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Last post Author Topic: Forum Signature Spam: Let's discuss how to handle..  (Read 21293 times)

mouser

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Forum Signature Spam: Let's discuss how to handle..
« on: September 12, 2007, 04:15:37 AM »
Well.. lately we've been getting more and more "signature" spammers here on the DC forum.

What happens is a spammer will create an account on the forum, then create a signature with links in their signature like "great stock tips!" that lead to their scam site.  Then they just post 1 or 5 messages that are generated from a script, that "look" more or less like real posts and questions about software etc.

So in addition to this being spam, it's also likely to result in wasted efforts by helpful people trying to answer their questions.

Anyway.. I'm going to implement a quick fix that basically does not show signatures for new users until they have a few posts under their belt.. And/or does not allow links in signatures until they have been around for a while.

But, at the risk of opening up the floodgates of controversy, perhaps it's time we talked a little about signature policy on the forum and if we want to make any other changes, or just suggested guidelines, etc.

In general, I know some people love signatures, some people hate them, some people love their own and hate all others, etc.  It does add a little fun to the place, though i fear sometimes they can get carried away when they are 500 pixels tall, etc..

Thoughts?

lanux128

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Re: Forum Signature Spam: Let's discuss how to handle..
« Reply #1 on: September 12, 2007, 04:21:31 AM »
mouser, i'm all for the measures that you've mentioned so that these type of spammers are kept at bay.. it may be inconvenient at first but genuine users will come through.. :Thmbsup:
« Last Edit: September 12, 2007, 05:47:54 AM by lanux128 »

TucknDar

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Re: Forum Signature Spam: Let's discuss how to handle..
« Reply #2 on: September 12, 2007, 04:29:06 AM »
A tip for those of you who don't like signatures and don't want to see them: They can be disabled :Thmbsup:

Go to your profile, the Look and Layout Preferences and tick Don't show users' signatures.

[attachimg=#1][/attachimg]
[attachimg=#2][/attachimg]

iphigenie

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Re: Forum Signature Spam: Let's discuss how to handle..
« Reply #3 on: September 12, 2007, 04:31:49 AM »
I'll unashamedly say I was hoping trying to get rid of some books with my signature, but it didnt work  :-\

I don't mind signatures as long as they dont contain tons of images that are kind of distracted - it would be nice to have an option "dont show images in signatures" as I like the software hints or quotes etc. that people do put in their sig

ak_

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Re: Forum Signature Spam: Let's discuss how to handle..
« Reply #4 on: September 12, 2007, 04:35:25 AM »
There should be a policy about signature's height. It's always a little bit annoying to see someone replying "Eheh ok." and then seeing a 5 feet long signature underneath.

TucknDar

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Re: Forum Signature Spam: Let's discuss how to handle..
« Reply #5 on: September 12, 2007, 04:36:34 AM »
I'll unashamedly say I was hoping trying to get rid of some books with my signature, but it didnt work  :-\
I've checked out your books :) A couple of them might be of interest, but I don't have any points yet, so can't mooch them currently.

So some sigs kinda work

Eóin

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Re: Forum Signature Spam: Let's discuss how to handle..
« Reply #6 on: September 12, 2007, 05:59:32 AM »
I currently have sigs turned off in my profile but like iphigenie I quite like to read quotes and such. Just I find that big sigs with images and such tend to break up threads.

jgpaiva

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Re: Forum Signature Spam: Let's discuss how to handle..
« Reply #7 on: September 12, 2007, 06:27:05 AM »
Well, going against myself, i think that tall signatures with big images might become anoying. (i do love mine, though :P) But people around here tend to be polite, and i probably have the biggest sign in the forum.

I'd support the idea of people not being allowed to include links in their signatures until they have a certain number of posts (i'd go for 5, or something like that, i guess).
Another solution would be for the mods to be able to block someone's signature if it becomes spammy along the way.
Also, why not add some kind of human verification to the registering? (i don't mean those images noone understands, i mean those with phrases that have some specific answer)

cranioscopical

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Re: Forum Signature Spam: Let's discuss how to handle..
« Reply #8 on: September 12, 2007, 09:08:19 AM »
I support whatever measures are required to choke the spammers.  If that means some restrictions on the rest of us, so be it.

