[Solved] How about deleting spammers account?

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[Solved] How about deleting spammers account?

Postby Hagar Delest » Sat Dec 24, 2011 12:41 pm

Hi All,

We talked about that a while ago but it hasn't been implemented before Terry left.

I propose to delete the users who have the clear profile of the spammer: no or only 1 post + advertising link in signature. We easily see the 1 post spammers but not all who don't post but are still listed in the members list (and there are some recently, that's why this topic).

Either we ask someone from the ASF to get a query in the database to spot the profile mentioned above, or we trust the admins who will do that manually by browsing the members list.

Note that removing the spammers account will show a more representative count of the "real" members in the forum statistics (bottom of main index page).
Last edited by Hagar Delest on Fri Nov 16, 2012 11:19 am, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: tagged [Solved].
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Re: How about deleting spammers account?

Postby RGB » Sat Dec 24, 2011 3:31 pm

+1 for removing the accounts. If someone else do it for us, then it will be easier... ;) but I have no problem on doing this manually.
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Re: How about deleting spammers account?

Postby floris v » Sat Dec 24, 2011 4:46 pm

+1, if they don't post at all. If they do, not deleting it might make life harder for them - they'd have to register with a new mail address and you can only have a finite number of them, I suppose.
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Re: How about deleting spammers account?

Postby thomasjk » Sat Dec 24, 2011 5:47 pm

+1 Delete the spammers accounts.
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Re: How about deleting spammers account?

Postby mriosv » Sat Dec 24, 2011 5:58 pm

Why not agree a rule for this situations?
Inform the ppmc, waiting a while for their comments, if there is no problem, fix an apply the rule.
This lets all admins and mods can know what to do.
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Re: How about deleting spammers account?

Postby RoryOF » Sat Dec 24, 2011 6:07 pm

mriosv wrote:Why not agree a rule for this situations?
Inform the ppmc, waiting a while for their comments, if there is no problem, fix an apply the rule.
This lets all admins and mods can know what to do.


The usual time for an Apache "lazy consensus" is 72 hours. I'm not suggesting we actually invoke their "lazy consensus" mechanism, but if we act after 72 hours who can fault us?
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Re: How about deleting spammers account?

Postby Hagar Delest » Sat Dec 24, 2011 7:26 pm

I'm ok with a rule but not with listing all the accounts to be banned. It's rather easy to browse the members list and spot the spammers. But making the list to be given in a mail for PPMC is not feasible (except if it can be automated with a query directly to the database).

If the agreement is only about the deletion based on the sole judgment of the admin, no problem.
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Re: How about deleting spammers account?

Postby mriosv » Sat Dec 24, 2011 8:23 pm

Hi Hogar, I am only talking about to set the rule.
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Re: How about deleting spammers account?

Postby kingfisher » Sun Dec 25, 2011 1:47 am

I doubt the PPMC has any interest in the matter. AFAIK, the PPMC does not intervene in such a fashion in the mailing lists.

I say if someone is clearly registered only to post spam, remove the account.
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Re: How about deleting spammers account?

Postby Villeroy » Sun Dec 25, 2011 4:14 am

kingfisher wrote:I say if someone is clearly registered only to post spam, remove the account.

Merry Xmas! Amen!
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Re: How about deleting spammers account?

Postby Hagar Delest » Sun Dec 25, 2011 12:21 pm

kingfisher wrote:I doubt the PPMC has any interest in the matter. AFAIK, the PPMC does not intervene in such a fashion in the mailing lists.

According to the discussions before the move to ASF servers, they were rather touchy about the way the forum is managed, especially when it comes to admin tasks.

Will do a mail to the mailing list in few days to get a lazy consensus.
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Re: How about deleting spammers account?

Postby RoryOF » Sun Dec 25, 2011 12:29 pm

I'd just get on and do it (they class this as JFDI - Just F***ing Do It). Don't trouble them unnecessarily :-) And don't wake up anyone who is asleep on their lists!
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Re: How about deleting spammers account?

