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This 55 message thread spans 2 pages: 55 ( [1] 2 > >   posting off  
Ok Hotshot - So how do we adjust the moderation policy?
Brett_Tabke




msg:4143122
 5:59 pm on May 28, 2010 (gmt 0)

How can we tweak the moderation policy to allow more links - less editing - and more random user satisfaction?

How would you adjust it to fix these cases:

- competitors asking "what's wrong with this page" when they are really pointing out spam so that Matt Cutts will see it?
- people asking about "can I do X on this page" when they sell products to webmasters?
- what do you think of product x? And product X is usually a SEO tool or WebHosting or... we've had people name drop 200-300 times in the forums in whisper campaigns.
- what do we do with competitors that encourage staff to come promote at webmaster world?
- what do we do with professional forum spammers?
- what about people who come in and drop links to great stories, but do it once a day? Lets say Rand were to stop in and let people know about the latest blog post on SEOMoz? (no, he never would do that, but others have and continue to do so)
- What about moderators from competing forums that come in and share "info" links in line?
- What about this one? [webmasterworld.com...] is Major_Payne the author of that, or just referencing it? What about sites that monitor keywords and want jump all over threads and reference.

If done professionally, you won't even realize that a spammer has been in the forums.

Pleaes read the background posts (we think about this stuff alot):
pro forum spammers: [webmasterworld.com...]
community discussion on blog links: [webmasterworld.com...]


So, with that as a background, how can we update the TOS in such away that a) the members can understand it, b) the mods can get behind it, and c) it holds up to the smell test.

eg: how do we stay webmasterworld and not become any number of the spammed out forums out there. I think we all know there are alot of forums out there and some are pretty low quality.

 

kaled




msg:4143152
 6:34 pm on May 28, 2010 (gmt 0)

  1. Use cloaking to hide outbound links entirely from search engines. If necessary, create a white-list of domain names for news sites such as the BBC, etc. for which links will not be cloaked.
  2. Consider maintaining a gray-list of domains that are acceptable but for which links will be cloaked.
  3. Consider maintaining a black-list of domains that are unacceptable and will be blocked automatically. Redirects could be checked with little difficulty.
  4. If not on any list, and posted by a new member, either the post or just the link could go into pre-moderation.
  5. Ensure moderators receive a list of new outbound links (that aren't on any list) and the posts that contain them so that they can be easily checked.
  6. Make sure everyone knows that outbound links will be cloaked - for new members place it in big bold letters on the sign-up page. For existing members, send out an email or maybe arrange for a popup window to be displayed. Also, consider adding a tooltip hint for each outbound link stating that it will be cloaked (i.e. use the title attribute).
If you eliminate the motivation to spam and self-promote then the problem should largely evaporate. This should leave mostly legitimate links. In some cases, that may be to a website that is owned by the poster, but if that link answers the question it's not the end of the world.

Kaled.

encyclo




msg:4143160
 6:51 pm on May 28, 2010 (gmt 0)

Use cloaking to hide outbound links entirely from search engines


Just to make things clear, the spam problem is NOT about links - spam is much more than pagerank. It's about promoting directly to a targetted audience - WebmasterWorld members - which can just as easily be done with cloaked links or no links at all. See the Professional Forum Spammers thread Brett linked to above - it's happening day after day here at WebmasterWorld.

Swatting link-drops is easy - I banned thousands of such spammers when I was admin, it's a big problem but easy to spot and handle by the mod team. The real issue is the much more sophisticated and insidious spam.

<added> all outbound links are already "cloaked" (passed through a redirect script) in the forums, and have been for years. </added>

Demaestro




msg:4143173
 7:13 pm on May 28, 2010 (gmt 0)

Giving the community a little more power may help curb these things.

Allowing higher ranking members to flag posts or threads may take some of the pressure of the mods, which would allow for some relaxed rules in certain areas.

I for one do not see a great need for links, I think in my time here I have been annoyed by it once maybe twice.

bwnbwn




msg:4143210
 8:11 pm on May 28, 2010 (gmt 0)



All the above are a delete......

The way in IMO would be to set up a place were users could ask for another look at the edited post. I do know this may cause some mod issues but at least this may reduce any biased mod editing.

I am not at all in favor of links just to dangerous in todays world to begin allowing this to happen. I feel this would put way to much pressure on the mods time and eat up all your time as well Brett just trying to keep the links in check.

