Always Attach A Rider To Something Innocuous March 9, 2008 7:25 AM   Subscribe

Nice catch Cortex... A question, and a pony, erm, rider attached to the end.

Sometimes, I don't know how you guys catch these self-linkers so quickly. Do you check the whois of every link posted or what? Some kind of Spidy-sense which tingles when things "just don't seem right"?

And the pony? Can we have some indication on the Recent Activity page if a thread we're watching is deleted. That way we don't sit there F5ing the page and wondering why no-one has responded to our awesome wit/outrageous flame/insidious troll/disgusting dump yet...
posted by benzo8 to Feature Requests at 7:25 AM (54 comments total)

Sometimes, I don't know how you guys catch these self-linkers so quickly.

We set up an admin alert email a while back that gives us a heads up whenever someone makes their first post to the blue. It summarizes some tell-tale stats: commenting activity, paypal registration info, plaintext urls for the links in the post. Let's us do a quick sniff-test and decide whether anything seems at all hinky. If not (and usually it's not), great; if so, we investigate and try to figure if it's spam/scam/self-link or just someone managing to generate a red flag or two by accident.

This guy had 3 comments in the blue, and nothing else (except a post in projects, which is neither here nor there). 3 comments + post = profile of a spammer. Clicking through, all three comments were one-liners tossed off pretty quickly in close proximity: even worse. I checked the footer of the eurovision site (which was the only one of the three that seemed likely as a bomb of a link), and low and behold, "unofficial".

Checked whois on that; checked against paypal info dude: close match, but not perfect. Did some more checking (whois on his Projects'd site, whois on sites whose domains showed up in the technical/contact info of previous whoises) and eventually got a rock-solid match off one of his other webpages. Zap.

The email is nice just for helping us not miss some innocuous-seeming bit of spam or self-linkery—sometimes they stink (and I thought this one did a little, but people like making Eurovision posts so who knows), but sometimes they're slickly done. And we don't always notice them on the front page, nor do folks always sniff them out in-thread if they're on the benign-looking side.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:33 AM on March 9, 2008 [15 favorites]


And once he had done all that, Cortex used is mind-cracking device, peered into lawrenceee's soul and pronounced his judgment.
posted by blue_beetle at 7:55 AM on March 9, 2008


I wondered how that worked. Seems like I'd seen a lot of self-linkers caught lately before anyone in the thread caught on, and I just assumed that cortex was in his mom's basement in a Star Trek: TOS costume in front of a 4-monitor setup, one screen on MeFi, one always on whois, one screen where he's fragging n00bs in TF2, and one more divided between irc, soft porn, and of course LiveJournal.

In my mind, there are stale pizza crusts in the R2-D2 trash can to his right, empty bottles of Mountain Dew everywhere, and he belts out a hearty "OH HO HO!" everytime he catches a self linker. Then he smokes a celebratory calabash and goes back to his case mod.
posted by middleclasstool at 8:25 AM on March 9, 2008 [11 favorites]


As if, mct. I upgraded to six monitors like a year ago.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:29 AM on March 9, 2008 [3 favorites]


Shame you just told 'em how you do your sleuthing. Makes it so much easier for them to not be scoped out.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:46 AM on March 9, 2008


Heh. To the person who was planning on lazily spamming metafilter with a site whose whois information tied him back to his account registration info, but who has now, having seen this nth discussion of self-linking detection methods, gone to the considerable effort of completely sterilizing his web history to eliminate any damnable records, just so that he can make a self-link on the front page that might get sniffed out and deleted anyway on account of probably being a crap post just like 90% of self-links are:

Touche.

Seriously, the guys who have their shit together well enough to (a) avoid seeming hinky and (b) avoid leaving tracks in case someone does get curious for some reason and goes hunting? Those guys aren't the ones we catch, generally, and reading the above isn't the thing that turns the hinky, lazy assholes into the polished, meticulous assholes.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:59 AM on March 9, 2008 [4 favorites]


I don't know how people even figure out non-duplicating FPP's, let alone self-linking under the radar (I just figured out how to work my iPod and I still think it's possessed at times).