Postby kingfisher » Sun Dec 25, 2011 1:16 pm

There was some discussion on the dev list recently about spam from a subscriber to the users' mailing list. They seem to discuss anything and everything there. I don't know how any of them ever get anything done. The dev list is not the PPMC.
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Re: How about deleting spammers account?

Postby Hagar Delest » Thu Dec 29, 2011 2:13 am

OK, so I proceeded. Have deleted about 1550 users who had been banned.
Plus another 180 with following pattern:
- No post
- Link to a commercial site
- Last active time within few minutes after registration time.
Haven't finished yet with these ones, to be continued...
 Edit: Have reviewed all the accounts with a link to a website and removed in total 231 users (the former figure was 180). So now the count is about real users only (almost 44800). 
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Re: How about deleting spammers account?

Postby rudolfo » Thu Dec 29, 2011 1:39 pm

Just a few minutes ago I came across a thread in the General Discussion forum. Thread number is t=46485, but it is invalid now, because it was obviously deleted as spam. I was thinking about reporting it, but did not find a profile of the user. No data except for then name on the right where I usually see the number of posts and the day when he or she joined the forum:

no-profile-data.png
Post without user profile
no-profile-data.png (9.32 KiB) Viewed 13385 times


The profile name is not a link and I don't find the post amongst the Deleted topics. So is this maybe related with weeding out the obvious spammers through adminstrative tools or direct database operations? And I just hit the wrong second?
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Re: How about deleting spammers account?

Postby Villeroy » Thu Dec 29, 2011 2:02 pm

I was the one who deleted the obvious spam. In fact it would be interesting to know how the invalidated user could post this.
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Re: How about deleting spammers account?

Postby Hagar Delest » Thu Dec 29, 2011 2:58 pm

Black usernames means that the account has been deleted. Hence no link to any profile.
I think that we could delete them right away since the spam is obvious. I don't think they will bother to check if the account is still alive or not. Let's see how it goes when deleting the profile.
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Re: How about deleting spammers account?

Postby rudolfo » Thu Dec 29, 2011 4:39 pm

So that would mean that the account of the user was deleted before I have seen his post. But most probably after he has posted the spam content. Do we really need to do both: Delete the account AND delete the posts. I would have thought if an admin deletes an account all the post of this accounts will be distinguished, as well.
This is maybe not desired by default, but in case of spam it would make sense.

Or could it be that the user easyreminders was logged in while he was deleted. And account deletion doesn't affect current sessions? Don't really need answers on this (as I am not an administrator) ... it is just that I started thinking.
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Re: How about deleting spammers account?

Postby Hagar Delest » Thu Dec 29, 2011 5:28 pm

You're absolutely right to ask such questions.

When deleting an account, admins/mods can decide if the posts are retained or not. So posts should be kept of course and moved to the Quarantine forum as usual (that's why you can see for example all the posts from the accounts I've deleted in the Quarantine forum (or in the Deleted forum also).

For the users you're talking about, the topic has been deleted in fact (I've checked the moderator log). I urge the mods to move the posts as agreed in the past to the Quarantine forum. Even if an account is deleted for obvious spam, we need to be very transparent about that and allow the Volunteers to check the content of the posts.
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Re: How about deleting spammers account?

Postby Villeroy » Fri Dec 30, 2011 12:25 pm

Our friend "easyreminders" reminds us that one can recreate the same account once the banned one has been deleted.
viewtopic.php?f=73&t=46507
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Re: How about deleting spammers account?

Postby floris v » Fri Dec 30, 2011 12:29 pm

Villeroy wrote:Our friend "easyreminders" reminds us that one can recreate the same account once the banned one has been deleted.
viewtopic.php?f=73&t=46507

Exactly the reason why I have some worries about deleting accounts. Unless it's possible to block a mail address that has been used to register a spam account, deleting that account makes it possible for a spammer to use the same mail address for a new account.
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Re: How about deleting spammers account?