Suppose I post one that is ok and before my edit time expires come back and change it to a bad link.

Links are a bad idea and will kill the board.

If someone needs to add a link to the psot to better explain the post then post and send the mod the link asking for it to be added to the post for a better post.

I have posted several links but they were to foxnews google yahoo for informational purposes because it would be breaking copyright to post the article.

Allowing higher ranking members to flag posts or threads may take some of the pressure of the mods, which would allow for some relaxed rules in certain areas.
This is aalready allowed to sedn the mod a sticky next to the post.
londrum




msg:4143222
 8:33 pm on May 28, 2010 (gmt 0)

i think you can sort out most of these problems with something that has already been suggested in another thread:
prevent anything that resembles a link or an email address from being posted by new members. just return an error and ask them to amend it, so it never reaches the board. as soon as they get to fifty posts, or whatever number you want, then let them post links. they will know by then that if they abuse it they will get banned. and no one is going to want to go through the hassle of writing another 50 posts just to post another spam link.

TheMadScientist




msg:4143235
 9:00 pm on May 28, 2010 (gmt 0)

Ok Hotshot

If that's not an invitation for me to post IDK what is...

How About:
1.) Compile and publish an 'allowed site list' on a per forum basis, generated and maintained by the mods so visitors can reference the list and know if there are 'pre-approved' sites they can link to prior to posting links.

* Anyone should be able to link to these sites, even the owner, as long as the privilege is not abuse. (EG: I have a link or two to one of my sites from here, and there are times when it's much more detailed and informative than I'm going to sit and retype here, so a general answer is sufficient with more specifics covered on the site... That's how it got the link(s) and it's not something I've even wanted to or would think of abusing, but since others have linked and mods have agreed it's an 'authority' on the subject, then it should IMO be linkable by anyone as long as it's not abuse.)

2.) Turn the auto-linking system into auto-purging so non-approved links are removed. (At least from view. Possibly with a flag set in the post and an auto-notification sent to the mod of the forum so they can review and add, rather than review and snip. To be added the SITE must be approved, not the page. IOW: Snip by default, adding is a bonus, and sites are either allowed or not... Exceptions in certain cases could be made.)

* Allowing a method to suggest a site be added could also be a good idea.

3.) Create a site verification process much like G and Y use for site ownership which verifies a site for 30 days and allows a poster to post URLs (non-linked?) in the technical forums (EG: JS/AJAX, PHP, Perl, CSS), and charge a nominal fee for the verification and URL to be allowed.

Personally, I'd charge $4.95 to $9.95 for 30 days verification, because it's a nominal fee, the help, tutorials, instruction they get for free here could cost much more if they had to pay someone to write a 'custom lesson' and if they can't afford a $5 or $10 to fix their site when it's broken and help support the forums, then they can continue to generalize the posts.

* Only a site Owner would be able to place a text URL to their site. Only one site per profile. Verification date present in their profile so if we want to make sure we're helping the owner and not someone else we can.

4.) The same type system of PPV (Pay-Per-Verification) could be used for a 'what's wrong with my site' or page section of the forums. (This solves the 'report other's spam indirectly' issue too, because by verifying ownership, charging and allowing us to see the verification we can be more re-assured about the site we might visit or review by that of the poster's.)

So: In some forums all but approved links are auto-deleted, having one added should count as a bonus, but approved sites are posted and easily found prior to posting. Sites can be suggested for addition on an 'as mod time allows' basis. (Some exceptions allowed, of course)

In the 'technical' forums a nominal fee and proof of ownership allows you to post a URL if you can't adequately describe an issue or need to have someone take a look to help you fix it.

In a 'review' (SEO type review, what's wrong?) setting, ownership is verified for a fee (Slightly higher, $19.95?) and you are allowed to post / ask questions about it in a specific forum for 30 days.

In any case, one site per verification, one verification per profile. Verification lasts 30 days. If you need to ask questions later or want another site verified you can pay again and if it's a different site the initial one is dropped. All other sites not on the approved list are auto-purged...

