A way to help stop spammers?

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Discussion of general topics related to the new release and its place in the world. Don't discuss new features, report bugs, ask for support, et cetera. Don't use this to spam for other boards or attack those boards!
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Eelke
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Re: A way to help stop spammers?

Post by Eelke »

What kind of Search Engine Optimization? The moral kind, where you use friendly URLs and meaningful title tags (for example - please let's not discuss effective SEO here apart from how this nofollow thing would affect it) to get good pageranks for your own pages, or the immoral kind (which probably most of us would object to being called SEO in the first place) that this Sam character practices?

Either way, please explain how you come to the conclusion that "there are not very many SEO experts in here". It's not very constructive to just make a remark that people are apparently not knowledgeable about something - back up your point by pointing out your insights leading to that conclusion.
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Re: A way to help stop spammers?

Post by SamG »

Eelke wrote: Sam's (the one on the Register, not SamG) argument is that the nofollow attribute will not ban out comment spam because old installations will not get updated.
Sam's argument, as I understood it (and as the blog author understood it, I think), is that he's not interested in search engine results at all. He's interested in what any legitimate Web advertiser is interested in -- click throughs (the same motivation behind e-mail spam). If he can advertise widely via comment spam and he can get traffic in that way, he keeps driving his Jaguar. Using nofollow doesn't affect those interested in ad space.

It's a fair point about pre v1.5 WordPress installations being a root cause of targeting WordPress installs (for those interested in pagerank), but I think the same argument plays against phpBB, does it not? If v3 is the first to use nofollow, there's a lot of spammer momentum to see die off before nofollow bears fruit, even if nofollow is backported to the v2 line. So in my view, the emphasis of the WordPress part of the discussion ought to be on how the WordPress community has responded to the spam problem, not on why. At least, that's what I took VxJasonxV's point to be.

Now, if somebody says phpBB should use nofollow to be a fair player on the search engine front, to do our bit to preserve the integrity of search engine results, then I say, yeah, absolutely. But the topic here is spam, and all I'm suggesting is that nofollow targets only that percentage of spammers interested in pagerank. Spammers interested in ad space will not be affected at all. Even a brief (albeit unscientific) review of the spam complaints at the main site suggests that phpBB admins are having a lot of trouble with spammers looking for ad space (they regularly complain about the kinds of spam Sam makes his money at). For that reason, using nofollow really isn't near to my heart among the ideas for preventing spam. I'm not opposed to its use, but I think that in terms of this discussion, the anti-spam help nofollow provides is necessarily limited, and I think that it's fair to point that out.
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EXreaction
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Re: A way to help stop spammers?

Post by EXreaction »

The only kind of spam I have had is spam in signatures and website sections. We get all kinds of people that register with crap in their website and signature sections and then never come back. And if they knew everyone's links had rel="nofollow" wouldn't that atleast get rid of the biggest motivation to register? I can see the problem that some people have with a public(where anyone can post and you don't need to register) board, but I have my own anonymus board where anyone can post and in the last 9 months it has been up we have not had anyone post on it with spam.
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Highway of Life
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Re: A way to help stop spammers?

Post by Highway of Life »

Hey,
sorry for the quick reply. I should have been more descriptive.

Basically, you don't want to just put nofollow on your forum by default, but you CAN have it automatically added to certain parts of your forum,

The problem is by using a meta nofollow tag, you hurt your forum and site pagerank more than you would disable the spammers ability to gain pagerank.
Google already penalizes spam sites once they find them, if you are not aware... google has pretty good algorithms to detect spam sites.

Google answered the question a few years back, on wether or not you should just put nofollow as a meta tag on your forum or blog...
"Probably not, because lots of interesting discussion can happen there."

The best places to add this attribute are the actual links that other people can create. So on this page, for instance, only the links within posts or profiles.
Any link that a user can create on your site automatically gets a new "nofollow" attribute. So if a spammer previously added a post like
Visit my <a href="http://www.example.com/">discount pharmaceuticals</a> site.

That post would be transformed to
Visit my <a href="http://www.example.com/" rel="nofollow">discount pharmaceuticals</a> site.

This is a much better method as it does not hurt the pagerank of your site.
But if you have a heavily monitored board, it really does not make sense to have this active, as there may be valuable content that a spider can follow.

The idea here is really to keep spammers, and I'm talking about the spammers who post links to pharmaceutical sites, porn sites, get-rich-quick sites, and the like, but you don't really want to restrict the regular flow of links.

On the other hand, if you are a forum admin, and you DO want to restrict the flow, then it would be a good idea to have the option for links created in posts OR just sigs to have the rel=nofollow attribute. But only as a ACP option, and not a blanket wide phpBB board-wide option.

All of my boards are heavily moderated, and as such, we don't need the nofollow meta tags or attributes since that would only be hurting legitimate content.

If they were going to add the rel=nofollow attribute, I would only want it in sigs. And infact, it would only take me about 15 minutes to create a Mod that would automatically add the nofollow attribute to only signature links.

EDIT: I forgot to add that WordPress 1.5 comes with “nofollow” attribute for external links enabled by default, with no option to disable it.
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SamG
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Re: A way to help stop spammers?

Post by SamG »

EXreaction wrote: …if they knew everyone's links had rel="nofollow" wouldn't that atleast get rid of the biggest motivation to register?
Well, that's part of the question. The experience of the WordPress community may not apply to forum products, but if it does, then the answer apparently is no. WordPress even started up an official spam prevention service (to go along with the rollout of WordPress.com) well after their v1.5 release.

That isn't to say using nofollow is useless. That's only to say that spam is a significantly bigger problem (real or potential) than can be addressed through nofollow. I think in phpBB's case, permissions would be a cleaner answer to the spam registration problem. Keep search engines by default from seeing member lists, signatures, and profiles. That'll hurt the incentive to do spam registrations, but we still have the spam comments/posts/replies problem that you have been blessed so far to avoid.

