Need help (forum spambot countermeasures)

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jacob
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Need help (forum spambot countermeasures)

Post by jacob »

In the past couple of days the forum registration has been overrun by spam accounts. I suspect some perp figured out the secret answer to the Q&A based captcha, so I need some new ones.

The question needs to fulfil the following criteria:
1) Should be answerable by all real humans who want to register on the forum. This includes new humans too, so ERE history is not that useful.
2) Should not be googleable/answerable by some AI algo. (E.g. not: What does ERE stand for?)
3) Should have a unambiguous answer (single word). (E.g. not: What is a popular investment strategy?)
4) If possible, the question should also not be every human on the planet. (E.g. not: What is two plus two?)

These questions are actually surprisingly hard to come up with.

One example of what I've been using is "Which city does jacob currently live in?"

If anyone comes up with a good one, please PM me. That would be PM! Posting them below defeats the purpose.

ether
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Re: Need help (forum spambot countermeasures)

Post by ether »

Why not use google's captcha?
If this spammer is actually a member of the forum he can just update the answer.

jacob
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Re: Need help (forum spambot countermeasures)

Post by jacob »

I don't have a choice of specific captcha. The 3 different kinds I do have access to are rather useless and usually result in much more spam accounts. I think what happens is that spammers set up a third site that gets a lot of traffic (e.g. porn, quiz tests, page rank checkers, ) ... and then have some random unrelated human solve the captcha that the ERE forum presents. It's pretty clever.

sky
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Re: Need help (forum spambot countermeasures)

Post by sky »

What is the airspeed velocity of an African swallow?

BRUTE
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Re: Need help (forum spambot countermeasures)

Post by BRUTE »

isn't there a plugin that outsources the captcha for phpbb to some service?

BRUTE
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Re: Need help (forum spambot countermeasures)

Post by BRUTE »

sky wrote:What is the airspeed velocity of an African swallow?
laden or unladen?


jacob
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Re: Need help (forum spambot countermeasures)

Post by jacob »

Maybe ... but in the name of easy maintenance, the decision is to keep the forum software as close to the basic installation as possible.

Q&A really is the best solution since a good question also eliminates any "mechanical turk"-human who's paid 50 cents an hour to register fake accounts.

Chris
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Re: Need help (forum spambot countermeasures)

Post by Chris »

jacob wrote:Maybe ... but in the name of easy maintenance, the decision is to keep the forum software as close to the basic installation as possible.
Understood. But there's breaking point somewhere... if you need to update the question weekly, it might be less work to do the upkeep required to use a plugin.

jacob
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Re: Need help (forum spambot countermeasures)

Post by jacob »

Until I manage to get some trustworthy software nerd on retainer for $100/month(*) for work that mostly requires doing nothing except that one time a year where there's a fire alert that requires some immediate response with 1-3 hours, any breakpoint is strongly skewed towards Q&A.

(*) That's the 1099 level. If you want to avoid the tax complications and just do line 21 on form 1040, I can't pay more than $50/month or rather $600/year.

BRUTE
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Re: Need help (forum spambot countermeasures)

Post by BRUTE »

so being on call with 1-3h response time for one year, paying $600. pretty sure that's what being on call pays in a day.

jacob
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Re: Need help (forum spambot countermeasures)

Post by jacob »

Could be, seeing that I've failed to attract any bidders so far. If I have to pay $200k/year to get someone to spend a few hours fixing a problem once a year, it's never going to happen. I want to pay some trustworthy forumite some $600-1200/year for website support (it's 95% forum crap) for issues that historically has happened about once every 6-18 months and which has required some 1-6 hours to fix. This is on the condition that the person is competent enough to fix them and will/can fix them inside of 12-24 hours.

sky
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Re: Need help (forum spambot countermeasures)

Post by sky »

The problem is that the Mechanical Turks are about as smart as some of the people that would like to participate on the forum. I used to run a phpbb forum and there were plug ins for captchas. I went to the phpbb forums every year or two to check out the current best practices to combat spam sign ups.

Did
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Re: Need help (forum spambot countermeasures)

Post by Did »

I don't know what city Jacob lives in.

Guess I will never progress up the ERE table

cmonkey
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Re: Need help (forum spambot countermeasures)

Post by cmonkey »

I am on call for 1 week every 5 weeks and it doesn't pay anywhere near 200K annually. The job would probably be similar to what I already do and since I find my day job pretty boring/easy....well... If you could match the 'income' row in my spreadsheet....let's talk. :D ;)

Chris
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Re: Need help (forum spambot countermeasures)

Post by Chris »

jacob wrote:Until I manage to get some trustworthy software nerd on retainer for $100/month(*) for work that mostly requires doing nothing except that one time a year where there's a fire alert that requires some immediate response with 1-3 hours...
I think it's the expected response time that is off-putting (speaking for myself). Perhaps if you enlisted two people, pay them each of them a small monthly retainer, and then whichever one responds to the annual emergency would get a bonus.

BRUTE
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Re: Need help (forum spambot countermeasures)

Post by BRUTE »

Did wrote:I don't know what city Jacob lives in.

Guess I will never progress up the ERE table
for only $999.99 or 99 monthly installments of $99.99 each, brute will certify Did in the Level 1 ERE(tm) program

OTCW
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Re: Need help (forum spambot countermeasures)

Post by OTCW »

Can you make someone's first post(s) only be able to be made in a specific forum? If it is spammy, no one sees it, and you delete it and them at your leisure.

BRUTE
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Re: Need help (forum spambot countermeasures)

Post by BRUTE »

good idea. brute thinks there's a class of users in phpbb that's "registered new" or something. then the admin can move them to a "real registered" group manually. it might be more effort to manually accept every legit user, but it might be less effort than deleting/banning hundreds of fake ones.

enigmaT120
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Re: Need help (forum spambot countermeasures)

Post by enigmaT120 »

No way. It discriminates against people who can't pass a Turing test.

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