OpenStreetMap diaries are a great way to communicate with the community worldwide. Since past few months, few of us are receiving irrelevant comments on our diary posts from users who mostly have no edits (likely that they are new to OpenStreetMap)

Some examples of such comments are:

  • This is a snapshot from a diary post by SrrReal, which has many such comments.

openstreetmap srrreal s diary ideas from an introductory osm session at trichy 20170423 png

  • This is a snapshot from a diary post written by me.

screen shot 2017-04-23 at 5 53 44 pm

  • Can there be a way, where we can close the option to comment on a diary post after a particular period?
  • Is there a possibility of deleting such comments from the post?
  • Is anyone else also facing similar issues?

Comment from imagico on 23 April 2017 at 13:44

This is standard comment spam - everyone running a website with comment option is usually familiar with this problem.

Relevant links:

Comment from alexkemp on 25 April 2017 at 06:54

Hi @jinalfoflia

I feel your pain. It is the lackadaisical attitude† from Admin that pains me more than anything.

Consider the wiki link provided by @imagico to report spammers. The top item is a Profile spammer; they register, make not a single edit nor trace, but place a link into their profile; they then make a single Diary post (or comment as you noted) as to obtain a backlink to the Profile. They are nothing but scum that waste server space & clutter up everything that OSM does. Admin cares little about any of this.

Consider the Profile Spammer at the top of the spam report wiki page:–

  • Registered 10 February, 2015
  • Posted 1 x Diary 10 February 2015
  • 0 edits; 0 traces; 1 x Diary

There are 276 spammers reported on that wiki page. The top one is Café Verde Web, and has been in place for > 2 years. Do you really consider that there is any point in adding a new spammer at the bottom of that list? What would be the point?

† Re: lackadaisical attitude:–
Reading through the github links from imagico it struck me yet again that OSM folks seem to find it very easy to convince themselves not to change anything.

Comment from imagico on 25 April 2017 at 08:40

I understand the worries about spam but you should not blame the admins for that. They are all volunteers. If fighting spam requires additional resources (either in development or operations) you should not automatically assume this has to be provided by the admin team.

Also keep in mind as an outsider you usually only see the spam that is not dealt with while spam that is already dealt with is invisible to you. You do not know for example how many user accounts created by spammers are deleted. If you subscribe to the RSS feed for these diaries you will get to see quite a bit of diary entry spam but most of this is removed and not visible on the website after a short time.

Comment from SrrReal on 26 April 2017 at 10:52

I understand the rationale behind avoiding captcha to keep the user experience simple. Even if we don’t prevent spam accounts at the account creation step, could there be a way to prevent spamming in comments? And what would be the best way to handle this? Having faced this issue, what would be helpful is if we could delete such comments or report spam.

Note: The spam comments on my post got removed from time to time.

Comment from alexkemp on 26 April 2017 at 20:52

Gosh, navigating through current Diary entries to get here showed umpteen spam posts. I’ve actually never seen it so bad within OSM.

@imagico: > (spam) you should not blame the admins for that

I do not blame Admin for the presence of spam posts! I’m profoundly grateful for those that spend their time trying to keep the place free of it. If I’m attacking anything, it is the complacent attitude shown by so many towards spam. If Admin are having problems keeping the place free of spam (and 276 spammers left untouched for >2 years speaks of problems) then they need to speak up, set out the issues & suggest directions for solutions. It is obviously far too difficult currently for folks to report spammers and, it seems, far too difficult for anyone to easily & quickly remove them.

@SrrReal: > could there be a way to prevent spamming in comments? And what would be the best way to handle this?

Yes there is. I am a Mod for many years on StopForumSpam (SFS). It is a crowd-sourced site that provides an API to auto-interrogate & discover if subscribers have spammed other sites and, if so, prevent them from registering (best) and/or posting (next best). Sites protected via SFS have seen falling levels of spam in recent years. OSM, however, seems to be experiencing increasing levels of spam. Make no mistake — spammers talk to each other, and once it gets around just how easy any website is to spam they focus on it (low hanging fruit).

I’ve contemplated writing the routines to keep OSM free and have then considered the opprobrium that faces anyone suggesting novel techniques here, and decided that I would rather carry on mapping.

Comment from Matija Nalis on 2 August 2017 at 10:31

It seems opening trac ticket has worked in the past for cleaning spam accounts. Perhaps do it again?

Comment from alexkemp on 2 August 2017 at 19:30

25 April 2017 at 06:54: > There are 276 spammers reported on that wiki page. The top one is Café Verde Web, and has been in place for > 2 years. Do you really consider that there is any point in adding a new spammer at the bottom of that list? What would be the point?

Looking at it just now there are 334 spammers listed, many with extra comments to try to get Admin attention to the problem. The top entry is still Café Verde Web. So, 3 months later and an additional 58 reports are being ignored.

The Spam page (thanks @Matija Nalis) was originally started for the purpose that the Report-User page is now used for. So, the stats go like this:-

  1. Spam page 31 October 2008‎: 1 user reported (page started)
  2. Spam page 21 November 2008‎: 11 users reported, 2 active
  3. Spam page 31 May 2014: 312 users reported
  4. Spam page 28 August 2014: 379 users reported
  5. Spam page 31 August 2015: 93 users reported, inc Café Verde Web
  6. Spam page 30 August 2016: 206 users reported
  7. Spam page 23:28, 27 February 2017: 273 users reported
  8. Spam page 00:04, 28 February 2017: page cleared of reported users, transferred to Report_user
  9. Report-user page 23:41 27 February 2017‎: page started with 2 users from Spam page
  10. Report-user page 23:58 27 February 2017‎: 253 users transferred from Spam page
  11. Report-user page 25 April 2017: 276 users reported
  12. Report-user page 2 August 2017: 334 users reported

From the above it is clear that many OSM users are desperate to keep the site clear of spammers. Sadly, I think that many Admin react to spam reports as a personal affront†. Whatever the reason, in the 9 years since 2008 it has NOT been successfully pro-actively dealt with.

† To be clear, the problem would be that they are NOT affronted by spammers, but rather that they are upset by the report of spam. This is similar to the issue highlighted by Shakespeare in the story of Cleopatra attacking the messenger that informs her of the death of Julius Caesar. The reaction is reasonable, but the attribution prevents effective action.

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