Auto-Closing of topics?

Hi Bill.

All your Q. have been asked and answered at least once and probably more in this thread.
So I doubt it needs to be answered yet again.

Not really. and I read the entire thread - multiple times.

Most of the thread is a discussion between non admins.
There were various suggestions but nothing concrete from an admin on the original reasoning for the actual need of a time based close and now the continued reasoning.

And also the reasoning as to why it was/is needing to be so short and more importantly why the times are nonsensical like making the revival time longer than the close time.

And why should any one category like the Exhibition Gallery be treated differently than the others.

Why not use as many other mitigating capabilities to try to reduce needless posts rather than such a blunt simplistic approach?
Use capabilities that do not require direct human interaction/intervention.

The time based automatic closings is like using a steak Knife instead of a scalpel to perform surgery, yeah maybe it can work but it isn't the right tool and the results are definitely not pretty and may require re-addressing in the future.

--- bill

We shall agree to disagree :face_with_raised_eyebrow:

Know for a fact I made the case and at least one other poster provided another link to the SMF work list.

Certainly not wasting any more time explaining over and over. :astonished:

I think what you really meant to say is that YOU disagree.

There is no agreement here.
Clearly you have made up your mind on how things should work around auto closing threads and seem fairly closed to some of the alternatives being offered.

I do not agree because I know for a fact that most of the questions I asked were not answered/addressed in this thread.
And I'll also take a guess that there are others like @cndg , @Willie , @instarep , @YvesQuemener , @6v6gt might also say some of their questions, suggestions, and alternatives, have been ignored as well.

In fact there was never even any explanation as to why just turning on the revive option/warning instead of closing the thread isn't good enough.

Yeah there was mention of people ignoring, but that can't be the majority of cases.

Doesn't that solve most of the problems by nudging people into starting a new thread while at the same time letting them add to the existing old thread if they really REALLY feel they need to?
If the warning in the revive message is clear and strong enough, it seems like this would be quite effective and keep it automated to reduce the load on moderators.

The problem with a manual re-open is it takes time and is cumbersome not only for the users but for the admins/moderators as well.
So you really can't say that just because the number of requests to re-open threads is low, that people are not actually wanting to post in the closed threads (even with good useful new information). As it is today, I'm guessing that many if not most users will not know how to or even that is possible to re-open a closed thread, or may just give up since it is too much trouble.

In reading this thread, it just appears to me that many of the folks that do have some influence over how things can be done, seemed to have pretty much made up their minds that auto close is THE way to go and will be done while using the auto revive capability with its warning instead will not be considered.

This is just one of several "gotchyas" on this site that contribute to make it one of the least pleasant forum type sites I use - and I actively use many dozens of sites.

--- bill

Certainly NOT against a VALID alternative that ticks as many boxes as it can.
That's why I suggested what I did.
It is not even as if it is a brand new thing.

You have not given me much for an alternative.
How do you stop the "mee too" posts that would very often have to be split off into a new thread ?

How do you stop spammers who get through and tag older posts ?

Have you any idea how much work that used to cause ?

Well here I am doing the broken record thing again.
The AUTO LOCK has proved itself to be a very useful feature from a moderators perspective.
I certainly don't consider flagging an old post to be re-opened as cumbersome.
Even less so given its sparse usage and the ability to spawn a post from a locked one if you want.

Hi Bill,
I agree with Bob, the auto close, while crude, does a good job. There was a problem with spammers adding spam to the end of old topics and there was a problem with 'me too' posts by newbies adding to old posts. You might think it's wrong or unfair or whatever for us to use such a crude tool to prevent this but please remember mods are also unpaid volunteers so anything that generates an inordinate amount of unnecessary work needs to be stopped. Any anti-spam or anti-(fill in here what you want) method will have a downside and I guess you are seeing the downside while we see the up-side. What you are asking for is that we do more unnecessary work. I get the complaint about auto-closing but it's better than the alternative.

Just out of curiosity, how much moderator effort does it actually take to deal with a spam post ?