Seems to allow more 'knowledge of what's allowed' in each forum by having an approved list associated with each, a better ability for those truly interested in improving their sites the ability to do so in specific forums, and better financial support for the forums, because I think there are quite a few here who would probably pay a nominal fee to get some feedback on or help with a specific site since you could charge about the same as it costs for a bottle of Asprin and they could probably get help solving the underlying reason(s) for the headache.

kaled




msg:4143238
 9:15 pm on May 28, 2010 (gmt 0)

all outbound links are already "cloaked" (passed through a redirect script) in the forums, and have been for years.
If robots are able to follow the script then that is hardly cloaking. Also, even if they cannot, the url=http... format used is so obvious and common that robots may simply interpret the link to destination directly.

See the Professional Forum Spammers thread Brett linked to above - it's happening day after day here at WebmasterWorld.
Well, in that case, simply relax the rules in all the forums where it isn't a problem and see what happens.

Also, I did mention the possibility of a black-list - maybe that would help.

Kaled.

gpilling




msg:4143287
 10:40 pm on May 28, 2010 (gmt 0)



In reading the threads about pro spammers I noticed a lot of names that used to contribute a great deal of quality information, that have not posted in a long while. DigitalGhost, WebGuerilla, Paynt, Sugarrae--- these people added a lot of content and help. What do THEY think about these questions? Surely they left for some reason.

About your questions:
1. What is wrong with Matt Cutts finding out about spam?
2. I need to buy products, and forums are a way to find out about them. You get much more NEGATIVE reviews about products in forums than you do in the typical online Yelp, Insiderpage type sites. Those are much easier to spam. It might be nice to find out what other people think about the tools to use to do this job.
3. whisper campaigns. sounds like people that tweet about their product all the time. I unfollow them - is there an equivalent in forums? banning?
4. Other forums or sites could have useful information. To read it there and discuss it here would benefit your users, not harm you. And yes, they will come back to discuss it here.
5. professional forum spammers- do they add value? then keep, if not- ban.
6. If Rand wants to add value to your site and he gets some promotion, how is WebmasterWorld losing on the deal? You had value added.

I guess I am modifying my position on links, and seeing some of the value in dropping them. The old pros here all say the value is in the discussion, so why does that discussion have to be limited to the WebmasterWorld walled garden? Why did the other big names mentioned above leave? Surely you are still in contact with them, so you can find out easily enough. Ask. What would they do about WebmasterWorld?

I am grateful for everything I have learned here, from 26 steps on, but in the last few days I realize that I get a lot more information now from twitter and other places where links abound.

For a technological solution, make a flagging system "this comment has been downgraded to oblivion" and let the users flag the crap. This would ease the burden on the mods.

wyweb




msg:4143371
 2:22 am on May 29, 2010 (gmt 0)

I'm not in favor of allowing links at all. The only argument I've seen that has any legitimacy is in coding issues. I mean it's difficult when you can't see the problem first hand and are limited to having to save the posted code locally and try to recreate it. It would be so much easier to follow a link at look at it there.

Graphics problems. Again, I'd rather see it than read, "I have a problem with the colors here so can somebody tell me what I'm doing wrong?" It puts people in a position of having to guess.

A lot of the questions you're asking are dealers choice:

people asking about "can I do X on this page" when they sell products to webmasters?

On any given day this could be considered spamming. Or not. Maybe it's a legit question. How do you know? You don't.

competitors asking "what's wrong with this page" when they are really pointing out spam so that Matt Cutts will see it?

Are they though? How do you really know?

PaulHudson said it best here. At least in my opinion: [webmasterworld.com ]

...the lack of promotion on here validates the posts and adds to WebmasterWorld's credibility.

That's how I feel also.

caribguy




msg:4143447
 6:45 am on May 29, 2010 (gmt 0)

I want to see this in big h1 tags on every page:

...the lack of promotion on here validates the posts and adds to WebmasterWorld's credibility.

Jane_Doe




msg:4143453
 7:07 am on May 29, 2010 (gmt 0)

I don't know much about moderation to give you specifics but check out some of the competition and see what they are doing. Maybe allow dofollow signature links. A lot of people like that. And have more commercial forums specifically meant for buyers and sellers of sites and services.

I like the idea someone else posted of having a site for sale forum. If you could find some way to keep it to higher level than flippa I think that would be a huge draw.

tedster




msg:4143457
 7:30 am on May 29, 2010 (gmt 0)

What is wrong with Matt Cutts finding out about spam?


