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Of Spammers, Work Overload, & Armadillos

Discussion in 'Otto's LogBook' started by Otto, Jan 20, 2019.

  1. Otto

    Otto Rested & Resupplied with MREs. Staff Member WW2|ORG Editor

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    Spammer Insurgency

    For some time now, I've been engaged in an ongoing battle with a high level spammer network. I'm quite sure some of you have noticed this. Spammers have been registering for this forum, making a post or two, and going quiet. Theirs is a numbers game, they join thousands of sites and make a single post, and if the site in question doesn't ban them quickly, they will return in time and use the existing profile to make hundreds of follow-up posts hocking their product(s). Unfortunately this is a simple reality of running a discussion board with open registration these days. My mornings generally consists of checking the Forums for spam posts, binning them, and banning the offenders. This is a daily occurrence, with most registrations coming from India, but originating from many other nations as well.

    Here is some insight into the ongoing spammer bloodbath:
    [​IMG]

    Fortunately, the admin team has been doing a good job removing these registrations, and recently we've activated LRusso216 as another Moderator to help prosecute our anti-spam warfare.

    I'm sure some of you might ask: What about CAPTCHA (Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart) or other spam defenses? In fact we do have these systems implemented, and I've been turning the dials on the server side of things to make things more difficult for spammers. CAPTCHA systems actually do a decent job telling humans apart from automated bots, but the problem is that commodity spam networks operated on a pay-per-registration system, and often use actual humans to register for websites. Commodity spam networks employ vast arrays of low pay employees, rotating email domains, and proxy locations to conduct their business. The anti-spam system we use here is robust, and the same one as implemented by our sister site WW2Talk.com, but we are unfortunately dealing with live humans who complete the CAPTCHA section.

    Even if you haven't heard of the term "CAPTCHA" you are probably very familiar with CAPTCHA systems. Many websites implement these systems to verify a human is sitting at the keyboard. If you've spent any time at all online, I'm sure you've seen the "I'm not a robot" button somewhere.
    [​IMG]

    What we've used at WW2F.com is a CAPTCHA system that requires the user to discern specific images from an array. This is something that machines cannot (yet) do very well, and if this is being bypassed, we can be fairly certain an English-speaking human is completing the task.
    [​IMG]

    Another good question is: Why do they keep registering if they keep getting banned? The answer is simple: The spammers have been contracted to complete a given number of registrations. Once they register, they hand the account over to other parties and move on. What we are experiencing is commodity spam advertising at it's best/worst.

    To combat these spammers, I've blocked vast swathes of the internet, including a large portion of India, as well as banned countless email domains that the spammers use to register for the Forums.
    [​IMG]

    This purpose of this minor diatribe is to convey that I understand that seeing spam posts is detestable & cumbersome. However if you are seeing one spam post, this means the admin team has exterminated dozens before this. Spammers are very much like cockroaches, seeing a couple means there are many.

    We will continue to summarily execute spam registrations as we see them. If you do see any of this spam content, please ignore it and know that a surly WW2F admin will be along in short order to exterminate the spam with extreme prejudice.
    :ottopistol::spam:


    Otto's Workload

    In an effort to alleviate some possible questions about my responsiveness, I should mention I'm really quite busy these days. I say this as I've had so very many direct requests for assistance, comment, and feedback that I'm felling a bit overwhelmed. As you might imagine, I receive ongoing requests via email & WW2F Private Message, all of which I'd like to respond to but there are only so many minutes in a given day. I simply cannot respond to everyone that contacts me. This is in addition to the demands of my two children of five years and 18 months, a still incomplete move to our new home in Texas, maintaining WW2Talk, developing WW2.org, and my recent appointment as curator of HyperWar. Here is a look at my PM message box as it stands ten minutes ago:
    [​IMG]

    This is not a complaint in any way. I really do enjoy the work we do here, and I willingly accept the incumbent demands. I just want to convey that if you've reached out to me recently and I haven't gotten back to you, I'll do my very best, but I might not get back to you immediately. There may be a couple other items on my plate. :D


    Armadillos in Texas

    Armadillos in Texas are not a surprise. Ever since my move to the Lone Star state, I've been seeing them on my front lawn every few days, usually as I looked out the window of my study during late night work sessions. Yesterday while doing some yard work, I discovered what appears to be an Armadillo burrow directly beneath the window to my study! Today I purchased a cheap trail cam and installed it in an over-watch position. I'll posts the results of my scouting operation as the photo reconnaissance comes in.
    [​IMG]

    Hopefully I don't get leprosy.


    Next Week...

    I'll have a rather lengthy HyperWar update. I'm the new curator of this massive research enterprise, and I stand upon the shoulders of giants, giants to who we owe a massive debt of thanks.
     
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  2. WILD DUKW

    WILD DUKW Active Member

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    Otto,

    Many thanks for all your hard work. The same goes to the Mods. :)
     
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  3. LRusso216

    LRusso216 Graybeard Staff Member Patron  

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    Thanks Otto. Given that workload I'll be extra vigilant for spammers. They're detestable.
     
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  4. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Staff Member Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    You came through when needed. Cheers.
     
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  5. CAC

    CAC Ace of Spades

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    We appreciate your efforts...

    And how cool to have an Armadillo! Would very much like to see any pictures...
     
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  6. Otto

    Otto Rested & Resupplied with MREs. Staff Member WW2|ORG Editor

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    There are three if them. I've got the cam set up as I write this, hopefully I get results tomorrow.
     