For example, let's say a user flags a post containing a link to site selling v-i-a-g-r-a (or some other clear case of spam)

So I imagine the moderator activities go something like this:

  1. Confirm that the complaint is valid.
  2. disable the spammer's account.
  3. delete the offending spam post.
  4. check the user posting history for other possible cases and delete those.

I guess that could all be done with a few mouse clicks and in less time than it takes to respond to a valid technical problem raised by a new user such as "my NRF24L01 transceiver module doesn't work".

Of course, I could be underestimating all this.

Everything you said is accurate. A straightforward spam takes on the order of tens of seconds to deal with. There are some cases where the spammer is more sophisticated and some extra effort is required, but most of them are not at all sophisticated.

@PerryBebbington
No I'm not asking for admins to do more work - to the contrary.
What I'm asking for is that admins spend a little bit time to see if there is way come up with something more sophisticated that can reduce their work load even more. A win win for everyone.

From my vantage point, it almost looks like an XY problem in that a solution was presumed and there is seems to be little interest in digging down for other automated solutions that are not as intrusive that actually makes things better for everyone, admins and users alike.

I have no idea what this new s/w can really do - maybe it is just too wimpy to do much, but it seem that there should be a better way to handle the issues than a brute force time based thread close that then requires manual intervention to re-open.

For example, if SPAM is an issue, which probably comes from fake/temporary accounts, then it seems like other mitigations could & should be done if possible.

  • making it more complex to register for an account.
    -- use captcha
    -- mandate email or even phone number verification to create an account.
    This way people can't easily be totally anonymous and you don't necessarily have to require these for logins, just for account creation.
  • restrict the auto-revive of old threads to users with a certain number of posts
  • restrict the auto-revive of old threads to users that have been registered for a certain time period

Or maybe let the OP decide if the thread is non-expiring when it is created with the default being it expires/closes after a period of time.
Or maybe all threads are non expiring but then close when the OP says that he has resolved his issue. i.e. the OP is in charge of the closing of the thread.

In other words, I'm all about trying to make things easier for everyone.
But often in life to make things easier you have to spend a bit of time up front to set things up.
From my limited vantage point, it does not appear that all other options capabilities have been examined to come up with something better.

And I think what has frustrated some of the users in this thread that have made such suggestions is that there hasn't be any definitive answer as to where some or any of these types of alternatives could be done. The answer just seems to be coming back that time based closing of threads is the answer.
So this comes off as being very closed minded and not open to even considering alternatives that may be able offer a better experience to both admins and users.

--- bill

Hi Bill,
The 120 day ban was introduced on the old forum, the spam detection tools, such as I remember them, were not very good there. Most of the spam I see here is detected automatically by the spam detection software, and it seems to do a pretty good job as far as I can tell. Not many spam reports I see come from members, mostly they come from the software. So, with this in mind maybe removing the post ban might be OK, but I would want the other mods to agree to it, not just take my word, especially as I am the most recent person to become a mod, so have the least experience of these things.

The other problem for us is we can only use the tools the forum has, you can make whatever case you like for a tool to do this or do that but if Discourse does not support it, or Discourse does support it but Arduino have not bought it, then you are wearing out the keys on your keyboard for nothing because it's not going to happen, sadly.

Pretty much correct in simple cases.

I look for other posts by the spammer and see if there is spam in them. Often you see posts like:

This is great work, keep it up!

Not spam as such, but you can be sure there will be at some point because they go back and edit it to put the spam in. I tend to remove posts like that as mostly they are pointless, even if they are not intended as homes for spam. If someone I have identified as a spammer has placed posts like that then I remove them all. Thankfully this does not happen often, but it happens. This takes quite a bit of time.

