Don Marti

Mon 28 Sep 2009 11:23:27 AM PDT

One more ugly side of Bubble 2.0

(updated 29 September 2009: no URL shorteners)

Hey, let's start an IT company!

And let's have a web forum where users can talk about how awesome we are, and do each other's support work!

Then let's Cut Back During the Downturn® and leave the forum unmoderated!

The spammers will go nuts! It'll be like the web equivalent of leaving a huge pile of raw chicken livers out in the front yard over a hot Fourth of July weekend! It'll be great!

Seriously, community dot fusionio dot com. Zero real threads, zero real posts, but the spam posts are setting off my comment spam script like a Moodle site during school vacation.

And the whois record for the domain is a "private registration." If you put your contact info in whois, old-school, then when your site gets a bunch of spam, you can just get email from the people it affects. I mail whois contacts, pretty frequently, to let them know when something on some obscure corner of their sites is doing something to bother me or the other users of this site. No info in whois, for a company site? Why not?

If you can't keep it clean, you shouldn't be waving it around in public. Web forums are more expensive than they look. If you can't afford to moderate your own forum, find someplace else to have the discussion. Usenet can't be any less spammy than an abandoned web board, and users without newsreaders can get to it as a "Google Group" or something.

This kind of problem might be an interesting sideline for IT media sites such as Slashdot and LWN. They have to moderate their own comments anyway, so why not a hosted "sponsor forum" where the media site's staff could deal with the worst of the spam before it gets attached to the sponsor's company name.

By the way, as far as comments on this site go, here are some points of order:

No BBCode.

Subject lines must contain at least one real word (found in /usr/dict/words)

No links to "URL shorteners." When the stupid third-party shortener fad ends, and the domain squatters grab all the shortener domains, I'll be stuck with a bunch of links to crap. Use the real URL.

Don't put "too many" links in a comment relative to the amount of non-link text.

One spam pattern: spammy member pages. A new message on a web board will show up as an unread message for the users, and someone will flag it as spam. But if a spammer just joins as a member, the new member page can stay spammy for a long time even on an active forum. See slash forum for an example.
Comment by dmarti Wed 30 Sep 2009 08:10:56 AM PDT