Forums temporarily restricted (Update, Sunday, 3 April)


Posting rules: It shouldn't need saying, but... play nice. Please keep your discussions civil. You can disagree, just don't be disagreeable. And, of course, all of the usual stuff like no spamming. Tex adds: I'll be rigorously enforcing this as we go along. We're probably going to be a small community in a little lifeboat, so we can't have members at each others' throats. This is for the sake of the project as a whole. So when you post, pretend you're speaking in person with your very wealthy auntie who has always treated you wonderfully and currently lists you prominently in her will. I won't be tossing anyone out of the forums because we are all in this together (except spammers: immediate membership cancelation), but I'll delete suspect posts right away.


I'm continuing to tinker with keeping spammers from posting links. One did get through for a couple of hours before I caught him, so I tightened the screws a bit more.

The result was a draw. We caught one more spammer, but one of our long-time members was temporarily blocked for having posted a link. I think I've fixed that now. But if you get caught in one of my traps, drop an email to info at lightzoneproject.org and we'll straighten it back out.

More info, and background, at the "Read more" link...

26 March: As tex noted, we've been heavy attack by spammers, with literally hundreds of spam accounts and over a thousand spam postings having been created.

For the moment, I've restricted the ability to post new topics and comments on the forums, and I'm wiping out a huge number of new user accounts. (More about the accounts at the "Read more" link.)

If you haven't already verified your email, you may need to reregister. Some of you who have registered may find your account deleted because it looked like it might be a spammer. I apologize if you got caught up in the wide net I'm throwing. Since most of the spam we got came from Indonesian, Russian, Indian, and Bangladeshi IP addresses, I'm going to be looking especially hard at accounts created from those countries.

March 28: Doug has been at work on this behind the scenes, and attempted to ease the restrictions, but we were immediately attacked again.  We are trying to think of a way to work this out.  Unfortunately, this problem has caught both of us at extremely inconvenient times with respect to our work schedules.  We will of course keep you posted on any progress.

The restrictions apply only to posting forum comments at this time, not the downloading of the software.  We will try to un-restrict legitimate user accounts, but that is time consuming and difficult, and even less easy for Doug and myself right now.  Thank you for your patience.

Update, 28 March: The spam attack seems to have abated for now. I've also put into place some changes that will make our forums far less attractive to spammers. All members will be able to post, but posts by new members won't be able to contain links. Also, all links from the forums are marked "rel=nofollow" so that Google and other search engines will ignore them, making the links mostly useless to spammers.

Update, 2 April: I've been reworking the forum submission pages to restrict some of the features. What I've done is given new members just some simple formatting with no links, and given proven members a few additional features including links. As Jacal noted, along the way the spell-checker got dropped, so I've put it back in although it's defaulted off (I think it was defaulted on before). If there are other features that got dropped that you'd like back, let me know.

I've also added some checks at the time the posting is made to try to catch the current batch of spammers. Since one spammer did get through and put in an unlinked URL, I've included a restriction against URLs whether linked or not. I forgot to make that restriction only apply to new members, which caused a long-time member to get trapped. Oops. I've fixed that -- I hope -- but do let us know if things are still going wrong. You can email us at info at lightzoneproject.org, or, if you're still able to post a comment, you can leave a comment here.

FYI, for now a "proven member" is anyone who registered before the beginning of 2016, or anyone who's made a substantial forum posting this year. And by "substantial," I mean something other than, "Test," "Hello," "OK," "Great site," "That's good information," or other things that spammers often post just to see if their posts go through. Spammers don't know anything about the site itself other than it's got good Google rank and they can post to it -- they wouldn't know LightZone from pizza. So any sign that the posting is relevant is good enough for me.

I'm still working on cleaning up the Google indexes. They've now got hundreds of spam pages on record for lightzoneproject.org. Those pages will eventually expire from their index, but I'm trying to hasten that process along by reporting the pages as being gone. It's a laborious process, taking me almost a minute for each page, some of which is spent waiting for Google to verify that the page is indeed gone.

I apologize for the spams that got through, and I apologize for any inconvenience caused by our spam-fighting. Spam is an on-going problem for all forums of any size. Earlier this year, the Digital Photography School site shut down its forums and took them permanently offline because they couldn't stop the spammers. So far we're doing better than they did, and tex and I are determined to keep our forums open and spam-free.

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