Forum Spam: Apology and Fixes



  • Stick a 'report as spam' button on each post/thread, then if enough people click it within a certain timescale the system automatically puts the thread into invisible limbo until such time as an official Mod can look at it and either delete or reinstate.

    The main issue with forum moderation by users is that it needs to be consistant, and it needs committed people who know and care about the forum and who are prepared to give it their time. They also need to be able to step back and be impartial when decisions need to be made, and that's a difficult task sometimes. And it needs Users to understand that a forum is not a democracy but a benevolent dictatorship. If you want to start flame wars or absue people go start your own forum and do it on your own Dollar.

    Personally I think RW missed the boat a few years ago by seemingly writing bespoke forum software rather than incorporating commercial forum software into their website. Buying a commercial product potentially used by thousands of other sites means that you've got a manufacturer (and those thousands of users) constantly working on it to protect it and upgrade it, and even if you have to pay a licencing fee it's still going to be cheaper than having to employ your own people to reinvent the wheel. The forum really should be a pretty small spend in relation to the cost of the site in general.

  • Come on tell us who the Mods are....or we'll start a witch hunt and wrongly accuse someone who isn't Meldy...image

  • PhilPubPhilPub ✭✭✭

    image BOTF on both points.

  • Beware of The Fish image

    Also image 

  • Interesting debate

    Personally, I wouldn't have thought it was that hard to give some user moderators clear guidelines on what they should or should not delete........ this shouldn't be anything they don't like the look of, but should be anything that is 100% spam (like we've had over the last week or so)....

    I like BOTF's suggestions about using technology to pull a thread down if enough people report it, but have no idea if that is feasible given the architecture of the RW site.

    Either way, something has to be done, and I really hope that the companies who advertise on here (and are paying Natmag-Rodale for access to runner's hearts, minds and wallets) are aware of the issues, and are exerting pressure on RW to sort it once and for all.....

  • p.s. Dominique - Thank you for apologising, and for communicating the steps that are being taken to resolve this. You're right that these spam attacks are intensely frustrating, but it is good to hear that this is recognised, and that Natmag-Rodale do in fact care.

    Now please deliver!.....image

  • Well..  I agree that a user mod power could be abused, but lets perhaps have an element of trust here for the selected few who could be given the power.   There is an obvious need for an 'out of hours' spam removal facility and a user mod would solve that problem...

    And if it gets abused then that person can be suitably dealt with.....

    I also like BOTF's idea about the use of technology, if that were actually feasible...


  • KK - I think it's about economics though as well? The reality is that hiring someone to operate an out of hours spam-cleansing service costs money, and I don't see why RW would spend that money if there are committed users of the forum who would be willing to provide the same service at either a lower or zero cost?

    I haven't got experience of it leading to things going "tits up" like you have, but I'm not a big user of other forums (fora??)..



  • Please no-one design and implement any solutions until there is a really clear definition of what the problem is.

    As far as I can tell, user moderation (manual effort/ highly customised/ value judgements) is a really bad way of attempting to fix the issue of software spambots (highly automated/ following rules). User Moderation is a tiny step away from dominating individual preferences and cronyism in the forums. It seems to me the community does a pretty good job of taking care of itself and the occasionally determined bad person gets yanked out by the Rodale team.

    I would think that a small software update to the Web Server to be able to detect and block software spambots is the way to go. This is a common problem and Forum Moderators are a misapplied sledgehammer when all that is needed is a fine tweak with a screwdriver....IMO.


  • I really can't see the problem with anyone having powers to deal with spam........we are not talking about full moderator powers and any reports on normal threads would go through the normal mods.........I imagine this is just the power to clear the spam out of hours......How on earth is that big brother.....I agree it doesn't deal with the core problem.but if it reduces the problem then whats the problem

  • on a couple of "technical" websites I have been required to answer a question which required some slight degree of knowledge of the subject matter of the site before being granted access as a spam prevention filter.

    For this site something  like - "identify a very popular race distance from this list - 2K, 4K, 5K, 7K  - or would that be too hard for a complete novice who one wouldn't wish to discourage from joining ?

  • kittenkat wrote (see)
    seren nos wrote (see)

    I really can't see the problem with anyone having powers to deal with spam........we are not talking about full moderator powers and any reports on normal threads would go through the normal mods.........I imagine this is just the power to clear the spam out of hours......How on earth is that big brother.....I agree it doesn't deal with the core problem.but if it reduces the problem then whats the problem

    You are assuming that the software has levels of moderation powers...

    If the software has the ability to decide which posts/thread are spam and that it can be moderated by a user then you might as well let the softwaret get on with it and remove it.

    As long as it's down to the interpretation of a human that a post/thread is spam or libelous etc then it's open to abuse.

    I would not want secret moderaters. If they want the job then they need to wear the badge as well.  If a user moderater starts abusing their position then in my view they've abused a position of trust and need to dealt with firmly i.e. banned from the site completely.

  • They shouldn't name the mods anyway. Otherwise people will start to get uptight. I'm sure you'll all agree.


    You better had or I'll delete your heineys.image

  • Gertie.totally agree that any abuse should result in a total is not hard to identify real spam.      any doubt and it should be left.............I assume that there would be a report produced each day of the threads that had been zapped so that iot can be verified.but that is just my knowledge of these systems.... have been warned.....anymore and your wig will be removedimage

  • I wish to be considered as a (DEEP VOICE) MODERATOR !

  • *Slowfoot put on list marked "Do not under any circumstance, any ever ever, give mod rights to"image

    Seren, Gertie has it - if the system can tell the difference, then it should deal with it.  The individual will be able to see a spam thread, however, they can also see a contentious thread and think it beyond the pale and delete, or be under pressure from other users to delete it.  That, no matter how well intentioned, is an abuse.  And that is what I don't want.  It will happen; always does.

    The problem needs to be sorted at the root cause - ease of setting up a new account and posting crap etc. That requires a technical solution.

    *Warning - crap analogy coming* I build a car, but I forget to put brakes in.  I sell thousands of the things and they crash all over the shop.  I ask the general public to start cleaning up the dead bodies, because they are starting to smell and make the place look untidy.  Reasonable request or should I just recall all the cars I've sold and put brakes on them?

  • MuttleyMuttley ✭✭✭

    Another forum I visit has a user mod. He pulls the odd thread for spam or abuse and gets a few snippy retorts for it, but the system seems to work well. It's not a particularly high-traffic site though.

    Who'd want to be an RW user mod? Even before they start they're accused of being megalomaniacs who delete threads to get a hard on.

    I don't see any harm in trying it out. Can always go back if it doesn't work.

  • Stevie  GStevie G ✭✭✭

    a few people seem amusingly worried about the idea of a user mod! Surely some of you guys with 20,000+ posts would be ideal for it, as you've been around for years, posts a shedload, and therefore are constantly floating round the forums!

    What could be better? image

  • On the mod topic, in RW's defence, there's been more than a few people suggest over the time that we should have user mods over the time so they must be thinking WTF.  However RW are bringing it a time when it's fairly obvious there's a lot of issues behind the scene that should have been fixed and never have been.

    However being able to post without a verified email address is not the sole or main cause of this spam. That function has been live for weeks, the trolls came out in force and nothing else happened.  Immediate Media also removed that function on Monday or Tuesday at the latest and we've been spammed since then. Weak excuse IMO.


  • Stevie - you can't pull that one out of the bag this time squire.  You have previously had a dig at large volume posters for doing what you see as acting like they own the place, yet when the same large volume posters say they are against anyone actually being able to act like they own the place you find it funny they don't like the idea.  Unless of course, I don't get your brand or irony, in which case, I apologise image

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