21

It seems that

https://serverfault.com/search?q=loan+number

My first page on ServerFault looks like

enter image description here gets a lot of hits for the same spam type, and I'm already hitting the flag limits what could be done other than that

I also researched some similar https://meta.serverfault.com/search?q=spam, but my question regards is the spam protection that was suggested in 2010 is still alive. Because it feels not like it?

Is there maybe a better way to forward such information? I mean, I understand the normal way of flagging an individual post, but can I also flag a user for a faster intervention or is there a shortcut to a chat or similar, I also understand that it's an ongoing process but shutting down a tool that prevents it.

I aint talk about how "my" start page is gonna spammed, I wanna discuss this in a general way

and as I have been working quite a while on my systems for spam prevention, most interaction has some similar kind, like the same ip, range, or repeating words ;-)

9
  • 1
    Does this answer your question? Homepage spammed Jun 13, 2023 at 5:22
  • 2
    I mean, there is mention of Charcoal, which is doing a SmokeDetector, a machine that flagged these things automatically. But it is now participating in a moderator strike on the subject of AI-generated content policy, so probably it doesn't cast flags. That's how I understand the situation. Jun 13, 2023 at 5:25
  • 3
    This isn't spam. No-one wants to buy any of these services. It could be a spammer smoke testing their trash. It's basically a malicious person saying they know one or two of the thirty or so things that aren't checked in the post pipeline that would prevent junk from being submitted. It's like the people that install a VPN client on a server then ask why the routing table changed. Those questions will still be asked several times per week 20 years from now.
    – Greg Askew
    Jun 13, 2023 at 7:08
  • 1
    @GregAskew as I always read your post on sf and smile every day about ;)
    – djdomi
    Jun 14, 2023 at 17:37
  • The real spam to SF users will include a link to easydatabasefix.xyz, where you go to download and install their free program to automagically fix your broken database, or something similar, and they are posted as answers, not questions.
    – Paul
    Jun 15, 2023 at 12:16
  • 7
    @GregAskew Nope, those aren't just tests. The spam posts shown in the question's screenshot are part of the "Support Number spam" that's been ongoing for a couple/few years now on basically all sites in the SE network, with several thousand identified spam posts. Under normal conditions, the combination of SmokeDetector and metasmoke results in them being rapidly identified and quickly nuked with a mix of automatic and manual spam flags, which prevents most users from being impacted by the vast majority of straight-up spam that makes it past SE's SpamRam to be posted on the SE Network.
    – Makyen
    Jun 18, 2023 at 15:32
  • 1
    Can we get an update on the Janitor.exe status on the "Loan" spam? Maybe some AI tools would do the trick.
    – Greg Askew
    Jun 23, 2023 at 10:52
  • 1
    I'd say that the tag (spam) seems suitable for this question. (I do not have sufficient reputation to edit on meta, so I mentioned this in a comment instead.)
    – Martin
    Jul 7, 2023 at 12:14
  • i added oyur suggestion by edit ;-)
    – djdomi
    Jul 8, 2023 at 9:46

2 Answers 2

19

You can get an overview of the current issues many SE moderators are having with the company by reading the recent posts here on meta.SF That will lead you, if you're interested, to many more posts on meta.SE, meta.SO, and other places.

I can't speak for the other moderators, but I think they are largely acting the same way I am: severely rate-limiting moderator actions as part of the strike. (Note that for legal reasons, SE Inc. won't refer to it as a strike.)

As mentioned in a comment, SmokeDetector was a moderator-run anti-spam assistant, but it's been shut down as part of the strike. There's a post here on meta.SF about spam: an SF moderator was trying before the strike to get SE to take action by blocking various keywords.

Earlier today, some SE staff handled a bunch of spam flags and dealt with the posts and spamming accounts, so at this point a bulk cleanup will have to wait until they're working again.

What regular users can do about spam is to flag it. Downvoting is actually counter-productive, it can reduce the visibility of the spam posts and/or make it seem like it's been dealt with. Enough flags, and the post goes away.

