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wiki spamming: countermeasures

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wiki spamming: countermeasures

Postby Hooray » Mon Feb 08, 2016 6:36 pm

There are a number of things that I previously suggested to change so that spamming would become much more difficult - unfortunately, it seems that getting these ideas implemented is more involved, because the number of people with access to the server seems fairly low.

given the recent spam attacks, I would thus like to suggest a new "convention" by requiring new wiki users to use a certain "prefix" or suffix (e.g. fg) in their user-names, so that wiki admins can much more easily tell if an account registration is valid or not - that way, we could delete accounts lacking this convention.

My suggestion would be to create a sticky topic on the forum and edit the registration page on the wiki accordingly, so that we require people to use such a prefix/suffix - whenever someone registers without said prefix, we can quickly delete such accounts and automatically block all accounts/delete all "contributions".

I do have quite a few other ideas, but this has no barrier to entry associated with it - and it can be implemented within a few days, without requiring much in terms of interaction from end-users.

Thoughts/better ideas ?
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Re: wiki spamming: countermeasures

Postby elgaton » Mon Feb 08, 2016 7:23 pm

Maybe using MediaWiki's abuse filter extension? Most attacks I've seen on the wiki have pretty specific, common keywords in their titles, and are performed by new accounts, so it should be easy to filter those entries out (with little or no intervention by the wiki administrators); the only downside is that a one-time access to the server is required to install it. Username restrictions sound a bit too strict to me.
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Re: wiki spamming: countermeasures

Postby Hooray » Mon Feb 08, 2016 7:47 pm

I have made numerous suggestions like your's - but ultimately they all turned out to be too much work to implement (apparently), which is why the username restriction/convention (of requiring a suffix/prefix for new accounts, or they be deleted), seems straightforward to "implement", even without any server admins having to install/configure and maintain (updates!) things
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Re: wiki spamming: countermeasures

Postby Parnikkapore » Tue Feb 09, 2016 4:49 am

How does that help if the bot writers can just update the bot to circumvent your idea,Hooray?

If it can't happen,why?
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Re: wiki spamming: countermeasures

Postby Hooray » Tue Feb 09, 2016 3:52 pm

of course it can be circumvented, but fg is not exactly a relevant target - it just happens to work due to the way the wiki is set up, once you break the default settings (or even just URLs/themes), things will no longer work.

It's not like the fg wiki is the prime target for those doing SEO/SEM
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Re: wiki spamming: countermeasures

Postby Parnikkapore » Tue Feb 09, 2016 11:46 pm

In short: The same bot is used with multiple sites and differences between them cannot be implemented.
Am I correct?
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Re: wiki spamming: countermeasures

Postby Hooray » Wed Feb 10, 2016 10:02 am

not easily at least, i.e. it would be more work than people will put up with, the fg wiki is not that relevant for seo/sem campaigns - most of the people running such bots are script kiddies running pre-made software, they will typically have a list of phpBB/cms/wordpress/mediawiki installations, and the script/bot will then automatically create thousands of accounts and postings/articles - 99% of them will never check back with their "targets" (it would be too much work anyway), all they want is the link juice and keywords, i.e. better SERPS.

The average script kiddie does not even know how to interpret html/php and how to adapt an existing bot accordingly.

Apart from that, one thing that works exceptionally well, and that I have done in the past, is looking up the company that must be paying for the spam, and sending out an eMail (or calling them) clarifying that a flight simulator forum is seeing tons of spam due to said campaign and that they are not getting what they are paying for, because the SEO campaign is obviously poorly-targeted.

A few years ago, I would create support tickets with a number of companies whose SEO providers would spam the forum/the wiki, and they were clearly annoyed by those support tickets, and found it also embarrasing to see that their SEO campaign is obviously so "cheap"
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Re: wiki spamming: countermeasures

Postby Parnikkapore » Wed Feb 10, 2016 12:12 pm

Super-extra-newbie script kiddies. I understand you now.

They must've been surprised by your troll-back because they obviously missed LOL.
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Re: wiki spamming: countermeasures

Postby MIG29pilot » Thu Feb 11, 2016 2:03 pm

Why don't we make a requirement that all new articles be assigned categories before they can be saved?
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Re: wiki spamming: countermeasures

Postby Gijs » Thu Feb 11, 2016 5:20 pm

I'll shortly be updating the MediaWiki software, so I'll review our current setup then. We do have multiple anti spam measures installed, but clearly that didn't stop these recent spams.
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Re: wiki spamming: countermeasures

Postby Hooray » Fri Feb 19, 2016 7:26 pm

If anybody's here US-based and would like to give the company a call that must have obviously been paying for the spam attacks on the FlightGear wiki, here's their telephone number: 1-800-860-9230

Apparently, this is the company behind the software: https://community.intuit.com/quickbooks-online

Please do feel free to create a bunch of support tickets there :D

If nothing else, they may be interested in the fact that they're (or their affiliates) paying for highly untargeted spam attacks against completely unrelated infrastructure (in fact, a flight simulator wiki, non commercial and unrelated to Quicken Pro...)
Please don't send support requests by PM, instead post your questions on the forum so that all users can contribute and benefit
Thanks & all the best,
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