I estimate that the spam account to real account registration ratio is around 5 to 1. As far as I can tell I'm pretty good at catching them so whoever person or persons are doing this are basically throwing their money away. I presume it keeps happening because throwing money away is cheaper than verifying whether the spam actually sticks to the site. The registration Q&A even requires answering a question that directly requires understanding/acknowledging that spam will be deleted. These people have zero shame.
However, my counter-efforts might create false positives for new users resulting in delayed account activation or account deletion.
Hence, some advice for those about to open an account and write their first post.
- Don't use a throwaway email address to register (you can always change your email later). The easiest red flag is an address with some number in it that uses a free email provider, e.g. bobwilson07365 at gmail.com.
- Don't use VPN to register (you can always use it later). A lot of the spam accounts come through VPNs. I check all IPs against spam data bases and if it shows up with multiple recent hits, the account won't be approved. This, unfortunately, also hurts legit users who share IPs with spammers, i.e. VPNs, being suspicious by association.
- Recommend that your first post is more than a generic couple of context-free lines like "Good post. I agree!" or "This is very good information for me." Spammers are often on the clock and will rarely put much effort into writing.
- Recommend even more strongly that your first post is not one that resurrects some long dead thread that's potentially related to something with commercial potential, e.g. bitcoin, mortgages, debt-service, plumbing, renovation, windows, etc.
- If you have less than 50 posts, do not go back later and edit to insert specific product/service links in previous posts. These show up as red flags in the moderation logs.
- Don't register an account and leave it inactive without ever posting. Never-used accounts are subject to regular garbage collection in order to keep the databases small.
Sorry for the hassle. This is why we can't have nice things.