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Harrassing members
tresmom5




msg:1560631
 8:30 pm on Apr 29, 2005 (gmt 0)

We have been having a problem with harrassment from about 3-4 people. We banned a group of people 3 months ago for posting profanities and personal attacks. Since then these 3 or 4 people will not leave us alone. They reregister and reregister posting all kinds of obscenities and threatening messages. I am at my wits end. We have 3000+ members and a very active forum site. We have invision board software and I am frustrated with the lack of ability to really truly ban people. One of the members has AOL and it has made it next to impossible to get rid of her. Is there anything that can be done? My co-owner is about ready to file a restraining order on her and really it's a little scary being threatened. Have you had this problem? Is there any legal actions you can take? Is there any modifications out there that we could make to our software to have better abilities to ban? Are there any better forum software out there for banning harrassing members? Any help would be greatly appreciated.

 

petra




msg:1560632
 8:36 pm on Apr 29, 2005 (gmt 0)

I have an invision board (latest version) and I have the ability to ban members IP's Names, emails and have had no problems whatsoever in banning people when they got out of line. For the technical aspects of the Invision board you probably should (if you aven't already) post this message in the Invision Forum as all members there own an invision board and you're bound to get a lot of relevent technical advice on your board.

tresmom5




msg:1560633
 8:37 pm on Apr 29, 2005 (gmt 0)

We can ban IPs, however, with AOL there are so many members with AOL we would lose a lot of our members doing so.

Longhaired Genius




msg:1560634
 8:41 pm on Apr 29, 2005 (gmt 0)

Have you tried complaining directly to AOL? I've no idea if this would work, but I'd be interested to know.

incrediBILL




msg:1560635
 8:47 pm on Apr 29, 2005 (gmt 0)

Can you set new members to a moderated status until they have a history of good posts?

heck, if brett did that I'd probably still be on the other side of the window looking in and fogging up the glass :)

That would be my first line of defense as well as reporting them to the AOL abuse team.

GaryK




msg:1560636
 9:01 pm on Apr 29, 2005 (gmt 0)

I'm sorry to read about your message board woes.

Let's deal with the threat first. From a practical point of view there's not a lot you can do.

If you approach the FBI (in the USA) as an individual it's been my experience you're unlikely to get past the receptionist. At most you'll get the agent on duty to politely listen to you before telling you there's nothing he can do until the person making the threats actually takes some action against you. If you're willing to spend the time and money on an attorney the FBI will spend a little more time listening to you before telling you there's nothing they can do until the person making the threats actually takes some action against you. At least that was my experience when someone made what seemed like very credible death threats against my moderators, my family and myself. If you do search on WW you'll probably find the thread where I posted about this a year or so ago.

If you go to AOL and complain about this person and AOL terminates the person's account the person is only going get madder at you and up the ante. Personally I'd advise against this approach.

IMO a much more realistic approach is to just keep deleting the messages this person posts. Or put them into read-only mode or force their posts to be pre-moderated. People like that are really seeking attention and usually if you ignore them they'll eventually give up and find someone else to hassle.

Perhaps you can leverage your software to help you with the above process. For example, can you hack the software to prevent people from a specific e-mail address from signing-up to your message board? If so do it. Again, since the person is usually seeking attention they'll eventually give up and go away.

Above all else try to avoid giving this person any attention at all. Do not reply to his/her e-mails. If you can't pre-moderate their posts or ban them then do your best to ignore them.

FourDegreez




msg:1560637
 9:01 pm on Apr 29, 2005 (gmt 0)

I haaaaaaaate dealing with AOL members, there's virtually no way to ban them. If the person is technically illiterate, you could use cookies to ban him. I've done that before. You can complain directly to AOL, as that sort of behavior is definitely a violation of their TOS. AOL takes its TOS very seriously within its corner of the internet, but I have no idea how well they respond to complaints from outside their borders.

I give my new members somewhat crippled abilities when they start out, and then they progress to full status over time. This is a barrier to entry for new users, but helps significantly.

lorenzinho2




msg:1560638
 9:19 pm on Apr 29, 2005 (gmt 0)

We've had similar problems. Couple of suggestions:

Look into whether there is an "invisible mode" available with your software to put on your problem users. They think they're posting, sending messages, etc, but they're not. Only they can view their posts, and nobody receives their messages.

If this is not available / not effective, I would have one final communication with the individual. Let them know that if there is one more instance of this behavior, that you will turn the matter over to the FBI along with their IP history, and that this will be your last communication on the subject.

And then end all communication with these posters and wait them out. Consider upping your moderator coverage so these users are purged immediately and forced to reregister. Encourage your trusted members not to acknowledge the trouble makers in any way.

Eventually, they will go away.

rogerd




msg:1560639
 9:40 pm on Apr 29, 2005 (gmt 0)

Invisible mode, which puts the problem user on everyone's "ignore" list, can be quite effective.

Just keep banning & deleting posts. Eventually, they get tired of spinning their wheels. With decent forum software, you have far better weapons than they do.

encyclo




msg:1560640
 12:17 am on Apr 30, 2005 (gmt 0)

Following on from some of the other comments: forget the FBI, as they simply don't care. Don't threaten, harrass or do anything of that sort yourself, otherwise it makes a battle into a war.

The "invisible" board modifications are great: it lets the person talk merrily into a void where no-one else will see them. But the key to success is boredom: you've got to get to the stage that the banned members can't be bothered to hassle you any more because they are getting zero feedback. Keep deleting and setting them to invisible, and don't rise to their harrassment: once they realize that no-one cares about them, they will stop.

tresmom5




msg:1560641
 2:23 am on Apr 30, 2005 (gmt 0)

Thank you for your input. I keep hoping that she'll go away and she has slowed down so I guess we'll just stay on our toes and keep banning and deleting for now.

