Looking for ideas on how to reduce spam bloggers


(Michael Norton) #1

Hi all

The community platform I look after allows anyone to create a profile and join or request to join communities, the same as most community platforms

95% of the users join due to an invitation from a community admin of one of the many communities.

But we also allow members of the platform to create individual blogs.

Our potential issues is, that we normally get 2 or 3 new members a week that will create a half dozen or so blogs which will feel are not relevant to our overall community. They are normally blogs where they get paid for the number of links and click through’s.

We delete the blogs and the accounts but we get the same people coming back using slightly different email accounts.

It’s not too much of any issue at the moment but as we grow it may become very time consuming.

Has anyone had a similar issue and how did you deal with it?

One thought I had, that I’m sure I have seen somewhere else is that that you are unable to add content in some areas for a set time. For example, you are not allowed to post a blog until 24 hours after becoming a member. Has anyone tried something like that before or could suggest some different approaches.


(Bas van Leeuwen) #2

Why not abandon the 5%?
Put up a high threshold for them (30 day waiting period with a minimum of let’s say 5 logins) before they’re allowed to start a blog? Or pre-moderate the blogs of the 5%.

(Michael Norton) #3

Hi Bas

That’s not a bad idea of having slighty different rules for members based on how they become a member of the platform.

I will have to have a chat with the developers to see what they could do.

Has anyone tried something like that before and if you did what worked or didn’t work?

(Sarah Hawk) #4

I’m with Bas on this. Do you need that 5%? How many people sign up without an invitation and add value to the community, and does that value outweigh the work that the spammers cost you?

If you think the answer is yes, then a barrier to entry is likely the answer. Spammers are always going to go for the easiest target. Make them work harder than the value the get in return and they’ll leave you alone.

(Michael Norton) #5

Thanks Sarah.

I’m glad that you have both said that as my thinking was very similar. I now need to chat with the developers to see what can be built to help but that in place.


(Samer Rabadi) #6

We faced a similar problem and, after a particularly bad spam attack, had to insert emergency moderation into the publishing process. Now we filter out link-building, spam, and off-topic posts in moderation. It’s been a dream.

That only works though if you don’t have to deal with too great a number of posts. We average between 100-150 a month, so it’s not too bad for us. (With about 50-60% getting filtered out.)

(Sarah Hawk) #7

Wow, that’s huge!

(Richard Millington) #8

Think it’s inbound.org that does this (@edfryed). I really like the system, but it needs to be hard-coded into the platform.

(Michael Norton) #9

Thank’s Sarah and Rich.

I’ll have a look at inbound as an example to use when chatting with the developers to see what options we can come up with.


(Michael Norton) #10

Samar, with the moderation of the blogs how much time do you spend on the moderation of the blogs a day?

Have you created a white list of bloggers that are auto-approved or but in some similar process?

(Samer Rabadi) #11

Yeah, and fighting the spam feels downright Sisyphean most days.

(Samer Rabadi) #12

We try to spend no more than 10-15 minutes per post for our community content. Usually that means:

-tweaking the title for clarity and to make it SEO-friendly
-tweaking how the post is tagged, since that affects where it displays on our site
-reading to make sure the post doesn’t violate our community guidelines
-if we spot any embarrassing typos as we’re reading, we’ll fix them
-if necessary, quick fixes to the formatting so that it doesn’t look ugly

For community content that we decide to promote in our social channels, we’ll do a light editing pass and source an image for it (which we’ll also then use in the channels).

Depending on how many posts come in, we’ll spend between 1-2 hours per day.

A white list is something we’re thinking about, but it’s so useful being able to tweak titles and tags. We’d hate to give that up.

(Sarah Hawk) #13

On some platforms it’s native. We can do that here on Discourse using TrustLevels and categories.

(Sarah Hawk) #14

That’s interesting. I’d love to get your input on this topic @srabadi

(Michael Norton) #15

Hi Srabadi

When you make any amendments to the blogs. Do you let them know that you have made minor tweaks or is this something that is known by the creators of the blogs that this might happen?


(Ed Fry) #16

We’ve actually just pulled on the limits and constraints around new member contributions. Previously we had karma limits, “tell us who you are” (complete your profile) and required Twitter auth - both for countering spam and building out the data we have on each contributor.

With these sorts of barriers, you’ve either got to go all-in “everyone can do everything” and maximise interactions, or be very selective and editorial (museum like?) and strive for quality.

We’ve a data scientist working with us on analysing what actions members take early on that result us retaining them as active members for 3 months. No surprises in reading lots of posts early, upvoting early (I think 5x posts within the first 24 hours showed an inflection?) resulted in members retaining. The “aha!” moment. Data’s still fresh, but it means (for us at least) we stand to gain and grow more with a liberal “anyone can contribute” community than something with more limits. Plus, I’ve 70k+ more members now I can reach out too who previously couldn’t contribute :slight_smile:

(Samer Rabadi) #17

We have a guest blog submission process that includes several rounds of heavy editing in collaboration with the writer. That (plus the fact that we used to be a magazine) lends itself to the idea that an editor will also be looking at community self-published pieces.

I may be delusional in thinking that this isn’t having an impact on the contributors, but we haven’t had any pushback so far.

(Sarah Hawk) #18

That data is interesting. It must be great to have something concrete to work from.

So how do you manage the quality now? Are you getting more low quality submissions?

(Richard Millington) #19

This comment was really interesting.

Does this slightly imply that now you’re aiming more for quantity over quality? How do you stop the slide towards becoming LinkedIn?

(Ed Fry) #20

We’re absolutely aiming for quantity and growth.

I don’t think it’ll end up as noisy as LinkedIn - we’ve a topical focus which we police. Between our moderating team and internal tools, we should be on top of it. Whilst it “feels” higher, it’s not significantly different to before in terms of what’s visible on the homepage or the amount of time/resource we’re spending keeping on top of it either.

For us, I don’t think it’s an either/or quality or quantity. Quantity brings with it more contributors and more discussion in threads. Those 70k+ members who are now eligible for invite emails will lead to better, deeper discussions.