Proposal: Introductions topic

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What do you want to see done about spam?

Poll ended at Sun Aug 30, 2009 11:28 am

tepples' proposal
2
40%
another proposal, which I'll describe
1
20%
the status quo
2
40%
 
Total votes: 5

tepples
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Proposal: Introductions topic

Post by tepples » Sun Aug 23, 2009 11:28 am

The spam problem has been rearing its ugly head again, and regulars have been brainstorming ideas on how to control it. The idea forming there is to require new users to prove that they can write coherently about NES-related topics before they're given posting privileges. Spammers, in general, can't. But most of the time, a spammer won't post more than one comment or new topic in each forum. So here's my proposal:
  1. Create a new group "nesdev members". All current forums are changed to require that users be in nesdev members before they can post.
  2. Create a new forum "Introductions" to which any logged-in user can post a new topic, even new accounts not yet in a group.
  3. Users whose first post in Introductions is obvious spam, such as power-leveling services or sale of in-game currency in any non-Nintendo-related MMO, get banned before they can post again. Other users get accepted.
There are phpBB mods that allow users to leave a note to an admin before gaining posting privileges. But the Introductions forum approach has the advantage that it doesn't require any change to the software, only an admin flipping a few switches in the Administration Panel.

Do you like it? Is there a flaw that I can fix? Or is it hopeless?

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Zepper
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Post by Zepper » Sun Aug 23, 2009 12:19 pm

- Did you know Acmlm's board, now board2? It had such feature, though the things were more annoying than ever...

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loopy
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Post by loopy » Sun Aug 23, 2009 3:50 pm

Is it possible to have new members moderated?

> Account creation works the same as before, no permission needed.
> New accounts are set as moderated, their posts are held until an admin approves them.
> After some number of acceptable posts, set the account unmoderated.

+ "Ban after first offense" is ineffective. The damage is already done. This avoids that problem.
+ The whole process is invisible to regular users.
+ Making people beg for membership is lame. Don't need a special room where you curry an admin's favor.
+ No jumping through hoops if you just want to lurk.

- Posting is not immediate for new members. Too F'in bad.
- Annoying to moderate? There's plenty of willing people here you could delegate the task to.
- Can't do it with phpBB? :P

tepples
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Post by tepples » Sun Aug 23, 2009 5:12 pm

loopy wrote:Is it possible to have new members moderated?

> Account creation works the same as before, no permission needed.
> New accounts are set as moderated, their posts are held until an admin approves them.
> After some number of acceptable posts, set the account unmoderated.
That sounds good too, provided that phpBB can do it.
+ "Ban after first offense" is ineffective. The damage is already done. This avoids that problem.
Most spammers post multiple comments, one in each forum. My proposal limits the damage to one post in one forum that only newbies and admins typically read.
+ The whole process is invisible to regular users.
+ Making people beg for membership is lame. Don't need a special room where you curry an admin's favor.
+ No jumping through hoops if you just want to lurk.
The other forums wouldn't be hidden; they'd just be read-only to anonymous users, just as they are now.
- Can't do it with phpBB? :P
That's the stopper. I wanted to put something into place between now and when someone else with FTP access and more experience with the phpBB codebase has a chance to work on a solution that involves modifying software.

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Post by Celius » Sun Aug 23, 2009 7:27 pm

loopy wrote: > New accounts are set as moderated, their posts are held until an admin approves them.
I think that's probably the best solution, if it can be done (I don't know anything about moderating or what can/can't be done, so forgive me). That's all I have to say about that, really...

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Banshaku
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Re: Proposal: Introductions topic

Post by Banshaku » Sun Aug 23, 2009 8:41 pm

tepples wrote:Create a new forum "Introductions" to which any logged-in user can post a new topic, even new accounts not yet in a group.
If it would be possible to allow only new users to see/post in this forum, that would be better. I don't want to see in the latest messages the possible spam mails from the introduction forum. Actually, I would prefer not even being able to see the introduction forum since it's a testing ground to make sure the new users is not a spammer.

I still think the note to admin for approval is better since it doesn't imply the complete community to see the approval process. The community has no control on who is approved, only the admin(s) does. So it shouldn't be part or their daily mail reading routine to see the introduction mails. It's just an extra protection for spam after all.

And it's not like we have hundred of registration everyday after all. Many people lurks so if it takes them just a few extra days to register, I'm sure they can understand if we explain it properly in the registration process the purpose of this extra validation. They already read the forum and I'm sure they don't want spam too.

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Bregalad
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Post by Bregalad » Mon Aug 24, 2009 9:10 am

Well both solutions sounds decent but keep in mind it must be annoying to actual new people if there is a delay before they can post. Should be annoying to anmins to look everyday trough hundred of spam to see if there is a legit new registration, and the risk of not seeing it in the wave of spam is high.

Onother solution that would come in mind would be to detect some words and ban their author and their IP range if they are posted (typically "millions", "sex", "wow", "buy", etc...). The problem is that the guy saying "Wow I've hard millions of compiling problems so I'll buy a new computer" will be banned.

Or altenratively, send an e-mail to new sustribers with a secret word in it the MUST put in their first post if they don't want to be banned. Like you MUST place the exact sentence "Hi guys I'm new here nice to meet you" at the start of the first post, anything not containing that will be banned.
If it can done with PHPBB, and if spammers don't catch the trick.
Life is complex: it has both real and imaginary components.

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koitsu
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Post by koitsu » Mon Aug 24, 2009 10:12 pm

Bregalad wrote:Onother solution that would come in mind would be to detect some words and ban their author and their IP range if they are posted (typically "millions", "sex", "wow", "buy", etc...). The problem is that the guy saying "Wow I've hard millions of compiling problems so I'll buy a new computer" will be banned.
I think this works quite well for a very small board, meaning a board with a limited number of users with limited geographic scope. I don't think this would work well for the nesdev forums for one particular reason, using the recent spam outbreak as an example:

The individual(s) who were spamming as of late came from a netblock in China. nesdev has a Chinese forum. Blocking an "IP range" without knowing how to do it -- or what the implications are -- could suddenly limit the userbase contributing from China. I ended up blocking the entire /16 the spams were coming from, which is a larger netblock than required, but given the history of these things was probably on the safe side. The ban was placed within the phpBB software, not on Parodius' servers. I don't know if phpBB bans block read access or just posting/signups.

Likewise, I posted a thread on the moderator-only forum regarding what I had banned, requesting that other bans or blocks be mentioned in follow up to my post, that way we'd have a way to track what got changed, by whom, and when. And if there are reports of users on other forums or via Email stating "things worked yesterday but now they don't!", we can try our best to alleviate that.

I'll also use a Parodius server example here: when Banshaku was in need of SSH access to the servers, he found he couldn't SSH in because we have a lot of SSH-specific firewall rules put in place (most of which are for Europe and Asia netblocks). I had to add exception rules to our list so that he could gain access to our servers. That's just how the ball bounces...

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