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Feb 27, 2010, 5:18am Top

I've added the ability to report members for spam. The box is on the lower right of profile pages.

Go ahead and mark this member as a spammer. Boy, he's a bad, bad spammer: http://www.librarything.com/profile/prototypicalspammer

When you click the link, you get some sobering rules here.

Right now, spamming is just a signal. It doesn't do anything automatically. On the back-end, however, I'm keeping track of all the relevant factors. In the future, I reserve the right to do nothing automatically, or something. (Obviously a new unpaid member flagging a long-time paid member will not have the same effect as the reverse.) If we don't do anything automatically, however, we'll do it manually. So, the more info the better.

Feb 27, 2010, 5:31am Top

Flag and unflag actions work ok from XP, FF 3.5.8. (Tried it twice to make sure.)

Feb 27, 2010, 5:35am Top

Yup. I see in the database that you did 'em. A bunch of other people too.

Edited: Feb 27, 2010, 5:42am Top

This is fantastic - something I have been itching to do to some of these irritating advertisers. And to let you guys know immediately!

Just a question...couldn't find a thread relating to this particularly, so sorry if there is one ...has the amount of spam increased immensely on the site lately? What with the changes to HTML coding and now all these (really good additions in that regard as in when joining and now this), I want to know what brought on so many changes so suddenly?

Feb 27, 2010, 6:28am Top

Very nice. Thanks, Tim.

I see one very small typo in Important Rules - bullet #4, first word should be "misuse."

Feb 27, 2010, 6:33am Top

Tim, when playing with your "proto..."
I got the following error

Fatal error: Unknown function: get_memberflagsa() in /var/www/html/ajaxinc_profile_otheractions.php on line 64

Edited: Feb 27, 2010, 6:57am Top

Edit: I got the same error as #6. After flagging the proto...spammer as a spammer (succesfully), I tried blocking him, and got the above error.

Feb 27, 2010, 8:09am Top

Both the flagging and the unflagging worked for me. Great idea!

Feb 27, 2010, 10:28am Top

not to be annoying but "Misused of this feature is a violation of the Terms of Use" should be "Misuse," right?

Feb 27, 2010, 11:09am Top

6&7> I get the same error message, but if I reload the page, our friend proto is blocked. Same thing happens with unblocking. Flagging works fine. (OSX, FF3.6)

Feb 27, 2010, 11:14am Top

Tim, you made my week.

Feb 27, 2010, 11:20am Top

Oh, yes! Very satisfying.

Feb 27, 2010, 11:23am Top

This is a good idea. It seems like this is very narrowly for commercial spammers, so we should not use this for sockpuppets or other TOS violations.

I was thinking about this the other day and was wondering if it would make sense to have a broad TOS violation flag that would encompass spam but also sockpuppets, users under 13, etc. I can see the benefit of having a narrow spam flag too, though.

Feb 27, 2010, 11:25am Top


Feb 27, 2010, 11:26am Top

A question about what you mean by "commercial spam": by this do you mean non-book-related spam? It seems like you don't want us to use this for authors.

Also, whom should we email about overzealous publishers and authors, etc.? Is that method replacing reporting via the spam thread, or are the two complementary?

Feb 27, 2010, 11:28am Top

Cool. It worked for me to both flag and unflag.

I have a question: If the user is flagged already, will you see it when you go to their profile, if you were not the one to flag them in the first place ?

Feb 27, 2010, 12:24pm Top

I agree with 15. What to do with authors who comment on tons of profiles about their book?

Feb 27, 2010, 12:48pm Top

I agree with #15. It's clear that overeager authors who just post on a couple groups advertising their new books aren't the target here, but is selling books rather than something else a complete fig-leaf for any bad behavior (hundreds of friend requests, commenting on hundreds of profiles, etc.?) There's a lot of commercial bookspam, and as written the guidelines are ambiguous.

Feb 27, 2010, 1:06pm Top

Well, we can do it two ways. If we include author spam and so forth the effects can't be automatic. I was hoping to have it be at least partially so—if a number of paid users flag some zero-books, URL-in-name creep, that guys account is suspended (with a note to them on how to un-suspend it). If we add authors and such, it's got to be a manual process by LT staff.

Feb 27, 2010, 1:09pm Top

Tim, in the meantime, could you clarify whom we should email about overzealous publishers, etc.? I've got a case in mind where it seems like someone just needs to have the norms here explained.

Feb 27, 2010, 1:22pm Top

17> Why, that's obvious enough for a first-timer. Explain about these talk forums. Start a thread here, interested members will reply... for repeat offenders though, that does need some consideration.

I don't consider that I'm being spammed if an author leaves me one comment on my profile about his/her book. On the other hand, if he/she continually does this, resulting in me getting multiple, similar comments from the same author, then yes, I'd call that spam.

Feb 27, 2010, 1:55pm Top

I get the same errors as #10 (blocking and unblocking works, though, after hitting F5).
Win Vista newest, with Firefox 3.6 newest

Feb 27, 2010, 3:25pm Top


I don't consider that I'm being spammed if an author leaves me one comment on my profile about his/her book.

