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A NON-Instructable: How to PREVENT SPAN in this site we all LOVE Answered

Hi guy

Latelly spam is getting nasty.
I do my best in flagging it all out as much as I can, because I hate spam nad love the site

I've come up with a couple of ideas that could help  preventing spam:

- Moderate the first 'ible of new users:
Almost all spam comes from new users and their very fist 'ible is spam.
Just hold the 'first ible of any new user 'till a moderator sees it and approves it.

- Allow site users to do the job for you:
That's what web2.0 is all about: users signal with the spam flag and you can remove the posts
asap (saw this happend seldom times, or with a long delay)

- Promote some users as moderators that have the right to "umpublish" (not delete) 
posts that are flagged as SPAM. This status can be revoked if user gets nasty and bossy.

How about it?




The majority of spam on the site is squelched from the get go by automatic checks.

Instructables already do the last two of your suggestions. I would imagine they avoid the first suggestion as it might confuse rather than encourage new users.

I fail to see how moderation would confuse anyone!
I'm a member of plenty of groups & forums that moderate new users & I have never heard anyone complain they were confused by it quite the contrary most people seem to appreciate the effort taken to keep the content friendly & relevant.
A simple note in the sign up page along with a follow up email when they make their first post would be sufficient to avoid any confusion there may be, the first is a simple matter of editing the sign up info & the second could be very easily automated.

I would argue that very few people read any of the "paperwork" when they join a site, so would not notice any, er, notice. Personally, I must have been a member of the site for over a year before I bothered to read the ToS. So, the best solution would be a pop-up message that appears the very first time a member hits the "publish" button on an instructable, advising that there might be a delay in their work reaching the main site.

I would also note that only 1% of the membership ever become an author, and of that fraction, only a small minority ever post more than one or two projects before fading away. Any delay in the process of getting your first project online would be a discouragement to new authors.

On the other hand, for projects posted during Californian office hours (as the majority are), the delay in a quarantine filter would probably only be minutes at worst, less if members of the Community Team were able to pass new projects for viewing as well.

All of which is a long-winded way of agreeing with you.

As I suspected my suggestion of a three flag rule is not a new one which is no surprise as it seems to me it would quickly remove much of the spam which slips through the net.
I can see benefits to both proactive & reactive approaches, in the proactive method it's fair to say that nothing would get through although it would create a short delay to the publication of 'ibles for new members.
Alternatively in the reactive method there would be no delays but it does require action by members to bring attention to unsuitable content.
Personally I would in many ways prefer proactive, this sends out a clear message to the members as well as spammers that action is being taken to get rid of these people & companies who take advantage of an audience they have done nothing to deserve.
I'm sure there are many members in all time zones who would be happy to act as moderators I for one would happily volunteer.
Ultimately I think it would require a combination of both to provide a system that would remove spam from our favourite site forever but I do think the effort would be worth it & I believe that many would agree particularly bearing in mind posts such as the one that caused such a strong reaction a few days ago.

You are quite cross about this? I'm a bit more relaxed in thinking that I have better things to be bothered about than crap that I can ignore (life in general).
I would prefer that this site had more drive towards quality over page-hits though.


Surely the eradication of spam would be a step forward in the quality of the site.
I do get quite cross about it, partly because I hate the dishonesty & hypocrisy of it & partly because I have personal experience of the damage uncontrolled spam can do to an otherwise well run site.

The site isn't that bothered to make major changes like these as spam tends to go away well-enough and quickly enough.
Or "Spam can be ignored".


I can see your thinking but it needn't be a major change, we use a similar process on our intranet & extranet sites, they & receive tens of thousands of posts & alterations a day.
From the suggestion being made & agreed to the addition to the sites took only four days & three & a half of those were spent with me & my team bug testing it.
It doesn't remove the data it simply blocks access to it until it has been checked meaning that no part of it will be visible, instead there is a frame explaining that the information is being verified, a process that takes a matter of minutes & the block can be lifted with a couple of mouse clicks.
As for "spam tends to go away well-enough and quickly enough." I have seen spam items sit on this site for days on end without being removed & before anyone says anything I'm not talking about weekends but weekdays as well.
Certainly spam can be ignored, Please Lemonie don't take this as a personal crack at you but I have seen this said so many times & I have to say this, what other rules would you like to ignore? how about the "be nice" policy? should we start to ignore the competition rules & allow everything & anything to be entered? or perhaps all those members who live in parts of the world barred from contests should just lie about where they live?
Put simply spam is not only a breach of the rules WE ALL agreed to when we joined it is stealing; it's stealing from Instructables as company by posting unauthorised & unpaid advertising, in a smaller way it's stealing from members who have data limited web access because like it or not when they open Instructables categories the pictures & text from the spam will load along with all the rest of the images on the page, it may not be much data but it all adds up & has to be paid for.
In addition some of it is just plain offensive such as the one posted a couple of days ago promoting a slimming company which had Kiteman, Rimar2000 & quite a few others more than a little bit annoyed; so now we have slimming videos aimed at insecure teens what next companies promoting their new range of condoms and sex toys? should we just let spam like that simply sit there until someone finally gets around to checking it out? a simple addition to the flagging process we already have could have removed that particular spam at least a day earlier than it was.
I have seen plenty of suggestions made over the last couple of years regarding spam, none of them have been taken up which would be OK if something else had been done to get rid of it quickly.
This subject comes again & again & until something is done to remove spam far faster than it currently is it will keep coming up because it annoys & irritates people and occasionally really offends them.

