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Tip for posting and captcha
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MindTheGap
833 posts
Dec 07, 2015
1:29 AM
I know that the captcha code and the spam filter are an annoyance (as I saw discussed recently again, I can't remember the thread though).

What I've do now is to write a shortish post to start it, so that that captcha hasn't timed out, and if it goes wrong I've not lost anything much. Then go back and edit it to complete. Less misery.

EDIT: but this one went right in.

Last Edited by MindTheGap on Dec 07, 2015 1:31 AM
Ian
159 posts
Dec 07, 2015
5:15 AM
I use chrome and it never looses the post, even after captcha goes wrong. I have copied a few of my larger posts before submitting them, just in case. That works too. If it goes... Just paste it back in.
MindTheGap
835 posts
Dec 07, 2015
6:01 AM
I don't lose the post for a failed captcha IE either. But there's various failure modes Ian - have you been caught by the spam filter yet? If so, then puff, it's all gone. I learnt to do ctrl-C, but sometimes I hit the wrong key combo.

Last Edited by MindTheGap on Dec 07, 2015 6:02 AM
Ian
160 posts
Dec 07, 2015
6:13 AM
I hadn't had one post filtered yet. Mine only go wrong g if I enter the code incorrectly.
MindTheGap
837 posts
Dec 07, 2015
6:17 AM
Ah, you have that joy to come. Some people get it a lot - and to counter it add things like song lyrics to pad out the text. When it happens, it can seem that your post is successful but then...later it disappears.

Last Edited by MindTheGap on Dec 07, 2015 6:19 AM
mlefree
467 posts
Dec 07, 2015
10:29 AM
The biggest problem for me with the captcha code is that it is impossible (for me) to determine the case of a given letter. The size of the letters are scaled to be similar so that a lower case "m" for example, appears identical to an upper case one.

Then of course is the time out which occurs each and every time if you make more than a one word post.

People have said that the captcha code is not case sensitive but I find that is not the case.

Honestly, I feel there would be significantly more participation herein if making a post wasn't like pulling teeth... each and every time.
Each and every time.
Each and every time.
Each and every time.
Each and every time.
Each and every time.

It's like the Oakies migrating to California in the depression. They took the family truck, already held together with bubble gum and baling wire, and overloaded it with more and more of their personal belongings. The roads west were littered with the cast-off household belongings when the poor folk had to scuttle it roadside because their truck out and out broke down.



When will the Dirty South forum software system break down under the added weight of the dastardly captchya code and its other systematic inadequacies? [Like having to edit HTML code to post a picture. Please! That's a joke and totally unacceptable in this day and age with many, many choices of far superior forum software.]

The manner in which the forum owner and administrator(s) hide their heads in the sand with this and other significant problems with the framework of this forum will eventually come back to haunt them. (Or maybe it already is?)

But I suppose all us members are just along for the ride.

At least that's the way I see it.

Michelle

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SilverWing Leather - Custom leather creations for musicians and other eccentrics.

Last Edited by mlefree on Dec 07, 2015 10:31 AM
nacoran
8806 posts
Dec 07, 2015
12:43 PM
Typing them in isn't case sensitive. As long as you type an 'M' whether they say 'M' or 'm' you are good. I type mine all in lowercase.

I just submitted another support request to get them to look at the issue. From our end, or rather middle, we don't have much control. There are parts of the site that are 'baked in' that we don't have buttons or page HTML to control. We don't even have an audio captcha option for the visually impaired, which drives me nuts.

There are parts of the software that I like. I think our post bumping forum works better than the Facebook pages for keeping the conversations going and accessible (although email notification options would be nice). It would be nice to be able to natively host a wiki (my attempts at running a linked one off site were unsuccessful). We only have so much access to the code underneath though. Or at least we only seem to have so much access. My web design skills are limited, so I'm taking their word for it sometimes. Even with my limited skills I've found a couple workarounds on smaller things but I'm stuck on captchas. Posting a short post and editing it like MidetheGap suggests is a good workaround. Usually just using the back-page button in your browser works, but sometimes the server is not behaving well. (If it's losing messages there are usually access problems behind the scenes too. I've noticed it seems to coincide with database slowdowns.) There are plugins you can add to most browsers that save what you type too. They tend to slow your browser down a bit though.

