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In a Blossom-covered Tree by Aldo Hoeben.

Tags for Help! I'm getting spam through the website!

Help! I'm getting spam through the website!

From time to time I'm getting a message from a user of the site that the site is 'hacked' or sending out spam. In a word, you can rest assured: the site is not hacked. Unfortunately, spam is a sign of the times and there is very little we can do to stop it. I'll take this opportunity to outline ways spam can occur on the site.

For content posted on the site itself, there's a bayesian ('learning') system that catches most of the spam. Even so, we sometimes have to weed out forum posts and/or comments. Sometimes this leads to situations where notifications of posted content are being sent out, just before a moderator 'wakes up' and removes the spam. In this case, if you follow a link in the notification email, you'll get a 'page not found' error.

The other way for a spammer to do 'his thing' through the website is through personal contact forms. Every user of the site has the choice to add a personal contact page to their profile page. We would not fathom to share your email address with anyone without your permission, and even the contact page does not put your email address out in the open. If you have opted to add a contact form to your profile page, that form will allow any visitor of the site fill in the contact form and send you an email. And that includes spammers.

So, do we just let spammers send out contact form spam at will? Of course not! First, there's the somewhat effective - though not airtight - arithmetic question you have to answer. Most spam 'bots' can not do this, but admittedly some smarter bots can, and spam-humans can certainly work around this meassure. Additionally to this meassure the site only allows any visitor of the site to use contactforms more than 3 times within an hour. So even if a spammer thinks this site with contact forms means that this must be his lucky day, he probably won't get more than 3 spam mails out. Granted, that's still 3 spam emails too many...

Unfortunately, if you want people to be able to contact you, you are going to have to accept a certain amount of spam for now. That's not just true for the ivrpa website, that's true for any communication channel; In the past month I've even gotten the famous 'nigerian scam' message... over the phone! Yes, I am being phoned on my business phone number which I have to publish on my site by actual persons, trying to bait me with millions of dollars. Ridiculous but true.

Finally, if you want to minimise spam, turn off your personal contact form. You can do so by logging in and editing your account. You're looking for 'contact settings', almost all the way on the bottom of that page.