Who Else Is Tired Of This?

What's with all the posts for fake passports, etc.? I'm tired of opening a post to find this person/people soliciting business. So many posts being taken over by whoever this is. And the zombie threads they are reviving...a lot of people don't check the dates of the OP. When these spam posts are removed the posts will remain on top. Then we will see people responding to these zombie posts. So far the oldest I've noticed was from 2006!

Posted by pat
victoria, Canada
8475 posts

Yup.. saw two already this am.. "judesome22". How do these folks keep reappearing.. their ads are so dumb anyways.. what good do they think they do..

Can't they block an IP address?

Posted by Nancy
Corvallis OR
1553 posts

Ahh, the price of progress. It's a big pain in the patuti and one of the reasons (along with the goofy avatars/monikers) that I'm losing interest in browsing the forums and it seriously clutters up the All Forums page. Also, I'm not sure the webmaster is going to be able to keep up with deleting them.

Posted by Norma
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
4065 posts

Couldn't any post with the word "fake" in it be automatically blocked? Surely all those clever bunnies in IT could solve this. The posts are offensive and a royal pain.

Posted by Bob
Reading, PA, USA
301 posts

I do not mind the "zombie" threads. I find some of them interesting as they bring up subjects of interest that are not currently being discussed. Sometimes this is not a bad idea especially since we have lost all the historic posts. I especially miss the older posts on SCAMS that were on the Graffiti Wall. If they are not of interest I just skip them.

Posted by Sam
Green Bay
3496 posts

Short term might be to use those pastel log in codes similar to what you do when you hit the "Report Abuse" button. That would indeed be a pain, but these spambots are threatening to take down the entire Helpline (sorry, Forum).

Posted by Nancy
Corvallis OR
1553 posts

Yup, we've been spammed, big time! At the rate they're posting now - just about every post in several different forums, and I'm sure they're going for EVERY forum and EVERY post - I wouldn't be surprised to see the website go down today. Hope I'm wrong.

Posted by Grier
Carmel, IN
1167 posts

Me - hope the spam problem is considered urgent by ETBD.

Posted by Lee
Lakewood, Colorado
12420 posts

"Short term might be to use those pastel log in codes"

I don't think that will work because whoever is doing this is getting user names for the Wall, and that requires responding to the codes.

I think whoever is doing this is doing it by hand, and that takes time (111 posts by KannyMary already), but I think that the webmaster, by eliminating the name, can eliminate all post under that name in one stroke.

Assuming this is really a serious attempt to promote the fake ID, then the phone number posted by Mary would be real and could be traced by the FBI (the post are promoting criminal activity).

On the other hand, could this be someone recently banned (the name Brandt) comes to mind getting revenge?

Posted by Larry
Elkins Park, PA
783 posts

Unfortunately, I don't believe this crap is coming from the SPAM robots. These are coming from individuals. After all, all you need is a log-in to post a new thread, or post to a thread.
I've been reporting these most AMs Eastern time when I do my morning read of the board. And I've noted that some of these clowns have figured out to put them o in the middle of the night during the weekend so that they will stay here longer.
Google some of these (by the e-mail handle, or the site name they allude to). They have been posting all over the internet on various forums, and they get removed from most of them.
Yes, IP addresses can be blocked, but people can get new IPs as fast as they can get untraceable Go-phones. I am almost certain that the one who blocked up "All-Topics" today with the new topic for this (and I see that it's been cleared since I started this reply) has done this before -I'm fairly certain I recognized the yahoo e-mail address given for contact, which means they simnply established a new log-in ID from a new IP address.
Now this mass attack on Germany today, into each topic, that's a new twist.
It would appear they are going to have to establish blocking based on a combination of keywords, which could become a problem for some of us.

Posted by Larry
Elkins Park, PA
783 posts

As for Zombie threads, there is no reason they can't inactivate a thread after a fixed amount of time so that no replies can be added. Most internet forums do this.
Unfortunately, the problem appears to be exacerbated by the influx of new users who apparently don't read dates or can't understand the concept of what is current.

