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nwhitfield
Posted: Sun Jan 31, 2010 11:17 am Reply with quote
Site Admin Joined: 20 Mar 2005 Posts: 9577
Apologies to anyone who had to endure the grisly spam posted by a Finnish user this morning. This has all now been cleared out, and a range of Finnish IP addresses banned.

As you may know, we already require that people from outwith the EU have their membership confirmed by an admin. The vast bulk of spam attempts on this forum fail at that hurdle, but there are obviously some unenlightened people within the EU too.

One noticeable thing of late has been the number of people using Gmail as their email address of choice for setting up spam accounts. So, does anyone have any views on the possibility, which I am seriously considering, of requiring admin approval for all email addresses at major webmail services, which would include Gmail, Yahoo and Hotmail?

Since most people do have email from their ISP, I don't think this would be too awkward for legitimate users.

Thanks to those who alerted us, and enabled us to take swift action.

Nigel.

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gomezz
Posted: Sun Jan 31, 2010 11:22 am Reply with quote
Frequent contributor Joined: 18 Nov 2005 Posts: 3985 Location: Buckingham
Would existing users need to change their email address from hotmail etc?

BTW there does not seem to be an Alert mods links anywhere. Regulars know to PM you but what if someone does not know that or if you are incommunicado for some reason?

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nwhitfield
Posted: Sun Jan 31, 2010 11:29 am Reply with quote
Site Admin Joined: 20 Mar 2005 Posts: 9577
There will be an alert button in the new forum software, I think, which I shall try to get organising next month.

Either myself or Hyde is able to deal with these posts - I've now created a hidden forum area to which we can move them, which enables us to check things lke IP addresses without them cluttering up the main part of the site.

If we were to block free mail services, it wouldn't affect existing accounts, just those who try to register in future.

Some of these people are very persistent - for example, we now have a situation where some spammers will forward back the welcome message telling them they need to be approved, presumably hoping that convinces us they're legitimate.

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juwlz
Posted: Sun Jan 31, 2010 12:38 pm Reply with quote
MyStuff Team Joined: 12 Aug 2005 Posts: 10801 Location: Wokingham, Berkshire (Hannington transmitter)
I (legitimately Wink) use gmail, but I also have my own domain, and it's THAT email address that I use to register everything. For the time-being, my domain email addresses are simply forwarded to my gmail address, but at some point I'll be moving over to Google Apps, at which point I'll be using gmail, but you won't be able to tell that from my email address.

Even blocking gmail / googlemail addresses wouldn't help in that case - you'd need to start checking the emailer instead. I guess it depends on whether the spammers want to go to the effort of setting up a domain too.

Having said all that, I have no objection to requiring admin approval. Given the well-known issues with spam (which no reasonable person would want to receive), I don't think it's unreasonable to put an extra hurdle in the way of users with the type of email address that is commonly used by spammers, as long as you explain why.

Julie

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TopTapper
Posted: Sun Jan 31, 2010 6:40 pm Reply with quote
Frequent contributor Joined: 29 Jan 2006 Posts: 228
This web spam article looks useful, especially, part two. It points to resources like http://www.stopforumspam.com/ with realtime blacklists (email and/or ip addresses). I've no idea how effective they are or how difficult it would be to implement on this board but it looks interesting.

Quote:
requiring admin approval for all email addresses at major webmail services

If my correspondence is anything to go by I expect that it would affect quite a few "innocent" parties. However, it asks very little of the affected new-users and if it's an effective method then all's to the good. Ultimately, it's your generosity that allows the board to function so well and I can't imagine a legitimate complaint about your anti-spam setup.
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Andy K
Posted: Sun Jan 31, 2010 7:26 pm Reply with quote
Frequent contributor Joined: 14 Jun 2005 Posts: 3515
I assume it's more work for you, because you are going to have more to approve.

I assume this morning one was bad ?

Otherwise one odd one doesn't justify the extra work ?
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HydeTheDarkerSide
Posted: Sun Jan 31, 2010 7:43 pm Reply with quote
Site Admin Joined: 11 May 2005 Posts: 5956 Location: Hannington Transmitter : Sony KDL 40Z5800
Andy K wrote:
...I assume this morning one was bad ?
16 posts across the site from one user all with picture/movie porn displayed Evil or Very Mad

But we're also seeing around 4 new joiners a day from parts of the world that can't use these model toppies and therefore very unlikely to have any legitimate need to post to the site that we're culling before they get activated.

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glenmcfar
Posted: Mon Feb 01, 2010 12:12 pm Reply with quote
Frequent contributor Joined: 07 Dec 2006 Posts: 4519 Location: Dundonald, Ayrshire, Scotland
I never use my ISP provided email addresses - i've had MANY different ISPs in the quest for value for money.

I've always used Hotmail, Yahoo! and Gmail as my address of choice. Is there anyway to weed out users from suspect areas of the world when they sign up, rather than because they use the email address iwannahumpalot@gmail.com? I only ask because my new gmail account is suspiciously close to that....

