Spammers Are Getting Sneakier

Discussion in 'Site and Forum Feedback' started by SandboxGeneral, Jun 8, 2014.

  1. SandboxGeneral Moderator emeritus


    Sep 8, 2010
    Orbiting a G-type Main Sequence Star
    Over the last few days I've noticed a new trend in the way spammers make their threads and posts. They're making threads which seem relevant and appropriate to MacRumors and Apple in general, by asking questions about how to get help with something.

    I've also noticed members (legit ones) responding to them as if to help out and offer advice. Sadly, when we discover the spammer we, obviously, ban them, but all the posts that the members made in the spammers thread get deleted too.

    I wanted to create this thread as a public service announcement to help everyone be able to spot these spammers. I'll use an example from this morning already.

    First, they seem to make a username that is an actual name, i.e. WendyAGoss

    The thread title looks innocent enough:
    So does the body of the message:
    But, at the end of the message is what we typically call 'hidden image spam.' It can be identified, sometimes, by seeing what looks like a broken image tag.


    One way to tell, is to press the quote button and then you can see in the edit window what the URL is in the IMG tag. They've been using URL shorteners to hide their source. (I changed this one to protect you from the link, don't bother clicking on it)
    I like to go to the website LongURL to find the real source of the shortened link. In this case the link went here. (I added asterisks to break the URL, but you can see that it's not a legit link, but one of spam.)
    I hope this is helpful to everyone in being able to spot this new way of spamming MacRumors. As usual, when you spot them, don't reply to it, but report ([​IMG]) it to us.
  2. Shrink macrumors G3


    Feb 26, 2011
    New England, USA
    Thanks for the is very helpful in finding and reporting spammers.:)
  3. iMacBooked macrumors 6502a


    Jul 19, 2013
    4 8 15 16 23 42 ✈ Country: Belgium
    I noticed that too. And most of the time their spam is related to some kind of live stream videos..
    Thanks for the useful info!
  4. Felasco Guest

    Oct 19, 2012
    There are different kinds of spam which should be taken in to account.

    Commercial: The vast majority of forums I've visited over the last 20 years have been highly allergic to commercial spam. This seems to be something that is widely agreed upon throughout forum land.

    Ego: On the other hand, most forums suffer from an abundance of what we could call "ego spam", that is, posts that serve little purpose other than to provide the poster with a cheap ego thrill.

    Junk: Then there is "junk content spam", inarticulate poorly informed posts by posters who don't really have anything to say, and wouldn't know how to say it if they did, but they want to post anyway.

    To it's credit, MacRumors does an above average job of managing all these spam streams. A thankless task, pretty well done.

    Most forums however wail with hysterical sanctimonious moralizing about commercial spam, while allowing or even encouraging their members to fill the threads to overflowing with the other flavors of spam which degrade the reading experience just as much.

    I would define spam in the forum context as being any post which is primarily about the needs of the writer instead of the needs of the reader. Seen that way, there's really not that big of a difference between commercial spam and the other flavors.
  5. snberk103 macrumors 603

    Oct 22, 2007
    An Island in the Salish Sea
    Thanks for the info... and happy to help. Since the broken image tag only appears 'sometimes' what else should we be looking for?

  6. SandboxGeneral thread starter Moderator emeritus


    Sep 8, 2010
    Orbiting a G-type Main Sequence Star
    If you don't see the broken image tag, look to see if it's a new member, that day with one or two posts, click on the quote button and look for a hidden URL in the message.

    Otherwise, most spam around here is rather obvious, with lot's of links to watch movies [illegally] and such.
  7. FloatingBones macrumors 65816


    Jul 19, 2006
    The "rediculous" question and the reply appear to have been copied verbatim from here. Quoting and searching on a dubious query is a quick way to flag if it is fraudulent. Noting that in the spam report would also be a good thing.

    It would be good if google provided some automated means of seeing if content is a literal copy from elsewhere. OTOH, I suppose the spammers could start adapt to that, too. Cylons.
  8. wrldwzrd89 macrumors G5


    Jun 6, 2003
    Solon, OH
    Wowzers, I hadn't noticed that before! Thanks for the heads-up. I'll make sure and report suspicious posts if I find any :)
  9. macs4nw macrumors 601


    Human ingenuity truly knows no bounds……those scoundrels :( …..vigilant we shall be!
  10. whooleytoo macrumors 603


    Aug 2, 2002
    Cork, Ireland.
    It occurred to me as I clicked into this thread that the subject line would be a great line for spammers themselves to use to draw people in. Almost disappointed that's not the case. :)
  11. Weaselboy Moderator


    Staff Member

    Jan 23, 2005
    *uses quote feature to check whooleytoo's post for hidden spam links* :p
  12. jeremysteele macrumors 6502

    Jul 13, 2011
    Been a LOT of sneaky posts lately. Especially innocent looking "hello I'm a mom with kids and I like to get deals" kind of posts. Seen the same thing on other forums I visit too. Some of them are from regular people - but the vast majority are a spammer trying to gain credibility for later posts.

    On some of the first page articles I've seen 3-4 posts like that in a row. Feel kind of bad for the mods.

    Apparently the bad guys are on the attack. As an example: my main server (used for personal/business emails) has been filtering about 1 spam every 15 seconds the past few days.

    On some of my sites I've had to completely disable comments due to this rapid increase. They are even bypassing systems like Disqus pretty regularly.

    Spammers are going crazy! :eek:
  13. 960design macrumors 68020

    Apr 17, 2012
    Destin, FL
    Your site is pretty popular, so the spammers come.

    The registration process is very easy to script. I'm not sure why people rely on captcha or questions, as your site does. It is easier for me to get the value of the captcha programmatically Vs trying to read the dang thing. I guess there's a statistic somewhere that states captcha will reduce your spam by X% and that makes it worth something.

    The moderators do a fantastic job and it pretty much takes a community to keep out the spam. Thank your for the Report button so that we don't feel so helpless.

    @jeremysteele: same thing, I disabled comments, which is sad, because the replies usually show me faster/better ways of doing things.
  14. jeremysteele macrumors 6502

    Jul 13, 2011
    Traditional captcha's are worthless since OCR is pretty good these days - and if you make them too hard even people can't do them.

    I've seen newer ones that use object recognition... say... an upside down car (which direction will make it right) or you have to identify a picture of a lollypop. Believe it or not I've heard those are incredibly effective, since there's no cheap object recognition libraries out there yet (in a few years, sure).

    I've heard the math tests are pretty good too (those silly what is 3+4 tests)

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