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post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 
Allow people to reply to PM's. It's very odd that one cannot respond to a welcoming PM after joining this site; especially, one that invites a reply!

food for thought...
post #2 of 9
Thread Starter 


post #3 of 9
Thread Starter 
post #4 of 9
Hi Toons!

Welcome to EpicSki!  Thanks for the feedback.  That's definitely a shortcoming of our current PM system - the rationale is to help prevent any PM spam but then it's counter intuitive after someone PMs you to say welcome to the site!  

We're working on finding a solution.

Thanks again.

post #5 of 9
I really like the idea if the Development team can figure out a hack to make it happen.  We restrict access to PMs because we have had all kinds of experience with spammers using the PM system to offer members everything from get rich quick schemes to porn.  Not everyone appreciated the solicitation.  Allowing replies to a PM would be great.  

This might be a good chance to come up with some other ideas.  Maybe we could allow members with no posts to send PMs that have a reporting function that recipients can report abusive or spam messages.   If anyone has suggestions on how to identify the small amount amount of abuse that can occur, we are certainly open to a different approach.
post #6 of 9
Thread Starter 
I just responded to a thread and got a message that because I was new, my reply was being held for review by a moderator. I am member to a number of other forums and none of them have this level of visible oversight, so perhaps a good start would be to ask why and how?

I don't know how the site is structured or administered, but a few questions for thought:

*Are the fraudulent accounts being setup by individuals or computers?
*Are the spam messages you are seeing being sent by individuals or computers?
*Could you integrate CAPTCHA's somewhere? When joining? Posting? PMing?
*What stops members from forwarding offensive/spam PM's to a moderator?
*Are moderators able to delete posts?
post #7 of 9
Toons, your post has been cleared and I apologize for the delay and no doubt your frustration.

Most forums use some form of spam filter.  We've been using Defensio in production for several months. All told, it's been decent, but not great.   We have had some significant problems with it generating errors and frustration in getting support from Defensio technicians. One of the most visible drawbacks, at least from a new member's perspective, is that Defensiot experiences a large number of false positives.  We are actively looking for alternative systems or means to improve this one.   We recently conducted a study of about a dozen alternative spam filters, including the key-word filter EpicSki relied on when we were a vBulletin site.  Defensio had the largest percentage of false positives.  I found it interesting that the Key-work filter scored second-worst in this category.  Members that submit posts only to get a message that they will have to wait until the post is approved, certainly feel frustrated if not offended. 

False positive results are an important metric for consideration and we need to focus on minimizing them.  At the same time, the system does get human oversight and we try to correct problems quickly.  It is certainly less arbitrary than some systems which block IPs or email account registrations based on databases such as Stop Forum Spam, or Project Honeypot, which seemed to prevent some members from even logging in.

Spam is a significant problem in most forums, and the ability to defeat spammers and bots is a never-ending battle and results in inconvenience.  We are continuing to try to make those improvements, and are actually working very hard on that project at this time.  Keep in mind that the newest members are subject to the highest level of filter scrutiny.  Most members that have posted here over several months never see the intercept.

With regard to your questions:
  • *Are the fraudulent accounts being setup by individuals or computers?
Yes.  we have over 2000 banned spam accounts on file.  Some spam bots have hit us with over 250 posts or wiki entries in less than one hour.  The damage can take considerable time to clean up if they penetrate the defenses.
  • *Are the spam messages you are seeing being sent by individuals or computers?
  • *Could you integrate CAPTCHA's somewhere? When joining? Posting? PMing?
CAPTCHA is a sub-routine included in filters like Mollum.  Our study found it's designed on the assumption that most spam comes from bots, which is true of a fairly small percentage of spam posts on EpicSki.  The vast majority of spam that blogs see is submitted by bots. However, this isn't true for sites on the Huddler platform. Almost all of the spam submitted to our sites is submitted by humans, with registered accounts. As such, CAPTCHA is not a useful tool for discerning spam from ham on our sites.
  • *What stops members from forwarding offensive/spam PM's to a moderator?
We have a post reporting system, and it is effective is bringing spam and posting behavior that violates our site terms to our attention.  We just don't think members should have to be the primary spam filter on the site. 
  • *Are moderators able to delete posts?
Absolutely.  We also can move posts to unseen forums where we can discuss issues and even return the post to the forum should it be deemed appropriate.
Edited by Cirquerider - 12/30/09 at 12:16am
post #8 of 9
Thread Starter 

Cirquerider, thank you for the background, information, and for clearing my post. I recognized that I was a new member and I'm pleased that my comments are seen positively as a desire for improvement.

Your feedback infers that while individuals are responsible for the majority of the spam, bots are responsible for the major attacks. In such instances, CAPTCHA's may be able to mitigate some of the high cost attacks.

Do any of these packages allow custom tuning to decrease the instances of false positives at the expense of higher false negatives? Both metrics are important, but their balance is relative. If you could decrease the damaging bot attacks, would you be able to tolerate a higher incidence of false negatives for individuals?


This is an interesting and challeging issue!

post #9 of 9
In truth, Defensio misses some really obvious spam like the abbreviated example below.  Although sales of electronics  Defensio was supposed to "learn" the difference between spam and non-spam based on moderator input.  It hasn't lived up to that promise and we are actively looking for something better.  Anyway, our thinking on the matter is closely aligned and I think we will see improvements and changes in this aspect of the site shortly after the new year.


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