OC Banning spam accounts

Banning spam accounts on kbin.social is a cumbersome affair.

E.g., today @bayaz tried to ban several spam accounts. But that just did not quite work:

Instead of straight forward banning the accounts responsible for spam, those accs got unbanned.

How come?

If magazine owners ban a spam acc which prior went unreported, the ban button triggers an unban command.

To effectively ban accounts, they must be reported first. Approving the report will trigger a ban. I.e. magazine owners must report the account identified as spam to themselves to enforce a ban.

Therefore, pre-emptive banning of spam accounts does not work on kbin.social.

This is a serious problem which needs to be addressed asap.

jayrhacker,
jayrhacker avatar

It would be nice if the report feature had a way to indicate if the problem is spam, content or whatever other issues people might have. You could have a threshold for spam reports to put the account in review and prevent of hide it's posts.

testing,
testing avatar

@jayrhacker
Would you elaborate on this?

bluGill,
bluGill avatar

I have to type 4 letters for every spam I see. I'd prefer to check a box (on my phone where typing is annoying this is even more useful) I do this dozens of times per day - it gets annoying fast.

jayrhacker,
jayrhacker avatar

A short pull-down list would work well: Spam, Harassment, Site ToS Violation, Thread/Group Rules Violation, etc.

This way you can automate rules like: if an article get's N spam or harassment reports it's put into the review queue and hidden until a Moderator can review it.

Kierunkowy74,
Kierunkowy74 avatar

You can write a reason when you report a post. Are you actually seeing that as a moderator?

testing, (edited )
testing avatar

@Kierunkowy74
Yes, moderators can access the reports tab within the magazine panel. Every report must include some reason, hence moderators see them. Regarding bans: without giving a proper reason, no ban can come into effect.

You can also check the modlogs on kbin and lemmy instances for bans (does not apply to mbin).
@bayaz @jayrhacker

insomniac_lemon,
insomniac_lemon avatar

Most forums have dedicated categories for common stuff like this. Written reports are fine if an explanation is needed, not for the newly created samename37 spambot account illicitly selling drugs (or something that is probably phishing, like the delta airlines refund ticket type stuff) without really doing much to hide it.

It's the same communities and overwhelming at times to the point it doesn't even feel productive or even needed to report it. This is the lowest of low-hanging fruit.

shazbot,

Could you point me to some of the magazines where you feel this is particularly rampant right now?

insomniac_lemon,
insomniac_lemon avatar

Lots of places that list ernest as the only moderator. Some I've seen are on communities such as: fediverse, internet, opensource, science, random (which also pulls content from various places, which had the added minus that spam from other instances will not have deletions federated). Even the ask communities are sometimes hit, or for instance in this community there's a spam thread for pills in Dubai right below this one in new (from 2 days ago).

Specifically I'm talking about stuff you'll either see piled up in the new feed OR in the 'random threads'/posts section. My new feed isn't lotsa spam like it was earlier, but the sidebar currently is.

Image link for non-Kbin. Also, BUFO TOAD VENOM

Haus,
Haus avatar

Science often has maybe 6 pharma ads every morning. Today it had so many I went looking for someplace to discuss it.

shazbot,

You don't like bufo toad venom? I like to start my mornings by sipping a little bufo toad venom while reading kbin. Buy bufo toad venom today.

In all seriousness...I don't know if you saw my last thread about KES in this magazine, but I suggest giving it a try. I've extended the filter coverage based on your feedback, and those magazines should essentially be expunged of garbage for the time being.

As for the sidebar, I believe the implementation is fundamentally flawed because it loads content that, AFAIK, doesn't respect your actual block settings. I suggest disabling the random threads element altogether in KES by navigating to General > Hide sidebar elements.

insomniac_lemon,
insomniac_lemon avatar

I don't know if you saw my last thread about KES in this magazine

I did. I would still be commenting about it as I don't think extra stuff should be necessary to fix a problem like this. Filters should exist especially for new accounts (even the most cautious implementation could make a big difference), comparing names to banned accounts before account creation too (or shadowbanning so they don't just choose different names).

because it loads content that, AFAIK, doesn't respect your actual block settings

Oh yeah, funnily enough the one thread in my image that isn't spam was from a community I blocked. (at least I think it was, hard to tell with different instances)

Also to add to my list above, I just noticed a lot of spam posted in the food community. Also checking from the top of the magazine list with default sorting: tech, TodayILearned, space, showerthoughts, programming (though some of the spam is related SEO-type garbage). Books has 1 piece of spam and 1 user (probably bot given the post with 503 - Service unavailable in a title) who just aggregates Amazon links+descriptions.

shazbot,

Of course, I'm not trying to suggest that a third-party prophylactic tool is a definitive solution to what is ultimately a separate problem, just trying to be pragmatic here and restore basic readability for end-users, whether the filtering is done at the source or after the fact.

Let's be real here, we are talking about unmoderated magazines on an instance where the developer is AWOL and using a framework that is lacking many basic features. Even with moderators, manual moderation can be a big ask and is time-consuming for free volunteers, depending on the volume of posts or how rudimentary the moderation tools are.

