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Author Topic: Human posted spam  (Read 802 times)

Offline blork

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Human posted spam
« on: April 20, 2019, 08:13:29 AM »
I've been having a weird issue with spam on my forum recently (2.0.15) and at this point I'm certain it's being actively targeted by humans, rather than spam bots.

I run a small niche forum with about 20-30 regular users so there's very little reason for a spammer to actively target it. The registration page has a question which is fairly specific to the forum topic. You could easily find the answer on Google though, so maybe I need to tighten it up a bit?

The main issue which makes me certain this is human-posted spam is that recently the accounts have been posting threads about recent events which are relevant to the forum. I haven't deleted the threads because there's nothing to suggest it's a spammer. I'm only now realising it's spam because one of the new accounts posted the same thread which was previously posted by a different account. I checked the previous thread and I noticed it was edited a month ago to include spam URLs (a common tactic). All the account names so far end in the same 2 digits too. I'm used to seeing bots posting mundane messages like "This is very interesting material. Where can I find more?" in order to appear like a genuine account, but this is a whole new level of actually doing some research on the forum before posting anything.

Has anybody come across something like this before or have any ideas how to deal with it? To me it seems like there's definitely a human element to it, so traditional anti-spam methods aren't going to work. It's also such a small forum with such little value in attacking that it makes me think there must be some element of automation to make it worthwhile to the spammer

Offline delta5

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Re: Human posted spam
« Reply #1 on: April 20, 2019, 09:09:15 AM »
I would install the stopforumspam.com mod. It checks each registration attempt against their spammer database and blocks any matches. Chances are your spammers are in that database.


Offline Gwenwyfar

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Re: Human posted spam
« Reply #3 on: April 20, 2019, 10:44:35 AM »
It is possible for bots to solve some questions by finding the answer on google. It is also possible for bots to analyze the site content and create/find something related to it. However there are indeed some human spammers out there, or humans solving captchas and being paid for it.

I have had something similar, but instead of new topics, it was just new posts, and my QA used drawn images not found on google with questions not solvable by a bot. It would range to 2-3 posts per week.
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Offline blork

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Re: Human posted spam
« Reply #4 on: April 20, 2019, 08:36:29 PM »
I'm averaging 1-2 posts per day of obvious spam, and 1 a month of this "human spam".

I'm looking into these anti-spam addons. They all seem somewhat abandoned. The Stop Forum Spam one in particular has went a few years without an update. Are they outdated?

Offline Gwenwyfar

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Re: Human posted spam
« Reply #5 on: April 20, 2019, 09:20:01 PM »
Most mods don't usually need an update if they are already working well when released.
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Offline GigaWatt

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Re: Human posted spam
« Reply #6 on: April 20, 2019, 10:09:59 PM »
"This is really a generic concept about human thinking - when faced with large tasks we're naturally inclined to try to break them down into a bunch of smaller tasks that together make up the whole."

"A 500 error loosely translates to the webserver saying, "WTF?"..."

Offline Steve

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Re: Human posted spam
« Reply #7 on: April 21, 2019, 08:44:51 AM »
I was going to post that but it wouldn't do much good against a human registering and posting spam.
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Offline Illori

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Re: Human posted spam
« Reply #8 on: April 21, 2019, 09:24:34 AM »
I was going to post that but it wouldn't do much good against a human registering and posting spam.
if you set up questions and change them frequently, it does help. also questions specific to your forum help a lot.

Offline delta5

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Re: Human posted spam
« Reply #9 on: April 22, 2019, 02:39:44 AM »
I'm averaging 1-2 posts per day of obvious spam, and 1 a month of this "human spam".

I'm looking into these anti-spam addons. They all seem somewhat abandoned. The Stop Forum Spam one in particular has went a few years without an update. Are they outdated?

I'm using the stopforumspam.com plug-in on two forums and it works quite well. You can download the latest version from their website. After you install it, there are three settings that need check marks.

Offline GigaWatt

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Re: Human posted spam
« Reply #10 on: April 22, 2019, 07:54:08 PM »
if you set up questions and change them frequently, it does help. also questions specific to your forum help a lot.

I wouldn't actually recommend this for an owner of a forum that is willing to attract newbies to the subject/subjects the forum is about. Some of them might not know the answer to some of those questions and they might not be the type of questions you can easily find the answer to in a search engine.
"This is really a generic concept about human thinking - when faced with large tasks we're naturally inclined to try to break them down into a bunch of smaller tasks that together make up the whole."

"A 500 error loosely translates to the webserver saying, "WTF?"..."

Offline a10

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Re: Human posted spam
« Reply #11 on: April 23, 2019, 05:29:49 AM »
:O) 

Enter the 2 first capital letters seen in jdTRWKhg   
Write the 3 last numbers seen in fd3825kjl
Enter the fourth word seen in this sentence
etc etc etc use your imagination :O)

Still works 100% here, have stopped oceans of bot attempts, and after many, many years the botnets have not yet found any way to crack that kind of questions\answers.

Testing the bot activity (and the effectivity of the questions) now and then by disabling questions (with reg set to adm approval), sometimes seeing dozens of new 'members' every hour. Having questions is good :O)

The very few human spammers (was 1 last summer and 2 or 3 last christmas) are no problem on my forum, they are killed fast. One may also choose to use admin approval of registrations and\or first posts moderation.

If really having a big 'human bots' problem, use Stopforumspam (or similar) mod in addition to questions.
An antispam mod alone, without the questions stopping the big waves, would over time have made me wade through and evaluate million+ of ip's and emails, no thanks :O)

btw, have 25 questions, 3 active, any matematician here who could tell me how many possible combinations that makes?
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Offline GigaWatt

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Re: Human posted spam
« Reply #12 on: April 23, 2019, 10:42:56 PM »
btw, have 25 questions, 3 active, any matematician here who could tell me how many possible combinations that makes?

That's a part of combinatorics, a special field in mathematics.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Combinatorics

Number of possible combinations if the questions can't repeat themselves and the order of the questions doesn't matter.

n = 25, r = 3

n! / (r!(n - r)!) = 25! / (3!(25 - 3)!) = 25! / (3! * 22!) = 2300 [possible combinations]

Number of possible combinations if the questions can repeat themselves and the order of the questions doesn't matter.

n = 25, r = 3

(n + r -1)! / r!(n – 1)! = (25 + 3 - 1)! / (3!(25 - 1)!)= 27! / (3! * 22!) = 2925 [possible combinations]
"This is really a generic concept about human thinking - when faced with large tasks we're naturally inclined to try to break them down into a bunch of smaller tasks that together make up the whole."

"A 500 error loosely translates to the webserver saying, "WTF?"..."

Offline a10

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Re: Human posted spam
« Reply #13 on: April 24, 2019, 11:38:29 AM »
^^^ Thanks.
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Offline GigaWatt

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Re: Human posted spam
« Reply #14 on: April 24, 2019, 05:38:32 PM »
No prob ;).
"This is really a generic concept about human thinking - when faced with large tasks we're naturally inclined to try to break them down into a bunch of smaller tasks that together make up the whole."

"A 500 error loosely translates to the webserver saying, "WTF?"..."