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From "F C. Costero" <fjcc.apa...@gmail.com>
Subject Response to spam on the user forum
Date Mon, 23 Apr 2012 02:22:52 GMT
The forum volunteers would like to inform the PPMC of recent events
and actions on the user forum. I offered to write this initial message
since the moderators have had a long and frustrating day. I hope I
avoid missing any important details.
Spam postings have been an increasing problem this year as noted in
Hagar's summaries posted on Jan. 31, Feb. 29 and April 1.
http://user.services.openoffice.org/en/forum/viewtopic.php?f=50&t=46497

In the last week and especially the week end, the problem has gotten
so bad that the forum became nearly unusable. Hundreds of message
would be posted in a few hours. Nearly all of the posts were for
streaming video sites, with absolutely no attempt to disguise their
intent.   I personally saw more than 400 spam messages listed in
response to the View New Messages link after being off line for less
than 12 hours and moderators had probably been on line in the meantime
deleting spam and banning users. Adding a dead time to user accounts
so that messages could not be posted in rapid succession did not
sufficiently reduce the spam. Today the registration process was
briefly disabled to allow the moderators to remove messages and
implement a user group for New Users. Hagar posted the following
message:

"I've taken some immediate action (sorry, unilateral but something had
to be done to allow new users quickly):
- I've reactivated the registration (by mail for the moment, not by mod)
- I've activated the Newly registered and I'm restricting their
permissions, preventing any BBCode
- I've set the limit to 10 posts to get to the Registered status (not
sure if it's automatic or not yet)

Perhaps we should see how it works as a test. I think that the
spammers do use BBCode for their links. If disabling it is enough,
perhaps these basic counter measures will have some effect.

Next step would be the moderation of posts from the Newly registered users."

After these changes a few spam messages have appeared, but at a
greatly reduced rate. This may be a result of the changes or just the
time of day at the spam source. As Hagar stated in his message, the
next step will be moderation of posts from new users. This is not a
desirable action because it will make the forum less accessible and
will greatly increase the moderator work load. If implemented, it may
require the appointment of more moderators.

I believe any suggestions from the wider Apache community for
addressing this problem would be very welcome. Events have moved very
quickly and there has not been time for the volunteers and moderators
to have a thorough discussion of how to handle the new spam
environment.

Francis

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