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Dont respond to spammers

Spam seems to be getting out of control. And we, as viglent posters on this board, report the spam posts to the webmaster. And then we let everyone know we did.

Stop doing that. Report the spam to the webmaster but do not respond.

These spam postings are being done by computer. Everytime you respond, or post "reported to the webmaster" the computer is alerted. (Remember, the same way you are told that someone has responded to one of your postings is the same way the computer knows. ) The more people respond, the more the computer posts more spam. It thinks it has takers.

So the best thing to do is report the spam to the webmaster but don't respond. Leave it at 0 replies.

Then, it's up to the hosts of this forum to add some filter layer. Something simple like a "catcha" requirement for people with low number of posts. (It doesn't have to be "find all the photos with traffic lights" but simple arithmetic problem (how much is 4 + 3). After a certain number of posts, this disappears.

The other things that could be done, depending on the limits of the forum software, is ban all non letters and numbers in titles. It seems like the current rate of spammers like to use emojis.

Posted by
13387 posts

Doesn't bother me just to ignore them for a day or so till they get deleted. Also never thought threatening was much need in reporting the obvious. I suspect some one at RS looks at the forum from time to time and can spot what we do.

Posted by
1043 posts

Whoever posts these spams also knows on weekends and holidays that there is no gatekeeper on this site.

Posted by
13321 posts

The other things that could be done, depending on the limits of the
forum software, is ban all non letters and numbers in titles

Wondering the same, Frank. Blocking numbers, emojis and certain words in the topic boxes could eliminate a lot of nonsense if a filter could be set up to do that? It would be interesting to know how other forums block most of this stuff unless they have 24/7 moderation 'cuz I rarely see the rapid influx of spam on TA, Fodor's, etc. that I see here (but certainly not blaming our fine RS moderators for that).

Posted by
6446 posts

When I used to report these spam posts I would also make a note that it was reported. I stopped doing that some while ago because it just boosts them up to the top again. So now I just report them and leave it at that.

We all know it's the weekend, and we all know which ones are spam (at least 99% of them are obvious and shouldn't even be looked at). Just let them sit and they will end up at the tail end of the day's posts. We know they'll be gone on Monday, barring Monday holidays like today.

Posted by
10930 posts

I have a feeling this recent collection of spam is not from the actual spammers but kids playing with their computers

A real spammer is going to make their postings look as official as possible. The current ones have so many emojis no one can take them seriously. They are people just trying to cause problems in the forums. If we ignore them, eventually they will get bored and move on.

Posted by
8064 posts

I always just report them. Done.
No idea why people feel the need to let the rest of us know that they reported it. Just report and let it go.

Posted by
5399 posts

There are many ways to reduce and prevent spam.

You can ban individual IP addresses or entire ranges of them (this blocks all subsequent posts from the same source, regardless of how many throwaway accounts they may create). You can block all posts from specific countries and regions that are known spam-havens (this is more problematic as the innocent are swept up along with the miscreants, including those forum veterans who might be vacationing in one of those places). You can search the content of each post (or just posts from "new" users) for specific keywords or phrases (or characters - eg emoji) and block (or temporarily hold) any that match a specific score criteria. You can even write complex AI that learns from spammers' behavior and adapts. You can make all new accounts ("new" however you define it - typically number of posts, but can include other ways of vetting for trustworthiness) subject to these rules, or all accounts. You can use familiar, simple technologies (captcha, how many bicycles in the picture, ask a simple logic/arithmetic question, match an image with a word form a list, etc.). You can do all these things together, or mix them. You can do them only for un-vetted accounts, later removing the restrictions. You can use any of these measures on all posts, or only on some that meet specified criteria. You can just have one person who manually watches the forum 27/7/365 (but they've gotta sleep sometime), or you can spread that task among many. You could do some of these things only on long holiday weekends and/or when staffing is thin.

There are plenty of options. All of them cost something (development, implementation and maintenance costs, training, and any would also have non-monetary costs ie annoyance, adding friction for all users, changing established practices). Not implementing them also has some costs (noise, general annoyance, the forum becomes less attractive to users and thus less valuable to the company).

Business management has to decide if/when the cost of making changes is justified, and would outweigh the costs of living with the status quo. I'm sure they have considered their options before and have decided they can live with things they way they are. Two years into a pandemic that has shrunk their business income to near zero is probably not the best time to try and sell a forum upgrade, so I would set all our expectations realistically. At some point, conditions may change enough to prompt a re-evaluation. If the spam becomes bad enough, or they start seeing some positive cash flow, that might tip the balance, but this is a business decision, and times are tough for travel businesses. But while the forum is certainly valuable, it is very likely viewed as a cost to the business, not a source of income. Given that, and the state of things, I suspect an anti-spam investment in the forum would be a hard sell. I'm willing to do my part (or not, as preferred by those that run things). But I would not expect to see any significant changes for the foreseeable future.