Wow!! LOL! :smiley: A flurry of activity on this topic... and ironically, I'm the OP for this particular one! (My e-mail box had dozens of replies over just the last few days, and yes, I read them ALL!) :slight_smile:

Filtering down the signal to noise ratio, I did see one proposal that I genuinely consider is worth a try, and I think is a good compromise: Set the Auto-Close to 6 months. Since it is definitely obvious that the Auto-Close WILL NOT be deactivated, it's no use arguing further about that. Do I like it? Nope. But, like many things in life... "It is what it is. Accept it and go on." So, count my little vote as IN FAVOR for the 6 month limit. :slight_smile:

I genuinely appreciate all of the work that goes into moderating a Forum as large as this, and I sincerely thank EVERY SINGLE PERSON who has taken on the responsibility of moderating! :slight_smile: Carry on!! :slight_smile:

2 Likes

I'd already anticipated that a search would be made through the spammer's posting history to see if there was anything else to clean up.

If a spammer does retrospectively add some spam links etc. like your example of a placeholder post

Does it escape the same automatic flagging/treatment that is applied to completely new posts? Incidentally, keep it up! does indeed look suspiciously like it could be intended as placeholder for v-i-a-g-r-a or similar merchandise !

If you go back and edit a post it does not show up as a new post or anything like that, so that is one way to sneak spam in.

Well, obviously I would not know... :blush:

Edits sneak under the radar in almost all forums.
It has also been known for some of the slightly brighter spammers to copy a Q. from either the forum or elsewhere so as to get past the initial measure's.
We have even seen punctuation characters used (after the fact) as a link to external sites.

There is often much more to do unless the system spots it first time.
Straight forward spam as Pert says takes seconds to deal with.
The more convoluted methods take more time.

Then there are those who have a small post history but decide to keep plugging something by way of a link. This could simply be thier own library on github. However splattering nearly every post with that link still constitutes spam.

I could go on, and the other mods could also recount tales of tracking spammers but lets not doubt for a moment that ALL spam is easy to see or only takes seconds to clean up.

Even more time consuming are the "mee too" so lets not forget those. On the old SMF they could be a royal pain as many things had to be done in a set order especially any MERGE option.
Thankfully the new system is a lot better in that regards.
Some of the "mee too" often used to tag themselves into multiple posts so there were deletes, moves, merges. Again those types of action can require much more time and on occasions multiple tabs open to chase and rectify.

Have seen where a user was temporarily suspended just so the clean up could be completed.

Again the new forum and the use of the auto lock makes life a lot easier and safer for moderators. Many fewer visits to external links that were themselves a risk we take for the users of the forum, and the peace and stability of the users.

4 Likes

Is there any further news on this ?
I can't tell how expiring posts are now handled, because I have no specific examples to check, but I was also expecting that the currently expired posts would also be unlocked en masse as part of the process. The posts in the Exhibition Gallery, with relevant dates in May 2021, still appear to be locked. Must a script now be run to tidy it all up ?

Thanks @6v6gt. The approved changes are done:

  • Auto close is disabled in the "Exhibition/Gallery" category
  • Auto-close configuration is changed to 6 months after the last post to the topic in all other categories

I don't believe this has been discussed or approved yet. I'm happy to do the work to reopen the topic if that's what should be done.

OK. It is a good start. However, the rules for the exhibition gallery should clearly apply retrospectively, not just since the (arbitrarily defined) change date. Exactly the same arguments apply to a post created there 120 days prior to the 20th of September 2021 or later as it does to earlier posts. That would return the status quo as at around October 2020 when no posts were hard locked. I suppose I could have pointed it out earlier had I understood that it was not generally clear and further understood that this was not an automatic part of the configuration change. However, Iā€™m sure that you can interpret the agreement to the original request as a mandate to complete the implementation of it. One thing I fully agree with, however, is the caution expressed in making changes which have a significant impact on the forum and seeking the widest possible consensus before proceeding to implementation.

It will be more efficient to discuss it here rather than in that other topic.

As you noticed, the new 6 month setting is being applied to new topics, but apparently each topic is configured according to the setting at the time it was created, and thus the change to 6 months is not retroactive.

That may cause a reaction when it becomes apparent. In the meantime I have deleted my comment in the other topic