Help support the WCHA Forums by making a tax-deductible donation!

On Scammers and Spammers

Discussion in 'WCHA Website Suggestions' started by Dan Miller, Aug 23, 2006.

  1. MGC

    MGC Paddlephile

    After reading the post from this person today,
    http://forums.wcha.org/member.php?u=14330
    I got curious to see how many of the members registered on this site are bogus personalities that are using this site to fish for customers for all variety of businesses. The numbers are staggering! Take any page on the members list and go through all of the persons that are listed as canoeists with zero posts, look at the "about me" section to see what links are attached to their names and you will very quickly see that there is a really serious problem with our enrollment.
    There are (guessing) probably hundreds of registered "members" that should be removed and blocked.
    We either need to be much more strict about site registration (I thought we were) and or we need to block links in the about me and signature section. The gambit is the link that folks get curious about and follow to a non-canoe related website.

    For an interesting insight, google the address that he lists as his location. 11433 Addisleigh Park, New York, NY 10601
     
  2. Benson Gray

    Benson Gray Canoe History Enthusiast Staff Member

    I am not aware of a simple solution to this problem. This user's message at http://forums.wcha.org/showthread.php?t=7261 was primarily advertising so I've removed it. The new version of the forum software does make it more difficult for automated programs to create new member registrations but this issue will probably never be eliminated completely. The new forum software should be installed in the next few weeks.

    One goal for this web site is to be easily accessible to everyone, especially those who may not be familiar with computers, the web, or the English language. This also makes us a prime target for spammers and others who do not share our interest in canoes. I have just pruned the registered users from 6332 down to 1918 by eliminating those who have never posted and have not logged in for a long time (including the user referenced previously). A ban on all links in signature lines and the 'about me' area does not seem reasonable simply because a few people abuse this feature. Let me know if you have any other suggestions or comments. Thanks,

    Benson
     
    Last edited: Apr 6, 2011
  3. MGC

    MGC Paddlephile

    it's not easy......

    Managing a site to be both accessible and safe means that there need to be compromises made.
    But, to protect the site, there is no in between. That is my experience.
    Honestly, I have no idea if my suggestion would solve the problem.
    It was just a thought inspired by the host of infringers that I saw in just a few pages of the directory.
    I suppose that if links in signatures were limited that the bogus links would show up in the body of a posting..or not. Who knows.
    I realize that there are members that do post links to their own sites in their signature lines that might not be thrilled about that restriction, but in the interest of reducing risk to the site, perhaps they might be willing to change.
    It may be worth asking. A pole might sort that out.

    Anyway, I cannot believe that you trimmed over 4,000 bogus accounts from the list.
    That's a major and dizzying task. Well done. I was worn out just looking at a few pages.
    If the new software helps to manage the enrollment process, maybe this will be the last time for that.
    But, it really looks like there are still lot's more lurking:
    http://forums.wcha.org/member.php?u=14177.
     
  4. H.E. Pennypacker

    H.E. Pennypacker LOVES Wooden Canoes

    Could this explain why my account and past posts were all deleted? When the site came back up, I no longer existed.
     
  5. Benson Gray

    Benson Gray Canoe History Enthusiast Staff Member

    Yes, it is not unusual to get a large number of new registrations every day. There are over ten supicious ones that have registered in the last few days including the one that you identified. I like to give them a few weeks to see if they ever post a message related to canoes or log in again before pruning those accounts.

    The bogus registrations are a common problem with forums so there are some administrative tools that make it fairly easy to indentify and remove the accounts of people that have never posted a message and not logged in recently. It appears that I just need to check this more freqeuntly.

    It may also be helpful to explain some of the sources of this problem. There can be a very high commercial value to having a web site that appears near the top of a popular web search engine like Google, Bing, etc. One of the primary factors these engines use to determine the popularity of a given web site (and a correspondingly higher position on their listings) is the number of other web sites that have links to that site. This has created a small industry of 'link farms' as described at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Link_farm and other ways to trick the search robots into thinking that some sites are unusually popular (for a fee). Another common technique is to abuse forums like ours for this purpose.

    No, I suspect that your account and posts were lost along with everything else that happed in the week between when the site was shut down on Sunday the 13th and was later restored from a backup that was made on Sunday, March 6th. The messages at http://forums.wcha.org/showthread.php?t=7221 describe this problem in more detail, especially my responses numbered 11 and 21. The only accounts removed were of people that have never posted a message AND not logged in recently as I mentioned previously.

    Let me know if this doesn't answer your questions.

    Benson
     
    Last edited: Apr 7, 2011
  6. OP
    OP
    Dan Miller

    Dan Miller cranky canoeist Staff Member

    Another Periodic Update

    Just to keep you all informed... this past weekend, Lynn and I made a concerted effort to remove all user accounts that were established by spammers with signature or profile homepage links. Somewhere in the neighborhood of 2000 accounts (and any associated posts) were deleted. (If anyone finds a user with suspected spam links, please bring them to my attention).

    In addition, we have installed a number of plugins that will hopefully help reduce this problem:

    • check registration speed and automatically block those registrations being performed by bots
    • disabled member homepage urls for members with less than 10 posts
    • disabled the ability to edit signatures for those with less than 10 posts
    • and some time ago we installed the spam-o-matic which checks usernames and emails of registrants against lists of known spammers

    We've also installed a few other things to improve server and database query efficiency.

    Classifieds: While the odds of a spam classified ad getting through are very slim, folks are still reporting potential buyer scams. Unfortunately, there is not much we can do about that - SELLER BEWARE! As we've said before, if the offer sounds too good to be true, it probably is!

    Sending back to your regularly scheduled canoe discussions, enjoy!
    Dan
     
  7. OP
    OP
    Dan Miller

    Dan Miller cranky canoeist Staff Member

    Folks,

    There has been a flurry of emails to those advertising canoes for sale on the WCHA Classifieds, that offers to send a certified check. Yes, it is a scam. Go back and read the first message of this thread. Unfortunately, it has become a "seller beware" world, so sellers, BE AWARE!
     
  8. OP
    OP
    Dan Miller

    Dan Miller cranky canoeist Staff Member

    If you have a classified ad and have been contacted by Mr. samuel recently, and have not already figured out that this individual is a scammer, be forewarned that this is indeed the case. Then go back to the beginning of this thread and start reading.
     
  9. Dan Lindberg

    Dan Lindberg Ex Wood Hoarder

    Ya, I get a chuckle out of spam messages offering to buy what I'm selling when it's clear the sender has no idea what the item is, and more so when it says sold in the title. :)
     
  10. crosscuts

    crosscuts LOVES Wooden Canoes

    When I list things on Craig's List I block email replies and put my phone number in the ad. When I get email requests wanting to know if the "item" is still available I know it is a phony. The other day I got a phone message from a lady that asked me to reply by email because she was deaf and could not hear a phone conversation. Maybe she though I was selling hearing aids.

    R.C.
     

Share This Page