17
  • that i understand it clearly, there is now no more automatic spam prevention?
    – djdomi
    Jun 13, 2023 at 6:19
  • 11
    @djdomi That is correct. The community run bot(s) have withdrawn their labour for the duration of the strike in support of it.
    – user9517
    Jun 13, 2023 at 6:28
  • 4
    Interestingly enough, there is no similar spam outburst on SuperUser, Unix&Linux SE and others. For me it looks like only ServerFault is shelled. Jun 13, 2023 at 7:02
  • 1
    @NikitaKipriyanov meta.serverfault.com/a/9882 SF has been the target for some time.
    – user9517
    Jun 13, 2023 at 7:49
  • 2
    Yesterday and today I exhaust my flags. So in such case maybe will be better to increase the limit of per user/day flags. And/or change limits for deleting question based on flags. Also adding badge (like Vox Populi) for using all flags in one day may motivate some users to use flag. Jun 13, 2023 at 8:20
  • 5
    That will somewhat defeat the idea of the strike. Stopping raising flags is one of the ways to gain an attention. I didn't sign the letter but I decided to stop doing here anything that doesn't have immediate benefit for myself (in the form of exercises I do when helping others). Jun 13, 2023 at 9:08
  • @RomeoNinov How many flags do you have? I have >70. I did not see enough spam posts to come anywhere near mine.
    – Paul
    Jun 13, 2023 at 10:35
  • @Paul, I have 44, and finish with them today, for less than hour. (flagging only spam) Jun 13, 2023 at 11:03
  • @RomeoNinov I have observed that at I think 5 downvotes, the questions disappear, so downvoting also helps even without flagging.
    – Paul
    Jun 13, 2023 at 11:09
  • 1
    Also, are you flagging answers? I don't bother as once the question disappears, so does the answers.
    – Paul
    Jun 13, 2023 at 11:10
  • 1
    @paul, for yesterday I get "Vox Populi" serverfault.com/help/badges/150/vox-populi Jun 13, 2023 at 11:11
  • 2
    @paul That's why it's not actually helpful to downvote spam: posts that are -5 don't go away, but they don't show by default on the SF home page. "Hiding" them with downvotes makes it harder for other people to see and flag them. Jun 13, 2023 at 11:49
  • @Ward-ReinstateMonica I did not know that! Flagging as spam also downvotes - what happens then at -5 from flags?
    – Paul
    Jun 13, 2023 at 11:51
  • 4
    @Paul 4 red flags nukes the content. Red flags = spam/abuse.
    – vidarlo
    Jun 13, 2023 at 13:59
  • 2
    @djdomi Don't do that. That hides spam. Flag, and leave alone. At four flags (lowered from six) it will be deleted.
    – vidarlo
    Jun 14, 2023 at 6:04
8

What Ward says about Smoke Detector is correct. We are keeping an eye on the sites that seem to be a big target. In this case we've added some regex to block phrases in titles that we've been seeing in the spam that we think is unlikely to come up in regular on-topic question asking. This may not put a stop to it entirely but hopefully it creates enough of a barrier that they will stop posting here.

If you see people experiencing issues due to the blocks, please let me know in a comment here but hopefully it won't be an issue.

If they start posting fantasy sports stuff instead, I'll see what we can do about that, too. We added similar blocks to Super User last week (related to the Stanley Cup) and it seems to have slowed the influx of spam, though not stopped it entirely.

Apologies for the influx in spam to the site - my guidance is similar to Ward's - if you see spam, flag it with the spam reason so that it can be deleted. This also gives some information to our internal tool "Spamram" that will prevent similar users from creating new accounts or posting on the site.

There's a bit more info about spam flagging on Meta Stack Exchange:

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  • 1
    hei catija thabks for the response and actions taken agree with you and your statement about magically work around about filter, but what could also be a afford is to restrict new people to ask more as one question per 6 hours or similar..
    – djdomi
    Jun 14, 2023 at 7:07
  • 1
    and as a similar way, is there a way to report a user instead of a post, that's a spammy Spammer? and why can a spammer, that gets massive flags still can post? i mean if i would get 20+ spamflags why can still be posted?
    – djdomi
    Jun 14, 2023 at 7:25
  • 2
    We can prevent multiple questions in a short period of time but, based on my having deleted a lot of these, it looks like they're only posting one or maybe two with each profile, so I'm not sure adjusting that will actually impact these people, sadly. There's not a way to report a user. That's something I often find frustrating myself but we haven't built a solution for it yet.
    – Catija
    Jun 14, 2023 at 8:48
  • In fact I monitored the ppl in question and they pushed the same or similar text on multiple sites, multiple times. so yes it will reduce the amount let's say special to people with less then 200 reputation
    – djdomi
    Jun 14, 2023 at 9:25
  • But how helpful is user reporting when they can just create a new user?
    – Paul
    Jun 14, 2023 at 13:36
  • as always, it's a cat and mice game, that's how spamming and filters works. but rather report the user, the option i told about the stop or put it on a queue or delay wozld then in my mind a better option
    – djdomi
    Jun 14, 2023 at 17:36
  • @djdomi smoke detector shut down is the biggest impact for the spam we see, as when it detect something it can be configured to make 3 or 4 flags on spam, thus it make the spam disappear fast, and to note, smoke got a chat channel that ppl in it can valide spam report and it add flags.
    – yagmoth555 Mod
    Jun 14, 2023 at 19:31
  • @djdomi If curious check the link there for report done in the past; metasmoke.erwaysoftware.com/posts (on spam you can see green check, it's user that added weight on smokey report)
    – yagmoth555 Mod
    Jun 14, 2023 at 19:32
  • 3
    @djdomi As a mod, often when we come to the site, we can destroy those account assosiated with the spam that was done. nuking 'em make the system check more the source of them and some info to prevent more from the same source, so it can help to restrain other spam wave
    – yagmoth555 Mod
    Jun 14, 2023 at 19:34
  • Hi Catija - there have been a lot of very similar spam attacks on super user over the past few days [my search that eventually got here was via hunting for recent metasmoke activity… til I discovered there wasn't any]. Had to join this stack to post. Could you add new blocks on superuser for 'loan customer care' as that seems to be common to them all [all different, brand new users, of course] Here's a recent example - superuser.com/questions/1789921/… History - superuser.com/users/flag-summary/347380
    – Tetsujin
    Jun 19, 2023 at 13:44

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