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2012-06-01 15:55:47
58 votes, rating 5.8
The frustrating parts of being on the Internet
This entry will likely be a bit shorter than usual (which I'm sure you're cheering about :) ).

Over the last couple of weeks, FUMBBL has had a pretty major wave of new accounts being created. The initial reaction to this would be: Wow, that's great!

However, these new accounts (1500+ of them every day) are clearly bots, likely making accounts intending to post the usual spam drivel I'm sure you've already seen here and there.

The good part is that being bots, they're not quite getting through the preventative measures that are in place to stop spam on the site. However, it creates a large amount of log spam for the staff and I'm trying to figure out ways to make these bots unable to sign up in the first place.

Now, I could implement CAPTCHAs, but I really want to avoid those. They're annoying and if they are to be effective they'll have to be so hard that real people have trouble with them. And obviously, that would defeat the point.

I have a few ideas on further technology that will likely prevent the bots without disrupting the ease of signing up for new (real) coaches, and the intent of this entry is mostly to vent a bit over having to do this in the first place :)

I'd rather spend my time developing things that people will have a use for than things to prevent bots and spammers. Yet another part of running a site which I didn't really consider back in the days :)

Hopefully, these bots haven't managed to actually spam much and the only harm is my own peace of mind. :)
Rate this entry
Comments
Posted by pythrr on 2012-06-01 16:01:07
Good luck. :)

Bots suck.

Posted by pythrr on 2012-06-01 16:05:47
someone voted less than 6..... can bots vote now?
Posted by Garion on 2012-06-01 16:08:29
bots you say.... Garion looks suspiciously in Woodstocks direction ;)

Posted by DonTomaso on 2012-06-01 16:14:20
The new Pokemon... Gotta Captcha 'em all!
Posted by MattDakka on 2012-06-01 16:14:26
Bots, bots everywhere!!! Kill all bots with Clawpomb!!!
Posted by Cavetroll on 2012-06-01 16:27:06
What Garion said. I think Woodstock is letting his siblings in....

Seriously, though, 1500+ a day is way more than I would have guessed.
Posted by stej on 2012-06-01 16:29:43
Could you restrict forum posts by accounts until they have played through some sort of tutorial game or something similar then have some system that bins an account if it hasnt been through the tutorial within say 3 months?
Posted by Calcium on 2012-06-01 16:32:55
can someone explain further what 'bots' are and who creates them? I'm curious and obviously a total PC noober
Posted by pythrr on 2012-06-01 16:37:59
magical creature wot live in the interwebz and try to break into places and steal things or mess up websites. sometime they develop their own intelligence, like the things in Tron, or a William Gibson novel (chosts in the machine, that type of thing). Or they are like Agent Whatshisface from the Matrix.

Also, I too have no real idea.

Posted by happygrue on 2012-06-01 16:49:52
How about making all new signups answer some pretty simple bloodbowl related questions (what does a human lineman have to roll to pickup the ball, which of these races is in bloodbowl, etc. maybe in multiple choice format or something) and refer them to an admin or something if they are really new and have no clue.

Would that be enough to fool bots?
Posted by Calcium on 2012-06-01 16:51:08
if I hadn't read that last sentence Pythrr, I would have believed that! ;)
Posted by happygrue on 2012-06-01 16:52:08
maybe not multiple choice, but rather stuff like "name a race that IS in bloodbowl" or "What is a one word answer for the bloodbowl action where you may both block and move".
Posted by Christer on 2012-06-01 16:56:18
Bots, a term I expect originates from robots, are pretty much malware running on people's computers, often being remote controlled to do various tasks. In this context, they probably do two things:

1. Spread to other people's machines
2. Post lots of junk text together with links to sites where they effectively steal your credit card information by asking you to order various stuff.

They also do things like post spam email with the same intent. It's also a way to have your computer load and view content that displays ads without you knowing about it (for example by intercepting your web traffic and replacing the ads on sites you visit with ads hosted somewhere else; the important difference is who gets the ad revenue).

It's a massive industry and there's a huge amount of money involved.

Oh, and I love William Gibson's more recent novels :)
Posted by happygrue on 2012-06-01 16:57:41
Also, for those who don't know what a bot is, it is short for "Autobot". We're talking about transformers who really, really want to play bloodbowl but have been disappointed with the cyanide game.
Posted by happygrue on 2012-06-01 16:57:59
Doh!
Posted by pythrr on 2012-06-01 16:59:25
Yup, Gibson's recent novels (which take on effects of technology on society as their major theme) are great.

Posted by the_Sage on 2012-06-01 17:45:16
I like how on the front page this reads as:
The frustrating parts of being ... Christer
Posted by Purplegoo on 2012-06-01 18:57:54
As always, thanks for sticking with us through the hassle.
Posted by Woodstock on 2012-06-01 19:11:38
it wasnt me!
Posted by awambawamb on 2012-06-01 20:02:58
idiotic question:
like the linux keyboard layout identification method, a "press *that* key" could be effective?
i'm not a coder, tough...
Posted by Niebling on 2012-06-01 20:30:01
Signing up on the page is something you do once in a life time.
So I dont see a problem is putting in a hard filter. It Will only ever trouble you once small price to pay :)
Posted by Calcium on 2012-06-01 21:59:52
Signing up is once in a lifetime indeed, unles you're a cheating German that is :)
Posted by PeteW on 2012-06-01 23:02:36
The captcha on TFF is quite good.

It asks you for some obvious BB trivia to answer. Would it work posting a link to a page with the answer on or are bots smart enough to try all the options?
Posted by spinball on 2012-06-02 03:32:49
I think you could eliminate the effectiveness of the bots by making every new account play 2 games before they can post anything on forums, blogs or comments.
Posted by Sigmar1 on 2012-06-02 06:08:11
Damn, looks like I need to contribute again.

Oh, and which Gibson novels in particular?
Posted by yggi49 on 2012-06-02 07:38:49
Why not use a honeypot captcha? Humans signing up won’t notice any differences.
Posted by Ehlers on 2012-06-02 10:16:41
Have people play a match before being able to ask questions in the forum will most likely increase the admin/mods load of work.

But cant you do something like this:

Write the second word of the sentence below in the box
Blood Bowl Is great

Box: Bowl

Then have second change everytime to first, third etc.
Then make a random word generator for like 100 words or something.

Would bots be so clever to figure that out?
Seems simple to implement and would not require any knowledge of the rules or Blood Bowl. Newbies might stumple upon this and think: This sound cool, by just then not being able to even answer a simple question of how to make an account.
Posted by Christer on 2012-06-02 10:56:44
Sigmar1: My favourite Gibson novels are the latest three: Pattern Recognition, Spook Country and Zero History.
Posted by Were_M_Eye on 2012-06-03 11:52:15
Grod was making a bot to play against, mabe he unleached it now and it is trying to play?
Posted by Gran on 2012-06-03 20:55:06
Easy! Just ask anyone who signs up for their credit card information. Bots don't have credit cards, do they?

I also have an idea for financing hardware upgrades if you're interested...
Posted by maysrill on 2012-06-05 18:59:54
Like 7-skill Legends and that MA-11 gutter runner someone pointed out in the GLT, Woodstock is grandfathered in, despite our current "no bots" policy. He will be allowed to stay until he is killed or takes a -ST and retires.
Posted by Panda_ on 2012-06-07 20:27:13
I'm disturbed, lately I was under the feeling that more coaches were spectating games. That was nearly systematic.

I'm actually shocked. As a spectator of a major game, I looked at the history of the other spectators and I found one freshly registered (today) that didn't have a team. Bots sucks !