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Forum Moderators: rogerd
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.
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.
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.
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.
Oh, and I wrote to AOL to complain - they never responded.
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.
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.
Then again, there would still be trolls, like one I have now, who ride around hijacking unsecured wireless connections to register accounts. *sigh*
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 ...
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).