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fremen_warrior's avatar

New wave of spam heading our way?

Asked by fremen_warrior (5447 points ) December 13th, 2012

Instead of the usual “buy x” scam/spam deal we are recently seeing the emergence of a new form of trash – spam disguised as questions. My question to you is where do we set the bar, how do we distinguish between spam and normal content?

Can we agree to a certain standard of questions, so that we are not drowned in stupid? In mods we trust, true, but there are these borderline cases like the “am I pregnant” question that popped up recently, the stream of pointless “Are you a… person (followed by a list of 10 things that describe it)”. I don’t know about you, but I would hate to see this site succomb to this kind of dreck.’

Any ideas on how to tighten our defences against SPAM?

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

32 Answers

_Whitetigress's avatar

Usually SPAM contains a link.

I think what you are referring to is what we call, TROLLIN’

And there’s no way to really prevent the question until they are booted off the site.

gailcalled's avatar

Easiest way is to flag the question for being 15 questions, which circumvents the guidelines.

Coloma's avatar

Hey…ride the wave! I for one could use an outlet for my uncharacteristic, not feeling well and irritable mindset. Coloma sharpens her sardonic and razor wit and hops on her surf board.

wundayatta's avatar

I like the questions. They are a lot more interesting than the ones we’ve been seeing. I think you are just jealous because you can’t think of so many questions, nor be as creative at describing the details.

In any case, I could not disagree more strongly with the premise of this question. Please try to be more tolerant. This is not hurting you in any way, and it is helping the website. We need more energy and more people. Why is it that the second we see a bunch of new people who are even slightly different, people start complaining about how standards are being brought down? You remind me of a bunch of old fuddy-duddies! Be tolerant. Surf the wave. Be grateful people want to be here! Sheesh!

marinelife's avatar

I agree with you about the Are you a…person? I hate those!

fremen_warrior's avatar

@wundayatta that is your opinion. I have mine. It is not about new people. It is really about adhering to certain standards. I understand you have been on this site a lot longer than I have, and you feel that it needs more energy, more people to make it more lively, even at the cost of making Fluther somewhat more… common (for lack of a better term).

I realise this site is not exactly a science and technology forum, and I nevertheless believe we should keep the bar at a decent level here, even when we are being silly for instance. Why should a certain standard be reserved only to the more serious places?

We are bombarded by stupid daily – through advertising, tv, and even regular people imitating this type of behaviour. Is it really so much to ask to keep Fluther stupid-free?

(mind you there is a difference between stupid and silly)

zenvelo's avatar

When I see the numbered questions-type questions, I move on and don’t even begin to answer them. But I see a number of people like it, so I will leave them be.

The “Whoopee I am not pregnant” question was by a fairly new poster, and she would have been better served by doing an update to her original post. But it was a one time thing from someone new.

Response moderated
wundayatta's avatar

It depends on how you define stupid. I haven’t been seeing stupid. It sounds to me like you are talking about spam, and I never see spam. It’s always gone before I get here.

I strongly object to your position on the pregnancy question. I thought that was a serious and important question. I think a lot of people dump on questions like this because they don’t take a second to try to empathize or remember what it was like to be young. There was a time when you, too, didn’t know things. People can get on here at age 13. I don’t expect kids to necessarily know much about pregnancy at that age. So I think it is better to be tolerant and to educate.

Remember, there is a karma here. This question brings us bad karma. It tells a much wider audience that we are elitist and they better think twice before they say anything remotely stupid.

Folks out there—there are no stupid questions. There can be stupidly phrased questions, or poorly understood questions, and you do have a responsibility to try to ask what you mean to ask. But all questions are legitimate, in my opinion. We need you to participate here.

jonsblond's avatar

@fremen_warrior Are you the reincarnation of PnL?

I’m joking. You can see this was discussed two years ago. Not that we shouldn’t have the same discussion again, but I thought I’d share it with you. Have fun reading that Q.

fremen_warrior's avatar

@Coloma precisely.

