LXer codebase suggestion: antispam

Forum: LXer Meta ForumTotal Replies: 11
Author Content

Jun 28, 2011
2:07 AM EDT
Well, the comment-spammers have definitely found LXer. Barring changes to the codebase, I foresee a lot of forum traffic in a thread like "Spam Comment Reports", and mods doing frequent browsing of that forum to catch the latest needs-for-nuking.

First, I suggest that the codebase be altered such that every registered user sees a "report as spam" link to the left of every post, unless that user is flagged as an abuser of such. Maybe at first that generates a private-message to sysop.

Second, if the delete-hammer buttons aren't yet easy for the mods to use, I recommend that they be made easy. It shouldn't require taking the database offline to rip out a spam comment, even if it has accumulated a stream of follow-on comments. The capability should be there for everyone with moderator/co-sysop powers to wield it, with nothing more than an "Are you sure?" to catch typos and thinkos. This site has a mostly genteel user-base, partly because trolls get TOSsed even if they're mods, so I don't see much leeway for powertripping. It helps that comment-spam as a class is pretty obvious: garbage text and one or more irrelevant URLs. On good days we all write better'n that, though on bad days my humor might look like that :)

Third (and this is a follow-on because it's trickier), the comments database gets a new column, a short-integer 'reported' field. Each user-account gets a message-number array (link table?) so they can only report-as-spam once per post. Each report-as-spam for that message increments the count. Fully coded to streamline this site, the site's code should automatically perform the delete when the count reaches a threshold: three registered users? Five? Eight? Whatever that level, that's how many distinct user-accounts have to assert a thumbs-down to cause a spam comment (and, if it's the lead comment for a thread, as is usually the case, the whole thread) to die. Each report-as-spam gets logged. So do the messages wiped from the database. Thus there's accountability available if needed. At that point the auto-PMs to sysop can be retired and the mods can breathe a sigh of relief because the general users are helping to keep their site clean.

Jun 28, 2011
2:36 AM EDT
Those are sensible suggestions, cr, and I hope they get implemented. For whatever reason the powers that be are very stingy with delegating deletion powers; I have been deemed unworthy to nuke spammers. I have no desire to exert mind control over wrong and foolish comments, I just want to nuke spams.

Jun 28, 2011
3:14 AM EDT
@tc: Could be that that capability is bound up with a lot of other god/admin powers which no one seriously wants to hand around, such as the ability to drop tables. I've worked with BBSes (back in the DLX days) where the workarounds to slice 'n' dice sysop powers got pretty strange. It can be a royal pain to thread your way through the codebase, pulling new power-distinctions along as you go (kinda like the codemonkey equivalent to stringing new cable alongside a full conduit through yards of wallboard). This is one area where I think it's worth it, though, because, from watching forum traffic in various places, including yahoo!groups, it's clear to me that the only way to keep comment spam down is to kill it quick, but sysops who try to do it alone burn out quick.

Edit: Oh, and nothing says those spam comments can't be unpubbed rather than deleted, especially at first when the system's being shaken down.

Jun 28, 2011
3:31 AM EDT
Do the spams need to be immediately "deleted"? Or would it be sufficient to merely "hide" them (or otherwise prevent them from actually being displayed) until someone deemed "worthy" gets around to deleting them for real?

Jun 28, 2011
3:40 AM EDT
@BernardSwiss: :) We posted the same thought simultaneously. No, as long as there's a periodic sweep to clean out unpubbed posts/threads above a certain age, unpubbing is better until the database fills up.

Jun 28, 2011
6:37 AM EDT

Just because one is a registered user that has not been barred from the site is NOT a sufficient criteria for some individuals to be empowered to vote on unworthy comments. Even when that right is limited, there have been abuse of those rights where some individuals now posting have been invited to leave LXer and other posts deleted because the reader with those powers was offended. Indeed in the latter case the deleter asked my advice. Nonetheless, after saying I thought the thread should be retained they were wiped with the abuser claiming I agreed with his assessment..

Even when I encounter posts that are obvious violations of terms of service, at worse when that person is a knee jerk shouter I just skip by. I assume somebody might have an interest. I think we should be careful on what is deemed worthy of being cast aside. Ideas change and even people change where a minority view, for better or worse, becomes the accepted majority opinion.

Not too long ago posts that were utterly stupid and abusive were deleted by a well meaning person, again had those posts been retained that person's words could and should have been available to measure the meager intelligence behind them. Instead deletion has spared that person future ridicule s/he richly deserved.

Please, just use flagging and then kill only the commercial spam and block dubious links, to do more lessens the value of the forums. Readers have an effective means to kill spam, an email to Scott & Bob usually is promptly acted upon.



Jun 28, 2011
7:14 AM EDT
> Readers have an effective means to kill spam, an email to Scott & Bob usually is promptly acted upon.

My experience in that regard matches yours. They've always been very prompt at deleting actual spam.

Jun 28, 2011
7:51 AM EDT
Okay OKAY, geez, I'll stop. What kind of place is this that a guy can't sell fake Prada anymore? Jeepers.

Jun 28, 2011
1:22 PM EDT
Darn...this pops up just as I was about to announce my new product -

CleanUrPCFromSpaMvirusesesAndMaLW @rZbyChokingUrRegistryWithAbAzillionNeEdlessEntries.exe

The product actually does more harm than good but the title will suck them in like dollar bills into a vacuum.

I did senior editing at LXer for a year...I don't envy your job...we didn't have near the spam traffic in 2008 that we do now.


Jun 28, 2011
1:48 PM EDT
Pls shrtn yr prdct nam, hls. Its cnfsng ma brwsr.

Jun 29, 2011
2:56 PM EDT
The permission to allow people to nuke spammers comes from higher up than me. If it was up to me, all the LXer editors would have that ability. That said, if anyone comes across spam on LXer please Please PLEASE e-mail me on it and I will do my best to zapp it asap.


Jun 29, 2011
6:37 PM EDT
Can't we play with them first? You know, like how a cat plays with a mouse.

Posting in this forum is limited to members of the group: [Editors, MEMBERS, SITEADMINS.]

Becoming a member of LXer is easy and free. Join Us!