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There has been a lot of spamming with Chinese characters on some sites. However, some sites need to have Chinese characters enabled. We also have people asking to enable Chinese characters on a particular site.

I am wondering why we can't make it a privilege to make a post with Chinese characters. It would be logical to put it in 'remove new user restrictions', but I'm not sure if 10 reputation threshold is enough to prevent the spam completely.

Of course this shouldn't apply to Chinese Stack Exchange.

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    I have no opinion on this either way, but if this feature is implemented, it should be disabled by default on chinese.stackexchange.com – Shokhet Sep 20 '15 at 16:34
  • This comes down to restrict the number of bits that are allowed in the UTF-8 characters you can submit based on rep. – rene Sep 20 '15 at 16:57
  • @rene What exactly do you mean? Do you mean that it would be reasonably easy to implement? – wythagoras Sep 20 '15 at 16:58
  • I don't think it is easy, it might even bring stackoverflow.com down to its knees. – rene Sep 20 '15 at 17:01
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    Tying this to "new user restrictions" (<10 rep) makes perfect sense and would block all of the current CJK spam, which comes from 1-rep accounts. I mentioned this in chat when the network-wide block was introduced, and the reply from Shog9 was that some refinement was possible, but not "tonight". This seems to require some amount of developer-hours. – user259867 Sep 20 '15 at 17:30
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    The problem you've stated is clear - and we're working on it. I think more granular approach is a better step. – Tim Post Sep 20 '15 at 18:43
  • @TimPost Any updates on this? – wythagoras May 15 '16 at 19:45
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+50

This is something that has been bothering me for a while.

I designed the anti-spam / anti-abuse layer that's been keeping most of this crap out for the last couple of years, and it was designed with 'snow shoe' spammers in mind.

For those of you unfamiliar with the term 'snow shoe' when it comes to spamming, well, consider a snow shoe:

Comfy!

What this effectively does is spread your force over a much larger area, or, if you're a spammer, thousands of infected Windows XP machines or rooted web servers run by lazy hosts that are incredibly great at not looking like what they are.

They've gotten exponentially bigger, and better. Many that you see actually posting have replaced machines with humans that aren't otherwise able to market their skills, or want on-the-job training to learn them. Jeff put it best, it's industrial. We're keeping a lot of it out, but I'm uncomfortable with how we're positioned.

The solution here isn't tossing problematic character sets into a corner to think about what they've done (though we have done this to thwart larger onslaughts) - the solution is to beef up the Bayesian-ess of what we currently have so it trips on the actual content better, without additional inconvenience to passers-by. There are more than several systems in place looking at this that should be better.

Several ideas are floating around at how to do this. Don't think, even for a second, that this is a problem regex can solve. It can't, and my therapist won't let me talk about that to any further extent.

We're working on it now. I'll update when we've got something more, though (due to the nature of it) - it'll continue to be a bit of a black box. It is a priority, I think we've got what we need to really hit back, but it's a long series of complex changes involved.

My job here is to make them not-so-long. I'm working on it.

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    On a side note Tim... is there any update on the processed meat-like substance (aka spam dump)? – hichris123 Sep 20 '15 at 18:18
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    @hichris123 Yes. I'm going to try and get that going before the end of the year. I think I've worked out the attribution gaps that were holding it back. – Tim Post Sep 20 '15 at 18:22
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    You may want to add a status-review tag to the question – wythagoras Sep 20 '15 at 18:29
  • @wythagoras Not as it's currently scoped. While it does identify a pain point, the solution proposed isn't a course we'd take. – Tim Post Sep 20 '15 at 18:39
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    That sounds great. That said, while we're waiting for the new and awesome non-regex anti-spam system, is there anything simple you could do in less than six to eight weeks to temporarily address the false positives people have been complaining about lately? Like, I dunno, skipping some of the current anti-spam regexes if the user has enough rep? – Ilmari Karonen Sep 20 '15 at 19:19
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    "this is not a problem regex can solve., and my therapist won't let me talk about that to any further extent" That made me chuckle out loud :) – James Sep 20 '15 at 21:45
  • @IlmariKaronen A lot of what we have in place only runs when we simply don't have enough history on a user to decide if they should be trusted. There are some exceptions, but that's generally how it works. The problem with regex implementations is that they are so trivially easy to skirt around and thus broadly ineffective. Strings are just too easy to change while still saying what you want them to say. We have stuff that might be able to do this, it's just not pointed at the problem yet, which is what I'm going to try to expedite. – Tim Post Sep 21 '15 at 10:53
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    8 months later, any updates, or has it stopped being a priority? – ShaWiz May 15 '16 at 21:08
  • It's still in place, writing late February 2017. :( – Vincent Feb 27 '17 at 14:36
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While this is tempting, I do not think it is a good idea.

There can be a variety of use cases for using Chinese characters. One site especially affected by Chinese spam is Travel.SE, where one can easily invent a number of valid uses for Chinese characters.

Similarly, most of the computer sites have a valid use for Chinese characters - whenever a computer needs to display Chinese characters, or is displaying Chinese characters.

SE could implement this on a few sites, like the sites about western languages. But it should be OFF by default.

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    There can be valid uses for inline images, and for more than 2 links in body. But those are blocked for new users. – user259867 Sep 20 '15 at 17:29
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    Also, there could be very valid uses for Chinese characters on practically any site you can imagine -- you mentioned "the sites about western languages." But what about word requests and similar questions (eg english.stackexchange.com/q/252186/74434)? – Shokhet Sep 20 '15 at 17:35
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    @NormalHuman New users are allowed to post images on most SE sites now, according to [meta.stackexchange.com/a/195927/168333]. Note that that is from 2013, not sure if it was changed since. – S.L. Barth Sep 20 '15 at 17:50
  • @S.L.Barth "Most" by some measure... By other measures, any set of sites containing Stack Overflow is most of SE. – user259867 Sep 20 '15 at 19:31
  • @Shokhet I really need Chinese characters for Unicode face emoticons. That's as valid as it gets. (On chem.SE) – M.A.R. Sep 20 '15 at 20:58

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