Just my 4 cents.

Posted by
13321 posts

No idea why people feel the need to let the rest of us know that they
reported it. Just report and let it go.

If I was to venture a guess, it's to let others know it has been reported so there's no need to flood the mods with a ton of additional alerts, and to give newbies a head's up not to touch the stuff. There are vulnerable folks out there who unfortunately fall for the crap. Anyway, just a guess that it's a well-meaning effort, even if possibly misguided.

Posted by
13387 posts

Actually the webmaster in a post about a year ago said it wasn't necessary to report it.

Posted by
8408 posts

Actually the webmaster in a post about a year ago said it wasn't necessary to report it.

If that is the case, I wonder why there is a "report" feature on every post, and why Rule 3 exists:
Report guideline violations. Notify the moderators by using the "Report" link that appears alongside each post when you are signed in.

Posted by
13321 posts

Joe, I think he meant not reply that a report has been issued, such as "Reported to webmaster" or similar. There's probably some confusion between not engaging with the spammers - as in addressing them directly in a reply - versus just noting that a report has been issued?

Posted by
884 posts

There’s another bus load of these spam messages this morning.

I do wonder why they post these here and why they seemingly go to efforts to make them stand out from regular posts, ie emojis, multiple similar postings at the same time and headings that barely relate to travel. I can’t believe that anybody on this forum is dim enough to respond to any of them, so what do they hope to achieve? Or maybe it’s just a general elephant gun approach, send enough out and law of averages dictates a couple of suckers will respond? Or is it all just automated?

Either way, it’s really annoying.

Disgruntled of West Yorkshire.

Posted by
10930 posts

One of the reasons the spammers posts use emojis and strange lettering is to get past filters.

This is not a spammer trying to get illicit business. This is someone trying to disrupt the forum and make people annoyed.

Sadly, there are a bunch of people with no life who feel the need to do this.

Posted by
2407 posts

It is likely this is one person, or a small group of several, who are pissed off that their constant faux airline website posts are being called out for the fraud that they are and are doing this out of revenge.

I have also noticed an uptick in the use of strange letters and such in Subject lines of emails to gert get past filters. You would think filters should be set too work the other way and block these.

Posted by
6850 posts

These are bots and they're hitting this forum because it's an easy target (weak spam control and filtering, unlike a good email account which would separate those out quickly from view). Simple as that. People respond to them so it just perpetuates the cycle - a response from which an email can be further solicited (creating a brand new spamming opportunity) is considered "success". I don't know why people keep responding back to the spam posts, not realizing they are part of the problem. (Actually, I do know...it's because some forum members "personalize" this and want to "get back" at a bot, thinking they are human and open to reason).

Posted by
2407 posts

This is beyond "bots". The bots can log responses and report that someone responded. The bots on their own will not be coming up with the new and creative accounts names and ludicrous topic titles, there must be people behind it. It is the same with email. There can be embedded code that calls for a minuscule graphic file, typically a stray period somewhere that is actually graphic file, and the call for that shows a response (note if you set your email program to not download pictures when you open an email, they will only get that if you subsequently call for the pictures, this is the principle behind such legitimate services such as Constant Contact, Mailchimp, etc., I use one of these on occasion for my high school reunion network so as to see if an address went through). But the bots on their own can not be creating these new topics and new accounts, unless AI has gotten completely out of control, in which case we are all doomed. Someone has to be instructing them.

If they had the ability they would do a complete denial of service attack on this site.

jacksadaa also now reported.

Posted by
3590 posts

Just bumping this, it is critical to stop responding to spammers, otherwise their messages keep coming back to the top.
Thank you!

Posted by
10930 posts

The forum/bulletin board software used on this site may be limited on its spam filtering. (I had that problem when I had my own site.)

I agree this is not a bot but someone out to disrupt the site. The changing use of non-letters and numbers show it's not a computer but someone trying to out trick the filters. They are also aware that the site is not continually monitored so they can have their "fun."

There is really nothing more we can do except ignore the posting. It's up to the owners of this site to take any action they plan to take.

Restrictions could be put on, software permitting, where newcomers posts are reviewed before posting but that would mean someone new to this site would also have to wait to ask a question. It's a lot more work for the people running the site.

The other option, software permitting, is to allow some users of this site to send questionable postings to a "pending" file for review by the owners of the site. These volunteers would not have access to any other areas and if they overstepped their guidelines would be removed from these duties.

Posted by
27422 posts

aaaah .... that's better - for a while

Posted by
6446 posts

Bumping this up so more people will see it. Obviously some haven't.

Posted by
8064 posts

Maybe our webmaster could come and say a few words to us?

Posted by
13321 posts

He's probably busier than a one-armed paperhanger just trying to keep up with this mess! I believe watch-dogging the forums is not his only assigned task within the organization either.

But it sure is a real mess this morning. $#%%#@%^!