Forum Spam: Apology and Fixes

An update on how we'll be improving the forum

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Crash Hamster    pirate
14/06/2012 at 09:43

I can't see that there's a problem with having mods with the power to delete spam; doesn't seem to have caused any problems on tripetalk, where people like Badger and Andy S seem perfectly able to have 'normal conversations' as well as delete the obvious crap.

14/06/2012 at 09:45
Badly Drawn Bloke wrote (see)

LN - One day we will find something we agree upon   There is evidence of creep on this thread - people talking about removing non automated spam and the odd nutter (that phrase may have been used elsewhere), when what RW want them to do is clean up the automated spam mess that they themselves should be dealing with.

Mutley - that stuff would have dealt with by an employee of the publisher or their IT support company.  That individual is accountable to their employer.  A user mod is accountable to no one.

Maybe I'm too cynical or too demanding in expecting the site to work.  For me, user mod is the wrong way to go.  I've nothing else to add really (though it probably wont stop me)

Maybe one day we'll agree on something BDB. I know if it's over a drink or a meal where it won't be

Someone did make the comment about the nutter but this didn't come from the forumite mods or RW.  Again, I just don't get why you automatically assume your fellow forumites who you may have known for years are going to go thread delete crazy.

Oh I just found something that we agree on!  I agree it is RW's and Immediate Media's responsibility in the first instance to get the forum sorted properly and if they weren't doing that as well, I'd be completely against the mod idea as this would just be another bandaid solution, However there will be times the odd spammer gets through that and there's no arm in having someone clean those posts up.

14/06/2012 at 09:53

Lol - yes, I didn't think it would be at the popular noddle chain

If the odd one or two get through then there really isn't any need for a user mod.  If the system is poor enough to let the volume through that it does, then that needs fixing and again, no need for user mods

It's not about trust (ok, maybe it is) it's about seeing how these things work in real life situations.  I have seen users being granted functions above their knowledge and role levels and them either making a mess of it, requiring clean ups, or them abusing it.  It really happens.  But I seem to be in a minority.  I resever the right to crow if I'm proved right but will also be man enough to admit I'm wrong should it work (it wont BTW, but give it a go)

OK, that really is my last word.

14/06/2012 at 09:55
Badly Drawn Bloke wrote (see)

OK, that really is my last word.

Oh it so won't be.



14/06/2012 at 10:02
Crash Hamster wrote (see)

I can't see that there's a problem with having mods with the power to delete spam; doesn't seem to have caused any problems on tripetalk, where people like Badger and Andy S seem perfectly able to have 'normal conversations' as well as delete the obvious crap.

fully agree with my esteemed Tripetalker friend  

it's a trust thing not a power trip and if RW choose those who think of it as a power trip, then they will get quickly ditched I reckon.

14/06/2012 at 10:03

A football forum I regularly use has fairly extensive moderation which they are and need to be very firm with members. They also prevent multiple threads on the same subject which seems to be the norm on here. Every time it rains we get 10 separate threads started up on running jackets. Efficient moderation could tidy this up and make searching much easier.

14/06/2012 at 10:22

You wait until Im moderator..........things will be different then.

No multiple threads about iPods, none of this "Ive got a blister 13 weeks out, will it ruin my first marathon?" Any Spurs fans will be deleted, anyone who is a secret Fetchie, anyone who doesnt own a dog, women with male genitalia and anyone who has posted on the counting thread.

There are many things wrong with this forum we need a new way of doing things.

You will follow the party line or your gone.

Remeber Moderator rhymes with Terminator

14/06/2012 at 10:28
seren nos    pirate
14/06/2012 at 10:33

Ive; done the terminator race....where is the moderator race,,,,,,,,,,,,, it a PB course...................

14/06/2012 at 10:51

Goldbeetle... you're deleted.


Kneel before Zod.

Lee the Pea    pirate
14/06/2012 at 10:51

Yeah I think the mod thing could work, but only if we don't know who the mods are, they have a very specific set of guidlines to follow, they're monitored for adherance to the guidelines and hoofed if they do start delting threads just because they're have an issue with someone.  If all the poster know what the guidlines are (e.g. what mods have authority to delete, etc.) then that should help prevent too much complaining.  The better solution would be to prevent the spam in the first place, but whether this will happen or not remains to be seen.

I do agree with BDB to a certain extent and think that certain forum members shouldn't be given the position because they're too up their own arse and would try to use it for nefarious means.

(i really just wanted to use the word nefarious, as it is such a great word)

14/06/2012 at 12:36

The problem with user moderation of accounts is likely to be the sheer volume. I admin a small private forum relating to a long-defunct band, and things got so bad with spam that we now manually moderate all new registrations. Something like 80-90% of them are spam, and bear in mind that's just the ones that get through the character recognition tests and that have responded to the 'prove you're a person' e-mail - there are many more that don't get that far. A public site like RW could literally have 100's of dodgy registrations every day, and that's practically a full time job for someone just to check if they're valid. User moderation of new accounts is a fine idea, but you're asking people to potentially commit to quite a lot of work, and enthusiasm tends to wane rapidly.

