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Slightly off topic - Spam in Answers

The amount of spam in here is getting ridiculous and it's painful to remove (I feel very sorry for your admins who have to wade through all the reports)

It's noticable that the same culprits keep doing it - you really need to be able to flag a user as "blocked as a spammer" and be able to automatically remove (or at least hide until moderation) all their posts.

Another common and useful practice is to limit new users to a very small number of posts per day until they've built up a reputation without being flagged as spammers (it only needs to be a low number - the last place I worked had it set as "5 non spam posts and you're fine"). You can apply the same to a user - 10 separate spam reports and you automatically remove all their posts.

So, a while ago you posted something about improved spam checking, which obviously hasn't worked - any updates on proper systems of prevention and removal?

9 answers

1 accepted

2 votes
Answer accepted

Here's an update:

First of all, in addition to the editor which is still a bit wonky (especially when it comes to nice code formatting), spam mitigation is a top priority. It's critical to get this right. Many forums become overrun with spam and it's no good. Some amount of it is part of Internet life, but we can definitely take some steps to mitigate this.

As a first try, we added Akismet a few weeks back, for about a week. We got three reports of false positives (people whose legitimate questions were blocked) and spammers were still let through (they must've figured out a way around Akismet by now). We'll consider re-adding it, but it's unfortunate that it stops some legitimate posts.

@Matt Doar - There's a 'report' button underneath each post that allows you to flag it. It'll help me (or other admins) catch it, if I miss it in the feeds.

@Wojciech Seliga - good suggestion. Added in JIRA: Add ability to suspend user given enough Karma earned.

@David Simpson - Also a good suggestion: Limit number of posts by new users, or users with low karma.

Lastly, right now there's a bug - Unable to add Karma or suspend a user. We're just about to roll out the fix in the next day or two, and I'll go through and suspend all the spammers to date.

Go get 'em, Jeremy!

1 vote

Ironically it was this question that just got a spammer! Thanks for deleting it.

I've readded Akismet spam protection, this time with better techniques to handle false positives. I'll keep this page updated with any further status updates.

I just instabanned Mk Malls due to his 12 advertising answers. I was wondering what to put in "public message" or "private message". Can someone tell me what those fields are used for?

Joe Clark Atlassian Team Aug 08, 2013

Public message will be shown to users when they view the suspended user's profile. The private message appears on the administration dashboard for super-users.

So if you want to use some rude words, you can put them in the private message. :)

Any Atlassian employees want to chime in?

0 votes
Joe Clark Atlassian Team Oct 10, 2012

Closing the loop on this one - we've beefed up the "Insta-ban" feature in the 2.10 release deployed yesterday. See ANSWERS-685 for details.

Users with >3k karma should be able to view a spammer's user profile page and select "Instaban" from the "Your Preferences" -> "Moderation Tools" menu to permanently suspend the user and delete all their content - use it wisely! :-)

Kewl, I'll accept it as soon as I get to give it a go. Unless I really do need some new shoes ;-)

Will the new instaban feature deal with concurrent users trying to execute it at the same time? Does the menu item become disabled once that username is suspended?

Was some form of Captcha implemented as well in this release?

Joe Clark Atlassian Team Oct 10, 2012

I'm not sure - I'll point Dennis here since he was the one who pushed the big red button.

Joe Clark Atlassian Team Oct 10, 2012

Here's our first candidate for someone to test out -

Tested, instaban and it was really cool not to edit out messages.

The garbage name spammer hit us again and he foolishly hit the question I was just answering. Instabanned in under 10 minutes from when his account was created. Way cool!

Good to hear you liked it Norman :) No captcha yet, because we're planning on overhauling the registration system soon. However, I'm working on implementing akismet in a working manner, more updates about that when it comes out.

Yup, just whacked a spammer, works well for me :-)

Spam here. Oh, the irony.

How about letting leading members of this community (say 1K+ karma, or top 3% percentile) to just remove posts and mark users as spammers so that site admins could remove such users too? I also like the idea of allowing only X posts per day until you build more reputation.

I just went searching for the "Mark question as spam" or "report user as spammer" button but couldn't find one.

If this community is moderated by its users, I think we need a better way to stop the spam.

0 votes

I wouldn't whitelist my links - it's all broken code, Doctor Who and pictures of kittens ;-)

0 votes

Perhaps also limit number of offsite links in posts for new users -- unless they are links to whitelisted domain names e.g. *, * and the like.

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