Thursday, September 06, 2007

Night of the living spamtards

So are there any lessons to be learned from the spamtard ORACLE's adventures in the OTN forums yesterday? Not really. We all know little corners of the internet are vulnerable to individuals with the time and the motivation to be anti-social. This was one adolescent sitting in a Comp Sci class with too much time on their hands (I think in this case we can justly blame the teachers). ORACLE (and at least one other spamtard) posted a lot of silly comments in a number of active threads and started up many more threads of their own. So what? It's not like it was a bot-driven DoS assault. The DB General forum was still usable and none of the other important forums were hit at all. Frankly the forums being down for "routine maintenance" is a bigger pain.

"One monkey don't stop no show" -- Joe Tex


I am therefore surprised by the over-reaction of some of the forum regulars. I agree it would be nice if we could prevent such incidents but actually doing so would be quite difficult. If we trash ORACLE's account today they're back tomorrow with a different Hotmail address. Somebody suggested OTN could block their IP. Well, given that they seem to be posting from a school that might also block other more benignly-motivated students from asking questions. And it certainly won't prevent the spamtard from using some other place - such as an internet cafe - to continue the games.

In a recent article in the Guardian Cory Doctorow explained why effective DRM is impossible to achieve. All it does is punish those people who have actually paid for their digital media. Stopping low level trolls like ORACLE is basically the same case. OTN could put up loads of road blocks which would inconvenience us but won't stop the spamtards. Yes, OTN could appoint trustees to zap every post these gits make, but who wants to be on spam patrol for the whole afternoon? Not me. Much better just to let the spamtards have their fun and wait for the housekeeping bot to tidy up automagically. In the meantime, just ignore them. They'll get bored if nobody reacts to their jibes.

But above all, keep it in perspective. This is not poisoning the well, more like piddling in the paddling pool.

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4 Comments:

Blogger Gints Plivna said...

I still think that blocking posting privileges for certain IP for certain while would be quite normal reaction. Also there could be a descriptional info WHY the privileges are blocked e.g. users from this IP have spammed OTN forums or something like that.
This would probably trigger someone to ask why the privileges are blocked and who is responsible for that. As about other users/students that cannot post from the same IP - now some users/students are seeing this bull%&it and thinking that OTN forums are full of crap. So what is better probably loose them or probably loose another ones?
Also there are other forums out there, OTN is not the only place.
About the argument that they will spam from internet cafe - I doubt that at least in this particular case - they clearly said that they have some kind of lessons, they have completed their tasks sooner and have time to spam. It is very questionable whether these particular subject will go on their free time to soem internet cafe and use it to spam forums. They probably have something more interesting to do in their free time.
And now about such practice - AFAIK there are some severs around which collects domains of e-mail spammers and other e-mail servers that looks in these servers and don't accept mail from spammer domains. Once our company was included in such a list for ~24 hours and it was enough for the whole company to become very frustrated and hunt down the responsible one...

6 September 2007 at 06:30:00 GMT-7  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Have OTN publically release the IP address(es) that ORACLE posted from. Let people on the net trace the location, have people at or near the location trace the person to their science lab, and let society deal with its own mob style.

I'll supply the hanging rope, someone else bring the torches.

6 September 2007 at 06:38:00 GMT-7  
Blogger APC said...

>> I'll supply the hanging rope,
>> someone else bring the torches.

Now there's a sense of perspective...

6 September 2007 at 08:26:00 GMT-7  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Has no one ever heard of IP spoofing?

Locking out domains just leads to denial of service on the innocent.

There isn't always tight coupling between network administration and user complaints.

7 September 2007 at 11:45:00 GMT-7  

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