Saturday, December 25, 2004

White Christmas

We got snow here for the first time in over 30 years. Its really pretty. Everyone was out buying film at the few places that were open. I already had film, but the battery in the camera died. Lucky I had a video camera and a cheep digital camera. We are also lucky it was only an inch and a half, enough to look nice but doesn't require any shoveling. The news showed lots of snow men pictures viewers had sent in, one was even 4 feet high, mine only made it near 2 feet. I am sure no one has a snow shovel down here. And I doubt the city owns a snow plow. We would be snowed in till it melted.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Wiki Tarpit

Jim Weirich recently came up with a new form of wiki spam protection, a Tarpit. It sounds really good. Its totally different from the usual blacklist or CAPTCHA methods. The idea is to identify a spammer based on the characteristics of the poster, not the content. Supposedly its pretty accurate. And when done right the spammer can't tell he isn't spamming the real wiki. Read more about it on the chongqed wiki.

Monday, December 20, 2004

Are Wikis Dead?

Some in the wiki community think its headed that way. Spammers and vandals really discourage people from caring about wikis. When people don't care the wiki gets abandoned and filled with more spam until the owner takes it down or it just becomes a permanant spam wiki.

Other evidence of wiki death are large wikis where there just aren't many edits anymore. Not large but good sized, the POPFile wiki doesn't get many edits anymore. Is it because its been abandoned? No, its because it is filling its purpose reasonably well and currently covers most of what it needs to. It could be better and efforts have been made to refactor it to better guide new users, but as for documentation its pretty complete for the current version of POPFile. Being pretty complete in addition to being passworded give me much less insentive to work on it. I just don't like that any wiki has to be passworded.

I don't think wikis as a format are anywhere near dead. If anything will kill wikis its passwording, they can still very useful that way, but it takes the spirit out of the wiki. There are lots of other less drastic solutions to spam, though none as effective.

Email is full of spammers and its not dead yet. Blogs mostly overcame the worst of the spam problem and are still growing in popularity. Wikis will survive too.

I guess the closest thing in the email spam world to passwording a wiki would be Challenge Response or only accept from a whitelist. I can't stand either of those. I have always thought I would just not email the person if I ever got one of those challenges. Just a couple days ago I got one, I was not happy about it but I needed to send the email so I responded. I have also had to deal with one of those whitelisters. I had to spell him my address a couple times so he could type it into his mail program so I could send him one email with a link he needed. What a pain.

More discussion at Death and the Wiki.

Saturday, December 18, 2004

LWS Spammer

David (TheGunOwner), the webmaster of LWS Formus emailed me back. He doesn't know anything about a contest and thinks its probably one of their trolls "trying to disparage our community." It appears to me that the troll was trying to google bomb the site for those terms. They are currently the top result in google. There are 57 results for that search right now.

He signed up to all kinds of forum sites, from a Gecko website, to a UK geneology site, and anywhere he could join in on wishing someone a happy birthday. His email address appears to be

This page lead me to connect with raindog from the LWS Forums. You can see an example of raindog's posting style at LWS. He has made 8590 posts under that username since April 2004, thats over 30 posts a day. The signature on many of his posts includes the "flag burning" "community watch" links.

I also found several places where he spams for the LWS forums too:
Sure is a good member to have around.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Nigritude Flag Burning Watch

Some idiot posted some SEO contest spam on my blog linking to the LWS Forums. This idiot is trying to rank for flag burning and community watch. That is not the usual made up crap the SEO contests try to rank for. At this point I don't even think its a real contest. Either that or he is the first and only contestant. His info:
I have attempted to contact in hopes they can stop this before it gets worse.

While researching the stupidity of SEO contests I discovered the winner of the second and final round of the Nigritude Ultramarine contest was not an SEO nut, just a powerful blogger that didn't like these SEO spammers using blogs to win the contest. So with one post he asked his readers to link to that post, they linked and he won.

Monday, December 13, 2004

chongqed hit with DoS

The main chongqed website survived its first Denial of Service attack today. Manni has more details on the news page.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Spam University

Slashdot has an interesting Online University Spammer post:Makes me wonder what could be done to the one Halz found.

Lots of dumb wiki spammers

Today we had at least three different spammers hit the chongqed wiki all within three hours. There was a fourth IP, but it was close to one of the others and spamming for the same sites so I am considering him to be one spammer. The other two were repeat spammers, they are pretty persistant (and dumb). They obviously don't understand what we are doing.

Today's spammers:

Monday, December 06, 2004

Surfing with the Enemy

Tonight I recieved a hit from someone at, using Mozilla Firefox 1.0!!! They arrived via the O'Reilly article to read the Hakdata post.

I noticed when their hostname showed up as "", here is the hit from the logfile:

Sunday, December 05, 2004

ZDNet: The Magic That Makes Google Tick

This article from ZDNet Australia gives inside look at how Google does what it does. Only at the really low level (hardware) and the really high level (general theory). While I would be more interested in the in between details, such as exactly how PageRank works, they obviously can't let that secret slip. Even without that detail a really interesting article.

Saturday, December 04, 2004

Lycos Vampire Pulled

According to an article, Lycos Pulls Anti-Spam 'Vigilante' Campaign. I wonder if this some quick thinking spammers who changed their mind:
Sam's take on the whole idea was that its anti-spam snake-oil.

Friday, December 03, 2004

Welcome O'Reilly Readers

Since there are a lot of new visitors thanks to the O'Reilly article, "Chongq and the Spam Vampires" by Brian McWilliams, I wanted to point you to a page on our wiki that will help better you understand what chongqing is all about. You can find it here. Some discussion of the wiki spam problem is here.

Some clarifications to the article:

Chongqed at O’Reilly

Today we got the first article that lets people know about Brian McWilliams, author of Spam Kings, wrote "Chongq and the Spam Vampires" about us and other methods of retaliation against spammers.

Recently the Spam Vampire idea was taken up by Lycos Europe and turned into a screensaver called Make Love Not Spam that will use up bandwidth of spammer websites. They say they are not running a Distributed Denial of Service attack because they are not trying to knock the websites off the internet, only to slow them down and increase the spammer' cost for running them. They plan to monitor site response and throttle back the attack when it gets too slow. So far they have already knocked a few sites offline. Not that that bothers me at all that spammers are knocked offline, but its not what they said they were going do.

I have mixed feelings about the whole idea of Spam Vampire and Lycos' version. I like that it hurts spammers, but it could cause too much collateral damage. There may be innocent websites on nearby servers that are affected by all that traffic. And it wastes a lot of bandwidth over the routes it takes to get to the spammer sites.

Since many spammers are from China, likely much of the bandwidth between them and other countries is taken up. That likely slows their reaching websites outside the country, and we know their networks are already very slow. While I occasionally think it would be nice to cut them off from the rest of the internet, which their government would probably love, that wouldn't be right. There are at least a few users there that aren't spammers.

I am not that against using Spam Vampires though, right now I have Lad Vampire going in a window. I doubt I will run it frequently, but it is fun watching all those spammer images rotate.

I just think this Lycos version will be too powerful and apparently I am not alone, some major internet backbones are blocking the site. Being run from a large company as a screensaver gives it much more power than the usual Spam Vampire and is a much better target to sue.