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Author: Subject: What in the Holy FAK is with this new SPAM issue!?
RogueRose
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[*] posted on 9-11-2018 at 20:56
What in the Holy FAK is with this new SPAM issue!?


So what, did Melgar do such a good job that the doosh bag spammers are taking revenge now? This is totally out of hand. I reported about 40-50 posts today and was only online for about 20 mins.


WTF is going on!?
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RogueRose
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[*] posted on 9-11-2018 at 21:11


20 mins after reporting ~25 different posts and they are still there.
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[*] posted on 9-11-2018 at 22:03
Spam on the rise


Dear Moderators,

Unfortunately it seems that the noise level on SM board is still rising. Be it the most sophisticated spam filtering efforts of Melgar the new (at least for me) spam posts seem to be changed.
They no longer contain links, they are simply just malicious "noise". Spammers no longer want to sell us anything, they want to undermine this forum and let us drown in the elevated noise level.

My sincere question is would it be possible to refuse all new subscriptions from would-be SM members and spammers for a while (maybe for a clearly stated predetermined time period) altogether, let the "sleeping cells" already in reactivate, get rid of them, then reopen the board with a different subscription policy?
Different would mean "supervised first n posts", or mandatory "n days silence after subscription", etc. ?

We may loose a few legitimate users but would save those already in and would restore the "morale" on the board. Which is I feel is in danger now. Maybe it is just for me today but with time more will be fed up.

It is now Chemistry in general which gets the most spam - tomorrow maybe other subsections will get their "fair" share of dirt as well. That will be the time I will less frequently visit SM I feel.

By the way if anyone thinks seriously about amateur chemistry and love his/her hobby then would compose even a 1000 word long original "application letter to the mods" if wants to get in! I'm sure I would have done it when subscribed and you can check that for the first few days I was silent and read the old threads carefully before started to post my silly questions.

I would not mind loosing even dozens of one-time posters if I could introduce a new X, X being any name of our respected old and current members with hundreds of deep, meaningful, accurate posts in their stats.

Quality and not quantity should be first and it would surely rise the "prestige" of the board too. Now with the spam I simply don't see it. I see a sinking ship instead.
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j_sum1
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[*] posted on 10-11-2018 at 00:39


I came back after a couple of days away to the joy of 250 spam reports and the front page chocker with rubbish.
It must have been a frustrating couple of days. And teh botkila must be down for some reason.

I will do a manual clean up in an hour or two when I have a spot of spare time.
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j_sum1
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10-11-2018 at 01:15
RogueRose
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[*] posted on 10-11-2018 at 11:02


If we merge a thread, how about a link to which the thread is merged! Almost NO forum does this and I can NEVER find the thread it is merged to. WTF is up with that?

I checked the Whimsy section and didn't see it, i thought we were keeping the SPAM stuff there so Spammers can't read it.
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fusso
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[*] posted on 10-11-2018 at 11:24


Quote: Originally posted by RogueRose  
If we merge a thread, how about a link to which the thread is merged! Almost NO forum does this and I can NEVER find the thread it is merged to. WTF is up with that?

I checked the Whimsy section and didn't see it, i thought we were keeping the SPAM stuff there so Spammers can't read it.
I agree. There are quite some antispam ideas in the "Tired of..." thread. We should move them here ASAP otherwise they'll indirectly become agent provocateurs of more ingenious spams.



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https://docs.google.com/document/u/1/d/1AoI2VA5L4bmFw2HwXS2O...
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unionised
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[*] posted on 10-11-2018 at 14:38


I don't know a lot about the subject, but could we automatically kill anyone who posts a thread called
Mature purlieus
or Full-grown galleries
etc?

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Amos
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[*] posted on 10-11-2018 at 15:40


I'd like to offer up my services to become a moderator or just be given deletion permissions, especially given that I've got a lot of free time which is not something common among our staff at present. I moderate a few facebook groups and a discord server if that counts for anything, I'm extremely easy to contact by anyone active in the SM skype group, and yes, I promise to use my powers only for anti-spam activity. I'm going to send a copy of this post to a few admins to see what they say.

I'm sick of the spam. This is sociopathic behavior and I intend to do whatever I can about it as soon as I'm allowed to.
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RogueRose
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[*] posted on 10-11-2018 at 15:55


Quote: Originally posted by fusso  
Quote: Originally posted by RogueRose  
If we merge a thread, how about a link to which the thread is merged! Almost NO forum does this and I can NEVER find the thread it is merged to. WTF is up with that?

I checked the Whimsy section and didn't see it, i thought we were keeping the SPAM stuff there so Spammers can't read it.
I agree. There are quite some antispam ideas in the "Tired of..." thread. We should move them here ASAP otherwise they'll indirectly become agent provocateurs of more ingenious spams.


