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Calling All Computer Experts
Last comment by rozemist 6 years, 3 months ago.

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Anthony002's foray into the intricacies of starting a new website got me thinking about something that I have been wondering about for a long time. I share the frustrations of many other contributors to this forum about the sad state of affairs here, especially the political spam (cut-and-paste rants) and incessant in-fighting which are constantly besieging this site. Here is what I have been curious about and need the experience of those proficient with computers (since "novice" is even too flattering to describe my skills, or lack thereof): Does software or some other method exist, other than manual deletion, of controlling such aspects of the forum as limitation of number of blog submissions per day or a way to prevent any blogger from using multiple screen names? In other words, is there a computer program that would automatically reject a writer's blog if he had submitted more than 2 per day? Even though I try to respond to the ideas expressed in a post itself and not the identity of the person doing the posting, it is annoying to recognize numerous bloggers masquerading under various aliases and screen names. This would perhaps be too time-consuming for the forum moderator to have to track down all these aliases or keep a running count of how many blogs a contributor posted each day, that is why I wondered about an automated system that could be of assistance. Maybe such software does not exist and it is all wishful thinking on my part.

I will call this second part, "If I ruled the world (or at least this forum)". In addition to the general blog conditions set forth I would specify the following: 1.) A limit of two blog submissions per day, per individual (comments would remain unrestricted in number) 2.)Once you choose a screen name it cannot be changed without public notification on the site (as in : JoeSmoo will now be posting under the screen name SmooJoe.) Only one screen name change, if necessary, will be allowed. 3.) No name calling of individuals allowed at all. Instead of calling someone "stupid" or a "moron" or an "idiot", posters could only challenge each others' ideas or opinions such as, "That is a stupid idea". I would prefer no name-calling at all, but at least this keeps the discussion focused on the ideas and opinions themselves, not the presenter's character. The debate would center on ideas and opinions to be challenged or defended, rather than the childishly devolving "you're an idiot", "yeah, well you are a moron" back-and-forth we have all (or at least many)come to dread. Those debating issues would need to stick to the subjects themselves, rather than going off on a tangent of the supposed character flaws of the other person. 4.) No labeling, from either side, would be tolerated. This means the words "socialist", "bigot", or "racist" could not be used to belittle another poster. One could say, "Those are racist (or Socialist, bigoted, Communist, etc.) ideas that you are expressing". That may seem to some like splitting hairs, but again, the focus is on the ideas or opinions, not the speaker or writer and is more conducive to civil discourse. 5.) Anyone banned from the forum would receive an explicit explanation why (whether they agreed with such action would not be subject to debate). Before anyone is banned, they would receive a detailed warning and their offending comment or post would be deleted. The second offense would merit 3 week suspension. The "third strike" is permanent banishment. 6.)Because these are more detailed rules, EVERYONE would be given "amnesty" or a fresh start, but ALL must adhere to the new rules. I know this is controversial for some and they may disagree, but I believe it is only right to give even the banned individuals (TRC, mhoffman, YCDI, JohnDHeaton3) the opportunity to "play fair" under the new rules.If they are unwilling or unable to do so, it would soon be apparent.

It is somewhat ironic that I am even posting these suggestions at all, because I think we all need to be very careful about censorship. It is something to be considered seriously and I believe it is usually best to err on the side of free speech. This forum, however, is not really the public's forum - it belongs to the Bulletin. As such, all contributors and participants are "guests" of the Bulletin. In this capacity, we should mind our on-line matters. Much as unruly behavior, like trashing someone's home, would not be acceptable in the real world, in this on-line world that we all choose to share, our actions and words have consequences and affect others as well as ourselves. We all need to take our responsibility here seriously and let even our humor and witticisms be well-meaning, instead of mean-spirited or vindictive. I realize this sounds preachy, but I truly believe the forum would be the better for it. I will be looking forward to any response from "computer technos" (or computer tech-knows, unlike me). Thanks. Sincerely, Karen

Latest Activity: Nov 01, 2011 at 8:10 AM

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rozemist commented on Friday, Oct 28, 2011 at 01:24 AM

