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gorillapaws's avatar

What are the implications of disabling PMing until some minimal requirement is met to reduce spam?

Asked by gorillapaws (16012 points ) February 28th, 2012

I just received a spam PM from an obvious spam account with no questions or answers. I copied the content and informed a Mod of their username, but it made me think that this kind of spam is preventable for the most part. What if you had to earn the privilege of PMing someone other than a mod (I could see how conversations with mods could be necessary for someone new to the site) by meeting some very minimal requirement such as 24 hours after posing at least one question or answer that didn’t get deleted. In other words, you can’t spam others until you’ve at least participated minimally on the site and have waited 24 hours (or possibly only a couple of hours) so that fake posts attempting to satisfy those requirements would have had sufficient time to have been screened out.

Would implementing this have some negative consequences that I’m not seeing? Obviously it would require coding/testing resources, and that’s not an insignificant thing. I’m just thinking it might have the potential to save the mod team a lot of time/effort down the road.

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13 Answers

PhiNotPi's avatar

Maybe there should be a lurve requirement. This might be easier to implement and more reasonable. Since spammers generally do not receive GA’s and GQ’s, they are unlikely to meet any lurve requirements before being weeded out. I believe that the lurve limit should be set as low as possible, becuase it is the whole idea of a lurve limit that is a barrier to spammers, and not so much the actual amount of lurve required.

I propose a requirement of 10 lurve.

Users receive 1 lurve for joining, and another 1 lurve for each day they visit consecutively.

Ten lurve can be met in three main ways (all of which require effort from the part of the spammer).

1 for joining + 9 consecutive days (this serves as a time requirement for those spammers who choose not to participate)

1 for joining + 2 Great Answers (spam posts rarely get 2 GAs)

1 for joining + 3 Great Questions (Tumblr questions rarely receive 3 GQs)

There are many other combinations of the above, which either require more time (in terms of multiple days) for consecutive visits, or both asking and answering questions that receive lurve.

gorillapaws's avatar

@PhiNotPi I first considered lurve, but there were a few concerns that I could come up with. First is the +1 for consecutive days. It would be trivial for a spammer to write a script that exploited this by first seeding spam accounts which go unnoticed until the 9th day when they start spamming people. Alternatively, they could easily create multiple spam accounts and GA/GQ each other to game the system that way. Even if the answers are eventually modded away, the lurve remains (I’m pretty sure).

By enforcing a brief waiting period, this ensures enough time has passed that garbage questions/answers will have had time to be snarfed up by the mod team, and thus they still would not have satisfied the requirement to PM people.

wundayatta's avatar

If it works without hurting anyone, I’m all for it. Unfortunately, due to a lack of programmers, no matter how good an idea it is, unless it is a matter of ten minutes to implement, I doubt if it will get done. But it sounds like a good idea to me. And surely it would help the mods.

PhiNotPi's avatar

@gorillapaws So, maybe like a requirement to have 10 lurve and then wait for at least a day? This might be the best way to require the spammers to reveal themselves by answering questions and then give the mods enough time to weed them out.

dappled_leaves's avatar

How serious is the spam issue? I’ve never received one since joining Fluther. What percentage of people are getting hit, and are those people each getting a lot of spam?

PhiNotPi's avatar

@dappled_leaves I’ve gotten PM’s from a new user (no answers, no questions, 2 lurve) that was trying to get math advice from me (he was trying to cheat on an IB Math assessment). I’ve never gotten any product offers, though.

gorillapaws's avatar

@dappled_leaves it’s happened a few times to me over the years, which is pretty minimal. I have no idea how much time the mods have to spend dealing with this particular issue relative to all of the others out there. There are a couple of reasons why I think it might be worth exploring though. It’s an area where Fluther is more vulnerable, since the site is excellent at policing spam in questions, the spammers might want to pursue areas where the response time is much slower (i.e. they can send out PM’s to a lot more people in the same amount of time that it would take to delete a question). Also, once implemented, it would simply eliminate that problem altogether and permanently reduce the workload on the mod team (which is a win IMO).

augustlan's avatar

We probably get 4 or 5 “PM spammers” a year, so it’s not a huge time suck for us to take care of this type of spammer. What I would love to see, though, is a way for people to flag a profile. It would work just like flagging a question or answer, and you’d have a list of reasons for the flag, like: spam, obscene username/avatar, trolling behavior, doesn’t meet writing standards. Stuff like that.

Edit: I wanted to add that once we are aware of a PM spammer, it’s super easy to deal with. We ban them, and all the PMs they’ve sent disappear, all at once. POOF!

Bellatrix's avatar

Neptune feasts on spammers…. bit like Spanner Crabs… only meatier.

dappled_leaves's avatar

I’m not sure I would categorize spam as “meat”. :P

LuckyGuy's avatar

You mean it was a spam PM? All this time I thought Hot_chics18 really liked my profile and truly wanted to trade pixxx. Gosh, I am so disappointed.

marinelife's avatar

There is not enough occurrence of spam to justify such a programming change. I just got one too (the first time in many moons), and it was handled promptly when I contacted the mod team.

augustlan's avatar

Of course, we just had our second PM spammer in two days. :/

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