I think Mouser's initial step is a smart one, but what a pain having to monitor that situation!

One feels, more and more, that the benefits of the internet are being significantly eroded.

For myself, I'm reaching a point where keeping out unwanted material (of all kinds) almost outweighs the benefits. I have the strong feeling that I was a lot more contented in pre-commercial-net and BBS days. (That feeling might not be correct - it's easy to overlook the benefits when grumbling about the disadvantages.) My feelings are exacerbated by the need -- that most of us here share -- to protect inexperienced users in the household.


nudone

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Re: Forum Signature Spam: Let's discuss how to handle..
« Reply #9 on: September 12, 2007, 09:38:11 AM »
cody says ban all signatures unless he's in them. and make the minimum allowed size be 1000 px tall.

iphigenie

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Re: Forum Signature Spam: Let's discuss how to handle..
« Reply #10 on: September 12, 2007, 10:07:19 AM »
Actually i think there's a setting somewhere in SMF to only show a person's sig once per thread - that might be a good start to lighten things up

ak_

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Re: Forum Signature Spam: Let's discuss how to handle..
« Reply #11 on: September 12, 2007, 05:17:02 PM »
Ok forget about what i said earlier, i didn't have my 24" monitor at this time. Use big signatures, i don't care :D :D

Darwin

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Re: Forum Signature Spam: Let's discuss how to handle..
« Reply #12 on: September 12, 2007, 05:31:00 PM »
I'm not wed, particularlly, to the notion of signatures. I think that the solution proposed is sensible - it allows people who are committed to hanging out here the freedom to express themselves without allowing spammers to waste our time. I'd suggest that the limit be 10 posts before a signature is enabled. Of course, I envision with this kind of policy in place and this thread freely available via Google, etc. spammers will just make sure that they generate a few more posts than the limit and move on. Maybe add a probationary period as well and make the minimum post limit more tricky, like tie it to recent activity at the end of the probationary period. Spammers are unlikely to want to come back 12 days after joining just to make a post or two (in addition to the 10 post minimum) so that they can qualify to spam the boards after 14 days, or whatever.

These are just suggestions - I realise that someone is going to have to code this and monitor it, so it may not be very practical.
"Some people have a way with words, other people,... oh... have not way" - Steve Martin

Carol Haynes

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Re: Forum Signature Spam: Let's discuss how to handle..
« Reply #13 on: September 12, 2007, 06:01:42 PM »
How about a Karma type system - any post that is deemed spam or nuisance automatically means that the offender loses signature rights for 10^(n+1) posts where n is the number of times they offended.

This would mean there would have to be 10 posts before a user can have a signature. If they post something deemed of sufficient nuisance value then they would have signature rights suspended for 100 posts, next time 1000 posts ...

OK 10 might be the wrong factor to use - how about 5 + 5^(n+1) which would go 10, 30, 130 ... or 8 + 2^(n+1) which would go 10, 12, 16, 24 ...

It could be automated so that everytime someone has a message moved to the sin bin by a moderator their value of n is incremented.

Having said that what is to stop the same person posting under 100 different aliases?
« Last Edit: September 12, 2007, 06:06:02 PM by Carol Haynes »

mouser

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Re: Forum Signature Spam: Let's discuss how to handle..
« Reply #14 on: September 12, 2007, 06:22:23 PM »
i don't think we need to get so complicated..
the people who register to spam do not have any intention of wasting time making real posts, etc.  they are looking for a quick way to spam people with minimal effort.

that's why simply blocking signatures until a few posts solves the problem because we catch the fake posts before they hit that many.

Cloq

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Re: Forum Signature Spam: Let's discuss how to handle..
« Reply #15 on: September 12, 2007, 07:06:15 PM »
I tend have the signatures disabled by default now. Been burned many times on other forums when people have animated banners and flash type signatures.

