Stop supporting Profile spammers!

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Algernon Sydney is Dead
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Stop supporting Profile spammers!

Postby Algernon Sydney is Dead » Sun Feb 19, 2012 1:31 am

Profile spammers create a profile on an innocent site, and put a link to their evil site in the the Website entry and/or the Signature of their profile.

See for example, this douche-nozzle.

Now, I know what you're thinking: "phpBB forums tell bots not to crawl the profile pages anyway, so what's the harm?" (Besides cluttering up the member list, wasting bandwidth, and painting a "Sucker" sign on our collective forehead?)

The problem is that Google does index other member-info pages. Note that Google will automatically skip indexing many of the worst offenders, but not all.

This guy is typical. He's clearly a drive-by spammer; note the "Joined" and "Last visited" times. Yet, his web site didn't make it to Google's blacklist (yet), so Google indexes him from the DC forums!
His evil site gains search rank and the DC forums could face rank penalties. Spammer evil accomplished!

The solution:
  1. Use robots.txt, <meta name="robots" content="nofollow" />, etc. to stop the Member-list pages from being indexed.
  2. In the database, use SQL to identify members with: (A) links in their profiles, (B) zero posts, (C) more than 2 months old.
  3. IP ban common IP's -- especially from "The usual suspect" countries.
  4. Delete those users or at least delete the links from their profiles.
  5. Do steps 2 through 4 for users less than 2 months old, but maybe hand eyeball the links to avoid catching legit lurkers (There currently are no legit lurkers with links and less than 2-months old, I checked).

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StalinSays
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Re: Stop supporting Profile spammers!

Postby StalinSays » Mon Feb 20, 2012 7:12 pm

This one is all Tom (read Bo couldn't fix this, even with the steps so clearly laid out). Sounds like a good move.
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tbaker2500
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Re: Stop supporting Profile spammers!

Postby tbaker2500 » Tue Feb 21, 2012 4:03 am

Yea, it's on my todo list. Good suggestions ASID.
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Re: Stop supporting Profile spammers!

Postby tbaker2500 » Wed Feb 22, 2012 6:10 am

One think I changed tonight, and may cause uproar- I disabled links in signatures. Existing links still work, but new links shouldn't be able to be entered.
You're my quasi-ichthian angel, you're my half-amphibian queen...

The Dribblecast, we don't care if you sound like an idiot.

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Algernon Sydney is Dead
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Re: Stop supporting Profile spammers!

Postby Algernon Sydney is Dead » Wed Feb 22, 2012 6:47 am

I wouldn't make that a permanent change.

In the last 2 weeks, 44 "users" signed up. Up to 28 of those might be legit, and 2 of those have legit links in their sigs -- including one guy who just joined yesterday.

So, up to 7% of recent users have legit links. I daresay these kind of users are more likely to bring "juice" and/or value to the DC. That is, if they are not too annoyed by the forums. :wink:

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Lone Mopper
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Re: Stop supporting Profile spammers!

Postby Lone Mopper » Wed Feb 22, 2012 7:35 am

Hopefully I am not stepping out of bounds here:

I have been running forums since 2003, (industry related) ((see here: www.globalcleaningassociation.com ))
The spammers always find a way in unless you completely shutdown all options, make all membership applications human reviewed and checked, including IP. Major PITA especially if it is a public/free forum.

I have found over the years that most of the bad apples, flamers and other riff raff weed themselves out or the hardcore forum people police them out.

What has worked in the past for me, was a report a post/link/member line where our forum members posted links to offenders and we would just go in, delete the post, delete the member and ban them, once a week.

just some random thoughts.
Ken
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tbaker2500
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Re: Stop supporting Profile spammers!

Postby tbaker2500 » Wed Feb 22, 2012 4:49 pm

I'll take the experienced suggestions and avoid the heartache myself. I'll avoid that slippery slope I guess. Thanks for the stats ASID. I'll turn that back on, and I'll get more active in deleting accounts.
You're my quasi-ichthian angel, you're my half-amphibian queen...

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Re: Stop supporting Profile spammers!

Postby ROU Killing Time » Wed Feb 22, 2012 6:31 pm

tbaker2500 wrote:I'll take the experienced suggestions and avoid the heartache myself. I'll avoid that slippery slope I guess. Thanks for the stats ASID. I'll turn that back on, and I'll get more active in deleting accounts.

Being Big-Brother isn't as easy as you thought it would be, is it, Tom? ;-)
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tbaker2500
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Re: Stop supporting Profile spammers!

Postby tbaker2500 » Wed Feb 22, 2012 6:56 pm

Hey, I've been a little brother all my life. Youngest of 11.
You're my quasi-ichthian angel, you're my half-amphibian queen...

The Dribblecast, we don't care if you sound like an idiot.

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ROU Killing Time
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Re: Stop supporting Profile spammers!

Postby ROU Killing Time » Wed Feb 22, 2012 7:47 pm

tbaker2500 wrote:Hey, I've been a little brother all my life. Youngest of 11.

Yes, we have the "last in line for the throne" trait in common, Tom, although there were just seven of us.
"Never fuck with The Culture"
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tbaker2500
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Re: Stop supporting Profile spammers!

Postby tbaker2500 » Thu Feb 23, 2012 3:04 am

Okay, I've examined and deleted all banned users. They were clearly all spam accounts, except for graham, which was legitimate at one point, and seemed to be taken over by a bot. I deleted graham but kept his posts.

I figure, if I regularly delete banned users, there is no advantage to robots.txt disallowing profiles; since that also disallows google ranking for all legit links in profiles.

I need to sort through older accounts yet.
You're my quasi-ichthian angel, you're my half-amphibian queen...

The Dribblecast, we don't care if you sound like an idiot.

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Algernon Sydney is Dead
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Re: Stop supporting Profile spammers!

Postby Algernon Sydney is Dead » Thu Feb 23, 2012 4:04 am

Don't you have access to the forum database? One simple SQL command will get rid of all the profile spammers without touching anyone who has either posted or has no link.

Note that user profiles are not indexed anyway. This may be because phpBB automatically submits a sitemap.xml or it may just be that the search engines have rightly blacklisted such pages on their own. (I don't see any robots.txt entries, or <meta> tags ,or rel attributes that would do the blocking.)

There is no point in allowing the memberlist pages to be indexed. Any legit users will have their links in their signature. The memberlist pages just benefit spammers who are smart enough not to post (and thus get banned).

Also, having a meta directive in the appropriate template, or a robots.txt entry may prevent some profile spammers on it's own. They (their bot) would see that there was no gain for it. Spammers cannot see any sitemap.xml as a general rule.


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