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Instructable SPAM combat Answered

I looked around a bit in the forums and didn't see anything on this topic, but I may not have looked far enough...

I keep tabs on Instructables.com by watching my RSS feed, and I'm frequently annoyed by seeing blatant SPAM coming up in the feed.  Usually SPAM instructables have a photo/video with hyperlinks to an external site, and they're the very first published instructable under an account that was created only hours (or minutes) earlier.

Is there a way that new accounts would be put on probation, requiring that their first instructable pass the sniff-test before being published in the RSS feed or elsewhere?  Perhaps long-established or trusted members with good karma / reputation (yes, borrowing concepts from other sites here) would have the privilege of giving a thumbs-up to non-spam instructables?

Now, I'm not suggesting that this be a complex moderation system or that the instructable even be halfway decent -- just that it's not blatant spam.  If a first-time publisher posts spam, they get a thumbs-down with a boilerplate explanation of why their post isn't in the RSS feed.  They continue to be on probation until they post their first non-spam Instructable.

Now, of course I realize that logged-in members to Instructables have the ability to hit the "SPAM" flag on an instructable, but in my opinion the damage has already been done.  At the very least, these users can be directed to the Marketplace forums.  

I look forward to your constructive criticism. :)

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falling_stone (author)2012-03-19

https://www.instructables.com/member/Clip+Ins/

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user

I have now flagged these & a few others I came across.
It seems a favorite method of spamming lately is to add hyperlinks to comments, short of trawling through every comment left on the site each day I think the only way for HQ to stop it would be to filter any comments or even 'ibles for that matter containing hyperlinks to be vetted before they hit the site.

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user

The problem with doing this would be that it would slow down the appearance of genuine posts.
As Kiteman says below the spam which appears in comments only really impact a few people.
A better option would be for any posts containing hyperlinks to be forwarded to the service team as well as to the site that way genuine posts would not be slowed down & providing the service team were able to check through them on a regular basis even if that were only once a day the spam content could be removed fairly quickly.
When I worked for a large network integration company a few years ago our customers had access to an extranet which had a similar feature incorporated into it, anything posted to it that contained certain keywords email addresses or long strings of numbers like phone numbers was also flagged to myself or another member of technical support team who would then check it through to ensure the customer had included the correct data, anything that was incorrect could then be brought to the attention of the customer or removed from the site.
It's not a perfect solution but at least it would enable spam to be filtered without impacting on genuine members use of the site.

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Kiteman (author)Nostalgic Guy2012-03-19

Which would mean my comment below would be caught...

Individual spam posts like that cause relatively little annoyance (to anybody except the person who gets the comment). The worst spam is the kind posted as instructables or forum topics (which seems to come from outside the US, since I tend to catch and flag large amounts of watch THIS online spam during a UK morning, when most of the US is fast asleep).

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Kiteman (author)falling_stone2012-03-19

If you know a member is spamming, the best action is to email service@instructables.com, or send a PM to one of the HQ staff about it.

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Nostalgic Guy (author)2012-01-26

This subject seems to have died down a bit recently but I've had a bad couple of days so I feel like a bit of a rant.
In the last four days one new member has posted the same two advertibles twice.
Granted they are thinly veiled but they still quite obviously spam, all they contain is a few pictures & a link to their "blog" which surprise surprise leads to further links to their shop.
While I do like their work & love the fact that they are re-using & re-purposing things that otherwise would likely end up in a landfill they are not instructables & are merely there to advertise the things they are selling.
Another posting for a drywall contractor isn't even trying to be anything other than a blatant advert for their services; it has now been on the site for two days has several comments about spam & I for one have flagged it as such yet it is still here.
Surely it's time something like Kitemans suggestion which he posted here on October 13th should be implemented, I hope he won’t mind that I have copied his suggestions below....


Here's how I think it should work:

1. New pro members don't get any restrictions at all. I think it's fairly safe to assume that spammers will avoid actually paying to post the spam. That's kind of the point of spam.

2. New free members can post comments and replies immediately.

3. New free members can create forum topics and instructables immediately, but they go into quarantine until a human being has checked them and hit an "OK" button.

4. The human beings involved should, preferably, be spread around time-zones so that genuine members suffer as little delay in being approved as possible. There's no point inconveniencing genuine Makers, just because of the spammers.

