Help talk:Spam


Good work keeping track of these, Ducon -- it looks like we may need to double-check the block list. -- 10:08, 9 Jan 2006 (UTC)

When an IP address (or range) is blocked, does that also prevent edits by logged in users from those machines?    Ryan W 03:58, 6 February 2006 (UTC)

I'm pretty sure it does. Is this an issue at the moment? Bloodshedder 04:09, 6 February 2006 (UTC)
Not that I know of.  (If I need to stop posting about crises that haven't happened yet, please tell me.  :D      It suddenly occurs to me, however, that:
  • Blocking a single IP address blocks everyone else who is using that machine — which could be a lot of people if the machine is in a university classroom, for instance, or in a library.
  • Blocking a range of IP addresses may blacklist an entire office, dorm, or neighborhood for years due to the actions of one user.  That seems a bit harsh.
If a Wikipedia user feels that he has been blocked unfairly, he can contact an admin easily (by e-mail), but that is not the case here — if I can't edit, I can't ask a question on a talk page, and most people don't have IRC and aren't going to get it just for us.  (Wikipedia's other suggestion for a dynamic IP address is to change it in a controlled way, which is virtually impossible unless the relevant ISP employee is a personal friend.)    Ryan W 04:56, 6 February 2006 (UTC)

"Soy Candles" Deletion[edit]

So much for the captcha.

  • Delete.    Ryan W 01:16, 12 February 2007 (UTC)
  • What the hell? Delete, oh Jesus Christ, delete. 02:09, 12 February 2007 (UTC)
Deleted, spam blacklisted, and earth salted. Don't blame the captcha, blame the monkeys typing in confirmation codes for a living. --Splarka (talk) 08:56, 12 February 2007 (UTC)
"For a living?" I was about to say.  Then I remembered that I had seen a spam commercial during the Super Bowl, which costs US$2,600,000.  Ouch.  I'm glad you folks are doing what you're doing; I'm not sure my stomach would hold up.    Ryan W 05:45, 13 February 2007 (UTC)
Sadly, in some countries it can be a high paying job to manually spam. --Splarka (talk) 08:25, 15 February 2007 (UTC)

I don't think we need go through a formal deletion process for articles which are obviously spam. -- Jdowland 13:09, 12 February 2007 (UTC)