@wundayatta ^ and also “If I shove a uranium rod up my a**, will I have enough fuel to propel myself all the way to Mars if I jump up from the top of Mt Everest?” i.e. I believe there really is such a thing as a stupid question, despite what the commonly accepted quote on questions states. When has “googling it” become harder than writing an entire paragraph on a q&a site?

I think what you are proposing is avoiding the problem rather than stating one exists. Yes I think some questions should not be asked, because some are either pointless or stupid. Trying to shelter people from the harsh reality that they have indeed asked such a question is in my opinion patronising, and harmful to the person in the long run – if you do not tell them how it is, they will probably not give it a single thought and will continue to have a distorted view of reality.

@jonsblond thanks for the link. I think it doesn’t hurt to talk about this from time to time either.

Coloma's avatar

@fremen_warrior drowned in stupid…Oh my…my poor head, it hurts to laugh

janbb's avatar

It does seem to me that some people – new or old – come on and post three questions that sure seem like polls and don’t lead to a discussion. i would like to see some guidance from the mods on that.

wildpotato's avatar

I think it’s unfair to characterize the poll questions as spam, and I can’t figure out why some people are so annoyed by them. Maybe the asker is a psych major. Or thinks of things in list form – many people do. Maybe if people are jumping to answer a question with nothing more than a derogatory remark about the form of the question, they themselves contribute to a degradation of the level of helpfulness and creativity on Fluther. Maybe – and I’m pretty certain of this last one – she or he is a new Flutherer, and we should not bite.

Coloma's avatar

I love seeing newcomers, but…just because someone is new doesn’t mean that they are immune to critique, especially when it comes to ethical dilemmas or flat out absurdity. I mean, the new kid at school or the new coworker is just as subject to correction or critique as anyone else. Personally the “poll” type questions aren’t bothering me, but flat out insanity like the pregnancy scare is another thing entirely.

wildpotato's avatar

@Coloma For sure, newcomers should not be immune to critique. It’s the manner of the critique that I think we ought to be careful with. The criticism of the asker in question has been anything but respectful, with the notable exception of a gentle inquiry about the method by janbb. But in general, the criticism has been accusatory and now verges on name-calling, with epithets like “spam” and “stupid” being thrown around. My contention is that this is not helpful, and is actually quite harmful to both our stated purpose of answering peoples’ questions and to our side project of creating a community.

I missed this pregnancy q. Is it still up? I searched, but see four “Am I pregnant” q’s in just the first page of results, and they’re not recent. If it’s not still up, could someone please explain what happened?

Bellatrix's avatar

@fremen_warrior, neither of these situations would constitute ‘spam’ officially. However, they may breach the guidelines. If you notice something like this, flag it. It will then be evaluated and acted upon. The input of community members through the flag system is valued.

YARNLADY's avatar

It’s trolls, not spam, and I am one user who believes the guidelines are there for our protection.

I don’t get why some users insist Fluther should be a free-for-all like some other sites are. Why not just go where the fun is?

I become a member-at-large moderator and use the flag button.

Coloma's avatar

@wildpotato I think I am rather naive at times, todays weenie roast with the multiple questions question, while rather fatiguing certainly doesn’t deserve to be called spam or trolling IMO. Who knows…everybody perspectives vary wildly, of course.

Bellatrix's avatar

@wildpotato I am pretty sure the “I am pregnant” question was duplicated repeatedly with almost none (or none) of the required changes being made. I concur with your comments about being careful and considerate about how we critique new (or old) members contributions. There is no need for the responses in any thread to descend to the level of insulting each other.

wundayatta's avatar

@fremen_warrior The problem with this place is that people don’t have the proper absurdist sense of humor to appreciate the question about the uranium rod. You clearly don’t get it. It’s funny. And it provides a great opportunity for creative story telling as an answer. It’s just for fun.

