Against Monopoly

defending the right to innovate

Monopoly corrupts. Absolute monopoly corrupts absolutely.

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Comment Spam

We need to take measures against comment spam. Programmatic methods (better capchas and so forth) seem unlikely to work since some of the spam is clearly human generated. Moderation seems the best solution, but would likely to lead to substantial delays in posting. How do people feel about a limited moderation solution: anyone can flag a comment as spam causing the comment to vanish and the moderator to be notified so that it can be restored if it is not actually spam? This system seems possibly subject to abuse if commentators start marking each others posts as spam. Comments or alternative suggestions?


Amen to that!!!
Agreed. But require solving a captcha to mark as spam, and perhaps require 3 people to flag something as spam for it to be affected. (= 3 IP addresses -- it'll be possible to stuff the ballot box, but enough extra effort that people won't generally be motivated to do so.)

And make the Most Recent Comments thing update appropriately -- if three normal comments are posted, then seven spams, and then seven normal comments, and then the spams are all flagged, I want to see all ten of the normal comments in that box afterward, not just the last seven, or worse the last seven plus three dud links to spams that are no longer available!

So does anyone know why there's suddenly so damn MUCH of it?
The ideal solution would be based on accountability and reputation. If you are willing to accept registrations, the complexity of the website software may increase a lot, but it opens up a lot of possibilities.

I would allow anonymous comments and have the "report to a moderator" button make them immediately vanish until a moderator has a chance to look at it. For registered users, I'd initially keep the same policy until the user has posted a number of comments that were not flagged (or flagged and then approved by a moderator), after which I'd make the default not to hide the comment until a moderator looks at it.

I do not like the abuse potential of making comments disappear at the click of a button if you don't like them without the option of registering and being safe from it.

(when a comment is hidden, do not completely remove it. Allow visitors to unhide it with a button. Preferably with css magic and not javascript.˙Strip it from links. though).
@X I thing "Against Monopoly" is getting more spam because they are getting popular. They start appearing more often in search result and spammers are targeting popular sites.

@David K. Levine There will not be perfect solution so do the best solution that works for you. After all you priority is to work on economics problems not to become sys admin.

Whitelists are a solid solution, automated registration through email makes only the first comment a chore, and seriously slows down the spammers. Browsers do all the logging in for you after the first.

The +- thing the 2.0's are using seems good if you don't want u/p for all. You just need a couple more comment readers than each coordinated spam attempt to win. Good troll spray too. Highlighting the good scores gives every visitor cause to do the work for you. Better if you're busy.

Flagging's fine too, better if you're not so busy. You'll want a moderated positive once you've had a read, to stop old comments getting flagged.

Once again, after a time between checks of only a few hours I am being castigated for supposedly not checking often enough and punished for this alleged transgression by not being permitted to use "Most Recent Comments" to catch up on activity at this site.

Instead I'm being forced to wade back through all of the blog posts to check each one for new comments manually, which will take several goddamn hours.

I am sick and tired of this. I am doing nothing wrong and emphatically and categorically deny the implication that I in any way deserve to be saddled with hours of tedious work because I had the sheer audacity to actually do other things for several whole hours at a stretch instead of reloading this site every five fucking minutes.

I demand that these punitive occurrences cease forthwith and that none ever happen to me again, given that I check the site at least once every 24 hours. That is, EITHER if I check at least once every 24 hours there will never have been more than 9 new comments since my previous check OR the "Most Recent Comments" thing will extend further or have links to "previous 10", and another "previous 10", and so on so one can work one's way back until they hit already-seen comments.

I support this demand with the clear and undisputable fact that there is nothing in my behavior that justifies subjecting me to what amounts to hours of forced labor with a penalty of potentially missing a comment if I refuse to perform that labor.

You will therefore accede to it immediately.

I think Kid was right on, and it boils down to "[i]f you are willing to accept registrations."

Legit registered users should just about never spam, so it would be easy to see if a registered user is a spam threat and then revert that person's default to disappear if marked spam.

Also, I think 2 spam votes is better than 3 to mark a comment.

Finally, users that are trusted significantly (and while this remains the case) might be given the power to manage spam by being able to see both visible and otherwise invisible comments and effect the role of moderator.


I think your Wiki-style suggestion is appropriate. Why don't you set it up so anyone can delete a comment as spam, with the person whose post initiated the comment getting an email about the deletion to review.

Stephen, that won't work for the vast majority of legitimate commenters because they use phony email addresses or just leave it "nobody@nowhere.com".
Lots of useful comments here:

1. Off-topic but useful never-the-less: a link at the bottom of recent comments showing a much longer list of recent comments so that you don't have to check so often, especially with all the spam. This can be done quickly.

