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#1 2014-06-19 5:59 pm

michaelbluejay
Member
Registered: 2014-05-29
Posts: 12

What constitutes reportable spam?

For the purposes of reporting a spammer to SFS, is a spammer only someone who makes a spam *post*, or can it also be any or all of these users who haven't actually made a post:

(1) Users who register for the purpose of putting a spam link in the "Website" field of their profile.

(2) Accounts registered by bots, which I can know because they entered data in registration fields that were invisible to human users.

(3) Accounts registered to known-spammer domains (e.g. freeessaywriter.com).

I do know that we're to report only spammers, and not people who are merely annoying, offensive, or violate ToS in ways other than spamming -- I'm not asking about that.

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#2 2014-06-19 6:53 pm

Alex Kemp
Moderator
From: Nottingham, England
Registered: 2009-12-02
Posts: 1,925
Website

Re: What constitutes reportable spam?

It's a good question to put, michaelbluejay, and particularly for folks that are new to SFS. So, I'll pitch the answer not just to yourself, but also to those that are perfectly new.

Who is a spammer & what can I report?

First things first: on your site you can do what you want, delete what & who you like. Reporting spammers to SFS is different from that. It is also a touch serious:- there are so many forums & blogs using SFS that to report someone means that that email address gets banned from half the internet (and no, I don't know the precise numbers).

Second: the fundamental items are that you have a forum/blog that performs qualified Registration of your users. That means that:

  1. Someone Registers on your site & is asked for their email address

  2. An email is posted to that person from your site; the email contains a URL

  3. The user clicks on the URL & thus confirms their email address at your site

Bottom line: no anonymous posts allowed.

Third: SFS wants the following when you report a spammer:

  1. spammer email address

  2. spammer username

  3. spammer ip address

  4. evidence (the spam itself)

Fourth: What is spam?

As a SFS Moderator I get to report the brain-dead idiots that spam these forums. I'm going to side-step any discussion of `what is spam' by printing the evidence from the most recent SFS spammer:

2014-06-19 13:27:36
(post in SFS)
Title: What do you think PPC is better or SEO?
Text: I am think of hiring SEO Company in India for marketing my website. I am little confuse whether to hire SEO or PPC expert.

[url=<removed>]search engine optimization company india[/url]

Fifth: Who can be reported?

Finally, into the heart of the question.

You can report to SFS those that spam your site.

(that was easy)

For most forum/blog operators, `spamming' occurs in:-

  • Forum/blog posts

  • Profile fields

(either of the above--or both--can be provided as evidence)

Any exceptions/additions? If you obtain explicit permission from SFS, the above can be extended to `bot posts'. These occur principally in sites established explicitly as `honeypots' (a site that a human cannot visit nor see) or, to a lesser extent `honeypot fields' (hidden fields that only bots will post to, or (I've got this on my site) reverse-honeypot fields that humans will use but bots will not. SFS needs to see the code on all of these, plus give explicit permission for them, before use.

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#3 2014-06-19 8:20 pm

kpatz
Member
Registered: 2008-10-09
Posts: 1,308

Re: What constitutes reportable spam?

Alex Kemp wrote:

Fourth: What is spam?

This could be expanded into another discussion entirely.  You provided one example, a post with a spammed link, and blatant references to SEO which all but guarantees it's spam.

Another example would be a blatantly obvious advertising post that doesn't fit your forum.  Such as the "iPhones, cameras, musical instruments, etc." posts.

However, some forms of spam are more subtle, and to someone viewing the evidence, they might see a post that doesn't "look" like spam, but it still is.

For example, I had a spammer register this morning and post a thread that was completely off-topic to our forum (but they tried, they posted a thread about DIY RC airplanes in our DIY speaker building section).  Close but no cigar.  There was no link, however (perhaps they intended to return and edit-in a link later).  So why did I consider this one to be spam?  First of all, it came from an IP within a block that's had numerous spammers hit us recently, in a country that has a high (like 100%) of registrants on my site being spammers.  (see more here) Secondly, when I googled some of the text of the post, I found it had been copied verbatim from another thread (on another forum entirely in this case), a tactic I've seen some spammers use to try and slip under the radar by making their posts look more genuine. 

Now if someone were to submit a removal request and they reviewed the evidence, would it be removed since the post doesn't have a link or other obvious indication that it was posted by a spammer?  Possibly.  I know the history of what this particular spammer group has been doing on my forum; someone reviewing removal requests would not necessarily know this.

Some of these kinds I've banned on my site but not submitted here.  On this one, I did submit it and added a note to the evidence mentioning that the post was stolen from another site.  I know it's a spammer, but depending on the interpretation of "what is spam", might not be valid to submit here.

Here's the evidence: http://www.stopforumspam.com/evidence/89740378  If it doesn't meet the qualifications of "what is spam" for submission here, let me know and I'll remove it.  *I* know it's spam, but to the mods here it might not be "good enough".

Last edited by kpatz (2014-06-19 8:22 pm)


We need better spam proofing technology - preferably the kind that electrocutes spammers with 50,000 volts 100 amps the moment they click "Post".

