XRUMER's popularity continues unabated
2007-02-05 spam xrumer

When I initially posted the XRUMER and you post, I thought that XRUMER probably used the text I posted (which I had found on a forum I frequent) to identify spammable fora -- those for which moderation is not performed.

Later, I came across the theory that this post was in fact some pretty clever viral marketing. By pretending to ask the forum's members about XRUMER, the XRUMER marketer could induce at least some people to search on it and link it, causing Google to rate it highly without actually themselves spamming. Neat.

But for whatever reason, my post caused Google to rate me third on searches on the term XRUMER -- and instead of XRUMER, I'm seeing a lot of traffic from people obviously interested in stopping it.

As am I.

But I don't have access to a forum affected by XRUMER (or at least, I can't tell for sure that I do.) My own Toonbots forum is an extremely low-traffic venue running on antiquated WebBBS code. I get spam there, and this week managed to block it all (so far), but my problem is decidedly minor.

I can only assume that if you're reading this, you have a major forum spam problem. If this is the case, I need your help. I'd like to try out some ideas about forum despamming -- building on the working concepts in my own low-traffic venue. But to try these ideas out, I'd need access to a forum. Your forum, if you're interested. And that essentially means access to the underlying storage (whether filesystem or database), a way to run Perl on your box, and access to the Web access logs in real time.

Depending on your own traffic patterns, the access logs can provide a great deal of information about whether a post is legitimate or not. Of course, you can also make a lot of valid judgments based on the post content, but I hesitate to block on things like "too many links," as satisfying as that heavy-handed approach may be. Legitimate users can often have legitimate reasons to post lots of links. Granted, they're generally not about Cialis or mortgages or hot xxxxxxx Asian lesbian pr0n, but still -- any interference with your actual users is something you want to avoid at all costs. I regard information about post content to be one factor in a good, well-rounded spam elimination strategy.

Traffic analysis correlated with forum activity can be a powerful tool, and in my own case it's working 100%, with no examination of content at all, but my traffic is so low that I can't judge how complete a strategy it might be. If you add your forum to the mix, I can improve the techniques.

So anyway, all you desperate forum admins with XRUMER problems -- if you want me to give it a shot, drop me a line. I'm working for free and during an initial phase my scripting can simply recommend post deletion instead of making any automated changes itself. Interested? Tell me.

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