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8:03 PM
So intriguing. I didn't know Twitter had this feature.
Discovered after skimming the replies to Joel's pearl of wisdom.
8:20 PM
There are like 30 new users with the name along the lines of "Best Car Insurance" or "Minimum Car Insurance"
While they are not necessarily causing further damage, it's a nuisance. Could someone do me the favour to nuke them? I'll post the UID
Q: Spam Profiles are getting my goat. Could we have better tools for mods to deal with profile spam?

Journeyman GeekSuperuser got hit by another batch of spammers creating profiles. They've got accounts on other sites from what I've heard from other mods and from the comments here. Last time it was streaming. Now it's insurance sales... with phone numbers. I have 160+ pages of users from that search, and a q...

SU has 10K of them...
Holy shoot. Maybe SE can automate a deletion of all those
Adam mentioned they might do it eventually.
I think they're working on it... I'm not sure how high priority, though... the account profiles used to be full of links, so they disabled links on the se.com profiles entirely.
But running a deletion script right now would be largely pointless if new accounts keep being created.
8:23 PM
And they are... as far as I can tell.
But it shouldn't be hard either to blacklist "car insurance" as a username or permutations
And they keep changing things up...
Okay, for new users.
SE works really hard to avoid banning things that they don't need to ban.
@Narusan we'll get "vehicle insurance", or some unicode in between words, or ...
8:25 PM
Everything the team does, these people adjust to...
Captcha? Or are they able to circumvent even that?
They are actual people as far as we can tell... not bots.
I think...
Apparently they've been seen actually poking around on the site while creating accounts.
10k? No way humans did do that manually. That would mean creating 10k email addresses as well as filling out 10 sign-up forms etc.
But I see that 20 profiles on a small failing Beta site in the outer rim of SE sites are not as bad as 10k on SU
8:28 PM
A bunch of solutions were suggested on Meta. Personally, I'd prefer if robots.txt disallowed indexing of all /users/*?tab=profile pages but instead allowed /users/*?tab=activity (which is currently disallowed). This way, people can still be found by their display name but there is no "bio box" on the activity page; can't spam much there.
Would also help with a different kind of spam, from recruiters googling SO profiles.
@Narusan Could be cyborgs, with a script doing most of the work and the human solving email-registration captchas or such.
UID of spammers on Health:
It's not entirely clear to me that these folks actually care about Google finding their work. My guess is that they just need to show whoever is paying a page with the payload.
Where is that answer one of the devs wrote explaining that they were removing links from the se.com profiles? That had some useful info in it
8:36 PM
They all include the same phone-number. string="+1-844-909-0831". Maybe for now, blacklisting this specific set of strings will remove most of the spam profiles and will stop future influx (until they circumvent it). It's unlikely innocent bystanders are going to be hit because no one else will use that phone number. All profiles I checked on health do have this string present in them
That seems like an easy quick emergency break to implement, although I don't know how much 10k spam profiles is to SE, I don't see that kind of stuff because it usually gets taken care of before it catches my attention
it's not clear if this is an emergency yet, one that would need emergency measures.
@6'whitemale The Borg want to assimilate us via tricking us into signing bad car insurances!
A: De-linkify links in network profile if a network-wide suspension is applied

Adam LearUpdate: As of November 13th 2017, all Website fields and links in the "About Me" profile sections are unlinked on stackexchange.com, for all users regardless of their reputation on any site. We can thank the increasing spam activity on the network (a.k.a. The Great Super User Spam Invasion of 201...

That's the one. Thanks. :D
Not easy to find because it's an edit of an ancient answer.
8:40 PM
Yeah. I looked at Adam's edit history and I missed it somehow.
A: Spam Profiles are getting my goat. Could we have better tools for mods to deal with profile spam?

Mad ScientistMaybe SE simply shouldn't publicly show profiles for users that have no interaction at all on the site. Users that have never voted, posted or done anything at all are just noise in the user listings anyway. Of course the user itself should be able to see their own profile, but there is really no...