I get a picture of thousands of nerds on a pirate ship and someone goes "ahoy! Self-linker dead ahead," and everyone gets out their cutlasses and it's like some scene from "Master and Commander" and of course everyone looks like Jude Law or Russell Crowe. Don't they?

But then, I'm still impressed with finding Badger Badger and Weebl and Bob from this site. I never heard of the term "straw man" before I came here, nor did I know how to pronounce "disingenuous" out loud (much to my chagrin when I finally did say it out loud in front of someone).

You should self-link Metafilter as best of the web.

Go nerds! I love you all. Thank you for making my life so much richer with your nerdness.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 9:27 AM on March 9, 2008 [4 favorites]


Metafilter: polished, meticulous assholes.
posted by gingerbeer at 9:32 AM on March 9, 2008 [8 favorites]


Metafilter: polished, meticulous assholes.

Unlike Uncle Dirty. I got one of my friends to go ewww just by describing that post to him.

/sits in corner and be's quiet now
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 9:43 AM on March 9, 2008


I like your deletion reason, cortex, but sometimes appending "-ass" to the end of a word impedes understanding. Perhaps "ass" could be tacked on at the beginning of the next word. Sure, the meaning changes from "perfunctory-ass post" to "perfunctory ass-post;" I hesitate to publicly speculate on what "ass-post" might literally mean, but "perfunctory-ass?" Sounds like recreational swearing to me, to little effect.

When I was eleven or twelve, on the way to the dentist, a dumptruck cut my mother off on a turn. She pulled ahead and said, "boys, give him the 'fuck you' finger." This was notable because it was the first and only time in my life that my mom deployed a cuss anywhere near appropriately (usually it's stuff like "What the shit?" and "Oh, bitch!" which, admittedly, have their charms).

I mean this as a cautionary tale, cortex: cussing is definitely the adult thing to do, and often makes the cusser sound sophisticated or classy, but when done in a cavalier or haphazard manner, it sucks.

You don't want to be my mom. Which is too bad, because I could use some late-stage nursing and I think you're probably just the guy to do it, but I wouldn't want to impose and you probably have enough MeFites on the tit already.

When my old man worked in one of the big TEMPEST boxes next to Ft. Meade, he said they really weren't designing security to foil the dedicated and savvy computer hacker; they were preventing numbskulls with relatively low security clearances from swiping secrets and selling them to the Soviets or to Israel. Because if someone is smart enough, they can bypass anything you put in their way. Sounds like you use the same approach for spammers. Seems like it works.
posted by breezeway at 11:18 AM on March 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


We set up an admin alert email a while back that gives us a heads up whenever someone makes their first post to the blue. It summarizes some tell-tale stats [...]

Rats. My money was on Spidey-sense.
posted by scody at 12:24 PM on March 9, 2008 [2 favorites]


My feeling is that if you've gone to all the trouble required to truly cloak your self-link, then I can live with glancing at whatever has you *that* passionate. You've jumped through that many hoops? Sure, what the hell - here's my 60 seconds.
posted by Ryvar at 1:50 PM on March 9, 2008


Remember, linkspammers: don't self-link until your second FPP.
posted by grouse at 1:53 PM on March 9, 2008


I could use some late-stage nursing and I think you're probably just the guy to do it

Wow.

. . . wow.*




*Not 'just wow' because that implies I'm mocking the speaker. This is a case of jaw hitting floor.
posted by Ryvar at 1:54 PM on March 9, 2008


breezeway: I like your deletion reason, cortex, but sometimes appending "-ass" to the end of a word impedes understanding.