I actually don't read kbin magazines much, so I wasn't aware of the extent of the problem until I started opening those magazines more closely, and felt that something is better than nothing.

On the magazines you mentioned, I do see a few anomalous patterns that I'll start filtering. For the most part, with filtering enabled, they were almost entirely free of garbage, save for a few patterns I may have missed on the first few passes. /programming and /food I need to take a deeper look at. The /food thing is good intel, because the use of Amazon referral links in the threads is something that can be generalized to other situations beyond books. Posting referral links is definitively block-worthy.

I also noticed some stuff that by any other name would be considered a thinly-veiled ad, such as specific users only posting articles to web sites they own and operate. I'm not talking about bots as such, but actively promoting one's own content--even when such content is on-topic for the magazine. I declined to filter this stuff yet, because it received a lot of upvotes and seemed to be received favorably, maybe because the readers felt it was at least germane to the topic at hand? I think this is probably true for /food as well, because the line between "content" and "promotion" is unclear here, since what is a food blog if not a product generating click revenue? It seems like the tolerance threshold for that sort of thing is higher in a magazine like /food versus some other magazine. Anyway, I digress. I'm not treating such stuff as in scope, just filtering what is blatantly noise.

insomniac_lemon,
insomniac_lemon avatar

On food I was actually talking about the non-related spam, such as the x8 newest. Mostly gummies and pills, though maybe you're already blocking those like you said (and this might apply to the below text too).

Though looking at it there are also some semi-related local-specific self advertisements by likely bots (Best X in location Y / near me). So I wasn't talking about food blogs, but I do see some of those that are downvoted (and they are clickbait-y). One of the blogspot ones (the one who marked it as 18+) has one thread about Quora SEO and another thread called "hot girl" (random woman outside)

Aside from blocking I could see soft hiding (especially with ratings and/or grouping), though I'm not so sure how well that would work with assessing a thread or a user. Though I notice a lot of accounts like this don't seem to comment much if at all.

bayaz,

@shazbot @insomniac_lemon To be clear, you're talking about /m/food on kbin.social? And particularly the threads side?

I'm the mod for that community, and I'm not seeing any amazon links, gummies, etc. I'm usually pretty good about deleting those within at most 24 hours of them being posted. But, if you're still seeing them, either there's a glitch or I'm doing something wrong.

Right now, I'm seeing 51 threads total, and the newest one is a month old (tagliatelle link). Are you seeing something different?

I agree with you about the questionable food blogs and probably-ai-generated content. I've been on the fence about whether to delete those, but I decided to let it slide and hope that upvotes/downvotes would take care of it. Also, I didn't get any user reports about them, so that was another metric to consider. For now, I'm just doing the absolute minimum of deleting obvious drug spam and amazon links (or, at least, I thought I was). If you notice anything especially egregious (where on earth do you see this 18+ spam nonsense?!) and could take the time to report it, I would really appreciate it.

insomniac_lemon,
insomniac_lemon avatar

To be clear, you're talking about /m/food on kbin.social? And particularly the threads side?
I'm the mod for that community, and I'm not seeing any amazon links, gummies, etc

Amazon links no, that was Books and the other user misspoke in one of their comments.

The other stuff, you deleted some of it after I commented, some is still there. Screenshot attached, the last one is about food but is that user's only post and looks awfully like a thinly-veiled advertisement.

bayaz,

EDIT: I should have started with "thanks", by the way. I appreciate the response.

This is so weird. I don't see any of those first four posts. I see the fifth (I'm actually the downvote), and I agree it's sketchy, but I'm trying to get just the absolute worst out for now.

Also, I have two posts you don't have. I'm viewing this directly in Firefox -- are you in an app of some kind?

insomniac_lemon,
insomniac_lemon avatar

Also, I have two posts you don't have. I'm viewing this directly in Firefox -- are you in an app of some kind?

That is weird, and nope also Firefox. I see what you do if I log out though. I checked, I don't seem to have that user blocked, and the spam still there then gone on logout/private-window is something else entirely.

EDIT: I don't see those 2 posts because they are categorized as Macedonian. I have it set to English only. Though the posts look like they are in English.

shazbot,

@bayaz @insomniac_lemon

Yep, I meant to say /books when I was talking about Amazon links. Sorry.

As for the posts on /food, I have totally vanilla settings (no language filtering or anything) and I saw all of the posts you both mentioned.

Well, with the exception of the garbage posts, because in answer to lemon's earlier question, those have long since been scrubbed on the filter side. But they did exist before I started filtering.

All of that low hanging fruit kind of stuff has been banished, and I am mainly working on edge cases at this point.

bayaz, (edited )

Ouch, what a bug. I knew some of the moderation wasn't being federated, but I can't imagine how a kbin user isn't seeing the latest version.

To be clear, you see the spam when logged in, then don't see it logged out, then see it again when logged in again?

I don't see it regardless of whether I'm logged in or not. Also, I don't think I've ever been able to see it because I don't see the posts in a quick look through the moderation log.

Would you mind posting an issue about this? https://codeberg.org/Kbin/kbin-core/issues Or, I can do it if you don't feel like it and don't mind me using your screenshots. If you do post it, just please emphasize that this makes it impossible for moderation to happen because the moderator literally cannot see the posts.