R u mocking me or being sarcastic about moving to Whimsy? I only suggested that b/c it had been suggested many times in other threads, and I thought I had seen the SPAM thread here, but not it ain't so I was confused where it went.
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RogueRose
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[*] posted on 10-11-2018 at 16:08


I have a feeling that this isn't natural spam behavior. I am about 99% certain this board is being targeted by someone, maybe someone in politics who doesn't like people talking about this stuff. I see no other reason for 90% of these spam posts b/c they are not links to anything (and many links aren't even active!).

Would it not make sense that if you can't legally shut down a forum due to free speech laws, then just try to make it unuseable? Sounds like a Communist type of attack - or could be capitalist based IF we were providing information that was making them loose $$ which I kind of doubt we are.
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[*] posted on 10-11-2018 at 16:20


Whoa. Calm down.

If anyone is at fault here, it is me. I merged two threads since they were bith resoonding to the same issue. I did not notice one was in whimsy. Apologies for the confusion that caused.

We have old software and need to work within its constraints. If I move a thread then there is the option to leave a redirect. If I merge a thread, there is no such option.

We were moving some spam threads to detritus as a means of collecting information on spammer tactics. But, such threads often got wiped by being reported. Also Melgar was collecting spammer info through other means as he developed his filters.

The current issue seems to be that Melgar's script has crashed. Melgar is aware of the things that cause this. But at present it seems to have not restarted.

If you are noticing a subtle difference between the current state of the board and what it eas a week ago (sarcasm intended), then that is testament to the awesome job that Melgar has done and the effectiveness of the code he has written. He really does deserve our thanks.

The long-term solution is migration to another platform. Melgar has also done a lot of work on this. The stalling factor at this stage is Polverone's input.

Frustrating as the present status is, this is not the time to bite one another's heads off. I'm off to delete another 60 spam posts.

Edit: responding to RR's last post
The spam strategy is simply to use SM's status on search engines to lend legitimacy to the sites they are promoting. It is largely automated and probably not that effective. But the tactic relies on volume rather than efficiency. There is no conspiracy here.

[Edited on 11-11-2018 by j_sum1]
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fusso
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[*] posted on 10-11-2018 at 16:56


@RR sorry for any misunderstandings. No, I'm not mocking you or what. And I also shouldn't have quoted you and made that post.



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j_sum1
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Thread Moved
11-11-2018 at 05:16
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[*] posted on 11-11-2018 at 10:41


Quote: Originally posted by RogueRose  
I have a feeling that this isn't natural spam behavior. I am about 99% certain this board is being targeted by someone, maybe someone in politics who doesn't like people talking about this stuff..
This is normal spam behavior. Perhaps his bot malfunctions at times but this is a simple money making google exploit. I've seen malicious bot attacks and they look nothing like this.
The reason this forum is being targeted is simple: there is nothing stopping him. When I joined I accidentally used a email address thats no longer valid, I tried to log in and to my surprise the log in worked and I could change my settings to use my current email. There isn't even automated email verification on this board and that's the very first step in forum security, it takes more than that to keep bots away. These bots go after the low hanging fruit, then when security is finally implemented the coder tries to adapt a few times before giving up and moving on to the new low hanging fruit. If you want the bots gone several registration verification measures need to be implemented one by one to annoy and impede the bot owner.
The bot owner just wants to make money with little effort, you have to make it too much effort.

Its funny, there was a time people around the world fought for capitalism in russia.
Welcome to russian capitalism LOL
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diddi
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[*] posted on 11-11-2018 at 21:33


Quote: Originally posted by Amos  
I'd like to offer up my services to become a moderator or just be given deletion permissions, .


i offered a while back and i know of others also. -declined-




Beginning construction of periodic table display
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Texium (zts16)
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[*] posted on 12-11-2018 at 06:32


Alright, here's the deal:

1. These spam posts are not getting past Melgar's script, Melgar's script is just not currently running. I'm sure he will be turning it back on soon, but if you haven't noticed, he hasn't been around for a few days. Then most of the spam will once again be taken care of.

2. We don't need more moderators. This is a very temporary state of affairs and soon the script will be up and running again. Plus even if you were made a moderator all you could do would be manually deleting threads one at a time since Polverone isn't here to add you to the spam report super power list, so you couldn't take out a tower of posts by the same spammer in one go like I can. That's the unfortunate state that j_sum is in.

3. All of this is a temporary fix. If you have another idea it's probably been said before and either already implemented or dismissed for some reason. The only real solution is migration to a newer platform.

4. Please stop talking about spam, theorizing about spam, and starting new threads about spam. It isn't going to change anything at this point. There is a plan in place.