What's wrong is not Matt finding out, but finding out by reading here. If we open that door, it creates fake discussions and turns the forum into more of a weapon and less of a professional community. More noise, less signal.

I also do not want to turn WebmasterWorld into a Google satellite. As much as I value particpation from GoogleGuy, Matt Cutts, AWA, ASA, Adam Lasnik, and others from Google, they are members here and their presence should not be calling the shots. So if anyone wants to report what Google might consider spam, Google has their own channels set up for that. Google defines their own rules, and it should not be our business to help enforce them.

For years, the label "black hat" has been tossed around, but often used for almost trivial technical tricks and violations. However, one of the KEY black hat orientations today is finding ways to take out competitors. Not just in technical ways, but with devious social engineering approaches. That's a playground I don't want to play in.

----

I've been pushing the envelope with looser link allowances for a while, and I generally want to see that continue. But that kind of change needs to be measured not just in the light of one indivdual's purpose and need, but also by the overall effect on the entire forum community.

And one benefit of the current links policy is this - it tends to make our discussions self contained, with all the essential information on record right there in the thread. That's a real benefit that I'd hate to lose.

Fribble




msg:4143458
 7:31 am on May 29, 2010 (gmt 0)



- competitors asking "what's wrong with this page" when they are really pointing out spam so that Matt Cutts will see it?
- people asking about "can I do X on this page" when they sell products to webmasters?


These both sound like the same thing: review or troubleshooting requests that require the person rendering assistance to see the problem in its natural habitat. The spamming potential of this could be mitigated by forcing these into a specific section/forum of the site with strict rules about content, request frequency, user-requirements to post, etc. Not perfect, but it would allow WW users to reap the benefits of this ability. You're already half way there with the site-review section.


- what do you think of product x? And product X is usually a SEO tool or WebHosting or... we've had people name drop 200-300 times in the forums in whisper campaigns.
- what do we do with competitors that encourage staff to come promote at webmaster world?


These both sound like product review/expereince requests. This could be reasonably controlled by adding a single forum for such things, and allowing ONE thread per product or service, to which the entire forum can post a single post (their expereinces to). It would not stop spammers and competitors from tainting the pool, but it will keep them from doing it all over the forum, and it would be easier to impost posting requirements in a single forum. There is always the chance of a reader getting ripped off/tricked, but it's something people NEED to learn to spot if they are in this business. Add disclaimers and the like.

I've met quite a few people here on WW and if I saw their feedback while researching a new product or service I was interested in it would be helpful indeed.



- what do we do with professional forum spammers?

What can you do about them short of crippling any and all potential methods of operating? - but that's a double edged sword at best. It also cripples many powerful forms of communication used online.


- what about people who come in and drop links to great stories, but do it once a day? Lets say Rand were to stop in and let people know about the latest blog post on SEOMoz? (no, he never would do that, but others have and continue to do so)


If they really are great stories what's the problem? - if it becomes incessent the community would surely tell the poster to stop and report them, and if the stories suck, then it would quickly be reported as spam, right? This is a community of webmasters after all right? If someone works hard enough to be able to link to a GREAT story every day, why shouldn't everyone benefit just because the poster will gain?

- What about moderators from competing forums that come in and share "info" links in line?


As long as they meet certain quality standards, again, what's the problem? How many WW users aren't aware of the existence of the other major webmaster forums? We know they're there and we still come here. Besides, it would be very simple to spot users repeatedly posting links to the same forum as described.

- What about this one? [webmasterworld.com...] is Major_Payne the author of that, or just referencing it? What about sites that monitor keywords and want jump all over threads and reference.


As long as the reference is good, it's not dangerous, and the linked site has a good history what's the problem? We should credit our sources whether it's another site or it's a book, right? Who cares what the motivation of posting it is so long as the result is constructive?



Some further ideas include:

Only allow supporters to post links, and collect and verify personal information when they sign up.

Insert a "report as spam" icon/link next to each link that gets posted, so users can report spammy content should the linked page be changed.

tangor




msg:4143478
 8:42 am on May 29, 2010 (gmt 0)

And one benefit of the current links policy is this - it tends to make our discussions self contained, with all the essential information on record right there in the thread. That's a real benefit that I'd hate to lose.


I've said this recently, though not quite as well stated. What makes Webmasterworld important to me is the EDUCATIONAL side: force one to think, read a bit of the history/library, and come back with best effort to ask experts for the fine tune.

