazy letter thing would be perfect for registration.

GonzoTheGreat
06-15-2008, 02:50 PM
Another option which seems to work fairly well, but I don't know whether it is possible here, is to make it impossible to start new threads, until you have posted a certain number of times in existing ones. At the Darwin Awards Forum they use a 13 post requirement for this, and that seems to work pretty well. It is not entirely foolproof (nor wholly botproof, which is more relevant), but it does help.

Weird Harold
06-15-2008, 10:57 PM
Another option which seems to work fairly well, but I don't know whether it is possible here, is to make it impossible to start new threads, until you have posted a certain number of times in existing ones. At the Darwin Awards Forum they use a 13 post requirement for this, and that seems to work pretty well. It is not entirely foolproof (nor wholly botproof, which is more relevant), but it does help.
That's a good solution -- it doesn't even require a large number of posts to thwart the majority of spambots because they don't even try to spam existing threads.

Three to five posts should work well enough to reduce the time required to delete spam and it's a simple post count based auto-promotion with vBUlletin.

Terez
06-15-2008, 11:06 PM
It seems to me like the crazy letter option is the best, though, because it doesn't force noobs to wait any amount of time before they post, and noobs might want to start a new thread with a question about the books, or a noob thread.

Can you do the crazy letter human verification thing, Tam? Or is that not an option with vBulletin?

EDIT: It seems Tam has to get his BIL to install some thingy or other on the server before they can do the crazy letter thing, and he doesn't think it likely to happen any time soon. *sigh*

caladanbrood
06-15-2008, 11:32 PM
Another forum I'm on has a rule where until you have 15 posts, you can't post any links, which has totally eliminated spambots, because none of them post stuff with no links in. Dunno how easy that is to set up though, and you'd probably want to lower the number from 15.

Terez
06-15-2008, 11:44 PM
That sounds good, if the restriction is extended to images.

Weird Harold
06-15-2008, 11:57 PM
EDIT: It seems Tam has to get his BIL to install some thingy or other on the server before they can do the crazy letter thing, and he doesn't think it likely to happen any time soon. *sigh*

vBulletin requires a plugin to use the "crazy letter" option. There is also a plugin that requires you to use your mouse to enter the letters from a randomly arranged virtual keyboard.

Limiting theability to post for 24 hours, start threads for 3-5 posts, disabling HTML, vB Code, Images and Smilies for similar time/post limits can all be done with the basic vBulletin package in a matter of minutes -- it's just a matter of copying the current new user group and editing the new user group to implement the restrictions auto promote to the new "Youngling" usergroup when the time/post limit is met.

It is also possible to limit the Spam (and legitimate new users) to the New Users Forum for a n00b thread and orientation.

A splash page explaining that the restrictions are short-term anti-spam measures should quell any n00b anguish at not being able to flood the general discussion forum with a hundred questions we've all answered a dozen times.

Terez
06-16-2008, 12:44 AM
Right, but I still think Brood's idea, especially if it can be extended to images, is the least annoyance for the real noobs, and just as effective as any other option beyond the not-a-bot verification registration. I can see blocking the ability to start new threads for a day or two, but if there's going to be exceptions, add General to the Noob board, because the noobs that are primarily interested in book discussion probably aren't going to stop by the Noob board. Or they might be scared if they did (see Yuri's noob thread). :D

Weird Harold
06-16-2008, 01:04 AM
Right, but I still think Brood's idea, especially if it can be extended to images, is the least annoyance for the real noobs, and just as effective as any other option beyond the not-a-bot verification registration.

At the bottom left corner of each forum page is the following blurb. with vBulletin's usergroup ranking system, and auto-promotion capabilities, it is very simple to change "May" to "May NOT" and "ON" to "OFF."

Posting Rules
You may post new threads
You may post replies
You may post attachments
You may edit your posts

---
vB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

There are other functions -- avatars, PMs, Custom Titles, etc -- that don't show up on the posting rules that are also easily configurable.

Many vBulletin-based forums use incremental posting/access priveleges as an incentive to participate because it's so easy to configure them.

Nae'blis
06-16-2008, 01:52 AM
As we understand it from our hard-working Tamyrlin, an image with spam bot-proof text will eventually become part of the registration process. Until then, mandatory approval of new users before they can post is probably the easiest way to do it, as it requires very little effort from the administrators. All we have to do it make sure to check new registrations on a regular basis, so that legitimate users do not have to wait long for approval.

Based on what we have learned about the spam bots so far, there is very little chance of legitimate users being mistaken for bots. It's not primarily about crazy user names, for the spam bots all share a number of other characteristics that make them very easy to spot. There's really very little room for doubt, unless we suddenly get a different type of bots, in which case we'll have to reconsider our strategies.

You'll still see bots register, but registration is only the first step, as new users are required to confirm their registration through an automatically generated e-mail. Initially, we hoped that that would be enough to get rid of the bots, but they apparently have a way around that. But even though bots continue to register, they will be listed as "junior members" even after they have completed e-mail confirmation. This means that they can't post. When an admin logs in to moderate new users, he or she will approve of legitimate users (who will then appear as "younglings," or, if they are returning users from Yuku, with whatever title is appropriate) and delete the user names of the bots. It's a very simple process, and should be virtually bot-proof, if done right.

Terez
06-16-2008, 01:57 AM
*sigh* I know you guys are doing the best you can, but it's just annoying for our "Newest Member" to always be a spammer. Feels like the Forum of Spam...but I suppose I'll survive. :D

Nae'blis
06-16-2008, 11:35 AM
We're going through and starting to clean up bot accounts and deleting them. We don't believe that there will be any problems as the bots are pretty easy to recognize, but in the rare event that a person's account is accidently deleted, please e-mail us and we'll try to get things sorted out.

Sarevok
06-16-2008, 12:26 PM
just make sure you don't delete irerancincpkc's account :)

jason wolfbrother
06-16-2008, 11:15 PM
well he's a spammer, not a spam bot right? so he should be safe ;) :cool: on a side note I'm usually logging in early in the morning or late at night like now and I haven't noticed any spam bot accounts. of course I also avoid the new users forum as well ;) maybe that has something to do with it;)

Terez
06-17-2008, 08:37 AM
We mostly notice them in the part at the bottom that shows who's online and who our newest member is.

irerancincpkc
06-17-2008, 11:30 AM
just make sure you don't delete irerancincpkc's account :)
I second that! :D