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[*] posted on 12-11-2018 at 11:01


Thank you @Texium(zts16).
You seem to be able to state the obvious. Much needed in this world.
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Melgar
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[*] posted on 12-11-2018 at 12:12


Sorry, I was sick for the last 3-4 days, and haven't been online hardly at all.

Script is back up and running again. There were some issues with a certain new user getting false positives, since that user was starting new threads containing a bunch of links to foreign patent sites and sci-hub mirrors right of the bat. I first noticed this was happening by reading the logs, incidentally. AFAIK, this has been the first incident of an actual user getting posts deleted when the script was working as intended. I've made a few minor changes to the algorithm, but there's still the issue of what to do if something like that happens in the future and I'm unavailable to fix it.

Possibilities:

  • Posting mostly whitelisted links (eg, hosted at en.wikipedia.org, orgsyn.org, www.sciencedirect.com) with 1-2 not on the whitelist, adds very little to the spam score. The only two whitelisted domains that spambots have posted links to have been linkedin.com and youtube.com. These could easily be made to just not count either way. I don't know how well this would work, and it might be complicated to implement.
  • Have the script read through my U2U inbox and store the list of members who sent me messages. Exempt this list from deletion.
  • Set up a thread that anyone can post to, that gets scanned periodically. Have some syntax set up for username mentions, like notbot=(fusso,diddi,jsum_1,Elrik) so that usernames in that syntax in that thread are automatically exempted from getting extra scrutiny for being new. (Note that because none of the users in the aforementioned list ARE new, that wouldn't actually do anything)

Something similar could be done to add safe domains to the whitelist. I could also just exempt any domains that fit the regex 'sci-hub\.??' so that we don't have to get dragged into playing sci-hub whack-a-mole alongside the copyright police.

But I guess the more important issue is how to restart it when it crashes. In that case, I have to come up with a solution that keeps me logged in, since starting it going requires me to type in my password. This is because botkilla needs to log in as me in order to be able to delete spam, and I obviously have to be somewhat careful in how that gets done. I'll try to think about possible ways I can preserve the session/cookie information in a crash, and then resume in some capacity without me needing to type in my password again.




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I'm givin' the spam shields max power at full warp, but they just dinna have the power! We're gonna have to evacuate to new forum software!
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[*] posted on 12-11-2018 at 14:23


I hope you're feeling better.

Quote: Originally posted by Melgar  
But I guess the more important issue is how to restart it when it crashes. In that case, I have to come up with a solution that keeps me logged in, since starting it going requires me to type in my password. This is because botkilla needs to log in as me in order to be able to delete spam, and I obviously have to be somewhat careful in how that gets done. I'll try to think about possible ways I can preserve the session/cookie information in a crash, and then resume in some capacity without me needing to type in my password again.


The cookies are very simple. xmbpw is just an md5 hash of your password.

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Melgar
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[*] posted on 12-11-2018 at 17:41


There's four cookies though: xmblva, xmblvb, xmbuser, and xmbpw. I tried saving them all and then reloading them all instead of re-entering my password, but that didn't work. I tried some combinations of using xmblva and xmblvb from the new session, and then loading xmbuser and xmbpw (either in full or in part) from backup, but that didn't work either. It could very well be some minor typo in the code I was using at the time, but I'd expect that when it restarts and gets new session data, that there would be some mechanism to link the xmbuser and xmbpw cookies to the new automatically-generated session cookies. Like how in my browser, I'm occasionally logged out, and have to log back in, although my browser saves my username and password.

I ended up going a different route though, and have it so that when it crashes, it keeps all the session data in global variables. That way, the only part that crashes is a console command, so an error just takes it right back to the console prompt, with all data still in memory. Sometimes, it's an actual post that's causing the problem, and so a person has to manually remove the post before it can start operating normally again, so whatever ends up being the solution, there should be some recognition that obstacles will eventually be removed by human moderators.

That said, could some people PLEASE test out the new test site I've been working on? I just added two new bbcode tags, [molecule] and [ce]. (Both have end tags, btw.) The first inserts a molecular diagram using PubChem, and you can use just about any string that might identify that molecule. Like, [molecule]THC[/molecule]. [ce] uses the mhchem library for LaTeX, so you can write chemical equations in a really simple syntax. Like [ce]Fe0 + H2SO4 -> H2 + FeSO4 + FeS + H2O + SO2[/ce]. I used [ce] because that's the same abbreviation mhchem uses, but if anyone thinks there's a potentially more-intuitive tag to use for molecular diagrams, I'm open to feedback. Thanks! :D

Take a look at this thread:

http://230.63.185.35.bc.googleusercontent.com/talk/viewtopic...




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I'm givin' the spam shields max power at full warp, but they just dinna have the power! We're gonna have to evacuate to new forum software!
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