Thanks again for trying things out and sharing your info!

insomniac_lemon,
insomniac_lemon avatar

@bayaz

To be clear, you see the spam when logged in, then don't see it logged out, then see it again when logged in again?

Correct.

Or, I can do it if you don't feel like it and don't mind me using your screenshots

I haven't used codeberg yet, so I'll just say sure you can use my screenshots/words. It also directly affects you as a mod more as you've said, anyway.

Using those usernames/profiles to look at the posts directly, I don't suppose there is anything that might detail what is going on? There are ~500 open issues, maybe this is some existing database/caching issue possibly related to post/community IDs? Though I am still not sure why viewing would differ by user.

bayaz,

Using those usernames/profiles to look at the posts directly, I don't suppose there is anything that might detail what is going on?

Can you get me the full usernames including domains (e.g., PellyNews@blah.blah)? More info couldn't hurt when compiling the issue report.

The only thing I can think of is that maybe you are somehow "subscribed" to other domains because you follow some magazine/community there, and I am not, so the posts don't show up for me. That doesn't really make sense, but neither does anything else.

I did do a little searching for terms like "delete", "cache", and even "different", and didn't see this exact issue anywhere. The closest I found was this: https://codeberg.org/Kbin/kbin-core/issues/875 . It doesn't seem like a federation issue, though, since we are on the same instance. But, if you wanted to experiment further, you could try either downvoting or commenting on the spam to see whether that makes it visible to me.

insomniac_lemon,
insomniac_lemon avatar

Can you get me the full usernames including domains

They are kbin accounts, so typing them out should work as expected.

you could try either downvoting or commenting on the spam to see whether that makes it visible to me.

One of them had 2 downvotes already, but done and done

bayaz,

Okay, thanks for your patience. I think we've hit the limit of what we can do at this point.

Nothing changed with your downvotes or comments. Going through kbin.social/u/{user}, I was able to view and delete PellyNews's threads. I am unable to do anything with the other two users. Even though I can see they exist, the relevant threads do not show up for me under their profiles.

I'll file the issue and keep just deleting what I can until things are sorted out on the backend. Thanks again for your help on this.

insomniac_lemon, (edited )
insomniac_lemon avatar

I was able to view and delete PellyNews's threads
I'll file the issue and keep just deleting what I can until things are sorted out on the backend

I still see them, eg https://kbin.social/m/food/t/982256 or https://kbin.social/m/food/t/982254
Also, here's another thread from a different user: https://kbin.social/m/food/t/982032
EDIT: Though perhaps it makes more sense to not remove all of the ghostly posts, to make sure the root cause can hopefully be fixed

Looking at the modlog, the ones you removed were posts (microblogs). Relevant to the issue?

I also see the modlog showing the unban command, much like mentioned in the thread description here.

bayaz,

Looking at the modlog, the ones you removed were posts (microblogs). Relevant to the issue?

Nice catch!

With your direct links, I was able to see those threads. I attempted to delete two of them, and the modlog shows that I was successful. I've left the third for now as evidence for any developers who care to look.

Regarding "unban", I'm hoping that's just a bug in how things are printed. The ban does show up in the moderation log.

bayaz,

The issue has been reported: https://codeberg.org/Kbin/kbin-core/issues/1377

Let me know (or post there directly) if I missed or misstated anything.

bayaz,

@insomniac_lemon It ended up being super simple -- my profile was hiding the 18+ posts by default. All I had to do was uncheck a box, and everything appeared again. Kind of a clever way by the spammers of getting around some moderation if it was intentional. It sounds like the kbin devs might consider changing the defaults on that for moderators to avoid this in the future.

bluGill,
bluGill avatar

kbin needs to do a lot here. I'm not sure what is the state of the art now, but kbin isn't following the basics.

bayaz,

FYI, I tried the process you mentioned, I'm not sure it's as simple as your post implies (if that process could be called "simple" anyway). I've tried a few different orders of "report, delete, ban", and clicked the "ban" button in at least two spots (one that was directly in the feed and another that comes up under Reports in the magazine panel). No matter what I do, it always shows up as "unban" in the mod log. However, there is a list of bans under the magazine panel, and that does show the accounts as banned.

So, I'm really not sure what is going on here. Maybe it's just a problem with the log and not with the banning itself?

Anyway, thanks again for pointing this out. Hopefully someone can figure out what is going on.

testing,
testing avatar

@bayaz Thank you! This is even worse than I thought! I will try some things out in the near future in order to find a stable way for banning accs.

bayaz,

What the... ugh. I've been doing this for months. Thanks for letting me know.

testing,
testing avatar

@bayaz It's you who gave me food for thought, alongside many other moderators! I only found out yesterday how to properly ban spam accs on kbin.social.

I really appreciate all efforts to grow and take care of communities, be it on kbin, on lemmy, or on mbin! Every day, I try to keep learning from other moderators.

Given the sheer lack of moderation tools, many mods do great work. I hope the situation will improve so that moderatoring will become easier.

livus,
livus avatar

Wait what? That's so annoying.

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