I decided to place this here - as I need your assistance. We've got a spam problem.

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Jul 23, 2020
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I've noticed an uptick in people trying to spam the site. They're trying to do so without being detected. To not assist them in their spamming goals, I'm not going to go into too many details - other than to say you don't see like 99% of the spam. (You're welcome!) We have pretty good defenses against spam, but it's an arms race where spammers are always looking for new and interesting ways to get their links into our forum.

One of the ways they do this is making a comment, probably not really on topic - or not well thought out, and then waiting. They'll come back later and edit their comment - adding a link to a third party site that's presumably paying them to do so or that they're affiliated with. It may even be a link to a site that has a malicious payload.

The same is true for another way they're trying to spam. They'll make enough inane comments, comments that seem out of place while still being sorta topical, only to edit their post later - or to include the link in it after they've made x-number of posts to bypass our automated filter. What this type of spammer will do is they'll include the link and use the text coloring feature to make the link not appear blue - it will appear the color regular text appears in. These aren't easy to spot - but there's a slight font change for links, so you can spot them.

Edit: I was wrong. There is no font change. See comment thread for illustration.

What I'd like of you...

I'd like you to be vigilant. I'd like you to add a layer of cynicism and scrutiny to your regular forum habits. If you see a new user pop up and make a bunch of inane two line comments, check them more thoroughly and revisit links where you know they've posted. I can't possibly catch them all and I'm the one who is here the most often/longest on many days. So, I need your help...

Comments would be stuff like:

"Thanks for this! I didn't know that was possible."

In the member introductions: "Nice to see you joined. I hope you like the weather!" (And make similar remarks to other member introduction posts.)

"Yeah, I had the same thing happen to me."

They may even include a link to try to look like they're on topic. The last one I spam-cleaned included a generic link to a deep Dell.com page, and was even upvoted for their 'contribution' - and upvoted by a long-standing member that's usually diligent. (Yes, we mods/admins can see edits and deleted posts.)

Why? Well, the biggest reason to not want spam on the Linux.org forums would actually be the bad impact it can have on your search engine results. We want people to find the content and join. Right now, Linux.org is #1 for the keyword "Linux" all over the place. If we allow spam to stick around, the search engines will basically assume we're in a 'bad neighborhood' and move the site down in search result positioning - perhaps even de-listing the site entirely.

So, please, if you see someone doing this sort of stuff, keep an eye on them. The report button is useful if you do see spam, but you can PM me or even just ping me to the thread. (A report is seen by any mod/admin online at the time, and is usually dealt with swiftly.)

I'm a bit sorry for the novella, but we could use your assistance and I wanted to make sure you'd know what to look for. Be a little cynical, a little suspicious, and do a little double-checking as time allows. It should also be noted that I alone made the decision to post this request - so that's another reason I didn't feel comfortable posting it in the announcements sub-forum, though that might be a more suitable place to post it. I'd rather get the information out to you now than wait for confirmation from the rest of the crew.

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