Is there a good way to prevent spammers link-baiting on

David Simpson Community Champion Jul 18, 2011

I've just removed a pile of comment/answers with spam links from a single user.

Could we limit the number of offsite links to say 5 (or 10) to prevent a takeover of black-hat SEOers?

Is it possible to quarentine all of a user's comments after a certain number of down votes?

Other thoughts are welcome.

5 answers

1 accepted

3 votes
Accepted answer

I've indeed been working on this. We tried Akismet for a few days, but still got a slew of spam. What's worse, we got three reports of users being blocked for false positives. I've removed it in the last couple days.

I've been bulk-deleting any spam I see. 'Flagging' or 'Closing' tips me off, and I'll watch for those. We're exploring captcha but actually I think these users are signing in manually.

I'm just about to turn on the 'suspend a user' feature, which would only be available to moderators. When that's ready, if you flag a spam post, I'll suspend that user.

Sorry to be dumb - by 'flag a spam post' do you mean click the 'report' link? That would work for questions and answers but what about comments?

Seems we are seeing lots of spam, again?

Lots last two days, waiting for Jeremy to be back tomorrow to check what can be done.

We're aware of it, we are planning to do something about this ASAP, probably turning akismet back on :)

Could Atlassian Answers not filter posts and make all links "nofollow" links? My understanding is that spammers would then no longer be benefiting from posting their links in terms of Google page ranking.

Readers could still use the links, of course.

It's not a full solution, but it could discourage spammers.

That wouldn't work - many of the more frequent questions (i.e. where people have not read the docs and especially when they haven't even bothered to search) have answers of "see link X".

It would work if links could be whitelisted of course...

Not sure if I made it clear what I was suggesting. I wasn't suggesting to hide links or turn them into plain text. I was suggesting that they were automatically turned into "nofollow" links. See the following for details on nofollow:

A user of Atlassian Answers would still be able to click on the link and follow it to its destination. However, most search engines should then ignore them, i.e. they will not count towards the page rank of the link target.

I think spammers should just be blocked - ip blocked for a while or something. If it's not the same then it's a very similar username. And maybe implement a cannot post multiple posts in intervals - say 5-10min gap for newcomers. This is happening daily.

I don't think nofollow should be implemented though. A lot of users do google search and Answers turning up as their search results really help them. I've used google searches and ended up here.

But, as Harry says, that means things that you DO want to follow the links won't do it either.

Harry's "block users for a while" and "don't allow multiple posts" are also helpful, as a spammer will typically do a batch of hits automatically. That tweak would reduce the noise to a single posting.

2 votes
David Simpson Community Champion Aug 06, 2011

I think that @Jeremy Largman [Atlassian] has probably got the task at hand.

Though he's on PST office hours, so while he's in bed, we can all keep our hand in removing any spam links that appear.

David Simpson Community Champion Aug 07, 2011

Oh, the irony of marking this as answered yesterday. Spam today :(

More irony is that this post always shows up when I run a simple spam search.

0 votes

Same here - I've marked them down and closed a new question that was spam, but it would be lovely to be able to bin a user too. Not sure I'd do it on votes, but maybe for the more powerful users a "stop users posts appearing until root-level admins vet them too" flag would be an option?

The spam seems to be getting worse... the spam filter I guess is not working too well. At a first step could we at least be allowed to delete questions, and without 5 confirmation boxes either.

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