Wikis and Spammers

My blog has been offline for a little over the last hour with a message stating that “this account has been suspended”.

Upon reaching support via chat I was told that someone was using my Tikiwiki site to run scripts and because of the excessive CPU usage my account was suspended and deactivated. It was pretty clear that this was not my doing so they turned things back on with the condition that I remove the offending scripts, I instead opted to remove Tikiwiki altogether.

Coincidentally, I have been battling spammers for over a month on another wiki I have, the Web 2.0 in the Enterprise wiki. In the interests of ensuring as much public and unfettered access as possible, this wiki required no registration for updating and spammers were hitting it with startling efficiency and replacing all of the content with links for fake Rolex watches.

Thankfully the Socialtext versioning made reverting back to the authentic version quick work, but without exception the spammers would change the page back within hours. Finally, I removed guest editing privileges and required registration and login for editing, which has stopped the spammers for now.

I am using this experience to issue a call to action to wiki developers to do something about this before it becomes a problem that disincentivizes wiki adoption. Obviously this affects a slice of the wiki market, those that are deployed in environments where public usage is encouraged, but that makes it all the more important because consumer usage often drives business adoption.

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2 thoughts on Wikis and Spammers

  1. Jeff,

    We’ve found that most wikispamers — like their email spam cousins — aren’t especially imaginative. They’re most often injecting links into pages in patterns that are significantly different from human editors. Thanks to some content analysis systems borrowed from the email spam world, we can nail these edits almost 100% of the time, or require a captcha in edge cases. Unlike email, we’ve also got existing page content to compare to, so we can scrutinize only the diffs. We’re using these techniques in real-time to nail spammers, and they’ve worked very well across millions of pages of content. I’d be surprised if most wiki hosting providers aren’t doing the same.

    James from Wikispaces

  2. Pingback Wikis and Spammers : Venture Chronicles @ Chuqui 3.0

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