Holding control and then turning the scroll wheel on your mouse will enlarge the captcha on PC, which can help sometimes.

-Side question- how is the captcha for people with color blindness? Ideally I'd like the captchas to turn off after someone has posted successfully 50 times, but that requires access to parts of the database in ways we just can't access it. I know these captchas hurt traffic.



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Nate
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First Post- May 8, 2009
mr_so&so
978 posts
Dec 07, 2015
1:18 PM
Like Ian, I've yet to have a post removed as spam, and all I do to avoid problems with the captcha is copy my post before trying to submit it. If it messes up, paste and resubmit.

Is there a "white list" feature available to admins to prevent certain users, who've had trouble, from being subject to spam inspection? Or is there a way to tune the spam checker to look critcally at first posts and less so as number of successful posts increases?
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mr_so&so

Last Edited by mr_so&so on Dec 07, 2015 1:50 PM
mlefree
470 posts
Dec 08, 2015
8:51 AM
"I think our post bumping forum works better than the Facebook pages for keeping the conversations going and accessible..."

Nate, with due respect, you have no way of knowing how many valid contributions to forum threads have been thwarted by the captcha code.

I know that I have given up on numerous occasions and I am a pretty determined participant. A lot of the time I avoid posting altogether due to the captcha code frustration I ~always~ experience unless I feel I have something I ~really~ want to say. I'll even give it its own acronym: CCF. That particular facet of CCF sets a sort of a threshold on willingness to participate that also has an unknown effect on forum content. I can say with certainty that it doesn't encourage people to post.

There's another negative effect of CCF in terms of who it turns away. I think that it puts off newer members who don't understand that dealing with CCF is a sort of right of passage here. The predominance of DS posting is from veterans who've become inured to the pain of dealing with CCF.

As to Facebook, I belong to far more Facebook groups than I should and the only spam I see there are FB's infernal timeline advertisements. I hardly ever see a spam post there.

I wonder how big a threat spam posts really are to this forum. Have you ever turned off the captcha code to find out?

On a more constructive note, one easy suggestion for the software developers is to simply remove or significantly extend the timeout period. That would immediately eliminate a large fraction of the difficulties we all experience.

Please don't get me wrong here, Nate. I really do want the Dirty South forum to be the best it can possibly be. It is turning into the premier online gathering of blues harmonica enthusiasts, now far outstripping even the venerable harp-L in terms of the level of participation.

Because it is the new blues harp torch bearer I feel a certain duty to try to help make it even stronger and more open to participation.

Thanks for listening,

Michelle

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SilverWing Leather - Custom leather creations for musicians and other eccentrics.
1847
2957 posts
Dec 08, 2015
9:07 AM
my issue is not so much with the captcha, i learned computers late in life
and was taught to save everything, if i failed to do so my hands were smacked
with a ruler. the captcha has improved here, the post no longer seem to get lost if you mess up the code. my issues is when the correct code is entered, then it is marked as spam. wtf.
why if i am entering a spam prevention code correctly, is the post markede as spam
it makes no sense what so ever. i have noticed a lot of familiar faces that
no longer post here, or much more seldom. i would venture to guess a certain level of frustration
could possibly be keeping people away from here.
if a post is completely spam, if the spammer has entered the correct code
it should post.

Last Edited by 1847 on Dec 08, 2015 9:11 AM
nacoran
8810 posts
Dec 08, 2015
12:51 PM
Unfortunately, the spam filter isn't tunable, except that it is supposed to 'learn'. That's why I restore every single post in the spam folder, even if it's duplicate copies of the same post. I don't want to give it false positives.

Michelle, the quote you pulled out of mine I was referring to the way the forum bumps threads back to the top when someone makes a new comment on it. I think that works better for conversations than the way Facebook handles it (where they only 'bump' a thread by notifying you of new posts if you have commented on the thread already). I think the way our forum handles it encourages more discussion. I know the captchas are discouraging. Unfortunately they can't be turned off. We have, in fact, asked them to do that and been told that it is a global setting- it's either on for all the sites they host or off for all the sites they host.