2. A registered users trust system: new registered users are "untrusted" but my be made trusted by a vote from a moderator or a trusted registered user. Trusted users can delete spam, generating also an email notice to a moderator. Note that as now anyone can post anonymously, but only trusted registered users and contributors can mark spam. This will take a little longer.

3. An option to view stuff marked "spam". Note that nothing is every deleted from the database, it is just marked so you don't see it.

Further comments welcome as it will take a bit of time to implement a registration system.

If there's going to be marking of comments as spam and hiding of some comments because of said marking, then we need to deal with the inevitability that there will be arguments in which people start marking one anothers' comments as spam when they really aren't.

We need a) a clear definition of spam -- a bright line rule such that any message fitting some criterion is spam and no other message is spam -- and b) a clear policy for the consequences of incorrectly classifying a message.

I'd suggest for a) that the message clearly be off-topic and for advertising purposes. Include the case that they forget to make the sales pitch bit into an actual link, but do include it, e.g. "vapid stuff about how great this site is herbal viagra" where the last two words weren't made into a link would still count. Exclude arguments, flaming, and topic drift by humans that started out discussing copyrights and patents and the like -- if that becomes a big enough problem it'd be best to have a separate policy for it. (Giving registered users the ability to hide -- from themselves only! -- individual other users by name, for instance, might deal with that best. Then there's no need to have a site-wide definition of flaming or off-topic that everyone agrees on.)

As for b) I'd suggest that if a "trusted user" incorrectly classifies something as spam (as determined by reference a) above), in most cases just unhide the "spam" and move on. In the case that the "trusted user" flagged a comment made by another user they were arguing with, however, or else the comment was very clearly not spam, additionally give them a strike. Three strikes and you lose "trusted user" status for a month. Strikes disappear one month after they were earned. Persistent abusers might need harsher measures but you can cross that bridge if and when you come to it.

Yes, the point of allowing only trusted registered users to mark spam is that if they start deleting legitimate comments we can untrust them. And the point of the trust system is that it isn't enough just to register, somebody "trusted" has to vouch for you. If someone starts vouching for people who are abusive or who leave spam, then they become "untrusted" too.
Hey, I noticed that the two blog postings published after this one have the comment submit form removed. I compared the html of an ordinary page against one of those two pages and found a large chunk of code was missing in the new pages.

Specifically, the html td element that has class "a23" (which holds comments) used to have at the very end of it (before the closing /td tag and td "a24" starts) what looks like a full html page (incorrectly, from html tag to /html tag) that features some javascript and the comment submit form, but the two most recent blog postings are missing these sections.

Perhaps the modifications for dealing with spam have led to the form being swallowed up? or was this intentional for testing purposes?

PS: I wanted to comment on the Gene Quinn posting.

A comment for intended for http://www.againstmonopoly.org/index.php?perm=593056000000004206


If you read the comments, it becomes easy to suspect that the worry of GQ is having his clientele dry up when a few existing mega trolls leverage existing patents to drive many of these potential future clients out of business and hence out of applying for patents. He may even figure that if something is not done then the eventual solution by legislation or court action will not be so good for patent business, so it would be better to back modest reform that targets patent trolls.

While his position w.r.t. bogus attacks on small firms is a good one, he still appears to believe strongly in patent injunctive relief usable against anyone and perhaps also strongly believes in the legitimacy and value of the very abused "software patent" category of patents.

Individual commentators can close their posts to comments, in which case there is no posting form.
I can't think of a single good reason to do that.
I'm not sure why commentators should be able to close their posts to comments.

Discussion here is the lifeblood of the site.

I agree, which is why my posts are open to comments - most commentators agree as they open their posts to comments. But they aren't required to do so.
I agree, which is why my posts are open to comments - most commentators agree as they open their posts to comments. But they aren't required to do so.

You're saying they are "not required to open up their posts to comments." The wording of this seems a bit strange to me. It is not like commentators must invest considerable effort to facilitate discussion. People are free to discuss whatever they like. When you publish a post here, you have no control over whether it gets discussed or not anyway.

The thing I'm wondering is why the option is there to block comments to their post from appearing on this website. You can hardly describe that option not being there as "requiring commentators to open up their post to comments." Posts being open to comments is the default case, and the question is why the option is there to block comments.

I wanted to point out a page of a group that has a "reputation" system to control who can vote, edit, pose questions (everyone), submit edits (everyone), vote down, create tags, etc.


Also note that this group offers all the websites questions/answers as a p2p (bi)monthly download under a CC license. http://blog.stackoverflow.com/category/cc-wiki-dump/

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