That's a pretty handy solution.
Oh, it was longer ago than I thought.
@Narusan I'm kinda partial to it, but... the timing of this is really bad in terms of how much other stuff is going on right now, and that's not really a change to just unilaterally make without considering possible implications (or at least defining what "activity" means)
I thought it may be confusing to have dramatically lower user numbers on SO.
And there is the whole SO Jobs aspect to consider.
8:42 PM
@Narusan I'm not doing that because they'll just change the format of their messages slightly and continue. We went through this cat and mouse game a few weeks back with another set of spam.
Right now, it's trivial to identify all of them. If worst came to worst, I could delete them all in a couple of days.
if I start blocking that specific string, then I gotta search for innumerable variations on the string in order to remove them... That's likely to miss some.
The benefit of MadScientist's proposal would be that the profiles would still be there (so no innocents will be hit at all) but they're just not shown because they haven't commented or asked a question.
@AdamLear Yeah. I didn't knew that was a issue on multiple sites. We sometimes have a few users advertising hospitals or so and Smokey here takes care of that, that's why I asked. Also, spammers that don't spam shouldn't be on the top priority list, I wholeheartedly agree with you there.
> Stack Overflow is a community of 4.7 million spammers, just like you. Join them; it only takes a minute.
@6'whitemale yeah, our signup stats are WAY up - idiots who only look at that metric are gonna be super impressed! At least until Google penalizes us for all this spam and our traffic numbers hit the floor.
If we 404 (or equivalent) the profiles when someone goes to them via a direct link, we are also introducing a hella unintuitive thing for anyone who is a legitimate user. Say, someone signs up, fills out the dev story and then sends their profile URL to someone else? What do we do about "this user posted, but their post has been deleted?", etc. etc. There are cases to think through here.
If we don't 404 it, I'm not sure it necessarily matters if we hide those profiles from other locations such as user lists
If they are not Google-indexed, there is no damage to sites in terms of Google rank.
8:47 PM
Spammers can continue being paid, if they are being paid for pointless text entry.
I suppose SE data center won't overflow from holding all those phone numbers.
The noise on new badge pages and such is unpleasant, but not really consequential.
@6'whitemale okay, so here's a scenario for you: we unlink those profile pages. but the spammer outfit tosses them up on a webpage somewhere (either legit or also exploited).
like I said, I kinda like the idea... I just don't think it's as simple as "let me just bang this out in an hour, seems legit"
> When Googlebot next crawls that page and see the tag or header, Googlebot will drop that page entirely from Google Search results, regardless of whether other sites link to it. support.google.com/webmasters/answer/93710?hl=en
ha, oh yeah, I forgot that exists. I'm a competent web developer.
8:52 PM
That was actually Ilmari's suggestion.
That one is a lot less controversial, yeah.
@AdamLear And, While IANAPWD (I am not a professional web developer) it does seem easier to implement.
@Narusan Yeah, it's not bad. I think going by a rep threshold vs activity would be easier, though. might be a thing that unlocks with the new user restrictions privilege
One thing I've noticed is that the spam users aren't signing up with names like "Car Insurance!" they are signing up with "normal" sounding names and then changing them
9:00 PM
Stack Overflow got a wave of spam users (5600 or so) last week that never edited their names. Peddling book PDFs in their website URLs, though, so perhaps a different branch of spam
So... interesting note... when a word is in a tag bubble with hyphens around it... search doesn't find it.
I searched MSE for "nuclear" and it didn't turn up Adam's answer.
Oh, yeah. I'm an idiot. I was looking in the "new" tab.
I forgot it was an edit to an old answer.
9:40 PM
Does anyone know if TeX - LaTeX is on the list of participants for Winterbash 2017 (this year)?
I asked a question regarding participation (our first) in 2016, but didn't this year.
@Werner Until the mods opt out, everyone is?
@Werner We haven't asked anyone yet, I don't think.
The CMs send out an email to the mods asking whether they want their sites to participate.
Last year it was opt out, though, right? So the default was "everyone's in"?
Correct. It's been opt out for a few years now.
@JonEricson Okay, thanks.
9:42 PM
Last year was my first Winter Bash as a mod.
My hope is that only MathOverflow will opt out this year.
They're too serious for hats, apparently. :/
More or less.
@Catija When is the feedback deadline date?
...if such a thing exists. :)
Um... I think that's usually included in the CM email about the annual giving? But I haven't heard if they're doing that this year.
9:48 PM
@Werner The deadline is usually a few days before the event starts.
@Catija We're doing "SE gives back" again this year. Robert is getting the details lined up.
@Werner You could ping one of your mods in chat and ask whether they'd be OK with you asking the "should we do hats this year" meta question a little early.
Or just wait. :)
@JonEricson Glad to hear it. :D
@JonEricson Also, you're still missing a verb. :P
I wanna post it in the TL... so... if you could fix it, that'd be cool...
@Catija I asked a question about 1 year ago - our first year of having hats.
Ok. Fine. ;-)
9:52 PM
...hmmm, it seems we've been part of it for 2 years now.
Geez, time flies when you don't know what you're doing.
So, seems like a good sign that you will be participating :D
@Catija I guess. I'll confirm with one of our mods.
@Werner Change the title to 2017 and Bob's your uncle. ;-)
Oooh, that's dirty :P
@JonEricson (y)
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