Meta September 1, 2020

Indie Hackers needs better spam filtering

Paolo Amoroso @PaoloAmoroso

I don't have much to add to the subject. I'm seeing an uptick in spam.


To clarify, by spam I mean the same stuff you'd consider spam if it came in your email inbox. I don't mean indie hackers mentioning or linking their work in posts or comments on the platform.

An example of the spam I mean is a user who joins Indie Hackers, doesn't fill their profile, and almost immediately drops into one or more consecutive posts just a bare link to a commercial product or service you wouldn't typically associate with indie hackers.

  1. 8

    I think a simple wait period like Stack Overflow's would help immensely. Say when you first sign up, you can only comment on existing posts. Then when you get 10 upvotes you can create posts.

    Encourages people to get involved in the community as opposed to only self promote.

    1. 2

      10 upvotes sounds too high for IH standards. Some front page posts have no more than 10 upvotes.

      1. 4

        I think the OP means 10 upvotes over the lifetime of a user, not votes earned on a single post.

        Getting 10 upvotes should be no issue if you are genuinely adding value to the community. I would support such a barrier.

      2. 1

        Specifically I'm referring to comments. Getting 10 upvotes total across all the comments you've made so far. I don't think 10 is high but we could have it at 5 or whatever the admins think is best.

    2. 2

      I think this could really help. I see that as communities grow they tend to get more "corrupt", meaning they tend to have more people which only intention is self-promotion. A systematic way to avoid that would be great.

  2. 5

    It's a never ending battle and I'm personally constantly removing things.

    We also put things/code in place, then people or bots find their way through in another way.

    Best thing to do is to report it on each post, or let me know.

    1. 2

      Thanks, I also report all the spam I see.

    2. 1

      @rosiesherry I know you're aware of it but there has been an uptick in spam, which I already reported.

    3. 1

      yup, this is what i do.

    4. 1

      Do you manually remove those kind of posts? Do you have a blacklist?

      1. 1

        Combination of some tools that automatically detect and ban spammers based on various signals (e.g. people reporting things as spam), @rosiesherry manually removing posts, and a blacklist that I don't update often enough. But overall, yes, when we take certain measures, spammers work to figure them out and circumvent them.

        1. 1

          Just some suggestions about possible ways to fight spam:

          1. A combination of signals rather than one signal alone. For example, a post with relatively low character count that contains at least one link and has received downvotes/spam reports. This is also on the assumption that most spam posts are low quality in nature (in terms of characters/word count/link ratio). Figuring out the ideal character count/link-to-character ratio could be based on average data gathered from past spam posts too.

          2. Empowering a few or several more active/senior IH members in the community to take on the role of policemen which would lessen the workload of @rosiesherry in removing reported posts (since I think there’s always a need for some human judgement in assessing whether or not a post is really spam, and having one person to manage all of that would be tough). Bonus would be if they live/work in different timezones

          3. Some form of gamification in hunting spam - an aesthetic incentive could be a Spam Hunter badge while a more practical incentive could be an increase in point(s) if a reported post is taken down for spam

          Through these ways, I think the community could also be enabled to play a more active role in shaping healthy and useful discussions on IH, and hopefully this leads to a sustainable virtuous cycle as well.

  3. 3

    Well I have.

    Kids are trying weird stuff.

    Registration process requires some improvements and I hope it will lessen the spam.

    And as a quick and dirty solution idea, news feed results could be filtered by user id. It may decrease the incentive to spam.

  4. 2

    I've tried hard to push back against spam, dishonest marketing and other potentially extractive use of IH since very early in its existence. It's exhausting and not always appreciated.

    I'm 99.9% sure I've identified substantial bad behavior that never got punished, but I've probably identified some false positives, too. The definition of each of the above problems is fuzzy and not everyone draws the line in the same place.

    One guideline that I think could have helped a great deal from the beginning is that some self-promotion is okay but people shouldn't be using IH primarily to promote their offerings.

    Reddit has tools that make it very easy to see who is primarily using it to converse and share vs who is only linking to and discussing their own ventures. Many subs look for a roughly 10 to 1 ratio of normal usage to self-promotion and they're better for it.

  5. 1

    What is your definition of spam? As we all put some effort in our projects, I think its ok to link to your work sometimes.

      1. 2

        I noticed this also, but it was only 3 or 4 at the time. This is obviously spam intentional or not.

      2. 2

        Kind of what Reddit does, but sometimes it somewhat annoying since it does throw lots of false positives when there's no spam.

    1. 1

      I mean the same stuff you'd consider spam it if came in your email inbox. I've edited the post to clarify.

  6. 1

    Totally agree and this will only worsen overtime.

  7. 1

    Asynchronous forums leads to people not being accountable for their posts. I believe

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