We're getting a pile of fresh spam over on Ask Ubuntu at the moment. I know these idiots cycle around the sites but what strikes me is how eye-wateringly obviously spammy this stuff is.
Now not so accurate consequences of CLX Male Enhancement gingko biloba
There have been a few recorded incidents wherein gingko biloba became capable of purpose some discomfort inside the gastrointestinal location as well as complications. http://crappy-link.example/obvious-spam
New users should not be able to post "male enhancement" to a technical SE. It has no place there. "Gingko" and all those other terms that used to fill our inboxes before email antispam got good. This one even ends with a crappy link. This is the sort of stuff that Smoke Detector would have a literal orgasm about. How is this not blocked?
I've talked with Tim (and others) in the past about the spam detection on SE and I know it's very clever when it works... But I think it's time to start being pragmatic about things.
A new user posting about these things is —in my long experience— always a spammer.
Block the post, add them to the IP blocklist, and save all the mods and reviewers a lot of time.
As I said, I've been in discussions that conclude "blocklists don't work" before. That "spammers always find a way". I'm sure they would and I'm sure the machine learning and Bayesian modelling and all that is super clever but as I say you have to be pragmatic.
A brand new user with no history, no system-wide trust, submitted a post containing at least 4 spam-phrases. One of those was a 90s classic. The non-blocklist approach might look clever but it's letting stupidly low hanging fruit through.
Some more points that keep coming up.
- Phrasing matters to web-spammers because they're going after search engines. Even with decent trigram-matching bastardisation of the real phrase (eg
mal3 enh@ncem3nt), there's a somewhat limited set of combinations for the important phrases (the drug names, the psychic name, whatever), and the URLs.
More importantly, forcing spammers to break language makes it even clearer that they're spammers. If something does get through, the humans reading it are more likely to get a chuckle as they flag it up.
nofollow links aren't effective against all search engines)
- Blocking them is important. Shog's answered about how the current blocklist politely tells people "you can't use that word, you naughty boy, you" but I don't find it surprising that isn't effective.
When obvious spam comes in on a first post, block the IP.
A 90% similar post coming in on another IP, first time user, block that IP.
It won't stop all spam but you'll wear down their pool of bots and use up their time. You just have to get this to the point where it's no longer economical for them to post on these sites.
We're talking about all sorts of drawbacks and implementation time and effort but this could be as simple as just asking smokey to rate it and using a high threshold to ban IPs. My example scored 392/400.
As a software developer and a moderator, it's excruciating to see so many easy and immediately effective options that could be rolled out in hours.