Spammers posting exact duplicates of existing topics/posts


(AstonJ) #1

Just posting this to see whether others are experiencing the same thing and whether the DC team might want to add some checks for this…

We’re increasingly seeing a new kind of spammer - they make exact copies of existing posts and post them as new topics. Sometimes they get spotted, but on a busy forum, many will not.

Is anyone else facing this issue? If so, could it be useful for the system to check for exact copies of posts posted as new topics and then silently alert the mod team? I know Sam and the crew hate spam so thought it worth posting :smiley:


(Jeff Atwood) #2

Duplicate topic titles aren’t allowed in Discourse by default, did you relax that setting? If so, maybe consider un-relaxing it? :wink:

I definitely have seen this in a forum we recently migrated to Discourse – copies of topic titles with pretty decent algorithmically generated spam text and link content.

It was very confusing… but I can confirm it is a thing that spammers do.


(AstonJ) #3

We do allow duplicate titles yes, however the titles are not the biggest issue as they are sometimes changed (we even had one in a foreign language but with the post copied word for word).

One drawback of not allowing duplicate titles could mean that the title is changed, which could make identification (by the system - should such a feature be included) more difficult?


(Jeff Atwood) #4

No, that’d just make life for the spammer more difficult. In general duplicate titles are a thoroughly bad idea, imagine a forum with hundreds of “What’s Going On Today” or “What’s Happening” topics, for example :wink:


(Leo McArdle) #5

We’ve had this a few times with posts. Spammers will go into an existing topic and copy and paste another post and reply with it, sometimes adding a spammy link, sometimes not (just to build up trust, I suppose?).

These will tend to get held in the moderation queue because the spammer will have “typed” too fast, but it can be difficult for mods to tell that it’s spam without going into the topic and scrolling up a bit.

If there were a indicator like “this post is 95% similar to another post in the topic” that would be :ok_hand: :ok_hand: :ok_hand:


(Jeff Atwood) #6

Definitely seeing this again.

It primarily got caught because of the copy and paste behavior (hat tip @sam), but unless you looked at the odd email address of the poster, which in no way matched the name of the poster even a little, plus the third world provenance of the IP address behind it… you wouldn’t catch the duplication of a topic from 8 months ago.

This is another argument in favor of the Discourse default of not allowing duplicate topic titles, as well.


(AstonJ) #7

One thing I would like to see is Mods being able to override the duplicate titles setting - I went to post a ‘Welcome!’ Topic for our new team (in their section) the other day and it told me the title had been taken :rofl: (or perhaps only disallow duplicate titles per section?)