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#4 2014-06-19 11:19 pm

Papa Parrot
Moderator
From: Mexico
Registered: 2011-08-19
Posts: 1,588
Website

Re: What constitutes reportable spam?

(3) Accounts registered to known-spammer domains (e.g. freeessaywriter.-c0m).

One needs to keep in mind, if they do  not post anything, and do not put any signature links in their profile, they can not be reported (submitted), because no spam posted.
I get a few, that when I check, they are from known spammer domains, or countries,..but for some reason they never put anything in their profile, nor post, I delete the accounts, and ban them. My reason is because I am sure at some point they probably will come back and post spam, I do not have the time nor desire to keep checking, on them.
Because they are also e-mail verified, they receive a notice, that they have been deleted and banned, via e-mail. If at anytime, someone feels they were unjustly banned, or wants to keep registered they could send a e-mail, and depending on what they said , I would consider letting them stay registered.
If at anytime, you have a post and are not sure if it is spam, you are welcome to post a copy here, and see what others say about it. Be sure to "munge" any urls-links the post contains, so that they are not "clickable".

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#5 2014-06-20 5:56 am

zaphod
Jägermonster
From: USA
Registered: 2008-11-22
Posts: 2,983
Website

Re: What constitutes reportable spam?

examples of munging...

1. .com to .c0m (zero instead of o), .net to .n3t, .org to .0rg etc.

2. A little trickier when dealing with cctlds, in this case, just break the domain name(s) with a space. Example:

http://somedomain.cctld/ becomes http://somedomain . cctld/

Just make sure it needs some modification to work, but don't obscure the meaning.

Zap smile


Get Protected, Stay Protected...
With ZB Block, GNU/GPL Freeware Anti-Spam/Anti-Hack protection for your php based website.

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#6 2014-06-20 2:02 pm

michaelbluejay
Member
Registered: 2014-05-29
Posts: 12

Re: What constitutes reportable spam?

Alex Kemp, thank you very much for your answer.

GarryRicketson, I never said I had posts whose spam status I couldn't determine.  I have no idea where you got that.  I doubt that's a burning issue for anyone else, either.

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#7 2014-06-20 3:05 pm

Alex Kemp
Moderator
From: Nottingham, England
Registered: 2009-12-02
Posts: 1,925
Website

Re: What constitutes reportable spam?

michaelbluejay wrote:

I have no idea where you got that

The range of things that folks have asked on SFS is beyond belief. The phrase that I now use as code in response to all these questions is "just because you do not like the look of their face does not mean that you can report them to SFS" which, I think, just about covers all options.

The sole criterion for reporting someone to SFS is if they have spammed your forum/blog.

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#8 2014-06-25 6:44 pm

nh905
Member
Registered: 2011-08-01
Posts: 1

Re: What constitutes reportable spam?

How about attempts by botnets to create accounts, evidence being creating the account from one location and then attempting to login from a completely different location?  I am also seeing multiple attempts to login from different locations with weird usernames (i.e., woodrowbrainlfvnckuv who traveled from China to Brazil in 2:10) where I may not be able to find a registration attempt. 

The good news is that SFS and similar tools are keeping my sites free of spam.  The bad news is that the success of the process gradually reduces the effectiveness of the various databases unless we can adapt to the changing spammer landscape.

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#9 2014-06-25 8:15 pm

Alex Kemp
Moderator
From: Nottingham, England
Registered: 2009-12-02
Posts: 1,925
Website

Re: What constitutes reportable spam?

Hi nh905, welcome to SFS

nh905 wrote:

How about attempts by botnets to ...

See `exceptions/additions' in my reply previously. Otherwise, no post spam, no can report.

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#10 2014-06-25 11:05 pm

Papa Parrot
Moderator
From: Mexico
Registered: 2011-08-19
Posts: 1,588
Website

Re: What constitutes reportable spam?

GarryRicketson wrote:

(3) Accounts registered to known-spammer domains (e.g. freeessaywriter.com).

One needs to keep in mind, if they do  not post anything, and do not put any signature links in their profile, they can not be reported (submitted), because no spam posted.
I get a few, that when I check, they are from known spammer domains, or countries,..but for some reason they never put anything in their profile, nor post, I delete the accounts, and ban them. My reason is because I am sure at some point they probably will come back and post spam, I do not have the time nor desire to keep checking, on them.
Because they are also e-mail verified, they receive a notice, that they have been deleted and banned, via e-mail. If at anytime, someone feels they were unjustly banned, or wants to keep registered they could send a e-mail, and depending on what they said , I would consider letting them stay registered.
If at anytime, you have a post and are not sure if it is spam, you are welcome to post a copy here, and see what others say about it. Be sure to "munge" any urls-links the post contains, so that they are not "clickable".

How about attempts by botnets to create accounts, evidence being creating the account from one location and then attempting to login from a completely different location?

This is what I tried to say, and Alex also says,..:

See `exceptions/additions' in my reply previously. Otherwise, no post spam, no can report.

  Attempted registrations, or even accounts registered to known spammer domains, are not spam.

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