The as-need-link has always been there and mods do oblige, but I don't see a need to require the mod of each forum to endanger their machine to check out potentially thousands of links to give approval. And if anyone is interested, my thought of when to even allow links is 200 messages.

weeks




msg:4143547
 1:02 pm on May 29, 2010 (gmt 0)

I think Brett makes some good points. And gpilling and other pro-linkers have an interesting point of view as well.

I suppose my response to gpilling & company would be that there can be too much information on WW. The value of this site is, in part, the gatekeeper role it plays. When you want to drink from the firehose on a topic, there is always Google and Bing. Or, other sites.

The subject of WW is, in large part, the internet. If you think about that, it's absurd to even try to do a website like this and make it worthwhile. Yet, here it is. And it's very worthwhile.

I have been told time and again that a good writer or publisher always leaves the reader wanting more. That sounds odd, but the alternative is boring the readers. You can having the audience wanting more or give them too much, and if you give them too much, they leave and don't come back. You have to be useful or entertaining, but not wear them out.

With its sometimes annoying filters of policy, WW often provides some useful context in a confusing world. It's a proven formula. It might need to be tweaked, but the reasons for the policy are sound. Overall, I'd say let it stand.

(There are some things that work that we really don't understand why they work. We pretend we understand it, but we don't really. For example, don't think about the US Supreme Court. Just don't think about it. Let it be. It works.)

Lapizuli




msg:4143559
 2:12 pm on May 29, 2010 (gmt 0)

Why not create a separate Promotional Forum dedicated to links, and only allow (non-new) members to make posts containing links in that forum? It wouldn't need to be a full mirror of the regular forums. Just a disorganized hodgepodge of a single forum, really.

As in:

A poster submits a post with a link.
The system says "Stop! Links aren't allowed on this forum. But links are allowed on the Promotional Forum. Continue posting on this forum without the link, or post there with your link."

The links could be thus "contained," as many well-intentioned spammers will just go where they're told. (Though I'm not suggesting everybody who posts a link is a spammer.)

As for the hardcore spammers who persevere (and the legit linkers who think their links are really valuable), it's true the system could be worked by a member posting to the thread without the link and saying, "check out this link over here."

But - can you do this? - you could then send clickers to a "warning" page that says the page they're about to go to may contain self-promotional links (spam), so only follow links of posters you trust, and visit at your own risk.

Plus, every time someone goes directly to the promotional forum, they could get that warning message. They could also disable the warning message if they like.

And over time, y'all would see how spammy the threads got. People could read these Promotional Forum threads and if they find them spammy, avoid them, and if not, don't avoid them. They could fade into obscurity, either as a prison/refuge for oblivious spammers, or just go away. Or, if they proved popular, there could be a merger.

encyclo




msg:4143563
 2:18 pm on May 29, 2010 (gmt 0)

Does the following link look good to you?:

http://www.azarask.in/blog/

Because it's the link used on the current top home-page story: Web Browser 'Tabnapping' Phishing Attack [webmasterworld.com]

A few years back, that would never have passed muster, despite the fact that it is the best, most appropriate link to the story - direct to the source - and it was posted by a reliable member whom the mods can implicitly trust. Allowing that link was absolutely the right decision.

"Links" and "Spam" are interrelated, but not intertwined. You can't have white-lists or the above wouldn't have got through, the diversity of sources is too great.

It is possible to open up the links policy whilst keeping a lid on spam. Just that the policy needs to be clearly defined. For regular members: how often have you seen an edit reason "no URLs please, see terms of service"? The thing is, where in the terms of service does it say that WebmasterWorld doesn't allow links? ;)

- links to news stories MUST have a link / attribution

- sometimes the real source is a personal blog. If this is the best link, then it must be allowed.

- either you can talk about something, or you can't. If you can talk about it, then you can link to it. ie. if you talk about something on Matt's blog, then add the damn link! Same for products - if the mere mention of a tool is permitted (not seen as spam), then we must link to that tool's site. No halfway houses where we allude to something but refuse to link.

When I was an admin, I regularly added links to posts, especially for news stories where the member omitted attribution due to a misunderstanding of the URL policy. This is not the members' fault, this is due to the arcane, under-defined and obtuse linking policy currently in place.