If you hadn't grasped this by now, just think of "-ass" as an adverb, meaning "very," modifying whatever it follows.
posted by Pronoiac at 3:04 PM on March 9, 2008


usually it's stuff like "What the shit?"
Are you saying this phrase is somehow incorrect?
posted by Wolfdog at 3:21 PM on March 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


Isn't the purpose of almost all spammy self-linkers posting here to drive traffic to a web-page, and wouldn't it be a strange spammer who didn't put up the same links on other sites?

So why can't Metafilter become part of a coalition of sites which compare addresses and posted links of contributors and, say, flag the ones that appear on a minimum of four member sites within a brief period automatically to all members of the coalition?
posted by jamjam at 3:29 PM on March 9, 2008


Stop talking about the fluff and start talking about my bloody pony!
posted by benzo8 at 3:48 PM on March 9, 2008


I've been under deep cover for over five years. Any moment now, I will give you all the Canadian meds you need, for ch33p!
posted by yhbc at 3:58 PM on March 9, 2008 [4 favorites]


...and by "fun" I mean "bannable".

Priceless.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:09 PM on March 9, 2008 [2 favorites]


So why can't Metafilter become part of a coalition of sites which compare addresses and posted links of contributors and, say, flag the ones that appear on a minimum of four member sites within a brief period automatically to all members of the coalition?

Because the spammers will just form their own coalition!

A coalition of the shilling.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:18 PM on March 9, 2008 [3 favorites]


*groan*
posted by grouse at 4:21 PM on March 9, 2008




Stop talking about the fluff and start talking about my bloody pony!

PETA's black ops team will coming by to talk to you about how that pony got so bloody.
posted by juv3nal at 4:34 PM on March 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


This?
posted by puke & cry at 4:53 PM on March 9, 2008


We set up an admin alert email

Sigh, the magic's gone.

A coalition of the shilling.

No, wait, there it is again.
posted by blue_beetle at 5:12 PM on March 9, 2008


So why can't Metafilter become part of a coalition of sites which compare addresses and posted links of contributors and, say, flag the ones that appear on a minimum of four member sites within a brief period automatically to all members of the coalition?

I think it was established recently that MeFi is the only link site that cares about self-linking.
posted by cillit bang at 6:06 PM on March 9, 2008


I think it was established recently that MeFi is the only link site that cares about self-linking.

Pretty much. I see self-linkers on other places I frequent and have the same negative reaction as I do here. The difference is no one else cares. The quality of the link is the same though - shitty.
posted by puke & cry at 6:29 PM on March 9, 2008


So if a noob posts one good frontpage link, he can slip under the radar for the next one? Or do you figure, since Metafilter is the only place that cares about self-linking, no one is going to have that sort of patience?

And what was that I heard about Digg being courted by Microsoft and Google to the tune of $200 million??
posted by Dave Faris at 6:43 PM on March 9, 2008


"Perfunctory" is such a sesquipedalian-ass word to append "-ass" to.
posted by painquale at 7:00 PM on March 9, 2008 [6 favorites]


Metafilter has given me so much in the last week.
Never in a million would I think of putting these evocative words in sequence, yet, here they are:
Perfunctory-ass shit bindings
Sublime.
posted by isopraxis at 8:30 PM on March 9, 2008


Painquale. that is a fucking awesome word. I'm keeping that word. TYVM.
posted by Phire at 10:00 PM on March 9, 2008


Heh, that reminds me of a similar word: Hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia, or the fear of long words. Much like "lisp", its sufferers cannot speak it without giving themselves away. It's a self-referential shibboleth*.

* also a fun word, by the way
posted by Rhaomi at 10:15 PM on March 9, 2008


Who would have thought there would be a hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia.com?
posted by puke & cry at 10:42 PM on March 9, 2008




Sites like the hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia.info and sarchasm.net amuse me. What real purpose is there? Sure, they come up fairly high in google search results, but there are no ads, nor any links back to the creator. Do people honestly think there is a niche on the market for sites that have a definition of a word and nothing more? ... Do people really type in unknownword.com/net/org/info/whatever when they don't know a word, rather than going define:unknown word in google or looking it up on dictionary.com?