Hello Karen
How timely this blog is,and how well done.
There are software programs available,vBulletin being one,IP.Board,and Many others.
The most important feature needed is giving forum users options ,who they want to see or not see on the blog area.
That wonderful "Ignore" button.
I don't see any reason why it couldn't be set up that 2 blogs would be the limit a day for any member.
As to the Bulletin ,it is the responsibility of websites whether it is wanted or not to have full time moderators.Maybe they didn't see this coming,I don't think many of us did.
I have never seen people try so hard to get back into a forum,but I haven't been to a lot of forums so maybe I'm being naive.
I have read a lot lately about rules that are expected at different sites,and what they basically all have in common is to exercise common sense when posting.
Be Courteous, civil and respectful of others,do not use profanity or create racial, ethnic, gender based , or discriminatory insults or hurtful remarks.
No personal attacks on other users or staff members
When you think about it just how hard is it to stay within the rules.
I believe the people who constantly and I mean "always" go outside the rules do so to purposely create a mess such as the mess we have in this forum right now.
This is not accidental ,this is the work of full time provokers,people who I have observed enjoy the continued feeling of ill will that now has taken over the forum.
I would not give amnesty to these individuals,so luckily it will Never be up to me.
"Amnesty is an act or an instance of forgiving" http://wiki.answers.com/Q/What_is_amn...
I have never observed even once any behavior from them in the form of using common sense,civility,respect,or a sense of ever wanting to "change" the behavior that got them banned.
You would think if one wanted to get back into the good graces of the Bulletin they would approach it in a manner that would show they were regretful of their mistakes,and would like to start new,taking a different tact.
But what you see,and continue to see is the very thing that got them banned.This shows they do not believe their bad behavior is bad.
But that is only my opinion .
The software programs are available Karen,just type in on your search bar "software programs for forum administrators" ,or "website tools" and look what all will pop up.
If the forum continues as is people will continue to leave.
If the Bulletin doesn't close it down first.
The answer can be found in what the Bulletin will decide to do,make some program changes to the benefit of all, leave it just as it and it will decline more,or find it a complete waste of time and resources and close it.
Time will tell.

rozemist commented on Friday, Oct 28, 2011 at 02:33 AM


DLangdon commented on Friday, Oct 28, 2011 at 10:11 AM


anthony002 commented on Friday, Oct 28, 2011 at 13:12 PM

Hi Karen,

I think the other comments have addressed the basic question. I found in my research that there are many free or nearly free computer programs that can automate many of the tasks associateed with regulating who posts and the manner in which they post.

One forum I found even allows you to completely block someone based on the IP address of their computer. That is the 4-segment code that is a unique "fingerprint" on the internet for every device that is connected.

I do not know if every home user would always have the same IP address. Some internet providers use "dynamic" addressing where you get a different number whenever you turn on your machine.

My problem was that there are so many options and they do require a fair amount of time to set up and maintain. I just am not prepared to make that kind of commitment at this point.

Perhaps in the not too distant future when I am semi retired, this is something I can pursue and even generate some revenue with advertising as many of the more popular boards like dailykos.com and littlegreenfootballs.com

Despite what some might think about me, I firmly believe that capitalism and free enterprise do have a role to play in appropriate situations....

canative62 commented on Friday, Oct 28, 2011 at 16:10 PM


rozemist commented on Friday, Oct 28, 2011 at 21:22 PM


rozemist commented on Saturday, Oct 29, 2011 at 05:42 AM


rozemist commented on Saturday, Oct 29, 2011 at 05:46 AM


canative62 commented on Saturday, Oct 29, 2011 at 11:03 AM


KarenPearsall commented on Saturday, Oct 29, 2011 at 13:52 PM

Hello rozemist, I share your observations on the poor behavior of banned bloggers. The only reason I would consider offering a fresh start is that two of them, TRC and mhoffman, have commented several times that The Bulletin's moderator never explained to them, in any detail, the reason that they were banned. That could be untrue, of course, but I will take them at their word. I do believe it is the responsibility of those operating a site to explain the reasons for banning a contributor. If a person is explicitly warned about their comments and continues to violate the detailed rules, showing blatant disregard for the set conditions, then they do deserve banishment. I believe that much of the deplorable behavior we have experienced from certain banned individuals stems from their frustrations at the unfairness of not knowing the actual reasons that they were banned, so they spitefully retaliate with purposefully outrageous comments, blog barrages, undercover aliases, and other tactics. This is not to excuse such childish behavior, but merely offer an explanation as to where it might be coming from. It is entirely possible that I am over thinking this and that it may be as you say, individuals who provoke for the sheer enjoyment of being an annoyance to others. Since I don"t "rule the forum world", (nor, in all honesty, would I really want that actual responsibility), my new rules won't be implemented and I don't see any forum amnesty in the near future. Take care. Sincerely, Karen

KarenPearsall commented on Saturday, Oct 29, 2011 at 14:02 PM

Hello Anthony002, Thank you for taking the time to respond to my questions. If such software or programs exist and they are either free or inexpensive, I wonder why the Bulletin doesn't take advantage of an effective and efficient way to improve the forum and take some of the load off the moderator? It is puzzling to me. If you ever do start your own site, I would be honored to participate because I respect the time, effort, and well-measured thought that you put into your blogs and comments. I may not always agree with you, but I ALWAYS come away with something to mull over, reconsider, or investigate, after reading your informative posts. I truly appreciate the fact that you cite your sources to enable further research and examination. Thanks, again. Sincerely, Karen

