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Preparing For Spam


Published in: Brainstorming, Design, DevelopmentPosted by Tyler on 06/29/06


It’s no longer a matter of what to do if spammers find your websites, it’s what to do when spammers find your website. It’s going to happen.

Snipplr is just ripe for spammers. Think about it. We allow anyone to create an account – no email validation required. Then, we let people post snippets which automatically appear on the front page along with any text they enter.

So how do we prevent spam from becoming a problem?

The obvious answer, and one that I don’t want to implement is to force users to register with a valid email address. Email addresses are a dime a dozen now. You can create a fake email address just for Snipplr with any number of online services. In fact, looking through the current list of users, I can see that about 40% are using fake email addresses. Forcing them to use a real one accomplishes nothing other than annoying the users and creating another barrier they have to get past before using this website.

The next option is to use a captcha every time someone posts a new snippet. (You know, one of those boxes with curvy letters that you have to decipher to proove you’re human.) This would help stop spam, but it would become tedious for people who post a lot.

Snipplr is closely modeled after del.icio.us. That said, I’m leaning towards the method they and other social bookmarking sites use: let the users report spammy snippets. A small “report this” link could be added next to each snippet. If a snippet gets enough spam votes, the system can automatically remove it from the site and place it in a holding queue until it can be manually reviewed by a moderator.

Another similar option is to prevent new users’ snippets from appearing on the front page until they’ve been verified. While tedious for the admins, it’s better than forcing the user to jump through email and captcha hoops.

Any Snipplr users have suggestions? Post them in the comments below.

Comments

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Posted By: álvaro isorna on June 30th, 2006

hi there,

I’d like to thank you for such a wonderful work, I love Snipplr.com!!

I’d recommend you to use some kind of user verification, like the one in Alzado.org comments (“please answer to this question: 5 + 7 = [input text]“), it’s not as harsh as captcha, and people will understand that it’s done to improve the site and prevent spamming.

cheers,

Alvaro

Posted By: CB on June 30th, 2006

HI, great concept and the potential benefits of this network when you hit critical mass are very exciting. My suggestion would be that you don’t even ask for an email address if you’re not going to validate at the first step. anyone can start posting on the basis of username and password, however, those snippets are not shared (or available for others to view) unless they validate an email address (ie send a validation code to their email address). The logic being that your site is only useful to spammers if their fake snippets are viewable by the community. Whether the legit guys will want to share their code enough to go through the validation step is an unknown, however you may be able to come up with some interesting incentives for those that do, possible some community features that aren’t available to the non-registered.

Keep up the good work.

Regards,

Chris

Posted By: Tyler on June 30th, 2006

That’s a good idea, Alvaro. I like asking simple math questions a lot better than using a captcha.

Chris: For the time being I’d like to hold off on keeping snippets private (even ones by members who aren’t validated yet) to help build up the critical mass you mention. Once things really start rolling, I do plan on allowing people to keep snippets private. I hope that entering a simple math answer will be enough to keep the (automated) spammers at bay for now.

Posted By: Neo Geek on June 30th, 2006

First off let me say that this is an amazing web application that I am sure to use time and time again. I do however have one suggestion/question; will there be a user profile page at some point? I feel that this would be a useful addition to this site as it would allow people to be able to contact a certain user about the script they wrote.

Keep up the great work!

Posted By: Tyler on June 30th, 2006

“will there be a user profile page at some point?”

Yep.

Posted By: 1man on July 7th, 2006

Hiya,
great site, love the concept, i had a blog setup to do exactly the same thing but this idea is much better.

One thing i think it does need at the moment is the ability to link to other bits of code. For example i have posted some HTML and would love to link to the coresponding CSS that is required withing the snippet.

Keep up the good work!

Posted By: Tyler on July 7th, 2006

Wow. That’s crazy. I was just now visiting your website (after looking at your new block quote snippet) when I got pinged about a new blog comment.

After seeing your two related snippets I definitely see how linking between snippets is needed. I’ll have to think about how to implement it. Suggestions?

Posted By: 1man on July 8th, 2006

Ah excellent, site only went up a month or so ago and have been so busy I haven’t been able to update it.

Idealy i think there should be a dropdown which shows all of your posted snippets, then you select the one(s) you want to link to. I’m not sure if the dropdown idea is a bit clunky, if i come up with any other ideas i’ll post them.

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