As Brett said:
(...) how can we update the TOS in such away that a) the members can understand it, b) the mods can get behind it, and c) it holds up to the smell test.

kaled




msg:4143571
 2:39 pm on May 29, 2010 (gmt 0)

I agree almost entirely with encyclo. However...

I do believe white-lists (and black-lists) have a part to play. In the example above, the fact that the domain was not on a white-list should not have blocked the link. A link should only be blocked automatically if the domain is on a black-list. Otherwise, it should fall to moderator discretion. However, a white-list would a) act as a guide for moderators and b) reduce their workload since such links could be passed automatically.

As an extra technical point, it would be nice if links were validated when posted. We've all seen bad links and these could be easily detected before the post is accepted.

Kaled.

Quadrille




msg:4143575
 2:58 pm on May 29, 2010 (gmt 0)

There's three approaches that must be made to work:

1. ensure that links are dealt with by technology (as mentioned in several posts / threads

2. Clarify the rules for mods

3. Get the members to know / understand / use the reporting feature.

I and 3 are pretty straightforward; as in all decent forums, it's the quality and work rate of the mods that counts.

So what's left is to review the rules for mods.

I'd make few changes:

News stories should have a link to source. If the only source is a blog, fair enough - in my experience, 99.999% of the time, a very quick search will find a better or more original search than a blog.

Spam should be removed (duh!)

Spammers should be removed. In my experience, three strikes and you're out is two too many, but that rule should apply to members who've been good contributors; if they get tempted by the dark side, a couple of deleted posts and a mod warning may be enough to bring them back. Or not. But no mercy to drive-bys.

How do you define spam? You can't always, and it's futile to try and make water-tight rules that allow endless appeals and ill feeling. The trick to keeping a forum clean is good mods. There's no other way, and WebmasterWorld has a pretty good record with that.

[edited by: Quadrille at 3:07 pm (utc) on May 29, 2010]

wyweb




msg:4143577
 3:00 pm on May 29, 2010 (gmt 0)

How would you populate a black list? Where would you even start?

Put every site on a black list until approved. Then move them to white.

Rosalind




msg:4143590
 3:28 pm on May 29, 2010 (gmt 0)

I've always admired Slashdot's moderation system. This question of link drops essentially comes down to needing more distributed moderation, because sometimes there are grey areas where somebody has to make a judgement. The question is, what can WebmasterWorld take from that kind of system of earned mods points given out randomly?

Whitelists may seem fine, until the whitelisted sites introduce new linking policies or UGC sections, and you get a whole new dimension of spam opening up.

ronburk




msg:4143599
 4:01 pm on May 29, 2010 (gmt 0)

How can we tweak the moderation policy to allow more links - less editing - and more random user satisfaction?

Two-stage moderation. Presence of link moves your post into first stage moderation queue: it's not visible to the masses, but is visible/votable to enough authorized people (probably a larger, less formal group than existing moderators) that someone will likely read it real soon. If just one of those approved people push the NOT OBVIOUS SPAM button, it becomes visible to all, but is actually still removable by vote and has a THIS IS SPAM button visible to a much wider set of mechanically approved (insert tweakable algorithm) "moderators" who really only have the power to push that button. Too many (insert tweakable algorithm) button presses and the thread disappears.

One may also want to prioritize link depth. www.companyname.com is less likely to be turned into a really nasty landing page from hell 2 days after being posted than www.companyname.com/pr/2010/05/27/WebmasterWorld.html.

If done professionally, you won't even realize that a spammer has been in the forums.

Must be assumed to be a human problem, not a technical problem. If it cannot be detected by humans, then we have nothing to talk about. If it can be detected by humans, then an effective response must remove the motivation. E.g., first notify the company that it appears someone is spamming on their behalf. If no help, then publicly post that it appears someone is spamming on their behalf and automatically append a "warning, possible pro spammers work on this product" to any post mentioning the product, etc.

Interestingly, as pro spammers increase in subtlety, they trend towards becoming real content. For example, the "anybody heard of #*$!" is obviously suspect and could be quickly deleted or sequestered to a "product info wanted" forum ghetto. The more subtle "anybody looked at new feature YYY in product #*$!" supplies some actual potential relevant info. If the product is of actual use to WebmasterWorld folks, such spam may result in real followups of useful content. But may also result in "I don't think anybody here uses it, maybe there's something wrong with it." etc. There is a form of the Bonini paradox at work when spammers try to simulate real users more and more accurately. Eventually, they have the actual benefits of real users.