Friendo commented on Saturday, Oct 29, 2011 at 14:12 PM

Hello Karen, You asked why the Bulletin doesn't take advantage of an effective and efficient way to improve the forum and take some of the load off the moderator by installing certain software programs. Perhaps if you direct this question to the Manteca Bulletin an answer may be forthcoming. Sincerely, Friendo

rozemist commented on Saturday, Oct 29, 2011 at 15:25 PM

Hi Karen
I also ,just like you,am glad that the responsibility of running a forum is not my task. I wouldn't want it either.
I don't think I'd be good at it is the bottom line.
I'm not trying to answer for anthony,but the question you put to him is a question I myself have asked as to why the Bulletin hasn't taken advantage of the software that is available,and some even free,or at a reasonable price is a "very good question".
Friendo commented to you that perhaps this question needs to be put to the Bulletin.
I have emailed,and messaged those questions in the past to the Bulletin ,and I have provided links to many software sites that if the Bulletin were interested could investigate into them further.
I was only offering information ,not trying to suggest that any information that I provided was the way to go,but only wanted to offer up the many options they can look into .
I don't know why it has remained unchanged,I wish I had the answer.
If these programs were at a outrageous cost then I could understand ,the Bulletin like everyone else has to watch what they spend,but these are programs that are not expensive.
I wish that I could understand why the forum rather then give way to decline,couldn't be saved with a software program.

KarenPearsall commented on Saturday, Oct 29, 2011 at 16:56 PM

Hello Friendo, Thank you for the suggestion. I have followed your advice and asked the Editor (by using the "Suggestions" feature) my questions directly. I have also requested that he answer publicly on this blog's comment section, if possible, so that all can be aware of the reasons. Sincerely, Karen

Bull153 commented on Sunday, Oct 30, 2011 at 00:22 AM

rozemist commented on Sunday, Oct 30, 2011 at 08:53 AM


rozemist commented on Sunday, Oct 30, 2011 at 08:59 AM


DLangdon commented on Sunday, Oct 30, 2011 at 11:59 AM


rozemist commented on Sunday, Oct 30, 2011 at 15:10 PM

Someone sure has had a full weekend posting multiple "spam ads" its all too familiar ya think??

DLangdon commented on Sunday, Oct 30, 2011 at 16:18 PM

Spam bumping

KarenPearsall commented on Sunday, Oct 30, 2011 at 18:11 PM

Hello rozemist, I don't want to join the conspiracy theory crowd, but like you, I have noticed that this week-end's spamming ads are far different than those in the past. Previously, there would be several ads posted, deleted, and then re-posted, but NEVER to the extent that is happening this week-end. It is the EXACT same tactic TRC used with his political rants to overwhelm the forum. Now I am not saying that, without a doubt, he is behind these unwelcome spamming ads. I am just pointing out the amazing coincidence in tactics used. Maybe the ad spammers watched his behavior on here and decided to take a page from his book and copy his methods. It is interesting to note, however, that while the spamming ads are certainly prevalent, TRC's political rants have not graced this forum all week-end long (so far). As Alice in Wonderland would say, "Curiouser and curiouser!" Sincerely, Karen

Bull153 commented on Sunday, Oct 30, 2011 at 18:44 PM

@ KarenPearsall...

You and rozemist both know I'm not much of a conspiracy theorist either, but the spam activities of the past two weekends are quite disturbing.

It is quite possible that TRC fed the link to the forums to an active ad spamming site, they do sometimes pay for leads to active sites where their members can post their ad spam. There is also the possibility that, since this was not an issue prior to Hoffman posting the link to his Central Valley Monitor site, the spam seach robots picked up the new site and the link via the RSS feed back to the Bulletin. I'm not well versed in the intracasies of the internet and spamming, so this is all speculation. I, like you, find it very 'curious'.

As for TRC, he did come on last night and posted one blog, but this morning I see he, along with the spammers I reported yesterday, have all been removed. I've reported this latest batch of miscreants, but until (and IF) the Bulletin does something with its site to block spam and banned individuals, this is going to continue...


canative62 commented on Sunday, Oct 30, 2011 at 20:52 PM


rozemist commented on Sunday, Oct 30, 2011 at 21:04 PM

Hi Karen
yes I see the style,and one of the pictures used sort of peaked my curiosity it was the same type of picture TRC uses just a different saying on it.
Maybe I have joined the conspiracy group,but it gets so loony tunes here its certainly not hard to find ones self leaning ,I hope not tho.
I don't want to start harping on who is who with every single comment I make.
If I do Karen ,give me a talking to.
It is possible his style is being copied,since I have no proof,I just go on my instincts,and my instincts can hardly be called "proof"
But I will go with my instincts until I can be proved wrong regarding this one.
We are most likely being handed a different approach .It does get curiouser and curiouser.
I have bumped off and on the blogs this week end,but clever,clever person can multiply them as fast as I or anyone in the Blog can bump them.
They were even removed today,and minutes after removal they appeared.
Now that is someones idea of having fun,can you imagine.