Facebook pages do get some spam, but it's easier to spot spam posters on Facebook before you let them join, since you can see their profiles. All we see when someone applies here is the name they give, the handle they choose and their email. I also am one of the people who approves new members on the FB page, and we get more fake applications there than we do here. They just recently switched from letting any member approve new applications to just admins because they were getting a lot of spam. They have better tools for deleting spam too. Any member can flag a post as spam with the click of a button. Here you have to send an email to us and wait until we check our email. They can also delete all posts by a member just by deleting the member, I think. We have to go in and hand delete each spam (we can delete all the spam in a single thread at a time, but we have to delete thread by thread.) Google has changed how they rank pages in a way that makes spam less useful to the spammers than it used to be, but it used to be quite common for me to spend a couple hours every time we had a spam attack (sometimes 2-3 a week) deleting all the spam. (And, unfortunately, or 'bump' system works against us there, since any spam posted pushes real content farther down the page).

As for how long it takes for a thread to 'time out', I fought them on that. It used to be 5 minutes, and now it's 15. The theory is that some spam companies employ humans to crack captchas. The system works something like this- a piece of software scrapes the captcha and posts it on another site. Then users there solve the captcha in exchange for some reward that it doesn't cost the spammer anything to provide- coins for a game, or more commonly, free looks at porn. Every time the captcha is solved their software uses it to post spam. We haven't been hit by any bots like this that I know of, but that's what they are protecting against by having them time out. The idea is that by timing out they foil the spammer unless the spammer does it really quickly.

The end of the problem is this- we know the software here is clunky, but what drives Google traffic here is our page ranking, which relies on how many times people have visited. If we switched to a different provider our urls would all change, which would drop our rankings. Even splitting the main pages from the forum would split our ranking score and knock us down in the Google searches. Migrating entirely to a different service would be a huge task (moving all the archived posts!) even before we took the Google ranking hits. Ideally, our hosts would update their software. They use something home grown instead of software from one of the more established forum software suites. For them, I think, paying to run forum software for one site that they host when they mostly provide basic websites just doesn't make economic sense.

There is no way to turn of the captcha. I've double checked. There is no way to turn off the spam filter. I've triple checked. The only security feature we have control over is how members join. We can set it so anyone can post (still having to solve a captcha), we can set it so anyone who applies is automatically approved, we can set it so we have to hand enter each new member, or we can set it (like we have) so that people apply and we hand approve each member. We have considered and experimented with automatic approval in the past, but it didn't go well, so, since it's something you only have to go through once we decided it was worth keeping.

I'm closing in on the 9000 post mark, which means I've solved close to 9000 captchas (well, maybe less, they didn't have them originally I don't think). They drive me nuts.

And we have to deal with other issues too. When they patched a back end security issue they broke the automatic password retrieval. That means anytime someone wants a password reset they have to email us and I have to manual reset it. That's been a year now. And they have a blacklist that blocks some people from being able to access the site at all. We've gotten the time it takes to get someone off that list down to a week from several months. It blocks just about everyone from Russia and China and large parts of Eastern Europe, but it sometimes randomly gets other people too. It has, at different times managed to block major contributors, and even Adam once, and the solution to that can be either switching to or from a dynamic/static IP address or even using a Tor browser to get around it.

If someone has a solution that addresses all these problems I'm all ears. We have been looking for a solution on this end, but we seem to be stuck. I'm not a web designer by trade. All I know is what I've picked up here and a little HTML I knew from back when I had my own MSN page.



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Nate
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First Post- May 8, 2009
mlefree
473 posts
Dec 09, 2015
8:23 AM
Nate, all I can say is that you are a Prince among men!

Incredibly gracious and patient even with us chronic malcontents. You haul a huge load on your back while folks like me poke you in the eye along the way.

We are not worthy...

Thanks,

Michelle

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SilverWing Leather - Custom leather creations for musicians and other eccentrics.

Last Edited by mlefree on Dec 09, 2015 8:49 AM
mlefree
474 posts
Dec 09, 2015
8:48 AM
OK, Nate, here's an actual constructive idea and a willingness to volunteer some sweat equity to further the process.