Posted by Larry
Elkins Park, PA
783 posts

@Lee--very unlikely it is someone banned.
Why? Google the poster's name, or e-mail, or other id. They are all over the place for the last couple years.
And yes-the webmaster/Rick Steves/whoever officially runs this site needs to report this. The activities posted are illegal, and what they are doing is harassment. But the complaint has to come from the proper party.

Posted by Ms. Jo
Frankfurt, Germany
5200 posts

Well, when I get up every morning, and you all are still asleep, I report all the spam. Each day, it seems to be more and more. These often run their course after a while on many websites, and then stop on their own. One of the websites that I moderate filters out quite a bit, but there is always more that slips through. Sometimes more than usual, like a surge. Admins can find out the IP, but the spammers do have ways to generate more. These are professional spammers!

It doesn't take long for anyone to find out that there are no moderators on here working the weekend or at night. This is a failure I think and always has been.

On other travel forums like Trip Advisor or Fodors or even other websites, you can click on the persons name and find all of their posts. This makes it 10 times easier to report them. That with the new website they left this helpful function off, is another huge mistake as far as I am concerned. Not being able to look at previous posts from someone hampers us being helpful, let alone not being able to look at our own posts.

As to phone numbers being used to track people? Please, do you really think spammers are writing down a real phone number?

Posted by Tom
Lewiston, NY
10041 posts

Another issue, although it only seems to be going on in the Germany forum. A bunch of old threads have jumped to the top of the page without any new entries. Not exactly zombie threads, because they're only about a month or two old But still, what's going on?

Posted by Larry
Elkins Park, PA
783 posts

@Tom-- same thing with the Italy forum. It's the result of the spammer having gone in and posted his SPAM sales pitch at that time to each and every one of those threads. Unfortunately, they still show a post for that time stamp even after the post itself is removed.
Now you would think there would be a way to set the time stamp back, but that is probably more involved for the webmaster.

Posted by Nancy
Corvallis OR
1553 posts

@Tom, those jumped up because the webmaster deleted the spam posts that were in all of those threads as responses. Sure makes it hard to know which are the new posts without going in and looking at the last post date on each of them. It's a drag.

Posted by Christi
Whitsett, TX, United States
808 posts

It is very time consuming to keep up with spammers. It would be nice to have a an "REPORT" button on each post which when clicked would then hide that post until approved or deleted by mods. This group is pretty quick to act so spam posts would not survive long here if they were hidden as soon as reported. Just an idea.

Posted by Lo
Tucson
1093 posts

I hate everything that's already been mentioned. It is all a deterrent to using the Travel Forum at all.

If posting to Zombie threads can't be eliminated for some reason, why can't a column with the Original Post date be added to the right so that people can see how old the dang thing is before clicking on it?

Posted by Larry
Elkins Park, PA
783 posts

Nice to see I am not the only one all over this.

Posted by Tim
Wyckoff, NJ, USA
1023 posts

I'm disappointed this has to be remedied manually. Why cant two posts from the same user within two seconds be rejected automatically by the expensive new website? That would have the bonus of avoiding double-posting?

Posted by Andrea
Sacramento, CA
5540 posts

Most zombie threads are revived by first time posters. It seems that most often they are using the search function to answer a question, not to seek information for a travel question they may have. I'm not sure what would motivate someone new to a travel forum to do that. It's more obvious when a new poster brings up a zombie thread to promote a product.

Posted by Ilja
Seattle
1781 posts

Yes, these spammers are annoying. Fortunately Webmaster is liquidating them pretty quickly. Unlike Ms. Jo I think the phone number is real. Because if it is not then what's the purpose of the spam? Just spammers hobby to annoy people? Police or FBI probably should be informed so they can post undercover to buy fake passport and catch those con-artists. But they may not be interested. Once I got email from my friend that he was in Valencia, Spain and all his money were stolen, asking me to send him some. I knew immediately that it was not him but went along and asked for the exact address where to send the money and then I gave that address to police but they were not interested because they would have to contact Spanish police and I guess they considered it too much hassle. But in the case of our Travel Forum the phone number is in this country.

Posted by Susan
Sausalito, California
3611 posts

Why so much more Spam since the overhaul?

