About three weeks ago, I began moderating the acceptance of new members as a result of an increase in spammer activity on our site. I had three incidents in close succession where a spammer joined and posted Viagra ads in the forum discussion area. The first time it was 10 posts, the next time it was 20 posts and the final time it was 70 posts.
We have over 11,000 members on the Cops Online site, which is open to the public, and we like the interaction between the officers and the people who are interested in law enforcement so going private was not an option. Instead I began moderating new members (Manage, Members, Controls, Check the Approve new members before they can join box) and I have not had a single incident of spam since.
After nearly four years as an admin, I can generally spot spam accounts and the moderation feature gives me a chance to prevent them from getting on to the site. Oftentimes, they withdraw their request before I have an opportunity to act on it. In addition, we have also experienced a decrease in the number of people who join to harass members in the chat room.
I only wish I would have started moderating the members a long time ago.
I've had the same experience, Rich. It's a little challenging at times to approve them on a timely basis (I'm very part-time and I have volunteer hosts) but I want the legit members to be able to post asap.
Sometimes the spammers try to be sneaky and barely answer the profile questions - I've become relentless expecting some substance in their answers....or they are not approved. That just happened this morning.
I don't moderate the forums, although I do monitor the content etc. I just moderate the members who request to join our network. As you can imagine, on a Friday or Saturday night we tend to get nut cases who think Cops Online is some kind of online police department where they can vent their opinions and frustrations. I tend try to approve or disapprove membership requests in a timely manner since they come through as email to my iPhone but I am far, far away at 2:00 am so the nuts don't get to join and generally withdraw the requests. The spammers tend to be dumb enough to put spam on their My Page, which I look at before I approve them, so they get declined. Sometimes I can just look at the email address and recognize them as a problem child (i.e. 10minutemail.com) so I decline them. So far no one has slipped through but if one does, either my regular members will let me know or I will check in and catch them. It is just a constant game of cat and mouse lol. Keep smiling.
I also had some spam and it seems to have been curbed by simply adding a quiz question at signup that would require some research for anyone who was a spammer. This is a neighborhood site, so I simply asked for the zip code of our neighborhood.
A quiz is a great idea. We use that on one of our networks.
Dan - can I message you individually? I'm working on a project with a group at Northwestern University on how neighborhoods and communities are using technology to connect folks. I'd like to ask you more about your Ning network....
Deb, go for it! Would love to chat. you can also email me at dan (at) stapletonconnect dot com
Oddly enough, I just sent an email to tech support about this. I have had quite a few spammers get in ( I always suspend them for spam) but what I don't get is that I use double verification.. verify email and answer question. The emails they give are always bogus/trash ones so I have NO idea how they're getting in. Luckily I am paying close attention to it, but it's aggravating nonetheless.
I gave up trying to stop them all - I just try to control them and moderation is the best way I have found.
Well, I only have 70 in my group right now so it's not too hard ;)