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[meta] SPAM comments

Rohit Srivastwa [PersonRank 10]

Saturday, January 15, 2011
9 years ago7,318 views

Too many spam comments in many thread.

Seems like Phillip is busy in china. But AFAIK there are few more moderators, correct?

Juha-Matti Laurio [PersonRank 10]

9 years ago #

Very good that you opened this discussion again.

There are several and before Plilipp can make possible technical improvements moderators activity is very, very important .

Roger Browne [PersonRank 10]

9 years ago #

I'm a moderator, and in the second half of December I was spending more time fixing spam than reading and writing in the forum.

In early January I was away for a week and did no moderating, but even since I've been back I've taken a break from the moderating. It was just too discouraging to have to clean things up before I could settle down to read the forum.

At one of my sites ( I moved to distributed moderation, which has effectively solved the spam problem. Here's how it works.

When a new comment is posted, it isn't displayed to the public, only to "regulars" (those with the right cookies). They see this message above the new comment: "Please help us to fight spam by classifying this message: Spammy, Unsure, Not Spam". The links are asynchronous (AJAX), so the person can just click an option and go on reading the forum. There's no need to wait for a page reload or anything. It's as close to effortless as it can be.

I experimented with the weightings, and this is what worked best: a click on "spammy" corresponds to a score of minus 60, a click on "unsure" corresponds to a score of minus 10, and a click on "not spam" corresponds to a score of plus 60. When the score reaches -100, the spam is deleted. When the score reaches +100, the spam is accepted.

So, in the normal situation only two people see a spam before it is deleted, and only two people need to classify a non-spam before it is displayed to everyone. This is such a small percentage of users that hardly anyone ever sees a spam.

The "unsure" rating proved to be important. Quite often, a spammer disguises their spam really well, to make it seem legitimate. In this case, people were reluctant to click "spammy" because of basic human courtesy and a willingness to give people the benefit of the doubt. To stop these spams getting through, a new post is still deleted if lots of people click on "unsure". I think it's fair enough that the obligation is on the poster to make sure that their post is "obviously" not spammy.

I have one additional limitation, which is that a user may have no more than three new posts at one time. This prevents spam flooding. As soon as their posts are classified as non-spammy, they can post again. Obviously for a forum like this one, the limitation of three pending posts would need to be by IP address and date rather than by account login, but that shouldn't be a problem.

In this way, the spam problem is effectively solved at and I think the same system would work well here.

Philipp Lenssen [PersonRank 10]

9 years ago #

I have to think about this issue. E.g. preventing "flooding" sounds like a very good measure. Whenever I come here I also see spam and delete maybe 4 or 5 of them. I have a copy of every deleted comment in my inbox, so I can do a number check on them.

Roger Browne [PersonRank 10]

9 years ago #

Another approach is to require a person to be a regular reader of the forum before they post.

Spammers don't read the forums they post to, so perhaps it's enough require that a user has visited the site on five separate days before they can post.

Roger Browne [PersonRank 10]

9 years ago #

Philipp wrote:
> Whenever I come here I also see spam and
> delete maybe 4 or 5 of them

I just cleaned the spam from the first page of forum topics, and I deleted 47 spams. And that's without deleting spams like ...
where a forum member responded in good faith to the spam so deleting the spam would make the page confusing.

Rohit Srivastwa [PersonRank 10]

9 years ago #

[put at-character here]Philipp
I think you can crawl the forum & see most active 5 or most active 10 users in last one month with PR10 and make them also moderator.

I'm certainly not one of those, I mostly pull it on RSS and come to see interesting threads only :)

In any case this forum runs on good gesture of "high PR" users, this way they will be able to help more.


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