Posted by Nancy
Bloomington, IL, USA
8163 posts

Sometimes zombie threads remain at the top because some people are quick to jump in and point out that they are zombie posts, or someone else responds as well. Then when the spam post that revived the thread is removed the others remain, keeping it at the top. Some way of locking old threads would solve a lot of it. Even if it's not a spammer reviving the thread, locking it would prevent a newbie, or someone who just didn't notice the date, from adding to it.

Posted by Zoe
Toledo, Ohio, US
4363 posts

I suggested calling the feds a couple of weeks ago. The problem is that the spammers may not actually be selling anything, just messing with all of us.

As for zombie threads, I find them incredibly annoying and would like any thread six months or older to be shut down or read-only. Having an OP posting date/time would be very helpful.

Posted by Marbleskies
USA
549 posts

Folks,
Everyone paying for the service of accessing ETBD has a justified right to criticize the quality of the web masters work.
Those receiving free service should presume the web master is just as annoyed and is doing their best work to resolve the issues.
;)

Posted by Andrea
Sacramento, CA
5540 posts

I never criticized the webmaster or the job he's doing. I think he works incredibly hard to keep this a fairly civilized place, which is why many of us are here. It seems the spammers are mostly striking during the night and weekends. I noticed this morning there are spam posts in other languages too. Of course it needs to be French for France, etc. You never know when a French person is going to look at an American travel forum looking for faux passports!

Keep up the good work Andrew!!

Posted by pat
victoria, Canada
8475 posts

marbleskies.. I thought your post was rude and dismissive to posters. No one has called the webmaster a name or attacked him. I think your tone is all wrong.. many posters here keep the forum going.. since the RS staff does not answer the questions we do.. without posters there is no forum and trust me .. the RS site likes the readers that come on here for the forum but then peruse the site and often buy items or take tours.. or at very least suggest buying the RS guidebooks. Its a MUTUAL benefit system here.

This is why most travel sites have forums.

On seperate note.. what a slew of posts today.. holy cow its worse then I have ever seen.

I don't know how other forums minamize this issue.. but they do.. so perhaps the RS staff better find out how other forums do that !

Posted by TC
Atlanta
463 posts

Technology is wonderful when it works as it should. Unfortunately it is not perfect. Having been a RS customer many times over the past 15 years, I'm certain they are doing everything that can be done to correct the problem and that this too shall pass. The webmaster is only human. Stay calm and carry on. TC

Posted by Tim
Wyckoff, NJ, USA
1023 posts

marbleskies, your comment is perfectly fair. But consider how many posters here post 200 answers or more for every question they post! None of us are asking to be paid, it's more a case of making good use of our online time. It's a mystery to me why a brand-new website tool can't defend itself (without costing the Webmaster his already over-committed time and hard work) any better. What's the point of automation if it creates so much human work. These sales messages are not hard to identify, unlike some.

Posted by Lee
Lakewood, Colorado
12420 posts

Three things we in the community can do.

  1. Report the spammer under "report violations"
  2. Don't reply to the spam. That just moves the spam to the top. We want it to get pushed down.
  3. If you see that there is a thread just below the spam to which you have replied, bring up the thread and click "edit" on your posting. Then just click "Save changes". Doing this will bring that thread to the top, pushing the spam down.
Posted by pat
victoria, Canada
8475 posts

George.. I don't think Nancys comment is rude at all. Many folks did not ask for the Helpline to be changed.. it was changed without input.. and then AFTER THE FACT we have been asked for input.

She is perfectly entitled to post that the changes were imposed on her.. because they were.

Posted by Patty
Steilacoom, WA, USA
464 posts

I've clearly never been a webmaster or set up a website. However, given the time the spam is showing up, it's too bad that the webmaster could enlisted some of the trusted overseas posters (Nigel, Jo in Germany, etc.) to help remove this stufF. It must be tough for the webmaster to start the day that way.

Posted by Keith
United Kingdom
802 posts

This is a perfect example of pathetic "first world problem" complainers. Please all stop whinging - most of you are making yourselves look ludicrous.

Posted by Larry
Elkins Park, PA
783 posts

Wow, speaking of rude responses.
So Keith - are you happy having to sort through 200 some postings trying to commit fraud in order to see what is new?
Do you think it is acceptable for these yahoos (or whatever e-mail is embedded in their pitch) to take over our site, to cyber-bully us?
If you do, then you are in an incredible minority here.
And if you don't then help out.Many of us have been passing on suggestions that might help.