I usually wouldn't delete as it is a sysop duty rather than staff (we are discouraged from performing sysop duties when local sysops are active, here I am mostly just a contributor), but spam is something staff often will jump in and delete immediately. --Splarka (talk) 23:59, 12 February 2007 (UTC) P.S. Someone sysop Ryan W already.
I was in the neighborhood, and I figured I'd tag it just in case no one else noticed (certain people have told me that every single edit is examined by least one admin each, but I'm not sure I believe it).    Ryan W 05:45, 13 February 2007 (UTC)
I'd second that (setting Ryan W admin) -- I don't have the userrights priviledge, though. If Ryan W is interested, I'll chase Fredrik to get it. -- Jdowland 09:49, 14 February 2007 (UTC)
Jdowland, please see here for my initial reaction.  However, whereas Splarka is an admin in the much grittier world of the central wikia, and whereas he has seen me in the full splendor of my incomprehensibility, and he still makes that remark, maybe there's something to it (and maybe I'm taking the whole question much too seriously and overanalyzing it).  Also, correct me if I'm wrong, but "steward"/"bureaucrat" seems to be the opposite of what I said: you can sysop/desysop other users, but not do any other admin stuff like protecting or deleting.    Ryan W 18:39, 14 February 2007 (UTC)
In a default MediaWiki install (see m:Help:User_rights#Defaults), there are generally 4 access "levels":
  • * (everyone, including anonymous users) can: createaccount, read, edit, createpage, createtalk
  • user (logged in user) can also: move, upload, reupload, reupload-shared, minoredit
  • sysop (admin): block, delete, deletehistory (see deleted pages and images), editinterface (MediaWiki: namespace), import, importupload, patrol, autopatrol, protect, proxyunbannable, trackback, unwatchedpages (Special:Unwatchedpages), upload_by_url, ipblock-exempt
  • bureaucrat: userrights (can edit the rights of any users)
There are also some other applied user groups:
  • autoconfirmed (logged in user of a certain tenure or number of edits): often moves are restricted to autoconfirmed
  • emailconfirmed (users with confirmed email addresses): not used for much
  • bot (edits hidden from Special:Recentchanges by default): automatically autoconfirmed, and do not trigger 'you have new messages' if doing a minor edit on a talk page (for things like removing closed categories).
However, on Wikia and Wikimedia, bureaucrats are given different intermediary roles, and the Userrights permission is given to Stewards (on Wikimedia) and Staff (on Wikia). A bureaucrat here can only use Special:Makesysop to make anyone a sysop, and that is the only function they currently have on Wikia beyond a normal sysop (future features will include ability to add and remove bot flags). On Wikia therefor, the Bureaucrat is still the 4th access level above sysop, and staff the 5th.
More on Staff: Staff on Wikia (limited to paid part-time, full-time, and consulting employees and only) are given every permission possible. As we are employees, we use them only when we are required to (the Community Team of which I am part are the only ones who really go out and actively use them, often in the role of sysop or bureaucrat when needed, especially on new and low-activity Wikia that may suffer vandalism... on a self-sufficient wiki like this, I am just a minor contributor and arguer ^_^). The logic is that we can be trusted with every right because our jobs are on the line if we abuse them. Anyway, both "Staff" and "Steward" are custom user groups to Wikia and Wikimedia respectively, which can easily be created by modification of LocalSettings.php on any wiki.
Just to complicate things, we also have several sysops on Central with custom user rights to extensions that only need to exist there (as they are globally applied), such as the Spam Blacklist, global contribs lookup, and global username blocking. We also hope to have at some point a 6th intermediary group, that would be about equal to sysop or bureaucrat, but globally applied to certain trusted multi-wikia users (such as w:User:GHe).
Anyway, to answer Ryan W's question, the rank goes: anon user, user, sysop, bureaucrat, staff. There is nothing between user and sysop, so you might as well just accept sysophood from the local bureaucrat, and if you require it I can (upon request) remove it. A Staff member can do anything like banning/protecting/deleting, but we shouldn't. A bureaucrat who wasn't a sysop technically couldn't do anything special but make sysops, but they could then just make themself a sysop.
Phew! --Splarka (talk) 08:25, 15 February 2007 (UTC)
Wow!  Very interesting.
Among other things, this is an informative and reasoned way of saying, "Ryan W has once again misread something in a wikipedia AfD or the listserv, then looked at the wrong help page on central for a clarification."  :>   I thought that my original interpretation made sense because it allowed editors to be given "mop and bucket" privileges without the political baggage, but of course no backend programmer would set it up that way: userrights is disassociated from the enhanced editing procedures because that gives us the most flexibility.  (In fact, I have heard that all wikia sysops were once made bureaucrats by default, but then sysops started demoting other sysops in order to block them.)
Anyway, dodging the question again perhaps.
When I see things like this and this, I want to be a sysop, so I can just fix them instead of pestering a sysop to do so (who, unlike me, has actual technical content to contribute and might not find the time).  On the other hand, when I see things like this, I don't want to be a sysop — it does something strange to one's brain, unless one already has exceptional mental fortitude, and there is no evidence that I do.
So my question is really whether the "mop and bucket" part of sysophood is meant to outweigh the political part.  The answer is different on different wikia.  Here, AFAICT, the answer is "yes" because 99.8 percent of the disruptions are dumb, obvious things (like uploading photographs of penises) which are easy to fix, rather than trolling or other more complex behavior, but that's just my own opinion.  If our founding editors agree, then I want to be a sysop; otherwise I do not.    Ryan W 21:13, 16 February 2007 (UTC)
That is a very astute observation. You are correct that it isn't possible to really separate the two; if someone has a privilege on a wiki they get an equal amount of responsibility to use it and account for their actions when using it. This becomes much more noticeable on larger wikis (smaller ones have a sort of "Frontier Law", but this is not a permanent state for a successful wiki).
Parallel to this (bit of a tangent), one can observe that (for large wiki projects, like Wikimedia, and certain older wikia) the more userrights one has, the less choice one has in how to use them. For example, a sysop on Wikipedia has to abide by all the rules and restrictions of sysophood or risk desysopping, but otherwise are given some free reign in their decisions (such as interpretation of consensus on an AFD). The bureaucrats can not arbitrarily rename, +sysop or +bot whoever they want, but are merely the executioners of the will of the community, performing tasks that should be left to those that know how. The stewards, who have the power over literally millions of users, do very little with that power unless specifically asked.
Anyway, this wiki is probably a very long way from the intense things en.wikipedia is suffering (like arbitrations). Arbitrations (and their general lack of actual effectiveness) are what made me semi-retire from Wikipedia in 2005 and come to Uncyclopedia/Wikia. --Splarka (talk) 01:50, 17 February 2007 (UTC)
There has hardly been any "politics" on this wiki so far, and I don't expect that to change. I'd be happy to give you the ability to more efficiently mop and bucket :-) Fredrik 10:34, 17 February 2007 (UTC)
I guess I don't expect that to change either.    ** deep breath **     Okay, let's do it.
Ryan W 15:46, 20 February 2007 (UTC)
Congrats! However, the techs are always keen to make a liar out of me. Starting tomorrow (probably) Bureucrats will be able to grant (and ungrant) an intermediary access level between sysop and user called 'rollback' which gives a user the power to use the rollback button (automatically revert all the top edits by a user on a page). Too late for you now though ^_^. --Splarka (talk) 15:43, 21 February 2007 (UTC)