5. I have no proper idea how much work the above four points would generate, but I would assume that it would need no more than two or three individuals to deal with the 2/3 of the working day not covered by official HQ office hours, and I'm sure that Californian weekends could be shared amongst HQ staff.


Even if it were simply a case of keeping new members postings moderated until they have posted one or two genuine 'ibles it would help to filter out at least some of these people who are looking for free advertising space & will never be genuine contributors to the site.

That's my rant over for now & I must say I do feel better for it ;-)

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Twinmum (author)lemonie2011-10-14

That guy has 15 instructables that are all spam!

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lemonie (author)Twinmum2011-10-14


Yes and they're all still there...

L

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Kiteman (author)lemonie2011-10-14

Spam instructables get removed from the lists and the search results, but not from the author's orange board.

If you search for his projects, all you get returned are the user's account and this sub-thread.

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lemonie (author)Kiteman2011-10-14


You'd think some kind of "delete button" appropriate, why are they still there?

L

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Kiteman (author)lemonie2011-10-14

I don't know, but at least they don't show up on google.

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lemonie (author)Kiteman2011-10-14


Perhaps that's it?
Something to do with the way Google works - delete 'em and you get left with broken links or something?

L

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Kiteman (author)lemonie2011-10-14

I don't think so - if you follow the links from his orange board, they're still on the data base. They're hidden in some way.

Thinking: maybe it's to avoid broken links within the site, in case somebody else has linked to them?

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caitlinsdad (author)Kiteman2011-10-14

I like to troll the spammers. In terms of useability, it is easier to reply or post a new comment than to find the flag button, select to mark for spam, and then clear the message has been flagged thank you message. Every once in a while I have gotten some good replies where the spammer thinks it is their right to spam. And someone has to educate those amateur spammers so that we get proper spam topics coming through to make it worth the effort to flag.

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Kiteman (author)caitlinsdad2011-10-15

I did once get an apology from a spammer, but just the once.

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Kozz (author)Kiteman2011-10-15

Oh, come on, Kiteman. Why don't you tell us you won the lottery?
(I tease)

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Lithium Rain (author)lemonie2011-10-14

They can be perfectly valid links that are simply no longer indexed by Google.

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Kiteman (author)lemonie2011-09-12

That one is now "removed by the author".

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lemonie (author)Kiteman2011-09-12


Somewhat irrelevant when we're asking why these things get published in the first place, but thanks for the update.

L

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ve2vfd (author)2011-09-18

I'm also quite annoyed by the SPAM on instructables... They are quite obvious as Kozz mentioned and I report SPAM as soon as I see it, but lately I've noticed very few SPAM-structables get removed when flagged.

Why bother?

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kelseymh (author)ve2vfd2011-09-18

Well, the Staff is only there to remove them during work hours (8-5ish U.S. Pacific time, M-F). If you're connected on a Sunday afternoon, then yeah, you're going to be waiting.

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ve2vfd (author)kelseymh2011-09-19

Thats good to know... though I am surprised SPAM reports are not sent to community mods. A spammer who knows he won't be moderated outside office hours could easily plaster the site over a weekend.

Thinking creatively, would it be possible to implement a system where the board itself "suspends" an instructable and flags it for moderator review if it receives X number of SPAM flags? That way the community at large can help control SPAM.

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Kozz (author)ve2vfd2011-09-20

Well, I think that my original comment stands: first-time authors should be on probation. Their very first instructable must be reviewed for spam content prior to being published.

Much of the spam I see is from an account that was registered the same day as the publication of their content. Members of Instructables would probably not mind waiting 24/48 hrs for their first instructable to pass muster. "Serious" users will be permitted to publish after their first non-spam publication. Spammers, on the other hand, would be discouraged.

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Kiteman (author)Kozz2011-09-20

That's probably a reasonable idea, but it won't stop spam comments.

Before you suggest quarantining members' early comments, that would drive new members away, because it would isolate them from discussions that would move on in the hours their comment is hidden.

The idea would only work if the site had staff on duty 24 hours a day, something which would require employing staff from other time-zones.

I'm not sure there's enough traffic to make that viable, but as soon as it is, I'm at the front of the queue for the GMT job...

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Kozz (author)Kiteman2011-09-21

I think that spam comments are less publicly visible than actual spam Instructables. Here's one that just came up in my RSS feed which has been flagged several times:
https://www.instructables.com/id/CNC-Machine-Shop/

It's another example of someone who has posted their first instructable, it is SPAM, and they registered all on the very same day.