The Slidemeister chromatic harmonica forum runs on what appears to be a very powerful, flexible and free forum software environment. It's called "Simple Machines Forum."

Simple Machines Forum

They have a forum dedicated to converting from older forum environments as well as a list of conversion software providers that specialize in porting from existing forums to their environment.

Migrating from existing forums

SMF conversion resources

The Slidemeister forum owner uses a fine toothed comb in his hands-on management style. I mention that only to illustrate the power and flexibility of the SMF package. I'm sure that a more relaxed management style would be both less demanding and more user-friendly to owner and members alike.

Now the real surprise. I'm willing to help by donating some time and effort to help you and whomever make the conversion. I have little HTML coding experience but I made my living with computers for 40 years before I retired. Now I have little time to spare and a willingness to help Dirty South out of the fix it's in with the current weak and frustrating forum software environment.

So there!

Contact me off-list if you want to call my bluff. ;^)

Michelle

Disclaimer: I have no interest whatever in SMF other than my admittedly limited positive experience using Slidemeister (compared to many other forums I've belonged to) and my earnest desire to help avoid what I am convinced will only be a mounting problem with MacWebsiteBuider's "easy web page builder."

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SilverWing Leather - Custom leather creations for musicians and other eccentrics.
nacoran
8813 posts
Dec 09, 2015
10:17 AM
Thanks for the links. I'll do some more research and discuss it with Adam.

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Nate
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First Post- May 8, 2009
1847
2967 posts
Dec 09, 2015
2:09 PM
every post so far today has dissapeared
nacoran
8816 posts
Dec 09, 2015
9:48 PM
1847- you seem to get hit more often than anyone else- and I just now had an idea why that may be!

Lots of spammers sign up for accounts using names like Jane14, or Bob69. I wonder if maybe it's the numbers in your name?

Just a thought. I'll make an inquiry with support. Maybe they could pass it on to whoever it is they buy their spam filter from. If you'd like, we could have you reregister as:

eighteenfortysevenandyesI'mnotanewbIhavelikethreethousandposts

(Or maybe something simpler!) I will pass the theory on to support either way. How about any of the other number guys? 12gagedan, 2chops, 6SN7? A440?

You seem to be the only active member with just numbers in your name.

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Nate
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First Post- May 8, 2009
1847
2978 posts
Dec 11, 2015
8:08 AM
this is a joke
mr_so&so
980 posts
Dec 11, 2015
10:10 AM
Is 1847 is the only user here with ALL numbers for his user ID?
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mr_so&so
nacoran
8821 posts
Dec 11, 2015
11:19 AM
Mr so&so, the only one who posts regularly. I've submitted a ticket with support to have them look into it. On an average day I'd say 1/3 of the messages in the folder are his. :(

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Nate
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First Post- May 8, 2009
1847
2979 posts
Dec 11, 2015
11:41 AM
i bet there are 10 of them in there now

i know the secret handshake, doesn't tha make me a made member?
nacoran
8824 posts
Dec 12, 2015
1:38 PM
An update- They looked into the 1847 mystery and found that the 1847 string was marked as a potential warning for spam (not necessarily from our site, but somewhere on the network) and they've removed the marker, so hopefully that should fix it. Hopefully.

I'm going to keep on them about some sort of fix for the captcha too, but keep looking into other alternatives as well. Ideally, if the spam filter and the captcha issues were fixed we'd be doing okay. There are a couple other issues, but not nearly as problematic.

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Nate
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First Post- May 8, 2009
mlefree
477 posts
Dec 13, 2015
11:40 AM
Out of a sense of decorum, I am posting here instead of apologizing directly to Paul Oscher on his inaugural Dirty South post.

How exciting it is to see a great like Oscher joining us!

And how embarrassing it is to have to explain to a player of his stature how to do simple things like posting a video or a picture? I'm sure glad I wasn't the one to have to explain HTML coding to Paul Oscher. He obviously has much better things to do with his valuable time than learning HTML coding or trying to get past the dastardly Dirty South forum captcha code.

At least he stuck around long enough to ask questions about the hoops he must jump through here to do simple, ordinary things that other forums take for granted. But I wonder how long Paul will put up with this nonsense before he throws his hands up in frustration?