AAnnAArchy




msg:1560642
 7:13 am on Apr 30, 2005 (gmt 0)

I had the same problem with an AOL member. I kept banning, banning, banning, but the thing that really got her to leave was frustration. I turned on the approval-only registration, so she couldn't instantly get on the board. I also have a hack that shows when it's a duplicate cookie, so I know it's the same person. So, anyone else was approved right away and her new accounts were deleted right away. It took a lot of effort at first, but after a while, she got bored and went away.

Oh, and I wrote to AOL to complain - they never responded.

FourDegreez




msg:1560643
 4:01 pm on Apr 30, 2005 (gmt 0)

Another thing I did was, throw up a fake scripting error message when the unwanted user tried to sign in--make him think your site is malfunctioning. Won't work for all sites and all trolls, I guess.

Tapolyai




msg:1560644
 6:20 pm on May 1, 2005 (gmt 0)

Sorry to hear your troubles.

Unfortunatelly I am not familiar with iboard, but you might be able to get a hack/mod installed similar which is available for vB. It is called the "miserable user" hack.

In combination with putting their name on the ignore list of every other user, I think it would drive them away because of boredom. Here is what the package does -

So here is what really happens to a miserable user:

- There is a random 60-120 second delay each time they click on a link.
- 90% of times they have no search engine acccess.
- 75% of the times they get the server too busy error.

If they don't get the server too busy error:
- 50% of the times they may get a blank page
- 30% of the times they may get forwarded to the forum main page
- 20% of the time they may be able to see the page they asked for.


Stuperfied




msg:1560645
 11:09 am on May 2, 2005 (gmt 0)

That invisible user feature seems like your best bet but if you dont have that option, you might want to resort to a more drastic approach.

Assuming their using windows. Every windows installation has a unique key in the registery which identifies each specific installation. Also, each specific piece of hardware has a unique serial number to identify it. If you cant write the code yourself, find someone who can write some software that will obtain and check such key's for each user. In order to re-register on your message board, they would have to re-install their operating system or otherwise maybe change that key. But how would they know that that is how you are banning them. ;)

I know of this method of banning because the game I play called America's Army Operations has said they were going to employ such software to keep the hackers out. I dont know wether they were successful or not but eh... Just a thought. Maybe if you contact the makers of America's Army, they might be willing to help you with it.

FourDegreez




msg:1560646
 1:38 pm on May 2, 2005 (gmt 0)

Just think, it was lack of foresight by the designers of the internet that causes such a headache for us today. If IP addresses had a wider range all along, static IPs would be the rule, not the exception. If virtually every ISP were to assign a static IP address to each of its users, oh how much easier our lives would be. Not that it would throw up an impossible obstacle to forum trolls, of course.. but it would take care of a bulk of them, plus make things more difficult for the dedicated ones.

Then again, there would still be trolls, like one I have now, who ride around hijacking unsecured wireless connections to register accounts. *sigh*

rogerd




msg:1560647
 3:00 pm on May 2, 2005 (gmt 0)

>> who ride around hijacking unsecured wireless connections

He really needs to get a life. I have to imagine, though, that the frustration from seeing many minutes or even hours of effort to set up a new account, create posts, etc., disappear quickly will cause him to seek greener pastures.

GaryK




msg:1560648
 3:05 pm on May 2, 2005 (gmt 0)

Why does he have to war drive? Why can't he keep using different anonymous proxies? There's certainly no lack of them. I had one in China that was sucking up all my bandwidth and more until an ISAPI_Rewrite rule put an end to it.

Hanu




msg:1560649
 3:40 pm on May 2, 2005 (gmt 0)

Just think, it was lack of foresight by the designers of the internet that causes such a headache for us today. If IP addresses had a wider range all along, static IPs would be the rule, not the exception. If virtually every ISP were to assign a static IP address to each of its users, oh how much easier our lives would be.

Well said. Same applies to email spam, if we only had a reliable way to obtain the true source of an email.

Regarding invisible mode: sometimes I feel like I am in invisible mode on WebmasterWorld. Hello ...? Hello? ;-)

I think approval-only registration in conjunction with activation emails should to the trick. Most free-mail providers now have captchas or something similar and make it tedious to register for a new addresses. You can still ban based certain freemail providers. And yes, instead of banning, putting them in invisible mode seems like a good idea. That way they don't realize immediately what's going on. Unless they use a second account to check their visibility ...

FourDegreez




msg:1560650
 5:59 pm on May 2, 2005 (gmt 0)

Why does he have to war drive? Why can't he keep using different anonymous proxies?

In this case, I think he just does it for kicks.

I have to imagine, though, that the frustration from seeing many minutes or even hours of effort to set up a new account, create posts, etc., disappear quickly will cause him to seek greener pastures.

This was my goal, when deciding how new members should be brought into the community. I made it so that it takes time and effort before gaining full access. So it would be a major exercise in futility for a troll to put the time and effort in only to get wiped out with a few keystrokes. It works pretty well. You may even reform trolls this way. If they come back, they may play by the rules this time or risk exposing themselves and having all their efforts wiped out. This particular guy is just trying to get under my skin by defiantly creating accounts and taunting me about it, but not actually trolling with them (so far).

GaryK




msg:1560651
 7:35 pm on May 2, 2005 (gmt 0)

In this case, I think he just does it for kicks.
It must be working cause each time he does it you give him a kick in the backside. ;)
rogerd




msg:1560652
 3:05 pm on May 4, 2005 (gmt 0)

Keep him off-balance by using different banning methods - user banning, IP banning, and sliding an "invisible mode" one in there now and then. The idea is to maximize his wasted time while minimizing yours.

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