LiveSide and link spam

2475.dirty_laundry_13a47d4f News Sorry to have to air our dirty laundry again, but this weekend has been an interesting one.  A month or two ago we came under an attack of bot generated new users, due to our automatic acceptance of any new user.  We only have user registration in order to combat comment spam to begin with, so we had tried to make it as easy as possible to create a LiveSide account.  A bit too easy, apparently.

We fixed that by enabling email authorization for new user accounts, which solved the bot problem.  However this past weekend we noticed a significant increase in users, again.  This time, the attackers weren’t bots, but human.  From what we gather, these people are being paid to visit sites, fill out accounts, and fill the user profiles with link spam.  We deleted probably 2 or 3 hundred new accounts, and shut down new user registration temporarily.

Thanks to Bryant over at AeroExperience, who has had to deal with both of these types of attacks and gave us the idea, we spent the weekend enabling a system where new users don’t have full access to their profiles until they reach a level of comments posted (we set it at 25, hopefully that’s fair).  Unfortunately in Community Server no such ready made system exists, so we had to build our own.  Not hard, exactly, but not entirely fun, either.

We don’t think we broke anything. If you had a user profile filled out previously, it should still be there (you just won’t be able to edit it until you hit 25 comments).  And this isn’t an attempt to con anyone into commenting more, far from it.  We just needed a way to allow new user registration without filling our site up with crap.  We added a counter to the user profile pages, so you can see where you are (if you don’t see it, you’re over the limit ;)  )

For new users, we’re leaving the admin approval on for a bit til the word gets our to our link spammer friends that they’re not welcome here. 

We also updated our User Policy to reflect the changes, and to note that we won’t tolerate any gaming of the comment limits.  We would love hear what you have to say (and even a few of the link spammers have left comments that have added to the conversation, we have no problem with that), but please don’t add to the spam by needless commenting.  Anyway, here’s hoping that we have lots more to talk about than link spam, and soon.

As always, you can reach us at feedback *at* LiveSide *dot* net.  Of course we’re happy to help with any user profile issues or try to fix anything we broke, just let us know.