This is the kind of stuff I'd like to see disappear, especially because they get extra eyeballs from their appearance in the RSS feed. It's true we can't stop the spam comments due to the reasons you mentioned, but I think it is still a worthy goal to attempt to block the "low-hanging fruit" variety of spam like this.

(thanks for reading and considering. I'm a fan, Kiteman!)

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Kiteman (author)Kozz2011-09-21

I was agreeing, you know?

(That CNC thing should be gone from the public lists soon, but the direct link will still work.)

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canida (author)Kiteman2011-10-14

We've got a few of these ideas in the pipeline, so expect some improvements in the next couple of months.

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Kiteman (author)canida2011-10-14

(Have you seen my comment Oct 13, 2011. 4:15 AM?)

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Kiteman (author)ve2vfd2011-09-19

There is 24 hour coverage of the site by people who can get instructables and forum topics quickly removed from view.

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lemonie (author)kelseymh2011-09-18


He may mean "why are they not removed?" as opposed to just being taken out of searches.

L

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Kiteman (author)ve2vfd2011-09-19

As Kelseymh says, HQ only normally deal with flagging issues during office hours, but if there is an issue that needs more urgent attention, you can email service@instructables.com, which sometimes gets checked out of office hours,or send a PM to one of the Community Team, who (thanks to time zones) are often around when HQ are not.

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Nostalgic Guy (author)2011-10-13

I think I have flagged about half a dozen this week three of those just this morning, it does seem to me there is a lot of spam posted outside HQ office hours as there seems that hardly a morning goes by without at least one new one appearing; At the time of writing this it is almost 1.00am San Francisco time so there have been several hours for these to have been posted & probably at least another eight hours before anyone in the office sees the flags.
All of the spam I have flagged in the last week has been from first time postings so it seems to me that a quarantine on first postings would make a lot of sense, if they post spam then keep quarantining until an actual instructable is posted if they are flagged as posting spam again then back into quarantine they go or simply terminate the membership (or possibly the member).
It may seem like a sledgehammer to crack a nut but the bottom line is that not only is advertising a contravention of the rules these people/companies are quite simply stealing advertising space.
Perhaps the lawyers should have addressed this first instead of messing with the competitions :-)

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Kiteman (author)Nostalgic Guy2011-10-13

+1

At the moment, I am usually first online shortly after HQ have gone to bed, so I make it a habit to trawl through new projects and forum topics with a view to catching spammers.

In my opinion, we get more and more attractive to spammers as we get bigger and better. I don't know how much robot-spam stuff gets caught by the filters, but that's my perception of the human-posted stuff. I think that an anti-spammer cooling-off period for new free members is going to become necessary, so we may as well bite the bullet and do it now.

Here's how I think it should work:

1. New pro members don't get any restrictions at all. I think it's fairly safe to assume that spammers will avoid actually paying to post the spam. That's kind of the point of spam.

2. New free members can post comments and replies immediately.

3. New free members can create forum topics and instructables immediately, but they go into quarantine until a human being has checked them and hit an "OK" button.

4. The human beings involved should, preferably, be spread around time-zones so that genuine members suffer as little delay in being approved as possible. There's no point inconveniencing genuine Makers, just because of the spammers.

5. I have no proper idea how much work the above four points would generate, but I would assume that it would need no more than two or three individuals to deal with the 2/3 of the working day not covered by official HQ office hours, and I'm sure that Californian weekends could be shared amongst HQ staff.


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Nostalgic Guy (author)Kiteman2011-10-13

I'm sure it will get tweaked & prodded a bit before anything happens but that sounds like a good plan to me.

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Kiteman (author)Nostalgic Guy2011-10-13
HQ are used to my ideas being totally uninformed about coding issues.

I only know one code properly...


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Nostalgic Guy (author)Kiteman2011-10-13

I'll bet a lot more kids would have paid attetion to him if he had worn his Darth Vader outfit :-)

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aeray (author)2011-09-22

+1 sounds like a good idea to me. Spam and crummy Instructables have almost pushed me off of this site, and I am a long term member, and former daily user.

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lemonie (author)2011-09-12


There is insufficient filtering altogether, let me look at my Forum topics.... here we go, Feb 2009.

L

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drknotter (author)2011-09-12

+one billion. I have exactly the same problem. Please please please do something about this, powers that be!

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