Posted by Ilja
Seattle
1781 posts

None of us likes what's happening on our Travel Forum. And we complain about that. But it's effect is about the same as howling of wolves at the Moon. Let's try something constructive. These spammers are either cyber-idiots and they consider it good joke to spam our website and those would be very hard to catch because of course contacts are not real (phone #, email). Maybe as it was already suggested Webmaster could be helped by some volunteers who would have power to erase certain spam. Or they are real criminals trying to commit fraud. In that case it should be easier to send them where they belong (prison). The case should be turned to police. Few undercover detectives would buy fake documents and bingo! Problem solved.

Posted by pat
victoria, Canada
8475 posts

Keith well you have certainly made yourself look like something now haven't you ?

Posted by Ed
Pensacola
9110 posts

Keith's comments are as valid as anybody else's. He has an equal right to express an opinion without derision.

Posted by pat
victoria, Canada
8475 posts

Ed.. Keith has passed judgement and labelled posters.

Posters are complaining about a problem the website is experiencing.

You don't see the difference between complaining about a situation that needs to be fixed.. and complaining about people ?

Figures.

Posted by Karen
Fort Wayne, IN, USA
1669 posts

I'd like to say something positive: I just love the word "whinging."

Posted by Nancy
Corvallis OR
1553 posts

I think a whole lot of posters (both newbies and old-timers) need to re-read community guidelines, paying particular attention to #2 ....If you can't write politely, move on; and #4....Avoid direct responses to others' comments as such behavior leads to bickering.

@Karen - I love that one too. The British have some wonderful words and sayings, don't they?

Posted by Southam
Windsor, Ontario, Canada
1110 posts

Similar criminals have been offering forgeries on Lonely Planet's Thorn Tree and on Fodor forums too. It takes time, which means money, to clean them out, and it is in the forum hosts' interests, and perhaps legal obligations, to do so. As a freeloader on these sites, I think the various managements' responses have been reasonable and sincere.

Posted by Ed
Pensacola
9110 posts

Updating Rule Book:

  1. Keith can't speak ill of others.

  2. Pat can speak ill of others.

Posted by Barry
San Diego, CA
611 posts

The webmaster appears to be doing a great job of cleaning up the spam everyone is speaking of. Except for the posts of a couple of weeks ago about the fake documents, passports I haven't encountered any of it and it sounds like there is quite a bit. My guess of why I'm not seeing it is because of my location, San Diego, also I usually don't log onto the internet or come onto this site till about 11 or noon my time. Though it seems like it came along right after the update of the site. I wouldn't be surprised if they have many different email address too, one of my headaches is everyday I get emails all with the title Barry, we have people that want to buy your home, I don't have any intention and I haven't contacted anyone regarding this, I use outlook for my email and it allows me block any email address I want, yet even though I do it I still get the same spam just with a different email address, the good thing is outlook recognizes it as spam and sends it to that folder, I just have to specifically mark it to block it. As long as we have this thing called the internet this is going to be a problem, the anonymity allows this, along with the ability to do anything from anywhere in the world as long as the person has access to the internet.

Posted by pat
victoria, Canada
8475 posts

Ed reread thread. My first post was agreeing with OP. My other posts defended other posters.. and were rebuking some rude posts. I have NO shame in a single post I made on here.. not one, in fact I quite like them. I hate it when people come on threads and say "what a stupid thread" which is basically what some have done.. or "what a stupid response" to someones post that was ON TOPIC .. and the topic was not a personal attack on any one person but on a problem with a website.

Posted by Ceidleh
Boston, MA, United States
1251 posts

Keith's post deserves a "like" button click. And I hate to even mention a "like" button since it's probably one more thing some people will berate the overworked ETBD webmaster and staff for not including on this horrific (at least according to some) new format that has been forced upon them without asking for their input, approval or consent (quelle horror!). I immediately thought "Ugh, shut yer pie hole!" when I first read this thread, but "stop your whinging" just sounds so much more refined… It's almost like getting zinged by the Dowager Countess of Grantham! Since I can't give him a "like", here's some more great 1st World Whinging for you to check out, Keith:

http://screen.yahoo.com/most-tragic-first-world-problems-010437703.html

Posted by Andrea
Sacramento, CA
5540 posts

I apologize for my misguided whinging. Or did you mean whining and just misspell it? If you want to compare any post on this website to how it relates to third world problems, I guess we would all seem pretty frivolous.

