Careful with that UGC, PCWorld!

I was reading PC World article when I saw the “active” forum topics:

My thoughts were:

  • Their forum must be really low volume if these spammings managed to get to the top
  • UGC (User Generated Content) can easily put your website in a “bad light”, so you should be careful when using it.

Some ideas on how this could have been prevented:

  • Provide an easy way for other users to flag messages as spam
  • Only advertise on the first page topics which have at least one response and wasn’t flagged as potential spam.
  • Use a list of keywords and quarantine posts which contain the given keywords: only show them to the IP address which originally posted it. Of course, such postings should be reviewed and innocent topics be removed from the quarantine status.

This last method leaves the spammer with the impression that the posting was successful. Directly blocking it would just create an arms-race. (This idea is not originally mine and it has been floating around on the intertubes for some time. It is surprising that so few community software packages implement it…)

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