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Bots and trolls
Old 08-11-2017, 02:12 PM   #1
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Bots and trolls

I've been giving some thought to how the forum could deter posts by bots and trolls, and I wanted to throw an idea out there to see if it has any merit.

It seems like bots and trolls have a few things in common that, when taken together, do not apply to legitimate forum members.

1) Their first post is made immediately after they join the forum, and
2) Their first post occurs without ever having read (i.e. visited) other posts/threads.

If these assumptions are correct, then would it be possible to prevent users who meet these criteria from creating new threads? I would think that applying the following rules would largely alleviate the bot/troll problem (such that it is) while only rarely inconveniencing a legitimate user.

1) Users cannot create new threads for the first 24 hours after they create their user account.
2) Users cannot create new threads until they have visited at least 10 existing threads.

I realize that these rules would briefly trip up the occasional, legitimate, new user, but I feel like that's a minor price to pay for blocking the vast majority of bots and trolls. And I believe most thoughtful users would completely understand the need for a few simple rules that limit what a brand new user can do. I have seen similar restrictions on other message boards, and I think most people understand that these types of vetting procedures are reasonable and actually quite prudent and sensible.

Any and all thoughts welcome. Also, does the forum software even allow for something like this?
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Old 08-11-2017, 02:26 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sojourner View Post
I've been giving some thought to how the forum could deter posts by bots and trolls, and I wanted to throw an idea out there to see if it has any merit.

It seems like bots and trolls have a few things in common that, when taken together, do not apply to legitimate forum members.

1) Their first post is made immediately after they join the forum, and
2) Their first post occurs without ever having read (i.e. visited) other posts/threads.

If these assumptions are correct, then would it be possible to prevent users who meet these criteria from creating new threads? I would think that applying the following rules would largely alleviate the bot/troll problem (such that it is) while only rarely inconveniencing a legitimate user.

1) Users cannot create new threads for the first 24 hours after they create their user account.
2) Users cannot create new threads until they have visited at least 10 existing threads.

I realize that these rules would briefly trip up the occasional, legitimate, new user, but I feel like that's a minor price to pay for blocking the vast majority of bots and trolls. And I believe most thoughtful users would completely understand the need for a few simple rules that limit what a brand new user can do. I have seen similar restrictions on other message boards, and I think most people understand that these types of vetting procedures are reasonable and actually quite prudent and sensible.

Any and all thoughts welcome. Also, does the forum software even allow for something like this?
Not a bad idea, if it really is a problem on this board. A determined troll will still get around that though.
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Old 08-11-2017, 02:28 PM   #3
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A determined troll will still get around that though.
+1

One with the tenacity of our recent "What is your favorite color?" troll won't be deterred by any minor hoops they may have to jump through to play their silly games.
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Old 08-11-2017, 02:45 PM   #4
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+1

One with the tenacity of our recent "What is your favorite color?" troll won't be deterred by any minor hoops they may have to jump through to play their silly games.
+2
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Old 08-11-2017, 03:06 PM   #5
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+1

One with the tenacity of our recent "What is your favorite color?" troll won't be deterred by any minor hoops they may have to jump through to play their silly games.
It'll get some of them though. An alternate requirement could be to enter one of those Capcha codes when you join, or before you make your first post or start your first thread.

It's a good suggestion. Then again, I'm kind of entertained by these bots, so I don't care that much, for now.
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Old 08-11-2017, 03:17 PM   #6
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It's not really that big a deal, but I think we may be our own worst enemy here.
Forum members are generally a tolerant and friendly crowd. If folks would look at these troll posts and notice that
a. it's a first post from a newbie
b. there is no background, just a discussion starter
c. it's not in the introductions forum

then they would be well advised to steer clear of participating (feeding the troll) and perhaps merely point out the obvious (as above).

But we seem to be so tolerant and friendly that we often just put up with the abuse and a thread can go on for a long time before someone notices that the OP had made a "one and done" posting and disappeared.

I've often wondered at this IMHO exceptionally tolerant behavior, but I've learned to mostly ignore it.
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Old 08-11-2017, 03:19 PM   #7
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I've often wondered at this IMHO exceptionally tolerant behavior, but I've learned to mostly ignore it.
That's very tolerant of you.
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Old 08-11-2017, 03:46 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by RunningBum View Post
An alternate requirement could be to enter one of those Capcha codes when you join, or before you make your first post or start your first thread.
That's an excellent suggestion. That would eliminate all bots and probably a fair number of trolls.

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But we seem to be so tolerant and friendly that we often just put up with the abuse and a thread can go on for a long time before someone notices that the OP had made a "one and done" posting and disappeared.
This is exactly why I started this thread. Responding to what turned out to be a troll or bot is usually a waste of time -- unless the bot just randomly happened to post an interesting, intelligent question. I think we'd all benefit by finding some fairly simple, unintrusive way to filter out these useless troublemakers. Captcha, as mentioned above, would be a great way to do this and is ubiquitous on the web these days, so it shouldn't be viewed as a hindrance by any legitimate user.

The Official CAPTCHA Site
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Old 08-11-2017, 05:26 PM   #9
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I just joined another forum about bicycling and they have rules similar to the suggestions of the OP. I did not understand why but now I think I know. A little frustrating for me at first. But, now I have no problem s posting.
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Old 08-11-2017, 05:38 PM   #10
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I agree with everything you said Sojourner. It's such a waste of time to reply to a troll. A few rules for new users , while inconvenient at first, will benefit us all in the end.
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Old 08-11-2017, 07:18 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by REWahoo View Post
+1

One with the tenacity of our recent "What is your favorite color?" troll won't be deterred by any minor hoops they may have to jump through to play their silly games.
I never saw that thread. I was curious, so searched and did not see it. Must have been deleted.
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Old 08-11-2017, 07:19 PM   #12
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I never saw that thread. I was curious, so searched and did not see it. Must have been deleted.
The thread topic is fictitious but representative of the subject depth.
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Old 08-11-2017, 07:33 PM   #13
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Subject depth?

I searched for "favorite color", did not find that but saw tons of threads about all kinds of favorite things.
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Old 08-11-2017, 07:39 PM   #14
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Please I beg you not Captcha!!
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Old 08-11-2017, 07:41 PM   #15
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I agree with everything you said Sojourner. It's such a waste of time to reply to a troll. A few rules for new users , while inconvenient at first, will benefit us all in the end.
Even threads started by trolls or bots can have some value. I have learned quite a bit by reading posts responding to another member's question.
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Old 08-11-2017, 08:09 PM   #16
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Even threads started by trolls or bots can have some value. I have learned quite a bit by reading posts responding to another member's question.
Agree - troll, bot or whatever if a question starts a conversation and piques interest then I figure that is a good thing. Takes very little effort not to post if uninterested.
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Old 08-11-2017, 09:21 PM   #17
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Maybe the moderators create these single post userIDs and one-off threads on slow forum days to keep the forum active...
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Old 08-11-2017, 10:10 PM   #18
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Maybe the moderators create these single post userIDs and one-off threads on slow forum days to keep the forum active...
Maybe the moderators are actually Bots...
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Old 08-11-2017, 10:13 PM   #19
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FWIW, in my experience Captcha so often fails that now I generally avoid sites that employ it.
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Old 08-12-2017, 05:59 AM   #20
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Maybe the moderators are actually Bots...
What if we're all bots?
bot.jpg
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