Some of the spambots are very good, and it can take quite a bit of time to determine if registrations are real or not. Sometimes their lack of English gives them away, or they create loads of identical accounts, or they simply select the first option in all the drop-down lists in the registration, but they tend to learn and evolve rapidly. The smarter ones can be very realistic, so you're getting to the point of looking at IP addresses to see if where they are matches where they claim to be from, checking user names, e-mails & IP addresses against sites like, and sometimes you're just going off a hunch.

The main problem of course is that forums are continually under attack, with people looking for back doors and ways to hack in. Obviously the commercial forum software gets attacked the most because the potential for spammers is much greater, but it was only a matter of time before the RW forums came into someone's targets. I guess it's easy to get blase if you're not being attacked, and spending money on prevention when it appears that prevention is not needed can be a bit of a dilema, particularly when it's only a minor part of your overall product. The fact is though that you're going to get targetted at some point, and if you haven't prepared then you pay the consequences, and RW are doing now. In this instance RW have done a reasonable job in quite a short time to at least put a cap on the problem, but there is quite possibly no easy-answer automated method for them to stop it in the future as the attacks will evolve.

14/06/2012 at 13:10

Thank you, Dominique, for keeping us updated. x

14/06/2012 at 13:14
gielpiant drfhgds wrote (see)

I read somewhere a while ago that there is no need to take gels when running for an hour or less but does this train of thought change when it's a racing situation?


Spam still going strong.

I have no problem with the use of mods, I can see pros and cons but my objection would be (and I will probably get flak for saying this) that I think RW et al should get their act together first and stop this deluge of spam rather than relying on forumites to sort it out for them.

14/06/2012 at 13:58
Mods are great, as long as you don't end up with a petty war between the moderators.
14/06/2012 at 14:28
Beware Of The Fish wrote (see)

Stick a 'report as spam' button on each post/thread, then if enough people click it within a certain timescale the system automatically puts the thread into invisible limbo until such time as an official Mod can look at it and either delete or reinstate.

Seems to be a perfectly sensible first step to dealing with the current problem. It should limit users to only dealing with obvious spam rather than having to exercise any moderator-like judgement.
It will stop the thread being displayed, which is the current issue users have with the spam.
It leaves moderation with RW/their service providers.

The 'report spam' button would need to be different to the current 'Report to moderation'. If enough people 'report to spam' it would automatically have to shift it off so it does not display until a mod kills it/lets it loose.

The talk about moderators seems to envisage users moderators with broad moderation powers. I would suggest a [Report spam] + [look at tech solutions for early capture of spam] would seem to be a good starting point.
Doesnt rule out user moderation - but I would not think user-mod on its own will be enough.
So I think a lot of discussion about user-mods egos etc. is rather moot.

14/06/2012 at 15:35

Really? A spam button with auto-remove capabilities sounds dam right dangerous. All you need is a clique to take a dislike to someone and gang up on them to remove their posts/threads which could result in all out war. Or worse you could just get gangs of trolls who deliberately disrupt the forum.I guess it might depend on getting the balance right on the number of clicks before removing the post/thread.

At least with  user moderation there is a degree responsibility, if RW towers see abuse of the moderation they can ban that member. With a spam button abuse will be far harder to spot and pin-point blame.

Of course cliques and bullying is something which doesn't happen on this forum so I'm probably seeing potential issues which could never happen here

14/06/2012 at 16:18

It wouldn't delete, it would put it in invisible limbo until someone responsible has checked it. If it was then decided it wasn't spam it would be restored. If people were deliberately marking valid posts as spam then it would be down to Admin what action they chose to take against those people. Maybe their right to mark as spam would be removed.

One of the things about User Moderation is that picking the right people is probably the most important part of it, and this tends to mean picking people that have been around for some time and have earned their right to be a moderator. And it needs someone in charge to actually pick them, rather than it it being done by public vote. Whether anybody from RW actually monitors the forum closely enough to be able to do this I'm not sure. I have been on a forum where mods were elected by popular vote - it didn't work. People have to be able to be detached from what's going on in order to make fair and rational judgements, or at least be able to step aside and let other mods make that decision if they feel too close. It won't suit everybody.

M...eldy    pirate
14/06/2012 at 18:05

I have been approached (and accepted) by RW to 'moderate'

Firstly, I dont see this as a 'moderators' job as described in this thread, more of an unpaid cleaner!

There is no intention whatsoever for the moderator(s) to play God on any contentious issues that happen and I fully support this.   I see the role of unpaid cleaner as going some way to making this forum usable over quiet times by removing the evident spam as we saw last weekend.

I have no intention of removing posts or threads that are not genuine spam (if there is such a thing) and there are other ways or alerting first time posters who may have misread the T&Cs or overstepped the mark which will be dealt with as usual by RW

I did wonder about being anonomous but I think that for me I would rather be upfront and honest and to some extent 'available' if a spam attack happens if for some strange reason I am not here!!

There are/maybe other moderators who may or may not reveal themselves, I suspect that will depend on how much flack comes my way while I nip out for chocolate 

14/06/2012 at 18:19
M..eldy - thank you for agreeing to do this. Good luck!
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