Why does that require a higher access level?  Any user can already do it; it just takes several clicks instead of one.    Ryan W 18:20, 21 February 2007 (UTC)
The automated rollback is much faster and has better edit conflict prevention. You can revert all of someone's recent edits by opening their contributions and ctrl-clicking all the rollback links. --Splarka (talk) 08:14, 22 February 2007 (UTC)
It appears that the rollback is unavailable unless the "target" user was the last to edit a page, in which case edit conflicts are irrelevant (unless you mean "prevention" in the sense that no one else can commit an edit in the time it takes me to click history, old version, edit, save).  I must ask again, how does this add new functionality?    Ryan W 20:44, 22 February 2007 (UTC)
Geez, here we go again. If you need little words, so be it. If two people are manually reverting vandalism to an article, they can have redundant or conflicting edits, as editing an oldid and then saving will not cause an "edit conflit" message (which prevents such) most of the time. With rollback, the revert will auto-abort if any other editor has edited (in most cases, because someone else has reverted) has edited the article. On the flip side of the coin, some of the few cases where an oldid might conflict with new edits (such as the vandal editing again), are no problem for rollback: it will revert all top (non-log) edits by that user on that article, even future ones. The rollback token is (AFAIK) a hash of the userid and articleid, so the same rollback token continues to work for subsequent edits to the article. I must ask you to not ask again how this adds new functionality. At the very least, it adds new functionality for the Bureaucrats (who get a new toy to play with). --Splarka (talk) 22:25, 22 February 2007 (UTC) P.S. In the next version there is an 'undo' feature which lets anyone undo non-conflicting (per-line) non-top edits, although not one-click like rollback.
I apologize if I have been wikilawyering here (and I certainly do not need to ask the question again, as you have explained the technical characteristics so that even I can understand).  God knows, I can't always tell when to stop talking.  Perhaps, however, I have been stung a few times recently by watching collaborative web projects undergo the following sequence of changes:
  • The site goes live (i.e. anyone can participate, not just the webmaster and his/her friends).
  • The site begins to accumulate paid employees.
  • The maintainers promote one or more persons "from without" into a supervisory position, citing as major motivation an increased emphasis on marketing.
  • Ordinary, non-technical users have increasing difficulty discerning the overall "mission" of the site, and how the maintainers decide which large categories of tasks to address next.  Sometimes, the most visible changes break something which worked previously (e.g. dumping a lot of less-than-portable java and flash into an already functional main page), whereas simpler features requested again and again by the community are deferred for years without explanation.
Wikia has already experienced the first three items, so when I hear something that reminds me of the fourth, a little alarm goes off.  Such is hardly the case here, I see.  (Hmmm, maybe next time I'll just wait for the announcement on central like everybody else, which will be much longer than one sentence.)
More abstractly, one can ask how the continued proliferation of automated tools affects our overall policies.  This is analogous to anti-stalking and anti-identity theft laws IRL, which didn't really exist when a malicious party had to dig through giant filing cabinets in the library/town hall to obtain any information about you, but became necessary once everything was computerized.  (Such questions are probably way too complicated for me, though... I only know about them because a high school friend of mine wrote her baccalaureate thesis on cyberstalking.  I should really get back to making demos.  :7
Ryan W 01:32, 23 February 2007 (UTC)
When we stop questioning what we view as authority, is when we become its slave. However, here now, we have a bit of mutually-assured-authority. I technically have some authority over you in my role as a Wikia staff member, but when I am a regular contributor (such as when I aruge with you over simple things, or suggest you become a sysop, you have authority over me. You could ban me for uncivil behavor, and I would not be able to unban myself unless I could justify it to my superiors ^_^. That being said, I apologize for taking a bit of offense at your request for more information, but it seemed a little rude. I now understand more on why you stated it so coldly.
Please note that the giverollback feature is intended to be completely at the discretion of the founder and other bureaucrats on each Wikia project, not something Wikia will be involved in very much. It is just an optional tool for Wikia communities to utilize.
Anyway, while I can not promise the above mentioned steps will not take place, I can say that one of the social promises Wikia makes, restated in recent interviews Jimmy has given, is that if we piss off everyone too much it is pretty easy to ditch Wikia and find better hosting. The content and images are available to download (except when they aren't due to technical reasons ^_^). We have had a few projects leave, but many more take their place. This limits the company from being too evil.
Another thing preventing all our evil plans from coming to fruition, is that it is becoming very apparent to us that we can't afford to hire enough people to "supervise" Wikia. There are plans to elect some globally sysopped users, who can monitor a shared recent changes depository for cross-wikia vandalism/spam as well as vandalism on Wikia with no 24/7 sysop coverage. They would always defer to local sysops and would be volunteers (not paid employees). They would not be "from without" as the position would be very exclusive, requiring Wikians who have edited on many Wikia (including Central) and had a feeling for the potential differences in policies.
Okay, said too much, back to my evil cabal meeting. We must go enable some annoying new features (I am only half kidding) ^_^. --Splarka (talk) 06:23, 23 February 2007 (UTC)
I agree with/believe everything you just said, except when I don't because you were making a joke.  :>
It had never occurred to me that my voice, as it were, would sound more menacing to anyone merely by virtue of having been sysopped.  I sincerely hope that nobody has more reservations (consciously or otherwise) about arguing with me today than they did a week ago, for the same reason that sysops themselves are asked not to "pull rank" on ordinary users in order to win arguments.   * sigh *    I suppose, however, that I have no control over the former, and new contributors will arrive with various general opinions about sysops, formed by their experiences on other wikia, on wikipedia, and/or (uh-oh) on other Doom sites, where it is acceptable to have an annual blowup resulting in 10-50% of the sysops quitting or being banned.
Even if I were somehow eager to use my new sysop abilities to block people for uncivil behavior, I seriously doubt that I could justify it in your case (especially in light of the somewhat cynical written policies currently in place on this wiki).  You have been an extraordinarily thoughtful contributor here as far as I can tell, and of course no one ever has to fix your markup after you edit.  :>
Having said all that, I probably shouldn't have written the aforementioned second question so quickly, because it ended up terse and therefore more likely to accidentally sound ascerbic (this is a general phenomenon on the internet, at least when it's me writing, because ASCII doesn't instinctively lend itself to warm effusiveness).  Lately I have been reading the wikia-l listserv, which is helping me to appreciate just what the wikia people are going through and how strong a community they hope to help create; and I am now getting the idea to start reading the central wikia more regularly also, before I go shooting my mouth off again.
Ryan W 08:06, 23 February 2007 (UTC)
And people say spam is bad. I think I need to buy some Soy Candles ^_^. --Splarka (talk) 08:58, 23 February 2007 (UTC)

