Problematic anti-spam tactic?

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jdmore

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Dec 13, 2018, 2:07:40 AM12/13/18
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This evening I noticed the following message on the profile page of a user that I follow:

"In an effort to keep spam off of iNaturalist.org, user profiles are only publicly visible after a user has contributed several Research Grade observations."

This person happens to be a taxon expert who has contributed over 4000 valuable IDs to iNaturalist, but doesn't happen to upload observations himself.

Besides being a potential turn-off to this expert, it may prevent recipients of his IDs from accessing valuable information about his qualifications and experience.

That said, I was still able to see his profile, so maybe by "publicly" you mean visitors who are not logged in to the site?  If so, I guess that adequately addresses my concerns.

I understand the idea behind this, and know that we have to do something to curb all the spammers.  But if the intent is to hide profiles from logged-in users also, can I suggest that another qualification for public profile display be contribution above a certain number of leading research grade IDs?  Or something along those lines?

Thanks,

--Jim Morefield

jdmore

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Dec 13, 2018, 2:11:58 AM12/13/18
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Partially answering my own question, I tried opening the profile in question in another browser where I was not logged in, and indeed the profile was hidden.

I am still concerned though, that if users like this were to see this message on their own profile pages, they might feel unduly pressured or ostracized for not contributing observations instead of just IDs.

Charlie Hohn

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Dec 13, 2018, 9:35:50 AM12/13/18
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I saw this on an account i manage that hasn't posted anything research grade, too. After the whole thing about 'casual' data being removed from the range maps i at first thought I was banned! 

I know the plan is to adjust the wording, that would probably be a good idea.  Maybe also activate profiles after a given number of IDs or something.


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Charlie Hohn
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jdmore

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Dec 14, 2018, 4:12:35 AM12/14/18
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And maybe also allow Curators to "Flag as Not a Spammer" any account, so that legit accounts without observations can be exempted from the restriction?

--Jim Morefield

Chris Cheatle

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Dec 14, 2018, 8:38:10 AM12/14/18
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Curators have that ability, it's more a question of us knowing it is needed.

ellen hildebrandt

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Dec 14, 2018, 11:03:39 AM12/14/18
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Chiming in: I had the experience as jdmore.
I was just looking for expert identifiers to tag in on an observation, and in this way discovered that some of our top identifiers (who do not otherwise post observations) have been made undiscoverable! This goes for curators too!
Given that identification is the great logjam on this database, i suggest that the policy be amended to create exceptions for persons who contribute to either the identification or the curation effort.

ellen hildebrandt

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Dec 14, 2018, 11:07:41 AM12/14/18
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Here is my second concern. The spam-posters will surely realize the work-around, which is to post 3 photos of easily identified whatevers. And Bob's your Uncle. So this policy may end up flooding the system with pointless ID work.


On Thursday, December 13, 2018 at 1:07:40 AM UTC-6, jdmore wrote:

bouteloua

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Dec 14, 2018, 11:38:30 AM12/14/18
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Chris, pretty sure curators can only "flag as non-spammer" if there is spam associated with the account.

cassi

Chris Cheatle

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Dec 14, 2018, 12:16:51 PM12/14/18
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Untitled.jpg

Cassi, not sure that is the case, if you go into any of the flags the automated spam filter has done, and open the account, even if it has no content at all, the option to flag as non-spammer is there. It does not appear to require there to be any content.

cassi saari

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Dec 14, 2018, 12:22:32 PM12/14/18
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That user has a spam flag associated with the account.

cassi


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Chris Cheatle

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Dec 14, 2018, 12:53:33 PM12/14/18
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I think the problem is we (including the message on these accounts) are not all using the same terminology to mean the same thing. I don't think new accounts are flagged as spammers, hence there is no way for curators to unflag them. If accounts like this were flagged as spammers, they would not be able to keep contributing ID's.

jdmore

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Dec 14, 2018, 11:54:00 PM12/14/18
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Yes, it *did* seem to be the case yesterday that only a user with an existing spam flag could be flagged as a non-spammer.

But, as of this evening, I was able to flag as a non-spammer the same account I was looking at yesterday, and the new message about contributing observations disappeared from that account.  The flag as non-spam option had not been available on that account yesterday, presumably because they had not previously been flagged independently as a spammer.

So, it looks like the curatorial functionality I was hoping for is now in place, unless I was just missing something yesterday...

--Jim Morefield

Tony Iwane

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Dec 15, 2018, 12:05:21 AM12/15/18
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I have been able to flag accounts as non-spammers with my test curator account.

Basically, a new account that does not trip our automated spam filter is not flagged as a spammer or not-spammer, it's in a nebulous state. Once the account makes 3 RG observations, it should be automatically flagged as a non-spammer. A curator should also be able to flag a nebulous account as a non-spammer. I just created this account and, when I opened up the admin tools while signed-in with a separate curator test account, was able to flag as spammer or non-spammer:


Are you able to see both options when you go to it? Please don't actually select one of the options, just open the menu, so others can test it out too.

Tony Iwane

Tony Iwane

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Dec 15, 2018, 12:07:10 AM12/15/18
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Ellen, I suppose that might be possible, but most spam is done by automated software and I doubt it would be worth it to the spammers to program software that would make three RG observations on iNat - that seems like a lot of work with little reward.

Tony Iwane

Charlie Hohn

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Dec 15, 2018, 8:50:07 AM12/15/18
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imagine if we require them to make like 100 and then we will have bots running around generating biodiversity data. We can block them when the real spam comes :)

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