[dev-context] Options that will work for blocking this spammer.

Brooks Moses bmoses at stanford.edu
Tue Oct 11 03:28:08 CEST 2005


Hello, all:

Clearly, fixing the damage and waiting for the spammer to go away just 
isn't working.

The following things, in my opinion, will most likely work.  I don't know 
which of them are possible within the MediaWiki software, however, so I'm 
listing everything I can think of that seems plausible.  Most of them only 
fix this one spammer, though, not the problem in general -- but it seems 
that we've only had this one really problematic spammer in two years, so 
maybe it's enough.

* Block all edits that contain "<div ...>" tags.  All of these do -- 
they're all using a "<div ...>"-tag block to hide links invisibly on the 
page.  (Many of them have left out the links, but nearly all of them have 
included the tag.)

* Set things so that all of Musa8's edits (as tracked by username) get 
ignored rather than actually applied.

* Block the five dozen or so IP addresses that he's using.  (This is a 
temporary solution.)

* Protect the two dozen Wiki pages that he's changing -- he keeps changing 
the same ones, not randomly-chosen ones.  (This, again, is a temporary 
solution.)

* Put in an "are you human?" test for all anonymous users, and for all 
logged-in users who haven't been approved by the site admins.  (Something 
like one of the "type in the numbers in this warped image" things that some 
sites have.)

* Change the edit page urls from "&action=edit" to "&action=editpage".  My 
guess is that this person is using an automatic script that's aimed at 
bunches of MediaWiki sites, and changing the url will break his script, and 
he's unlikely to change it just for one site.  (This trick works pretty 
well for weblog spam, apparently.)

Meanwhile, is there a community of MediaWiki users somewhere that we can 
talk to about this?  I'd guess that this spammer has been hitting other 
sites pretty hard too, and there are probably lots of other people working 
on figuring out good solutions to this....

- Brooks


P.S. Someone came through and put in a couple of "real" edits to the 
"Russian" page.  I've made backups of the updated page so it can be 
re-updated after Patrick reverts things to an old backup of the site.



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