Spam attack[edit]

We just got hit by a rather nasty spam attack by User:Socialist4557. Thanks to Angela for help in cleaning this up. I don't know why the spammers bother: all the links have rel=nofollow set on them. Fraggle 14:42, 23 February 2007 (UTC)

Seconding your second sentence here.  :D
I don't know why the spammers bother   This assumes them to be well-read enough (and fluent enough in English, or at least technical English) to have heard of "nofollow", deductive enough to realize that it causes them a problem, and possessed of the necessary initiative, programming ability, and source code to then modify their spamming tools to skip over us (because they didn't just buy a black-box "advertising kit" from a spam e-mail message).  No doubt some spammers meet all these criteria, but I bet a lot of them don't.  Also, Google is not the only web-indexing service in existence: practically every media outlet's site has their own homebrew kind, and so do a lot of cybersquatting sites.  If one programmer can auto-convert HTML this way, another can auto-convert it back!    Ryan W 23:10, 23 February 2007 (UTC)
Heh, seems I got hit with it as well. O_o oTHErONE (Contribs) 00:18, 24 February 2007 (UTC)
Indeed, yours and my talk page apparently must be two of the biggest spam targets! Perhaps most amusingly of all, this very page was spammed! Fraggle 00:37, 24 February 2007 (UTC)

Purpose of this page[edit]

I am a little confused about the current purpose of this page.  AFAICT it began as a non-automated blacklist, but it is not currently used as such.  For instance, Fraggle's recent range blocks cite "long term abuse" from addresses which do indeed appear in the block log, but not here or on the archive page.  On the other hand, both admins and non-admins post here, and usually do not discuss particular spammers at length, so it seems not to be a "spam noticeboard" — nearly all of its content is in fact redundant with the block log.  Have I once again missed something obvious?    Ryan W 04:10, 1 March 2007 (UTC)

I’m no sysop, so I can list spammers and morons here. Ducon 06:34, 1 March 2007 (UTC)
True.  I was just observing that, e.g., in the last year there have been 4 posts to this page by non-admins, whereas the number of blocks was roughly 12 (depending on which ones you count), so this page is apparently not indispensable for that purpose.
I suppose the explanation might simply be that our most active editors, and therefore most of the people who watch Special:Recentchanges, are admins, and therefore a lot of reverts and blocks happen pretty quickly.  Years from now, that might not be the case, which would make this page far more useful (as with the administrators' noticeboard on wikipedia).  Hmm.    Ryan W 12:08, 11 March 2007 (UTC)
In the future, if I ban people in such a way, I'll put the details up on here. Fraggle 19:44, 11 March 2007 (UTC)