Michelle

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SilverWing Leather - Custom leather creations for musicians and other eccentrics.

Last Edited by mlefree on Dec 13, 2015 11:40 AM
1847
2989 posts
Dec 13, 2015
4:46 PM
so i post a picture and whamo...

can someone remind me why on earth, is there a spam prvention code? it is here only to keep members from posting.
AlexAdam
1 post
May 16, 2018
1:09 AM
Thanks because of this! I've been searching all more than the web for that details.
Website Development Experts
nacoran
9851 posts
May 16, 2018
12:06 PM
SPAM!!! On the captcha thread no less!

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Nate
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First Post- May 8, 2009
Jeremy M. Thompson
1 post
Jun 20, 2018
10:44 PM
I am the very model of a modern moron spammer
My post has been edited and can't play whammer jammer
And now I faced the wrath of the moderators hammer
My job as a troll totally lacks glamour

Last Edited by nacoran on Jun 21, 2018 4:51 PM
shakeylee
750 posts
Jun 21, 2018
12:03 AM
I think a captcha to sign in,instead of on each post,would be nice.
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www.shakeylee.com
nacoran
9880 posts
Jun 21, 2018
4:54 PM
Shakeylee, yeah, we've asked for that feature. Or maybe only requiring people to post 50 times before they don't need a captcha, or let admins turn it off for someone once we've decided they are actual members... the problem is that our hosts use their own forum software and it's really not a priority for them. Unfortunately, the fact that they use their own software means there isn't an easy way to migrate the forums back posts to a more up to date software.


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Nate
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First Post- May 8, 2009
dougharps
2154 posts
Jul 30, 2020
10:44 PM
Since we no longer use the old captcha system, what is up with this post? Is this spam???


EDIT: This post is irrelevant now since Nate got rid of the spam!!!!! The spam post resurrecting this thread had put a web address amidst text pasted from a post above.
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Doug S.

Last Edited by dougharps on Jul 31, 2020 10:38 AM
indigo
600 posts
Jul 30, 2020
10:49 PM
?!
SuperBee
6782 posts
Jul 31, 2020
2:18 AM
A lot of it is a cut and paste from one of Nacoran's posts from earlier in the thread.

Yes it's a spammer.
dougharps
2155 posts
Jul 31, 2020
6:17 AM
@SuperBee
I see the post from Nate you found.

They went to the trouble to find this old thread, copy and paste Nate's text, and embed the link address in it.

Could a bot do this or did it take a human?

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Doug S.

Last Edited by dougharps on Jul 31, 2020 6:19 AM
SuperBee
6783 posts
Jul 31, 2020
6:35 AM
I think it's gotta be a human. If a bot,they've worked out how to solve captcha!
Although, quite often it doesn't set me a puzzle beyond checking the box to assert "I'm not a robot"
SuperBee
6784 posts
Jul 31, 2020
6:37 AM
I just wonder"why bother? ".what's the benefit to anyone from attacking this site?
dougharps
2156 posts
Jul 31, 2020
7:27 AM
Possibly clicking on the address could install spyware for ID theft, install a virus, or allow future takeover of your computer to create a zombie computer for a botnet to use in a Denial of Service attack.

Given the the convoluted means used to infiltrate the forum by copying from an old post there can be no legitimacy to any website or product the link might seem to offer.

It is probably good that this older forum setup does not automatically activate an address as an active link. A reader has to think and can't accidentally click. On a small tablet or phone someone might touch an active link and have to deal with whatever consequences.
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Doug S.

Last Edited by dougharps on Jul 31, 2020 7:34 AM
nacoran
10285 posts
Jul 31, 2020
10:12 AM
No idea how they got through approval with a username like that. I must have been asleep at the wheel.

Our forum doesn't have the functionality a lot of sites do where when you are quoted it notifies you. I'd think they'd avoid doing that though. Imagine if we did have that feature and out of all the people they quoted they picked an admin.

Oh well. They have been terminated with prejudice and I have snuck into their break room and licked all their spoons.

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Nate
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First Post- May 8, 2009


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