OpenStreetMap

Getting rid of SPAM

Posted by Skippern on 6 June 2011 in English (English)

Just a suggestion to admins, for a new user to be able to publish, require him/her to at least one edit on the map, or something like that. That will seriously reduce the ammount of spam without impacting actual users.

Comment from Gnonthgol on 6 June 2011 at 20:52

I would prefer spamers spaming the diary, message system, help, forum, wiki, etc. and not require them to spam the map data itself.

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Comment from Skippern on 6 June 2011 at 20:58

99.9% of the spammers are some sort of bots, meaning that they would only get the requirement if the author of the bot intervenes or writes the bot specifically for OSM. There are ways of making that kind of requirements more transparrent, i.e. You can still make the blog entry but it will be hidden to other users until after your map edit, etc. Web page admins need to look into this.

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Comment from TomH on 6 June 2011 at 21:33

Actually all the evidence is that a lot of it is human driven, not bots.

Only a tiny proportion of the spam ever appears anyway - most of it is stopped dead by our anti-spam systems without ever being seen.

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Comment from z-dude on 7 June 2011 at 05:02

It's funny, because these forums aren't really a high traffic area.
They post links that are obviously spam, and nobody clicks. They're just wasting their time.

It's human driven. I like to try to ask them how many clicks they got for their efforts. Have yet to get a reply.

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Comment from imroy on 7 June 2011 at 10:03

@alexz: Unless I'm mistaken about the current spammer motivations, the target is Google and other search engines, rather than getting direct "clicks" through here.

They want their online "XYZ" shop to be the number one result when someone searches for "XYZ" or any number of related terms. So they spam blogs, forums, wikis, etc. They basically use any site where they can post their own content as free (or almost free) advertising. They are parasites.

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Comment from Sanderd17 on 7 June 2011 at 12:13

A "report" button would also be handy. So admins can be notified quicker.

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Comment from Harry Wood on 7 June 2011 at 13:57

If we did as Skippern suggests, whether they're bots or human, they would not be intelligent enough to figure out how to put spam into the diaries or comments (it's not a forum). So his suggestion would work, or chop another 99% off the spam at least. BUT...

As with many anti-spam ideas, it comes with a downside. Occasionally we get new users registering and posting a diary entry or (more likely) a comment for legitimate reasons, without yet figuring out how to make map edits. It would be a little bit of a shame to disallow this just to solve a very little bit of a spam problem.

There really isn't much spam, but the frustrating thing is that when you *do* see spam as a normal OSM user, you're powerless to do anything about it, and this induces a kind of anxiety. So actually Sanderd17's suggestion is probably a good feature idea, just to give people a course of action. We have other development priorities though. If spam was really a problem (taking up too much sysadmin time) the developers (largely the same people) would do something about it.

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Comment from Vincent de Phily on 7 June 2011 at 15:46

"Proper" spamers will quickly learn to do a quick edit of the map before posting on the diary. Some might even put spam-like data in the map (imagine if nominatim turned up a viagra add...). I really dont want to tempt spamers anywhere near the map.

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Comment from Sundance on 7 June 2011 at 15:56

Well if you're somebody like Pfizer or a drug store you could put your company's building on the map, and an appropriate website that is relevant to your business.

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Comment from Skippern on 7 June 2011 at 16:11

Pfizer and drug stores have actually more to gain on maintaining their own data in the database than spamming on the dairy. Besides, if somebody moves one node in order to advertice for Viagra, than it is easy to revert his changset when removing the actual spam as well. If he only does the edit in order to make the spam appear on the web page, than the edit is obviously spam as well. If we reduce another 99% spam this way, than this double action to remove the spam is still a 98% reduction in work load.

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Comment from marscot on 7 June 2011 at 20:47

yep a report button would be good,

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Comment from Gnonthgol on 8 June 2011 at 15:19

If Harry is right and they only spam to get a high Page rank could it not be possible to disable links when a web crawler visits the diary. This would give lower Page rank to real web sites as well unless we do some fancy shit.
In help.osm.org we could set a limit of say 100 points to be allowed to post links. However this does not work if the spam bot is helpfull.

A report spam button would be nice, possibly with the ability to temporary take down a comment after x reports.

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Comment from compdude on 9 June 2011 at 02:56

I think that any user should be allowed to mark a user diary entry as spam by clicking a link in the diary entry. If enough people click that link (say 5), then the entry will be removed.

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