In any case, there's sort of a decision point of whether or not you wanted to move into mass moderation or not. Is the the problem worth the coding/maintenance effort that would cost?

Brett_Tabke




msg:4143616
 4:38 pm on May 29, 2010 (gmt 0)

Mods/former mods, again, please please lets let this thread go without comment. This is important to just listen to let the members give suggestions here. I know it is hard to resist (I am fighting the urge). We will have this as a discussion in the near future.

kaled




msg:4143622
 4:55 pm on May 29, 2010 (gmt 0)

How would you populate a black list? Where would you even start?

When a post with a link is classed as spam (by manual review) the domain could be added to the black-list. Of course, someone might try to deliberately get another domain black-listed, but the site would not be harmed in anyway so it's not likely to be a frequent occurrence.

It's also worth noting that, in theory, Bayesian-type spam filtering (as used by email scanners) could be applied to forum spam. I wouldn't suggest writing this from scratch, but maybe there's some code out there that could be adapted. Then, if a post score's too highly, it could go into pre-moderation.

Kaled.

Wizcrafts




msg:4143639
 6:27 pm on May 29, 2010 (gmt 0)

Brett said: "This is important to just listen to let the members give suggestions here."

I suppose that you could allow your moderators to appoint their own sub-moderators, whose job is, or includes, checking out links submitted in moderated posts. They could also perform standard mod duties while the main moderator is offline. This would take pressure off of the long-time mods who might be overrun checking out links and URLs.

Furthermore, if somebody is appointed to check out links and URLs, they should already know how to protect their computers from malware and exploits. A combination of using a Linux computer, or Firefox with the NoScript add-on, plus a limited privileges user account, as I do, makes it less dangerous to investigate unknown links. There is also a well known online tool that security oriented folks like me use - to display the content of any web page in plain text. It also gives the IP of that site and helps reveal if a 302 redirect has been employed on a compromised website.

So you can see, a moderator, or sub-moderator will have to adjust to the task of verifying links, both for our safety and his or hers.

vordmeister




msg:4143688
 8:27 pm on May 29, 2010 (gmt 0)

I reckon the trick in working out moderation policy is to look at the motivation behind what people post. That's what it's all about.

Running a forum myself I find it easy to work out what the motivation is. On my own forum I don't have any difficulty in figuring out who the spammers are or who is just dropping a link. I have a couple of tricks in place - one of which is asking new members to say where they are from. Spammers almost always get that one wrong.

It's all about motivation. Much of the moderation concern might be about people with good motivation being treated like criminals. It's always seemed daft to me as it's easy to get around the problem by looking about the motivation of the post.

claus




msg:4143708
 9:49 pm on May 29, 2010 (gmt 0)

Trying hard not to repeat myself, but it all boils down to this: If it's not broken, don't fix it.

The moderation policy isn't broken. It's working. And working well.

Add some css layout or a new colour sceme or something like that in stead if you feel change is needed.

In a home, you typically paint the walls when change is needed - you don't rebuild the house.

BeeDeeDubbleU




msg:4143867
 10:11 am on May 30, 2010 (gmt 0)

And one benefit of the current links policy is this - it tends to make our discussions self contained, with all the essential information on record right there in the thread. That's a real benefit that I'd hate to lose.

A great point and one I hadn't thought about!

IMHO this is one of the most important points that has been made on this subject. I actually found this thread difficult to read because there is an uncommonly high number of links peppered through it. When I jump out of the thread and into another thread or another website I tend to get distracted from the original thread. (Even talking about it is confusing) ;)

IMHO Webmasterworld IS in a different class from most other similar websites. This is mainly because of the quality of the people who are willing to share and contribute but perhaps one of the other reasons is that the lack of links and distractions makes it easy to read and follow the topics.

tangor




msg:4143875
 10:23 am on May 30, 2010 (gmt 0)

This has been said in other Feedback Days threads... long and short, the (my rack 'em up) consensus is what is present works, works because it focuses content over links. That's the short side. The long side is it has worked for a decade. I'd like to see that continue, and thank all the mods who know when to relaxe OR REQUIRE links. I'll shut up now. Otherwise I'll begin to sound like a ... (insert your favorite)...

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