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  7. Slipdigit

    Slipdigit Good Ol' Boy Staff Member WW2|ORG Editor

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    Armadillo...possum on the half shell.

    There were no armadillos in Alabama when I was boy but at some point they managed to cross the Mississippi and they are everywhere here now.

    They don't bother me too much, not nearly as much as the 1 ton alligators lurking about, killing dogs and the occasional human. They, too, were a rarity when I was a lad. Boy has that changed.
     
  8. CAC

    CAC Ace of Spades

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    Climate change in Australia means that all the tropical animals are moving further south than ever before...crocs and jellyfish are just two examples...we up here are ready for them...but people in Brisbane and Sydney aren’t!
     
  9. USMCPrice

    USMCPrice Idiot at Large

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    Cause and effect. Armadillos come to Alabama, juicy little high calorie critters. Alligators eat an armadillo, just like potato chips they can't eat just one. Alligators start putting on weight from ingesting copious amounts of juicy armadillos. Now, you no longer have lithe, athletic, alligators capable of hunting and killing their traditional prey, but pudgy overweight one ton alligators that have to take to eating small dogs and inattentive golfers. Oh, the humanity!!!
     
  10. WILD DUKW

    WILD DUKW Active Member

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    Dillas make pretty good Texas style barbecue if you can find an old timer to show you how. The meat is light colored like pork and has very little fat so it has to be mopped while cooking to keep it from drying out. (I had an uncle who would smoke one every so often.)

    Trying to catch one is a real hoot especially if you've had a little too much to drink. You have to tippy-toe up on them from behind while they are feeding because they are wicked fast when startled. Give it a try and let us know how you do. :)
     
  11. Half Track

    Half Track Active Member

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    Understood, must be very hard to control the spammers.
     
  12. Otto

    Otto Rested & Resupplied with MREs. Staff Member WW2|ORG Editor

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    It's not hard, as it only takes a few clicks to remove a profile, but the battle is ongoing and requires persistence. They will not stop until they run out of resources, which may take a very long time.

    As I pull levers on the back end to create hurdles for automated spammers, it does give some insight into their process and the depth of their resources. For example, the current verification system requires a new registrant to answer a simple (sometimes WWII related) question from a list. "What What Hitler's first name?" or "Write the word for number 11" as examples. These are fairly good hurdles for an automated bot, but not against a human sitting at the keyboard. Despite this system, overnight we had three spammers join the site, all from different proxy locations (Canada, France, & India), and all of them from different new email domains (lofipiz@heximail.com, nhbiba.badiax@lxupukiw4dr277kay.cf, & shanese11@yndrinks.com). The relevant accounts have now been removed, with the source IPs, & email domains now banned. The reality here is there simply ins't much that can be done to block this sort of thing proactively. There is some busy data center in Hyderabad, Noida, or Bangalore that is full of folding tables, hundreds of cheap laptops, and staffed by a series of hourly workers frantically trying to fulfill their advertising contract in the fastest way possible.

    It's frustrating to see these posts, and we are dealing with them as quickly as we can. If you do see spam sitting somewhere on the site, it's not for lack of diligence on our part, it's due to incredible resolve and resources on the side of the spammers. The good news is that over the past 19 years we've defeated such spam invasions before, and we will not lose this battle either.

    :ottopistol: :explosion3::spam::explosion1:
     
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  13. GRW

    GRW Pillboxologist WW2|ORG Editor

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    The hard work's appreciated. :cool:
     
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  14. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    I report them because I'm under the impression it helps. If not reporting them would lighten your work load I'm happy with that as well. I used to follow the USNET anti spam newslist and I could tell it was a lot of work back then. It looks to be even worse now. Back then you could ban an ip if he wasn't preventing spammers and get rid of a lot now they have too many work arounds.

    In short thanks for all the hard work.
     
  15. Otto

    Otto Rested & Resupplied with MREs. Staff Member WW2|ORG Editor

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    It does, and please continue to do so. It is appreciated.

    Over the past few weeks, I've received notes/posts/emails from several people concerning the spam. It's clearly a distasteful thing to see when someone drops in on the site and the inquiries were voicing a legitimate concerns that I wanted to address. Rather than respond to each inquiry individually, I decided it would be more effective to make a public post about the matter. The purpose of this email was to let people know spam registrations & posts were being dealt with the minute we see them.
    I'm always happy to keep the spam cleaned up and the good discussions flowing.
     
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  16. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    The fact that they disappear so quickly. At least one I was in the midst of reporting makes it clear you (plural) are doing a great job. I do wonder why most are incoherent babble these days. Can't see why anyone would respond to them at all. Can you do anything about the web sites most are linked to? There used to be an effort to shut those down as that would destroy the income stream. With some of the countries hosting these now a days I suspect that won't work though.
     
  17. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Staff Member Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    "Lone Star Law" had an episode whhere hey loaded a nuisance gator on a roll-on wrecker.
     
  18. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Staff Member Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    "Lone Star Law" had an episode where they loaded a nuisance gator on a roll-on wrecker.
     
  19. Poppy

    Poppy grasshopper

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    as an old schooler, it's interesting to hear the machinations that the dang computer has brung.
    Had no idea what it takes to run ww2f. cool to have some inside info on what goes on here. twas interesting.

    regarding the armadillos-



    forgot how to post videos
     
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  20. Poppy

    Poppy grasshopper

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    have I shared my spam recipe...goes great with some warm night train.
     

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