Solved Deleting *Possible* Spam vs. Warning The Spammers Beforehand

Dell / Inspiron one 2320
June 14, 2019 at 13:01:23
Specs: Windows 7, 3.3 GHz / 4001 MB
Most of the moderators in these forums have probably seen this pattern:

A brand new user posts a question. The question tends to be written in slightly broken English.
"Please to help with my problem. I have many of the filetype xyz that have hard time opening with old version of (insert app name here). Thanks for helping solve problem."

The next day (more or less) a different brand new user posts a response with a link to a "pay for" solution. This response is also in slightly broken English and sometimes uses phrases like "My uncle use this program. Solves your problem!" or "My friends have good luck with this. Try it, works!"

Obviously, these are spam threads and should be deleted ASAP. Once the "pay for" solution hits the thread, either that post or the entire thread should be dumped.

As a moderator, I have started using the tactic of warning the spammers as soon as I see the original post. I let them know that I am watching and that I will be deleting "pay for" solutions and possibly reporting the poster to the site admin. I do this in the hope that they will know that the moderators are being diligent and that they will move on to other forums.

Earlier today, in the Office forum, I posted such a warning in a thread related to transferring data from Lotus Notes to Outlook. There was no spam, there was only the original post and one response that basically said "Use Google. Lots of answers available" (LMGTFY) Since there was no spam, I felt a warning was better, leaving myself the option of deleting a post or the entire thread later.

I just checked the forum and the thread has apparently been deleted by some other moderator.

I have 2 questions:

1 - What prompted whoever deleted the thread to delete it? Was there a spam response that I hadn't seen yet or was it done just based on that fact that the question was posted by a new user?

2 - What do other moderators think about my "warning" process vs. immediate deletion at the first suspicion of spam that might be posted later?

message edited by DerbyDad03


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✔ Best Answer
June 16, 2019 at 18:04:39
DerbyDad03,

Yeah, definitely not in that case :) But that poster was definitely a spammer from the IP info I could see.

Thanks,
Justin



#1
June 14, 2019 at 15:20:19
Hi DD - Not being one of the exalted here (a moderator) though I wuz once way back in early days..., can’t answer your inquiries; but please can you explain what LMGTFY stands for...

tak... trvlr


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#2
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#3
June 14, 2019 at 17:17:01
Hello DerbyDad03,

I actually deleted that post, I can see more information about the poster. I am quite certain it was just posted to lure spam, as you suspect. I do not believe, in the vast majority of cases, questions like that are legitimate. I believe they are being asked just to offer the opportunity for the same user to respond with a spam posting under a different name. That is the reason I deleted the original thread. Not because I thought it would attract spam, but because I am quite certain it was posted by spammers just so they could respond later.

I guess its a fine line. Those questions are so contrived though, and always follow the same pattern.

Thanks,
Justin


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#4
June 14, 2019 at 18:03:06
Well, Justin, you certainly have the right to delete anything you want. ;-)

I'm sure that being able to dig into the detail behind the poster's ID helps a lot.

Based on that, I assume that you feel that my (new) strategy of posting a "warning" is not worth the trouble. I guess I should go back to just deleting the suspicious questions as soon as I see them.

How To Post Data or Code ---> Click Here Before Posting Data or VBA Code


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#5
June 14, 2019 at 18:52:53
"...guess I should go back to just deleting the suspicious questions as soon as I see them."

My modus operandi for any spam...

These folks don't pay any attention to warnings or any other posts in the thread (except for what they themselves post). As long as they have their link up, thats all that matters. It'd be nice to have a magic button to blow the post away and keep them from ever returning...but nonetheless, I'll keep trolling the threads to keep the forum as clean as possible...

"Channeling the spirit of jboy..."


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#6
June 14, 2019 at 19:58:55
re: My modus operandi for any spam...

Of course, for actual spam, deletion is the only option.

However I'm taking about the original post that does not contain any spam, just the "suspicious" question. As Justin said, "it's a fine line". For all we know the question is legitimate. Only Justin can see behind the curtain and look deeper into the details of the member.

When I talk about a posting a warning vs. deleting a thread that doesn't actually contain spam (yet) I'm talking about letting the spammers know not to waste their time posting the link in a future response. My warning usually comes within hours of the original post, which is shorter than the time they typically wait to "answer" the question with their spam link as the "solution".

When they come back and see my warning, they won't bother posting the link. And if they do, I delete the thread. In the meantime, maybe a few of the lurker-spammers realize that we're watching and move on without ever starting a thread with a fake question.

I have actually posted warnings in threads where I found the OP to be suspicious and there have been no responses containing spam links. In fact there are typically no responses other than mine, so it seems to work.

message edited by DerbyDad03


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#7
June 14, 2019 at 20:34:41
When I was a co-sysop of a BBS, and we had a really bad
problem poster, we didn't delete his posts or ban him -- we
just flagged his posts so that he and the sysops were the
only users who could see them.

This sort of conversation would normally be in a back channel.
Nice to be able to read it.

-- Jeff, in Minneapolis


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#8
June 15, 2019 at 02:49:31
Perhaps just disable, or remove, the links and references to the spammer’s targeted site?

Would be phrustrayting to them to see that all their time ‘n effort is effectively wasted?


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#9
June 15, 2019 at 04:55:59
trvlr: BTDT

Word3 Word4 (now the post works)


message edited by DerbyDad03


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#10
June 15, 2019 at 06:35:16
I need to get out more into the real world - cyber that is... Instead of living in the other world where we have tea 'n cakes, 'n cream buns and sherry trifle... ' n spk prpr lk wot we alwys dun in the pst...

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#11
June 15, 2019 at 16:49:03
Hello DerbyDad03,

Its up to you, but I think the warning probably isn't worth the trouble.

Thanks,
Justin


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#12
June 15, 2019 at 17:35:31
Well, it's certainly not worth the trouble if you delete the thread after I post the warning. <vbg>

I'll re-join the masses and simply delete suspicious threads.

Thanks!

message edited by DerbyDad03


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#13
June 16, 2019 at 18:04:39
✔ Best Answer
DerbyDad03,

Yeah, definitely not in that case :) But that poster was definitely a spammer from the IP info I could see.

Thanks,
Justin


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#14
June 17, 2019 at 08:39:51
This post does raise another issue though. When a response is "let me google that for you" with an automated Google screen with an arrow and the text being added in slow motion I can't help thinking that some users might find it rude, insulting or "rubbing it in". I think it is much less jarring to simply say "Plenty of hits in Google for this" followed by a link.

Always pop back and let us know the outcome - thanks

message edited by Derek


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#15
June 17, 2019 at 13:12:44
I, too, have found the use of LMGTFY to be somewhat "insulting", which is why I have sometimes used it. ;-)

Sure, it sometimes takes some fancy wordsmithing to get just the results we are looking for from a Google search, but sometimes it seems that some people don't even try. One might say that they deserve the "insult".

I don't use it very often, but some questions just seem to cry out for it.


message edited by DerbyDad03


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#16
June 27, 2019 at 22:40:07
That was me who posted the LMGTFY.
I knew right away this post was set up to solicite spam. I never would have posted that on a legitimate post.

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