What if they leave that same comment on hundreds of other profiles as well? It doesn't influence your experience, but I think it speaks to intent, and I think it is bad behavior. Probably not spam by the definition of this thread, but not something that should be acceptable, either. (In situations like this, I think a warning at the first offense and bringing down the spam-hammer for repeat offenders would be appropriate.)

Feb 27, 2010, 4:44pm Top

Tim, in the meantime, could you clarify whom we should email about overzealous publishers, etc.? I've got a case in mind where it seems like someone just needs to have the norms here explained.

Well, let's talk about it. See message 19.

I'd like to post a link to the spam thread instead. There's no good way to link to a moving target, though. Maybe a group for spam-watchers?


I think it's spam, and on some deep level the same. But on an administrative level, I think it makes sense to allow members to rapidly hide users who exhibit obvious commercial spamming patterns, including getting flagged. Authors and publishers can be as bad, but most are in this gray area where automatic hiding/suspension/expulsion would be too much.

Feb 27, 2010, 5:00pm Top

So, this may have been said and I just didn't see it, but I'd think one of the biggest benefits of having a not-so-harsh spam proccedure for authors and publishers is that, with the proper talking-to and rules explained, they might become an actual part of the community/site.

Feb 27, 2010, 5:01pm Top

Right. The Indian Search-Engine people, not so much.

Feb 27, 2010, 6:23pm Top

A spam busters group might be a good idea.
Is there any way to move the existing and previous spam threads into a new group? (Is that technically possible?)

Feb 27, 2010, 6:44pm Top

Yes, it is. I'll ask Sonya to make such a group and move stuff.

Feb 27, 2010, 8:17pm Top

23> On some deeper level, that might be considered spam... but we'd only know it was happening if someone who does not wish such comments got one and complained. I think most who don't want comments like that have blocked all comments on their profiles anyhow... so how would we prove it was spam?

It all comes down to this: If an author offers me the chance to get either a finished copy or an advance copy of his/her book, I'm not going to complain. If the book interests me, I'll even accept the offer.

Feb 27, 2010, 8:40pm Top

29> That's the very definition of spam: a identical or at least very similar message sent to zillions of people. Why would a spammer keep sending the same message to one person? It isn't really bothersome until a bunch of people start doing it and you get a dozen of these messages every day then I bet you'd be willing to call it spam.

Feb 27, 2010, 8:49pm Top

You can't actually send zillions. There's a daily cap on messages. But yes, that's spam. The question is whether it should be the same administrative process or not.

Edited: Feb 27, 2010, 10:23pm Top

31. >>Why would a spammer keep sending the same message to one person?

Why, I don't know. I do know it happens. I get messages like that in my email frequently. Sometimes 20 or more duplicates of the exact same message appear in my inbox. The sending ID *Appears* to be different in each case, but I'm almost certain it's originating from the same source... definitely spam.

>>>It isn't really bothersome until a bunch of people start doing it and you get a dozen of these messages every day then I bet you'd be willing to call it spam.

Maybe or maybe not. If from different authors, they're probably going to be promoting different books, so there's going to be different content in the comments. As long as the differences are noticible and the books they promote are sufficiently interesting to me... well, let's just say my tolerance for spam is different than most people's. Sometimes I find even the spam mail entertaining and interesting to a certain point.

It's when the mail falls outside of my interests that I'll be quicker to call it spam...

32>> The question is whether it should be the same administrative process or not.

No, it should not be the same administrative process. Authors and publishers should be allowed a little more lee-way than the average person.

Feb 27, 2010, 11:35pm Top

See, I don't get offers of books, more of a "buy my book, it's great".

Feb 27, 2010, 11:46pm Top

Very cool feature.

What about the idea that a fairly low threshold gets you muzzled (i.e. you can't post to talk, comment on images, send other users messages, etc.), with only the ability to complain to staff or post to a "I was wrongly muzzled" group? That way they could keep using the site if they're actually legit users until the staff get around to reviewing it. They could still muck things up by creating books and messing with series by sticking their ads in there, of course. I fear that (possibly eventual) wave of spam users!

Feb 28, 2010, 12:06am Top

34>>...more of a "buy my book, it's great".

Ah, well, that would definitely be spam.

Feb 28, 2010, 12:18am Top

Oh Boy! It'll be REAL EASY for me to earn a couple dozen Spam Flagger Helper Badge now!

Thanks, Tim!

Feb 28, 2010, 4:10am Top

I agree that authors and publishers should be treated differently from the other spammers, but even book spam in my profile comments is spam. I will block the sender and complain.

Mar 1, 2010, 2:30am Top

Sorry we need to have it, but this is great!

Feb 26, 2011, 5:37pm Top

This message has been deleted by its author.

Feb 27, 2011, 6:21am Top

Wouldn't it be nice if this method actually resulted in spam accounts eventually being deleted?

Feb 28, 2011, 4:41pm Top

They are sometimes.

Feb 28, 2011, 4:50pm Top

I zapped ~450 spam accounts today, and have now added it to my list of things to do daily.

Feb 28, 2011, 7:45pm Top

43: Many thanks.

For everyone, canning the spam is a thankless and unsexy necessity (not unlike cleaning the garage - but oh, how much better the garage looks and functions when it's clean).

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