Forum:SEO link spam - improved CAPTCHA?

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I've been seeing more SEO link spam users and pages getting created lately. Last few weeks anyway.

Any possibility of upgrading the CAPTCHA on account creation? Css1971 (talk) 20:19, 19 May 2017 (UTC)

The spam filters are much appreciated. I saw SamanthaNguyen added some. 👍
regex's are a good start, but my experience dealing with email spam though is it wasn't till
we went to Bayesian statistics that we'd got the problem licked.
Also doesn't help with large numbers of spam accounts, though purging inactive accounts
should be fairly simple.
Css1971 (talk) 10:51, 25 June 2017 (UTC)
Spam is indeed an issue if and when a site allows unmoderated content submission from the public, which is pretty much the point of a wiki (for most people anyway). To combat this issue and to prevent spambots from taking over a wiki, we employ a wide array of anti-spam tools — some (such as the AbuseFilter extension you mentioned) familiar from Wikipedia, some custom-built for our needs.
By default we're using the distorted word CAPTCHA (internally known as FancyCaptcha, a part of the ConfirmEdit extension, which provides base CAPTCHA functionality as well as various different CAPTCHA implementations). This is a step up from a math-based CAPTCHA which is trivial for spambot authors to defeat, but it's far from being the best solution. I would recommend the question-and-answer based QuestyCaptcha, as it's pretty effective in stopping spambots. You can see it in action on Brickipedia, the LEGO Wiki, for example.
As to why QuestyCaptcha isn't enabled by default on all wikis, there are a few reasons for that:
  1. Configurability (or the lack of thereof). Currently there is no on-wiki interface for configuring the CAPTCHA questions and answers, and this is obviously not ideal, because we need to set it up for you instead of you being able to do it yourself. I'm hoping that we could build some kind of an on-wiki interface for QuestyCaptcha later this year, but please don't take this as a definitive promise! ETAs are not set in stone and can change, though this is definitely a feature we'd all want to see.
  2. Internationalization (i18n). A wiki is generally speaking monolingual (though Rose-Biblio, a trilingual wiki about roses, is a fine counterexample) so it's not really possible to have translatable CAPTCHA questions and answers at this point. Maybe in the future?
If you're interested in having QuestyCaptcha configured for your wiki, let us know. Be sure to include at least ~5 questions and their answers; note that answers are case-sensitive.
AbuseFilter, mentioned earlier, is Wikipedia's primary anti-spam tool. It is highly versatile and customizable, and therein lies perhaps what could be described as its main "weakness": it's not very user-friendly. By default AbuseFilter has no filters installed, hence why we've usually installed a couple filters by default to hinder the spambots. Kudos to SamanthaNguyen for her hard work on this!
Purging inactive accounts sadly isn't viable on ShoutWiki, but we do globally block obvious spam-only accounts to prevent them from being used to spam.
Rest assured that we're keeping a close eye on the spam situation, but if you notice a spammed wiki, please let us know about it so we can clean it up ASAP! Neither we nor our tools are perfect, so sadly sometimes spam makes it past our filters, but we're always improving our defense mechanisms. --Jack PhoenixShoutWiki Staff (Contact) 12:18, 25 June 2017 (UTC)