Posted by Michael Schneider
New Paltz, NY
7259 posts

"...I just ignore them and scroll on by..."

Amen! Complaining about spam on any message board is like complaining about the weather! Not much you can do about either. Scrolling on by works for me as well, and doesn't take any time out of me life.

Posted by Chani
Tel Aviv
4446 posts

here, here, Michael.

now let's everyone get back to replying to real questions from real travelers.

Posted by Larry
Elkins Park, PA
783 posts

Provided that one can find them in the what would otherwise now be thousands of messages selling fraudulent documents.

Posted by Ceidleh
Boston, MA, United States
1251 posts

Spelled incorrectly? Nope. And I thought this was a forum filled with Europhiles!

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/whinge

Scrolling past the purported "thousands" of spam posts to respond to someone's legitimate travel related inquiry is not what's tiring. It's the incessant complaining from some people on this board about anything related to the overhaul of the forum. It's a pretty simple matter really… you see spam, notify the webmaster (or just ignore it - your choice), scroll on to the travel questions to answer them, and if you feel there's just too much spam or too many zombie posts that it's becoming tiresome, log off.

Posted by Larry
Elkins Park, PA
783 posts

Yes, if it's too much SPAM I can log off (although one does not need to log on in order to read here).
I read this forum not only to help, but out of interest.
I've learned a lot simply reading through here.
So for me to have to wade past the myriad of b.s. topics to just find what is new (which may be buried in the middle of those SPAM topics) is not only an aggravating waste of my time, but also is eye and neck strain in front of my computer that I don't need.
To me, this stuff is ruining the experience here.

Posted by Nigel
East Midlands, England
10721 posts

Its not like you, Ceidleh, to be down. Tough day?

Posted by Marbleskies
USA
549 posts

I agree w the concept to scroll past posts providing no stimulus for positive thought. Fortunately there are many people who provide thought provoking positive input (e.g - nancy, keith, ed, chani to name just a few). To all who contribute, Gracias!

Posted by kate
Rick Steves' Europe
39 posts

Quickly:

1) IP blocking won't work in this case because the spammer is posting from multiple IP addresses that change with just about each user name the spammer uses. We can't track them and block them effectively. We tried. It doesn't work. It would be the exact same process, only even more cumbersome, than what we're doing now at the user level.

2) This spam is hitting other travel forums in as great a number as here. You're just maybe noticing it more here because we have to manually remove it, and it's happening in great volumes since the new forum launch because this spammer and their methods are new. We would have had the exact same problem on the old forum if this spammer had hit us in the same way then, too.

3) We are investigating several ways to help with this issue, and have been diligently working on it since the waves of spam began several weeks ago. I'll mention again, at the risk of beating dead things: we are not a large corporation but rather a tiny tiny team, and we're doing the best we can as quickly as we can.

Thanks for your patience.

Posted by Susan
Sausalito, California
3611 posts

Thanks so much Kate for all your good, hard work!!

Posted by Karen
Fort Wayne, IN, USA
1669 posts

Kate, it must be difficult and exasperating to prevent and delete spam. It's so much easier for us-we just have to avert our eyes. Thanks for your hard work.

Posted by Bruce
Whitefish, Montana
791 posts

@Keith For the record, I wasn't the least bit offended.

Posted by Sam
Green Bay
3496 posts

@ Kate. Thanks, I know it is a pain, more so for you than the rest of us that is just an annoyance.

Posted by Carol
Atlanta, GA, USA
721 posts

I am sorry that this sounds bad, but this entire evolution of the message board has issues.

No way to quickly report issues, no way to quickly navigate between forums, no way or close a dead thread. etc... I feel like we are at the height of 1990's technology.

Perhaps the people responsible should spend time on other sites for ideas?