Am I coming off as a total ass?
posted by Phire at 12:06 AM on March 10, 2008


A market? Those sites were obviously done for fun; they don't need "a market."
posted by grouse at 1:40 AM on March 10, 2008


Stupid brainwashing business school.
posted by Phire at 2:19 AM on March 10, 2008


We set up an admin alert email a while back that gives us a heads up whenever someone makes their first post to the blue.

I've always suspected as much, which is why I've bided my time, and now six years later and a couple of thousand comments in, it is the perfect time to masterfully deploy my self link: an exploration of the connections between David Hasselhoff and Chuck Norris told through the narrative style of lolcats.
posted by quin at 8:30 AM on March 10, 2008


breezway: just for you.

Also, I'm now looking for something - anything - that I can name "My Bloody Pony." I don't have the time to have a band anymore... so maybe a sockpuppet? Who knows.

Anyway, I like the deletion notice idea. That is all.
posted by Navelgazer at 1:20 PM on March 10, 2008


And this time, before anyone even commented. That's a fast draw, there.
posted by middleclasstool at 4:01 PM on March 10, 2008


That's a fast draw, there.

Indeed! But talk about meeting the self-link criteria: that guy had posted precisely 3 comments before his first big FPP. Maaaaan, summa these people dumb!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:14 PM on March 10, 2008


Worse yet, that guy listed the site in his profile. This sort of thing—and the fact that it is not particularly uncommon—is a good example of why I don't worry too much about Revealing The Secrets Of Metafilter over here.

(In fact, we came across a post on some goddam SEO board a while back where some folks were trying, and failing, to figure out just what the hell Metatalk was. It was adorable and heartening to see.)
posted by cortex (staff) at 5:04 PM on March 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


And I'm just crazy enough to do it! That'll show you all!
posted by My Bloody Pony at 5:34 PM on March 10, 2008


(enjoy the extra $5)
posted by My Bloody Pony at 5:35 PM on March 10, 2008


Where's my cut?
posted by benzo8 at 6:28 PM on March 10, 2008


Oh, Benzo8, your cut is the warm feeling of knowing that I now own the rights to something you came up with.

I may or may not also own your milkshake.
posted by Navelgazer at 6:44 PM on March 10, 2008


(In fact, we came across a post on some goddam SEO board a while back where some folks were trying, and failing, to figure out just what the hell Metatalk was. It was adorable and heartening to see.)

I will pay you cash money for a link. And by "cash money" I mean "I will totally tell chicks that you're awesome."
posted by middleclasstool at 7:05 PM on March 10, 2008


what middleclasstool said, cortex. link or gtfo/it didn't happen.
posted by juv3nal at 9:12 PM on March 10, 2008


(I imagine it'll never happen for fear of the chimpier members here acting in an undesirable way on that SEO board. So I will sigh and shrug and be content to imagine that reading that thread was like watching a puppy try to hump a paper cup -- both cute and weirdly frustrating at the same time.)
posted by middleclasstool at 9:49 PM on March 10, 2008


Mostly I don't want to send any SEO sites a feedback loop of mefi traffic. It's not too hard to find with a bit of googling, and it's not much of a read at that.
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:14 PM on March 10, 2008


Ok, you're right. I think I found it.
posted by juv3nal at 11:40 PM on March 10, 2008


Can we have some indication on the Recent Activity page if a thread we're watching is deleted.

Added this today. If a MeFi post has been removed, you'll get a note that "This thread was deleted" under the post description on the left. And closed MeTa threads have a similar note now too.
posted by pb (staff) at 11:45 AM on March 11, 2008


Thanks pb!!!
posted by grouse at 2:04 PM on March 11, 2008


w00t! My Bloody Pony [tm] has come in! Thanks pb.
posted by benzo8 at 3:48 PM on March 11, 2008


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