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nwhitfield
Posted: Mon Feb 01, 2010 6:36 pm Reply with quote
Site Admin Joined: 20 Mar 2005 Posts: 9577
That's what we already do; we us an IP to country lookup database, which means that anyone that we can't determine is in an EU country, or Australia, has to have their membership approved by admins.

That, incidentally, is what prompted the hissy fit from one UK user whose address wasn't in our database as being in the UK, who accused us of being like baby murderers last week (see 'wonder why I bother' thread here).

But the spam we had on the forum was from a Finnish IP address, so it's not foolproof.

The vast majority of those that turn out to be from outwith the permitted countries are using Gmail addresses. So too was the spammer this week, so I think that getting rid of 'anonymous' emails will help, though it will be a little more inconvenient for some users.

I don't think, as someone mentioned, that many people will go to the trouble of registering a domain to try and spam the forum. But they are certainly using Gmail extensively to do so.

That, unfortunately, will ultimately mean more work for admins, and more inconvenience for legitimate members. Spammers don't care about that, of course, because they're heartless selfish fools leeching off the work of other people.

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TonyC
Posted: Mon Feb 01, 2010 8:05 pm Reply with quote
Frequent contributor Joined: 22 Nov 2005 Posts: 158
I wonder if it would be possible to use some kind of "spam filtering" on posts? Not for existing users, of course, but something where any new user's first days's postings go through a filter; if they seem "spammy", they are blocked (and the user is blocked from other postings) until an admin takes a look at it. You could even "sub-contract" this work to a dozen other users; I'd be happy to act as a "human spam filter" to take the load off Nigel etc.*

This way, most spam (even from EU users) is blocked, while most new users with legitimate queries get answers quickly.

OK, you could get somebody who registers and makes several reasonable posts before spamming, but that seems more work than most spammers are likely to do.

I presume that kind of thing would need some work in the guts of phpBB so not a solution for toppy.org.uk alone, but could be useful for other Forums as well.


* This might also be another alternative - give quite a few people a kind of restricted admin right, with the very specific authority to delete posts by new users but nothing else.
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Laser
Posted: Mon Feb 01, 2010 10:51 pm Reply with quote
Frequent contributor Joined: 10 Jan 2008 Posts: 433
Does the sign-up process warn that there may be a delay? (It's been so long I can't recall.) If it doesn't, that might explain the irritated tone of the enquiries from would-be registrants.

Provided there is some non-committal wording to the effect that there could be a delay to ensure authenticity, it a) might put off would-be spammers and time-wasters and b) numpties getting shirty about baby murdering look even stupider than they do already. Wink

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jakthelad
Posted: Tue Feb 02, 2010 12:26 am Reply with quote
Frequent contributor Joined: 23 Oct 2009 Posts: 136 Location: LB of Harrow; Probable Tx : Croydon
Laser wrote:
Does the sign-up process warn that there may be a delay? (It's been so long I can't recall.) If it doesn't, that might explain the irritated tone of the enquiries from would-be registrants.

Well I had a warning when I joined, and had to wait a day or so for approval. That just gave me comfort that I wwas joining a bona fide site and the modest delay was acceptable even though I felt urgent to get weaving at the time. Franklly I'd be suspicious of the complainers.

I have and use gmail and yahoo accounts as well as an isp email and my own domains, but I cannot see how Nigel's proposal would affect any of those in any case. I actually use my yahoo webmail as a filter for unwanted mail and a site for test opening of anything suspicious before it is downloaded to my own email client.

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TopTapper
Posted: Tue Feb 02, 2010 3:35 pm Reply with quote
Frequent contributor Joined: 29 Jan 2006 Posts: 228
The akismet spam-filtering service also looks useful. Indiscriminate (optionally) and very low-maintenance - if it works!
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kermit
Posted: Wed Feb 03, 2010 6:13 am Reply with quote
Frequent contributor Joined: 01 Jun 2005 Posts: 972 Location: Brisbane, Australia
nwhitfield wrote:
One noticeable thing of late has been the number of people using Gmail as their email address of choice for setting up spam accounts. So, does anyone have any views on the possibility, which I am seriously considering, of requiring admin approval for all email addresses at major webmail services, which would include Gmail, Yahoo and Hotmail?

As a Gmail veteran I have no problem, and haven't to date, of waiting for approval when joining forums.

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MarkG
Posted: Wed Feb 03, 2010 10:44 am Reply with quote
Frequent contributor Joined: 07 Apr 2006 Posts: 673 Location: UK
The lack of spam on this forum must be acknowledged and thanks to Nigel and Hyde for shielding us from it. Other forums (fora?) I use are plagued with it on a daily basis. One particular forum has a sticky thread for reporting spam - it gets rid of it quickly but doesn't stop it in the first place.

I think the idea of blocking gmail etc email addresses is a good one but other than monitoring and approving the first few posts of each new user, I can't see a way it can be stopped completed.

Best

MG

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