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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Just as the ATP has to consider drastic measures to help contain an epidemic originating in China, so too does MTF have it's own epidemic to address - the recent problem of spam that's been plaguing the forum.

Accounts have been registering with increasing frequency and posting threads advertising dodgy services - particularly at certain times of the day you may have noticed the forum fill up with these threads, often in Chinese or Korean. The forum does have spam filters that stop some posts, and accounts with IP or email matches to existing spam accounts are caught and blocked on registration, but obviously this isn't preventing accounts from registering and spamming the forum.

Moderators can easily ban and remove all posts of these accounts, however since they can register and start posting threads immediately they can post dozens of threads in just a few minutes, and at certain times of the day it can be an hour or two before a mod gets to them. These spam threads make viewing the forum pretty useless as it's hard to find any legitimate threads.

Vertical Scope (the company that owns and hosts the site) have said they are working on improving ways to block spam. We've asked them to help us in the meantime by putting stricter requirements on registration or new users (such as new users requiring mod approval or only members with 50+ posts being able to start threads). However, they haven't done this yet, so we mods are doing the best we can to block it with the tools available to us. We can't change the permissions of new users to post threads without VS's help - but we can change the permissions on each forum section to require new threads to need moderator approval. We have enabled this option on some less used forums for a few days now, and we have now decided to try it on General Messages and the other main discussion forums.

So in the coming days, General Messages may require new threads to be approved by a moderator before they are viewable. We may adjust this option on or off depending on the amount of spam the forum seems to be getting.

The disadvantage is that if you post a new thread, it won't be publically viewable immediately and will need to wait for a moderator to approve it (it will appear in an Approval Queue, similar to an Alert for a regular user, for any mod of the section the thread is in). At certain times of the day there might not be any moderator online so it could be a little while before new threads are approved. However, hopefully the times when few moderators are online coincide with when fewer regular users are online and wanting to post threads.

The advantage is that you should no longer come to the site and find General Messages an unviewable mess thanks to spam. Discussion can go on ahead at all times in existing threads, and we hope that new threads are rarely delayed for long. Also, if need be members with access to The Ruins can always post threads there if they don't want to wait for approval (we don't need to combat spam there since only members with 300 posts can access the forum). The fact that current ATP events are cancelled also mean we don't need to worry about match threads as much - hopefully by the time the tour is going ahead as normal we will have had a better resolution to the spam issue and can remove this measure.

This is quite an extreme step, and not one we'd consider except for the persistent high levels of spam on the forum. We've decided to try enabling this option on GM to try to make the forum more useful for discussion. I understand it's an inconvenience to have to wait for a new thread to be viewable - the trade-off is that the forum should always be filled with legitimate discussion threads, rather than them being buried by spam threads at certain times of the day. We're going to try it out for at least a short time, and we want to go with the option that's best for the community. Is it worthwhile to block these spam threads at the cost of all new threads waiting for mod approval? Please feel free to give your opinion on this
 

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Is there a risk if those spam threads were clicked on that spamware was introduced onto the computer? People who access the site from their places of work may have to report the matter to their IT teams under Data Protection policies. Any guidance will be helpful.
 

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Is there a risk if those spam threads were clicked on that spamware was introduced onto the computer? People who access the site from their places of work may have to report the matter to their IT teams under Data Protection policies. Any guidance will be helpful.
We arent IT detectives or malware machines. All we have been doing was purging the users and getting rid of the threads.

I would suggest that Users never click any links that dont seem tennis related or aren't posted by a user you would trust or know.

I dont know the impact of clicking on any links by the spammers, but maybe run a virus scan just in case, but not too sure.
 

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Is there a risk if those spam threads were clicked on that spamware was introduced onto the computer? People who access the site from their places of work may have to report the matter to their IT teams under Data Protection policies. Any guidance will be helpful.
In case you've clicked those spam links I'd recommend you to run anti virus as my fellow mod colleague said and in case it's a workplace computer I'd gently tell the IT team to have a look at it. Not every link, but a few are very malicious ones which have trojans.

I recommend absolutely anyone to not touch and click those spam threads especially if they're not in English. Don't click their links at all and wait until we remove them.
 

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Normally I wouldn't be very supportive of such a move because post match threads in big matches are made as soon as the MP ends and this way would be a pain in the arse for everyone, but since we're not going to be having any tennis in the near future this could be a good temporary solution until VS finally get their shit together and fix this issue.