rozemist commented on Monday, Oct 31, 2011 at 01:22 AM

I would really like to see the Editor respond to your questions,and publicly would be the best way to go.
I have seen in the Turlock Journal such a thing happen, the Editor did a blog in response to some removals of some comments and blogs,I was not privy to know what it was all about ,the comments had been removed,and the Turlock Journal is not a place I go to blog ,but I had looked in a few times because I was curious about whether they were having a similar problem with multiple blog postings.
One person that I will take note of that use to post here (and has posted occasionally since being banned here as well)was banned from the Journal.
He is very well known I don't have to repeat his name.
He was apart of something that had gone on in that forum,which is very understandable after seeing what he posted here first hand.
That Editor addressed it,and I thought that was a very good way to see it handled.
Maybe our Editor will do the same,and explain to us what they might have decided to do regarding the problem we have here.

rozemist commented on Monday, Oct 31, 2011 at 10:54 AM

I have been looking up any information on ways forum administrators can keep spam off from their sites.It doesn't appear that this is an easy task
Something I found interesting in Wikipedia
Forum spam
It is generally done by automated spam bots.(A spam bot is an automated computer program designed to assist in the sending of spam. Spam bots usually create fake accounts and send spam using them, although it would be obvious that a spam bot is sending it.
Spam prevention
Flood control: This forces users to wait for a short interval between making posts to the forum, thus preventing spam bots from flooding the forum with repeated spam messages
Some forums employ CAPTCHA (visual confirmation) routines on their registration pages to prevent spam bots carrying out automated registrations. Simple CAPTCHA systems which display alphanumeric characters have proven vulnerable to optical character recognition software but those that scramble the characters appear to be far more effective.
Alternative is Textual Confirmation, where the user answers one or more random questions to prove he/she is not a spam bot.
Forums have a feature where they send an e-mail to users who registered, either containing the password used to login or an activation code/link.
Posting limits: Limit posting to registered users and/or require that the user pass a CAPTCHA test before posting.
Registration restrictions: Applying careful restrictions can seriously impact bogus and spambot registrations. One approach consists in the denial of registration from certain domain extensions that are a major source of spambots such .ru, .br, .biz, or freebase addresses such as "gawab.com". Another, more labor-intensive, consists in manual examination of new registrants. This examination looks at several indicators. First, spam bots often delay email confirmation by several hours, while humans will confirm promptly. Second, spam bots will tend to create user names that are unique, and unlikely to already be used in the forum, preferring "John84731" or "JohnbassKeepsie" to the much more common "John." Third, using a search engine to investigate, one finds hundreds, if not thousands of profiles using the spam bot login name, sometimes with the diagnostic spam post, or "banned" label.
Block posts or registrations that contain certain blacklisted words
Some forums also have their own "spam subforums" to direct spam off their main site
Effects of spam
Spam prevention and deletions measurably increase the workload of forum administrators and moderators. The amount of time and resources spent keeping a forum spam free contributes significantly to labor cost, and the skill required in the running of a public forum. Marginally profitable or smaller forums may be permanently closed by administrators.
Here is a link , http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Forum_spam
where anyone interested can read more details,I find it very interesting.

rozemist commented on Monday, Oct 31, 2011 at 10:55 AM

It seems measures can be used to combat spam ,and that there are many available,are they too inexpensive,do they require a lot of time from forum staff ,it would seem already it has burdened the staff with the daily deletions.
What is for sure is that spam blogs create a lot of extra work for the Manteca Bulletin.

Bull153 commented on Monday, Oct 31, 2011 at 14:21 PM

rozemist commented on Monday, Oct 31, 2011 at 16:10 PM


rozemist commented on Monday, Oct 31, 2011 at 17:39 PM

All those blogs were just deleted,again,and now they are coming right back,not even minutes went by before they started re-posting.
I have suggested as a temporary band aid to freeze all New forum registrations.
This means shutting off the access these people are using.The way they do this is they create bogus names,with email accounts.How easy is that,too easy.
Until the Bulletin can have tools to combat this problem it is a thought,but it could not be used very long because then it would cut off chances of having new forum participants.
And we very much need new participants,although its not likely anyone will want to come here ,already people are not wanting to visit here,much less stay.

rozemist commented on Monday, Oct 31, 2011 at 19:06 PM


rozemist commented on Monday, Oct 31, 2011 at 20:06 PM


rozemist commented on Tuesday, Nov 01, 2011 at 00:25 AM


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