To whom it may concern:
As a long time forum user I am annoyed at the amount of SPAM being entered into this forum. In order to reduce the amount of SPAM I suggest the following changes to the forum:
1) Add to the user profile a flag that can only be modified by the site moderator. The purpose of the flag is to specify if a Captcha is to be required for making posts.
2) All new accounts are created with this flag set
3) All Captcha posts, in addition to being posted, are sent as activity notification to moderator (IOW moderator is "subscribed")
4) When moderator deems user is valid, the moderator can uncheck the Captcha flag in the users profile.
I see as the benefits to this method:
a) Reduction of work by the moderator. At least a reduction while spammers are flooding this site. After the spammers abandon their activity, then there would be increased work, but then there could be a global "no Captcha" flag.
b) No impact to long time users
c) Little impact to new users
The forum devs are trying many things to reduce spam. One thing they are looking at is forcing new users into mandatory moderation until they have some number of approved posts. The spammers open dozens of accounts from IP addresses not on blocklists and they vary the wording enough to evade the filters. It's an ongoing battle. We try to remove the spam as quickly as we can.
I have suggested to the devs that CAPTCHAs are not an effective tool here.
Why are CAPTCHAs not an effective tool here? (I assume because sophisticated systems can solve CAPTCHAs)
Note, add to my change list a flag indicating:
CAPTCHA required post awating moderator action. This flag is set upon making post, with CAPTCHA required set, and without "awaiting moderator action". When set, user cannot enter post. This means that user with "CAPTCHA required set" can have at most one post pending. You can experiment as to if this affects all the forums or individual flag for each forum.
Note, you could eliminate the CAPTCHA requirement and use just the "awating moderator action" flag.
Spammers have banks of low-paid users (largely in Asia) to whom CAPTCHAs are sent for real-time decoding. Also, I think the CAPTCHAs being used here are not as robust as some others (such as Google's ReCATPCHA, but the forums are using an external vendor's filtering solution that includes the CAPTCHAs.)
The problem is being taken seriously.
Andrew, I am not in favor of CAPTCHAs myself. The scheme I proposed would keep CAPTCHA's away from all the identified real users of this forum. New users would have to bear the burden of the CAPTCHA for one or two posts. While Spammers have banks of low-paid users... they are still paid and are a cost to Spammers. Any "good" businessman would keep an eye on the bottom line. So... if it costs the spammer more to spam IDZ than they get in revenue, I presume they will stop spamming IDZ.
While we discuss this issue, can we get rid of the anti-robots entry of some random letter scheme that I have a very difficult time reading (difficulty seeing and color blind). I think a GOTCHA flag is apporpriate plus a time delay placed on all new posts to give the devs some time to quickly review the posts. I can see some people putting a 'minimum' number of semi-valid posts in order to get the GOTCHA flag reduced and then turned over to to 'cheap' robots. If I were trying to setup a spam site I would go back to old posts and copy and paster them into new posts until I achieved the minimum number of GOTCHA posts and then turn it over to a 'robot'. Unless the devs start adding their own automatic search and sending emails back to the user giving them the link to past emails and require a reply as to why this issue is different then GOTCHAs will also have a problem.