We need to define what is SPAM first, beyond the obvious shameful promotion of for profit companies. That way we all know what to look for before anyone flags or post an 'ible. What about non for profit organizations? What about joining a cause? What would be considered as SPAM so we all clearly steer away from it?

I guess that would really have to be judged on a case by case basis.
Whilst most are just what they say some non profit organisations & causes are not quite what they appear to be & there is always the option to flag something as inappropriate rather than spam if it appears to cross the line into something less than wholesome or legal.
If I were trying to drum up interest in a non profit or charity cause I would probably contact HQ before I posted anything just to ensure I didn't inadvertently step on anyone's toes, that being said I wouldn't put something like that on the main pages as I don't feel that it would constitute an 'ible.

Kiteman suggested moderation for new users a few months ago & I doubt he was the first to do so because it seems to me to be the easiest was to combat it.
I suggested in a thread on yet another spam post this morning that perhaps a system whereby three spam flags would result in an 'ible being suspended from the site until either someone at HQ or one of the CT guys could check it out for suitability, that would stop the problem of new users 'ibles being delayed getting published particularly outside HQ office hours but would at least mean that anything suspect would fairly quickly disappear.

What about the possibility of censorship? What about the possibility of a few people agreeing in flagging a post in order to suspend a post or an 'ible? I have noticed that not all of our members are tolerant to opposing views. In one occasion someone made the threat of flagging my post as SPAM simply because he did not like the topic in question. We need to be able to frankly discuss topics without fear of a committee acting as a Thought Police.

Such a tactic would, inevitably, arrise at some point, were the "three strikes" idea adopted.

However, there is still the human check on the filter, and any malicious flagging would result in, at worst, a temporary loss of the item.

The tactic would die out quickly as well, since the identity of flaggers is (I presume) logged in some way, and persistent flaggers could be identified and suffer the consequences.

A far less long winded way of saying what I took far to many words to get across :-)
Thanks for your long winded agreement above by the way, I wanted to comment on it directly but for some reason it doesn't appear to have a reply button.

I guess my "Orwellian nightmare", although plausible, could be avoided by the intervention of the Instructables staff.

We are not talking about the forums here so frank discussion would not be threatened.
The huge majority of spam on the site are items that masquerade as 'ibles on the main pages those are the ones that need to be targeted.
As for groups of people agreeing to flag in a deliberate attempt to suspend a post the whole point is that such a suspension would only last until the post was checked out by someone at HQ, the CT guys or moderators, in an ideal world that would mean any suspension could potentially last only a few minutes at worst a few hours, if it transpired that there was nothing "spammy" about it then questions would inevitably be asked as to why those people flagged it in the first place, if they were simply doing it out of spite then that would doubtless have unfortunate consequences for the flaggers.
The act of flagging is to be fair a pretty weak threat, I once had all my 'ibles flagged as spam & comments left on them I suspect by someone whose post I had flagged as inappropriate owing to foul language a few days earlier, a couple of emails were duly sent & it all magically disappeared within a couple of hours.
The point is that you only need to worry about being flagged if your post is indeed spam otherwise simply ignore such threats as an idiotic way to stop you saying things someone disagrees with.

(I have used forums in the past where any click on a flag button automatically made a comment vanish, and the process of replacing the post was tortuous at best (the flagee had to notice they were flagged, then take steps to contact the moderators and request the comment be replaced, by which time, of course, the topic had moved on, effectively censoring the victim by rendering their comments irrelevant).

Good point, I do recall seeing such things happen although I haven't seen one set up like that for a very long time.

During office hours, flags are dealt with pretty quickly.

Out of hours, though, things take longer.


5 years ago

I like your 3 spam flag rule. That seems like a reasonable approach.