We have to keep in mind, I think, that pagerank isn't the only thing spammers are after. My e-mail inboxes are a daily reminder of that. :cry:
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EXreaction
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Re: A way to help stop spammers?

Post by EXreaction »

Ya, I agree with you Highway...I think it would work great if they had the rel="nofollow" on personal links. Links in posts I don't have a problem with(thats what moderators are for). The signature and website sections should have the rel="nofollow" attribute IMHO, because people just register, put spam in, and then never come back.
(though it shouldn't be as big of a problem anyways with 3)
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Re: A way to help stop spammers?

Post by SamG »

EXreaction wrote: Links in posts I don't have a problem with (thats what moderators are for).
If we're going to argue that phpBB needs a global reputation as being spam unfriendly out of the box (and I certainly agree with that), then that eliminates relying solely on moderation to address post/reply spam, doesn't it?
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Re: A way to help stop spammers?

Post by Lieutenant Clone »

@ Highway

I certianly not (nor was anyone else) arguing that the links to threads should have rel="nofollow". Thats most certianly not what its for. Any link that a user can post, for example using a [ url] tag, should gain the rel="nofollow" tag.

I also think this should be enabled by default, because if you have the moderation power, then by all means go turn it off, but for the rest of us that dont, and the people that wont see the option to toggle the rel="nofollow" or understand its implications, then I see only a very small margin of boards using it, therefor making it essencially usless.

Its just the whole situation here, I can see more bad coming from not using it on all user posted links, than if it were used. If it is off by default, we risk increased spam, where as if its on by default, we risk a slightly lower page rank. Whats worse?
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Highway of Life
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Re: A way to help stop spammers?

Post by Highway of Life »

phpBB2 boards don't have any protection against SPAM, and phpBB3 will be that much better, from the Registration to the Moderation Queue, so spam will be even less of a problem in Olympus than ever before.

I would rather risk a spam post, or even a couple than lose even the slightest pagerank or status with Google, Yahoo, or MSN. But like I said, this may be because our boards are so well moderated.
If It were my choice, I would have 3 nofollow options.
1) for on or off profile
2) for on or off signature
3) for on or off posts

But wether or not the developers will implement the nofollow attribute at all is up to them.
They may just leave it be like they did in phpBB2 and leave it up to MOD's to develop nofollow attributes for external links.
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Eelke
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Re: A way to help stop spammers?

Post by Eelke »

SamG wrote: He's interested in what any legitimate Web advertiser is interested in -- click throughs (the same motivation behind e-mail spam).
I think you misinterpreted that slightly. He's not interested in getting other people's sites high pageranks, but he certainly is interested in getting his own site(s) high pageranks so that his site comes up high in search results and he can get click-throughs from there. Because unless I'm mistaken, that would be the only place from which click-throughs to sites from paying customers would have any value to him.
It's a fair point about pre v1.5 WordPress installations being a root cause of targeting WordPress installs (for those interested in pagerank), but I think the same argument plays against phpBB, does it not?
That's why I said Olympus needs to be sufficiently different from phpBB2 (so that automated spamming scripts break) for this to work out. That would probably still mean spammers would be trying to hit phpBB3 boards, but their scripts would fail (with an important part of the problem reduced, i.e. the spam content making it onto your site - doesn't fix them hogging bandwidth) because posting works differently than the script expects.

I'm sure there'd be those that would simply fix the script without ever thinking about it, but others might not bother because they know there's no point (as phpBB3 has the nofollow attribute in all the places they care about).
Highway of Life wrote: Hey,
sorry for the quick reply. I should have been more descriptive.
You're forgiven :)
[..]The problem is by using a meta nofollow tag, you hurt your forum and site pagerank more than you would disable the spammers ability to gain pagerank.
Of course, and I don't think anyone was arguing that (at least I wasn't). The nofollow (if used at all) should be added to specific links, links that were added by users. Not to links used to navigate the board and which could be used by spiders to index your board. Heavens, no... 8O
Google already penalizes spam sites once they find them, if you are not aware... google has pretty good algorithms to detect spam sites.
OK, but apparently there's still spammers out there that believe adding comment spam or registration spam (which is my biggest problem as I don't allow anonymous comments) is worthwhile. So I say, let's just take the point out of adding links to the board for them.
All of my boards are heavily moderated, and as such, we don't need the nofollow meta tags or attributes since that would only be hurting legitimate content.
So is my board, which is why I am also hessitant for the nofollow attribute in regular posts. However, as there are also boards out there that are not so heavily moderated, I think it might still be in the overall interest of the community to add nofollow attributes to posts by default, and allow individual boards to turn that off. My guess is that the boards that are run by people clued up enough to know to turn it off are mostly the same boards that are moderated well.
If they were going to add the rel=nofollow attribute, I would only want it in sigs. And infact, it would only take me about 15 minutes to create a Mod that would automatically add the nofollow attribute to only signature links.
In addition to sigs, I would want any URLs in the profile (homepage, and any other custom fields with the URL type) to have it as well. Maybe it wil become easier with phpBB 3, but currently I have no real way of checking up on spam registrations other than just looking through the member list from time to time.

With regard to the MOD, that is a very important part of the whole discussion that should not be forgotten, or we might as well stop discussing now. For this thing to have effect, it has to become general knowledge among spammers that there is no point in spamming phpBB3 boards. Your individual board having the nofollow in strategic places isn't going to do diddly-squat (not for the community, but also not for you, which is the most essential point; see the quote from the article I made earlier about searching for target sites), it has to be in sheer numbers.
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