At least unlike VS the Admins and mods are trying to do something about these spam threads that are happening on the forum on a daily basis.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Is there a risk if those spam threads were clicked on that spamware was introduced onto the computer? People who access the site from their places of work may have to report the matter to their IT teams under Data Protection policies. Any guidance will be helpful.
If you just opened the thread then it shouldn't be a big concern - the spammers aren't infecting the actual site with any malicious links or malware they are just making posts trying to direct you to external sites, sp seeing the post within MTF won't matter. If you follow any directions to an external site though then that site could have anything on it, so scanning for malware would be a good idea. But if you don't follow any links or directions from a spam thread then the risk should be no higher than usual browsing.
Normally I wouldn't be very supportive of such a move because post match threads in big matches are made as soon as the MP ends and this way would be a pain in the arse for everyone, but since we're not going to be having any tennis in the near future this could be a good temporary solution until VS finally get their shit together and fix this issue.
Yeah, at least the fact no big matches are being played right now at least means this shouldn't be as big a problem.
Can we move all the corona scaremongering to off-topic? There's pretty much zero tennis discussion in GM at the moment.
Since the coronavirus situation has caused tournaments to be cancelled or changed and is having a significant impact on the tour, unfortunately it pretty much has to be a factor in tennis discussion. We'll try to move threads that are not specifically about how the coronavirus relates to tennis to the Non-Tennis discussion about it.
The quarantine is already enabled in GM (and subsections other than The Ruins), NT (and subsections), and various other forums (especially ones spammers seemed to like). We didn't put it on every sub-forum at the moment - the forum has a tonne of small sub-forums and this has to be enabled individually rather than globally, so we didn't go round and put it on every player forum or Games. That spam thread was posted to a Games section that didn't have it enabled - we may keep going and add this to more and more small sub-forums. We'll keep checking New Posts for spam threads that find their way to some dead subsection - if you do see any then please report them.
 

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How these bots get register here in the 1st place? Instead of ruining this already dying forum with "quarantine measures", it's better that you improve the registration process.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
How these bots get register here in the 1st place? Instead of ruining this already dying forum with "quarantine measures", it's better that you improve the registration process.
Well yes, this is exactly what we would do if we could. But it turns out moderators don't have the option to change any registration options, or set newly registered users to different permissions - all of those changes have to be done by VS (the company that hosts the site), and since even after several weeks they haven't done it we have enabled this option as it's the only tool available that doesn't require VS which prevents spam threads being posted in GM.
 

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Well yes, this is exactly what we would do if we could. But it turns out moderators don't have the option to change any registration options, or set newly registered users to different permissions - all of those changes have to be done by VS (the company that hosts the site), and since even after several weeks they haven't done it we have enabled this option as it's the only tool available that doesn't require VS which prevents spam threads being posted in GM.
so you do not approve or reject any new signings? I remember waiting for several weeks to get approved by MTF back in 2013
 

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The fact that we have to institute measures like these for a problem like basic spam is unbelievably pathetic. It's surreal.
 

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The fact that we have to institute measures like these for a problem like basic spam is unbelievably pathetic. It's surreal.
We’re paying the price for not having any spam filter at all. You can create a thread and start posting within a minute, you just need to press ‘confirm email’ and you can just go ahead
 

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@RuRo @IBM

I just seen this post on TF regarding the 100 post cutoff to create threads. He said it's a built-in feature and explains how to do it in this post We Are Live - Community Feedback Maybe MTF is different though idk, this might be useless info I'm giving you, but just thought I'd let you aware.
It doesn't appear that we have those features here in our control panel.

Although @RuRo can check as well and verify.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
@RuRo @IBM

I just seen this post on TF regarding the 100 post cutoff to create threads. He said it's a built-in feature and explains how to do it in this post We Are Live - Community Feedback Maybe MTF is different though idk, this might be useless info I'm giving you, but just thought I'd let you aware.
Yep, that's an example of one of those things that requires VS - on our admin options we just don't have the option of editing the user groups, to do something like differentiate between members with less than a certain number of posts. If we had any ability to do something with user groups we'd have done that instead of applying it to the whole forum. Since it's a feature of the forum software it's literally just a question of permissions - it seems like only VS has the full permissions to do anything involving user groups. We've repeatedly asked them to implement any sort of fix like that, such as accounts with less than 50 posts not being able to post new threads, or all new registered accounts needing approval. Since we can't see exactly what options they have I don't know for sure exactly what could be done, but it's virtually guaranteed they could apply a better temporary fix than this very quickly, they just have not despite us saying it's needed.
 

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Hey MTF it's working.

A chinese Spammer tried to create one thread and it failed to even get past approval.
 

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The fact that we have to institute measures like these for a problem like basic spam is unbelievably pathetic. It's surreal.
Please contact your VS representative.

MTF has been a MUG forum since day one, with stupid opinions and outrageous threads, but it is not a place for spam and viruses.

Let VS know we need HELP.
 

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The fact that we need to go to this extent to prevent spam just shows how pathetic VS is really. Sad state of affairs, but props to the mods. A good solution with the limited options we have anyway
 
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