Me being on dialup and all.. well kinda hate waiting for the page to load. >:(

Darwin

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Re: Forum Signature Spam: Let's discuss how to handle..
« Reply #16 on: September 12, 2007, 07:34:43 PM »
i don't think we need to get so complicated..
the people who register to spam do not have any intention of wasting time making real posts, etc.  they are looking for a quick way to spam people with minimal effort.

that's why simply blocking signatures until a few posts solves the problem because we catch the fake posts before they hit that many.

Cool then! It seems to me that not allowing signatures for the first 5 - 10 posts should be fine then. I suggested 10 to make sure that spammers who follow the hit and run after 5 posts or so don't get through our defences!
"Some people have a way with words, other people,... oh... have not way" - Steve Martin

Target

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Re: Forum Signature Spam: Let's discuss how to handle..
« Reply #17 on: September 12, 2007, 08:24:06 PM »
for me sig's seem to be a double edged sword, on the one hand they can be enlightening or amusing, or you can be subjected to lines (and lines and lines) of meaningless drivel or overlarge images that add nothing.

don't know if this is possible (although from the above it seems likely) but why not block links in sigs altogether - it seems to me that most would probably sit better in the respective users profile.  This would stop potential spammers using this tactic at all

If a particular poster has a pressing need to publish a link, surely it should be relevant to the discussion/question, and included in their post

Darwin

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Re: Forum Signature Spam: Let's discuss how to handle..
« Reply #18 on: September 12, 2007, 09:42:36 PM »
Target - fair comment. Makes sense to me as well. If anyone wants to link to a service or external site, their profile allows them to do this... Still, in the interest of allowing people to express themselves as they wish, mouser's scheme seems to me to strike the right balance between allowing personal expression and avoiding abuses of that privilege.
"Some people have a way with words, other people,... oh... have not way" - Steve Martin

iphigenie

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Re: Forum Signature Spam: Let's discuss how to handle..
« Reply #19 on: September 13, 2007, 04:39:26 AM »
I don't even bother *setting* a signature on a forum until I have posted there about 20 times so I know people.

OGroeger

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Re: Forum Signature Spam: Let's discuss how to handle..
« Reply #20 on: September 13, 2007, 05:46:20 AM »
I agree with mouser and his idea of a minimum post restriction. But i would expand that with a minimum time restriction: You need to be registered at least one month before your signature becomes active or you even can define one. Both sanctions have the advantage that they can be scripted and don't need someone to monitor this.

Btw, i don't like images in signatures, too.


f0dder

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Re: Forum Signature Spam: Let's discuss how to handle..
« Reply #21 on: September 13, 2007, 06:20:48 AM »
I think a minimum postcount would be sufficient, no need to disallow links etc... if somebody is linking to something objectionable, the smart members here will find out, and the issue will be solved.

I think images in signatures are okay as long as they're small - I can't stand the several hundred pixels you see at other forums, where a signature might take up half a screen. Something like nudone's 39px cody image is okay, but that's really the max I can stand...
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Carol Haynes

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Re: Forum Signature Spam: Let's discuss how to handle..
« Reply #22 on: September 13, 2007, 06:25:21 AM »
OK I have changed mine now - I feel sufficiently guilty  :-[
« Last Edit: September 13, 2007, 06:29:34 AM by Carol Haynes »

Beth UK

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Re: Forum Signature Spam: Let's discuss how to handle..
« Reply #23 on: September 13, 2007, 06:46:29 AM »
I go along with the idea of a minimum post count. I quite like some smaller pictures (if they make me smile  :D)

CWuestefeld

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Re: Forum Signature Spam: Let's discuss how to handle..
« Reply #24 on: September 13, 2007, 07:38:36 AM »
I agree with mouser and his idea of a minimum post restriction. But i would expand that with a minimum time restriction: You need to be registered at least one month before your signature becomes active or you even can define one.
As was noted before, if it's just requiring n posts before signatures will be shown, then the spammer will just post n+1, and that makes the problem worse. The time restriction is a good one: after a month waiting period, the spammer's web site is probably going to be shut down, so there's no point in his following through with it.

Can defining a signature simply be made a privilege of becoming a donating user?

And of course those exponential "karma" suggestions are one more reason to revisit the karma debate  ;)