But with attitudes like yours and many other people here, fun is severely curtailed. That’s who you are. That’s what you want. Fine. But surely there’s room for both of us to be happy? All you have to do is leave the question alone. No one is forcing you to respond to it.

What I wish you would do is ignore the question, but send me the link so I know it’s there. Then I can go and have fun. I mean, it’s a great premise and at least I, and a few others would have fun answering it in the spirit it was probably placed there. And even if the person is a troll, it doesn’t matter. We can still have fun.

And if you are against trolls, the best way to get rid of them is to not be offended and to embrace them. They love stirring up trouble, But if what they stir up is fun, they can’t stand it. So if you really hate trolls, let me at them. And follow my lead. Because if there’s something trolls don’t want, it’s being made fun of, and especially if they aren’t sure they are being made fun of. That makes them nuts.

SO please be a little tolerant. Your ways are your ways, but there are people who can have fun with it. Please don’t kill my fun. Please don’t encourage the moderators to be even more sour-pussed than they already are.

gailcalled's avatar

@wundayatta: What about your annoying and very unamusing trait of being Johnny-one-note?

If you don’t like the food, the waitstaff, the decor and the cleaning staff, open your own restaurant.

augustlan's avatar

We wouldn’t call that spam, but these things may not meet our guidelines for other reasons. The recent pregnancy question was asked at least 5 times, and didn’t meet our writing standards any of those times, so all were removed. The ‘multiple (unrelated) questions inside one question’ situation doesn’t meet our guidelines because it seems designed to circumvent the 3 question limit. We deal with these things on a case-by-case basis, so be sure to flag things for us.

wundayatta's avatar

@gailcalled There are many things you do that annoy me, too. Especially your complaints on this thread. Should I be inviting you to take your custom elsewhere, too? Anyway,I’m not a chef, nor am I a manager. Any website I would run would soon go under. I’m sure you’d do a much better job. Why don’t you try it?

augustlan's avatar

Don’t make me turn this car around.

fremen_warrior's avatar

@wundayatta to tell you the truth I agree with @gailcalled you do tend to sound like a broken record at times. And regarding the uranium question, it was a means of visualising what I meant. Of course it would be fun to ask that kind of question in social and see the wacky results ;-) Fun is fun and I’m far from being one to kill it. The questions in question though are usually asked more or less seriously. Do you see the difference here?

Regarding Trolls, I’d say you never know who you might happen upon, so instead of playing mind games with these people it’s best to leave this to “the powers that be” – who knows, the Troll might outlast you in that little game of yours (ever thought of that?).

@augustlan and @Bellatrix thank you for clarifying this. I do flag questions, sometimes I wonder if I’m not abusing the button even ;-) Good to know this is also covered. In that case I have nothing more to add to the discussion.

Thank you, everyone, for participating :-)

YARNLADY's avatar

There is a fun question and answer site, for those who are wanting that sort of thing right here and they even claim they will pay you real money for participating.

ucme's avatar

I prefer corned beef myself.

Seek's avatar

I will say this: I’d leave the uranium rod question (that’s just funny), lose the “Yay, I’m not pregnant” nonsense, and anything that even smells like homework gets a sarcastic push off, then deleted.

I tend to play with trolls a lot like @wundayatta does, but I can see why others don’t want to mess with them. All in all, I think keeping spam, phishing schemes and “do my school work for me” questions out, and making sure the guidelines are generally followed is enough.

Seek's avatar

@YARNLADY Those questions don’t look particularly fun. “Are you a pencil or pen user?” “Ham or roast beef?” “I hate going to sleep, don’t you?”

Yawn.

blueiiznh's avatar

Don’t open anything if you don’t know the sender. Tag it as spam, blacklist the sender or senders domain.

Be diligent.

YARNLADY's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr It’s not the questions that make a site, it’s the answers and the interaction.

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