Recently the moderation staff have noticed that many of our users mistake spambots for actual users, and as a result we decided that a thread detailing how to identify a spambot would be useful.
What is a spambot?
A spambot is generally referred to as an account created on the forums by an automated program simply to advertise. Not all spammers are automated, but we lump all accounts that register solely to advertise under the "spambot" label, even if there is a real person doing the spamming.
The objective of spambots is almost always some sort of advertising. They may attempt to blend into a topic with a seemingly innoccuous link; the goal is to get users to visit the link (generating ad revenue) and possibly eventually buy the product advertised. On the rare occasion spambots will link to dangerous sites with various exploits. In order to be safe, one should never click a link from a spambot.
What do spambots do?
Spambots will do the following things:
- Make posts
- Set up a link in a signature
- Start a blog
- Send private messages (rarely)
- Put links on their profile.
Occasionally, some badly-designed spambots will even send in a report with their links rather than actually posting!
How to Identify a spambot?
In 99% of spambot cases, they are using a newly registered account. That should be the first thing you look for - an account that has joined the boards within a few days of the post.
Strange language: A huge majority of spambots are designed and run by people whose first language is not english. Thus a post that doesn't appear to make sense or uses mostly broken english, or even another language entirely (Russian is popular with spambots) is a good indicator.
Lastly, and most importantly: A link. In almost all cases, the goal of the spambot is to get you to buy something - so seeing a link somewhere in the spambot's content (blog, message, signature, post, etc) is the best way to verify that they are in fact a spambot.
Certain spambot patterns are also prevalent.
For example, any new user with account information that looks like the image below is a spambot (in particular the number "143040" somewhere in the profile information), and can be reported as such even if they haven't posted anything.
Here are some other samples of typical spambot posts(links removed):
What can regular users do?
As a team, we try to stay on top of spambots as best we can. We generally have a pretty good success rate with catching spambots minutes after they post. However, we cannot read through everything - so this is where you, the normal user, can be of greatest assistance. That's right, you guessed it - the report feature! You can report a spambot from their profile, or an individual post, or a private message, or even a blog entry! Even if you aren't sure that the user in question is a spambot, submitting a report will bring them to our attention so we can evaluate the situation and decide on some action!
I've left this thread open, so if you have any questions you can reply and a moderator or administrator will do their best to answer ASAP. However, please do not reference any specific user here (keep that to the report system), as our naming names rules still apply.