Postby Hagar Delest » Fri Dec 30, 2011 1:06 pm

Indeed. But I think that very few of them will bother to register again. Well, it seems that easyreminders does...
Let's wait a bit and see at the end of next quarter...
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Re: [Solved] How about deleting spammers account?

Postby Hagar Delest » Fri Nov 16, 2012 11:27 am

Back on this old topic. I think that the situation has completely changed from last year. We had before a moderate spam activity. Now that there are still between 3 and 5 spammers per day, it seems that deleting the accounts would only allow them to register again after a short while. We are bound to keep these banned accounts then.

For the record, I found an interesting topic on the Ubuntu forum: Why can't I edit my profile? The <25 post restriction:
Q: If an account holder has not posted at all, it is near-impossible for an ordinary forum member to find the profile page, let alone view it. Why, then, is profile spam a problem?

A: Search engine spiders such as google-bot can find the profile page easily and they index any links they find. Profile spam is an example of black hat SEO (search-engine optimisation) or spamdexing. Let us be clear: the use of the forum for posting links whether visible by humans or not is theft - theft of server resources and bandwidth, theft of the facilities paid for by Canonical. This is an international, very busy forum and is a magnet for spammers. It is more valuable for them to post their links on this forum than many other smaller ones. Indeed, it is possible that much ordinary post spam is now intended for spamdexing rather than in the hope that people will click through and purchase the (dubious) goods on offer.
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Re: [Solved] How about deleting spammers account?

Postby acknak » Fri Nov 16, 2012 3:16 pm

It might be nice to have a restriction on modifying profiles, but if we continue moderating the new posts, the profile limit could be as low as one or two posts, since even one bona fide posting that passes moderation should identify the user as a non-spammer.

I'm surprised that the spammers have not defeated the moderation by simply copying verbatim some other successful post (or maybe they have?). I know I don't bother to run a search before approving a new post. I hope that's more time and effort than they're willing to put into it.
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Re: [Solved] How about deleting spammers account?

Postby kingfisher » Fri Nov 16, 2012 11:07 pm

I may have missed the point but can't you let the account remain without any signature containing a link? In other words, can you remove the spam part of the signature and NOT delete the account?
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Re: [Solved] How about deleting spammers account?

Postby floris v » Sat Nov 17, 2012 12:51 am

Only admins can edit a user's signature and profile information. So that would put quite a load on the admins' shoulders.
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Re: [Solved] How about deleting spammers account?

Postby Hagar Delest » Sat Nov 17, 2012 1:17 am

In fact, I already remove the spam links in both website field and signature for each new spam account...
And, yes, that's quite some load.
So to sum up: spammers are banned by mods, I remove the spam links and add them to the Banned user group so that they can be easily counted in the statistics and to avoid checking them several times (hence the black color for user names).
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Re: [Solved] How about deleting spammers account?

Postby acknak » Sat Nov 17, 2012 2:33 am

I can help to remove the spam links but I don't know how to find the spammer profiles.
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Re: [Solved] How about deleting spammers account?

Postby floris v » Sat Nov 17, 2012 2:50 am

In the ACP, select manage user, then in the Manage user screen, select Signature from the Select form list box in the top right hand corner.
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Re: [Solved] How about deleting spammers account?

Postby Hagar Delest » Sat Nov 17, 2012 11:27 am

What I do is sort the member list by last joined and check all the new accounts that are 0 post. If there is one with a spam signature, I click the Administrate user link to access his profile right away, to ban him first them add him to Banned user group (and set that group as default to make them appear in black) and then remove the spam. Same if there is a spam link in website field.

I also perform a second sort of members by Last active date to spot the 0 post users who wait several days before coming back to change their signature (those are tricky ones). With Firefox, I've set shortcuts in the smart bar that call those searches to save some clicks.

I also check the moderator log to see what users have been banned by mods to add them to the Banned group (and to make sure there is no spam in the signature).
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