wanted, Misc catagory

Mark Adams

all wood nut
Has anyone looked at this category in the classifieds? It is all spam! How does it get there? There are something like 139 ads there and I didn't dig deep.
Spam on the classifieds has always been a problem - though not usually to this magnitude. Benson or I have always manually deleted spam ads, there are usually anywhere from 6 to 12 a week. I also follow up by banning the IP address they were posted from.

Unfortunately, this was both a larger number of ads and they came in over night. Believe it or not, Benson and I do sleep occasionally! If it continues to be a problem I will have to change the format of the classifieds, and ads will be moderated (and hence won't appear right away).


I was shocked because this is probably the "cleanest" board I frequent. You and Benson do an awesome keeping it free of the annoyances of the www. It was just surprising to me, that's all.
Well, they kept at it today, so I turned moderation on for the classifieds. The good news is you folks shouldn't have to see that cr*p anymore. The bad news is I get to preview all the ads (and hence get first dibs...! :p :D :eek: :cool: :p )

I'll admit up front that I'm completely ignorant about web site design, maintenance and function... So how is it that these spammers can get past the required info page when posting all these ads? Surely they're not filling out all those fields (including WHCA membership number) before posting each ad!

Yep, that is exactly what they are doing. Or more probably have set up a spambot to do it. We rely heavily on open source and free software, which isn't all that sophisticated.
Michael Grace said:
So how is it that these spammers can get past the required info page when posting all these ads? Surely they're not filling out all those fields (including WHCA membership number) before posting each ad!

It is actually fairly easy to write (or find) a script that will search the web for sites that use a specific classified software package and then automatically fill in the electronic form. This is why the more sophisticated (and expensive) packages require you to type in a wavy line of text that can not be easily read by an automated computer program.

The spammer's usual approach is to simply add one or two advertisements periodically and hope that the webmasters will not notice or care. The difference this weekend is that the spam has been arriving in larger batches and more frequently. The WCHA membership number verification is not a perfect authentication system either. We appreciate everyone's patience and understanding,

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Those talented "bots" go beyond comments and classifieds, even. On my personal blog, I've had spam links (dozens of lines of it) added to my actual html - repeatedly - though I have comments closed and there are no links to modify the html on the page itself. Very frustrating.

Benson, that wavy line feature you mention is called CAPTCHA, and yes - it seems to do the trick much of the time. I'll see if I can google around and find a relatively easy way to either:
- add it to the current classifieds, or
- move the classifieds over to a slightly more powerful (but still cheap) solution.

Thanks for all the work you guys do around here - it's a wonderful resource.
Without having dug very far I found a couple options available that could catapult the classifieds into the future. Not that the current site doesn't do its job well; I'm sure the price was right, and it couldn't be easier to navigate.

That said, here are a couple options to explore, depending on what kind of funds the WCHA has. Perhaps we'd be all be willing to kick in a couple bucks if needed.

The 1st one is PhotoPost Classifieds ($90). Here's an example of it in action, where I found my vintage Airstream trailer:

Besides multiple photos, you could get a distance calculator telling how far away the item is, and a sidebar to see current eBay auctions with vintage canoes - something we've been debating discussing in the forums lately.

The 2nd option is vBClassifieds ($70). It plugs into our existing forums, so we'd have the luxury of signing in once and having familiar features. Here's a cluttered example, but at least it gives you an idea:
Your research is much appreciated. Either of these options along with some Joomla alternatives would be a big improvement. We are currently looking for a new webmaster as described at http://forums.wcha.org/showthread.php?t=4422 so any change will probably have to wait for that person to implement. Dan and I are currently operating as volunteers so our time for another big new project is very limited.

I am familar with the Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart (a.k.a. CAPTCHA). You may enjoy the history behind this project at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Captcha if you have not read it already. The Joomla project as described at http://www.joomla.org/about-joomla.html is another interesting story.

It would be great to have a single login and authentication for the WCHA's forums, classifieds, store, etc. but that would be an even bigger project. The store is currently the biggest problem so everything else will probably need to wait for that to be resolved first.

Anyone who would like to help out with this web site on a paid or volunteer basis should send a message to wcha@wcha.org if you are interested. Thanks,