← Four Island 3

"delete plz"

When I logged into Four Island late yesterday, just to check on things before going to bed, I was greeted by my lovely Wordpress dashboard. At least my website doesn't think it's ubiquitous anymore, eh? Nothing really seemed out of the ordinary---Google Analytics looked like it hadn't even changed---but I was interested in the list of links under "Incoming Links." I mean, most of them looked fairly shady. I decided to click on the one from someone called Amy Starlight Lawrence, since a) it wasn't blatantly obviously spam or b) me leaving a link to my site in a comment on another site. It led to a legitimate-appearing news article, which was interesting but didn't contain a single link to Four Island. Okay. I decided to check out the comments and a moment later emerged, coughing, from a sea of poisoned spam. The spam on that article was atrocious. What really disturbed me, however, was this:

What exactly is a Four Island domain doing in a link in a spam comment? What, I ask you, WHAT? I clicked the link, however, and things started to make sense.

The Nest

thenest.fourisland.com is a Four Island subdomain that most of you probably haven't heard of, and that's because the project it represents really never took off. For another thing, it wasn't really my project: TimTam had an idea and asked me if I could host it, because I happen to really enjoy hosting things for some reason :P. Believe it or not, it's also incredibly old: it was September 28th, 2009 when the following Google Talk conversation happened:

TimTam: i had an idea that we should have a forum TimTam: just as normal TimTam: but everyone has to act as a made up person TimTam: i would soooo be TheDarkOne Starla: :) Starla: Like Fourm RP? TimTam: yes TimTam: except that you are jus one user TimTam: rather than lots TimTam: it would have to be a full forum though TimTam: rather than just one topic TimTam: as in, a new board TimTam: i would be so happy
We developed the idea a bit, and I put up a new phpBB3 installation at thenest.fourisland.com. We then promptly completely forgot about the project until December, and then a little bit of work was done in January, and then The Nest pretty much officially died. What a valiant life it led.


Four Island has had a long-standing problem with spam. I've frequently been forced to completely disable user registration on The Fourm because of spam registrations. I decided to open registration back up around January of this year, and was buffeted by the influx of Fourm spammers. I found, around the same time, the website Stop Forum Spam, which is basically a database of usernames, email addresses and IP addresses of spammers. I joined and decided that I would use my situation for The Good Of Mankind. I developed a daily routine in which I'd, at lunch, go through the 30 or so emails I'd received in the last day from no-reply@fourisland.com and check the new user's details in the Stop Forum Spam database. If the email address matched at least once, or if the IP addresses matched a large number of times, I'd submit the spammer to the database (strengthening the evidence against that spammer) and then delete them from The Fourm. I actually think it was kind of awesome how skillful I became at doing this quickly, using keyboard shortcuts and muscle memory; so impressed was I that it took me at least two months to realize that writing a Ruby script to do the entire thing for me would be incredibly easier and wouldn't take nearly as long. So, I did. Eventually, after 3330 spammers, I got tired of this, and just disabled Forum registrations again.

Now, mid-February, TimTam suddenly brings The Nest back up. Why? Oh, you know, it's just covered in spam. Still in my Stop Forum Spam frenzy, I got all excited and decided that I would also prune The Nest of spammers daily, and since user verification wasn't required on The Nest and spammers just started spamming as soon as they registered, I didn't have to check the spammers against the database and could simply submit them as spammers. I could even use the contents of their posts in the "Evidence" field on the submission form. Anyway, like I said before, I eventually stopped spam pruning and eventually completely forgot about The Nest again. Until today.

Go to The Nest now. I dare you. Go to it, look at the topics, but don't click any links in any post. In my spam pruning absence, the Nest flourished with spammers. There are 57336 posts on that Forum and approximately 78.30 posts are posted every day. It's complete and utter mayhem, what with there being over 5000 users and a registration rate of ~7.46 new users a day.

I find this fascinating.

It's like my own little AI simulation, like that XKCD I once actually tried to emulate before getting laughed at on some random IRC chatroom when I asked them for viruses. Every one of those 5000+ spammers on The Nest is an automated program. Sure, they're all incredibly stupid programs, most of which can't form actual English sentences (or phrases), but they all try to some degree. Every one of them had to input some information about themselves when they registered: their birthdate, their location, their occupation and interests; it's just so interesting. Look at the bottom of the forum index: look how many spambots' birthdays it is today! How cute! The interaction between the spambots is what most interests me, though. We have our really active members, like sesiaMopejelp who rules the site with 5434 post and seems to really only want to help us get that free Viagra, and our incredibly inactive members. It just warms my heart to see spammers replying to other spammers' spam. Some cute stuff findable on The Nest of Spam:

  • old man group sex, a topic in which poor ol' Optiomiut posts over and over again, hoping that someone will read his topic and find his elderly pornography. Seriously, the topic is 160 pages long and as far as I can tell, all 1500+ of those posts are his. Double post, anyone?
  • Free sim cards - The Normal Sim Card Provides. Wow, is that English? Not very good English, but it's definitely readable. Good on ya' sara356. Too bad arrodortecy just wants to talk about his porn. Sigh, it's okay sara, just go back to your job as an "CalndrOprator,ArtfcalLathr."
  • This dude, Plomeshes, has never even posted, but his website is an IGN article about lift chairs. Really. What.
  • Hello very cool site!!! - innottmag is understandably very excited about his first day of spamming.
  • Если разрешение 800х600 вас убивает, то можете скачать патч - The amount of Russian spam on this site is very amusing, though if I were at the level at which I could actually read the spam, I'd probably be less amused.
  • cerita ngentot menantu - Awww, it seems like grerfergy doesn't have any confidence in his spamming. "delete plz" is right. Oh, don't worry though, Optiomiut's got his back.
  • The Adjustments Bureau - What the eff, is that Lord of the Flies in there?[1. Have I mentioned my screenplay about how much I hate Lord of the Flies? :P]
It just goes on and on and on and on ad infinitum. As fascinating as this computer to computer interaction is, it's probably not very good for Four Island. First off, I can't start getting linked to by other spammers like in that Amy article waaaay back at the beginning of this post. I might get marked as a spam site on Google and Lord knows that wouldn't be good for my traffic. Second of all, the MySQL database for The Nest is over 360MB. That's several times larger than even Four Island (the blog, the Fourm and the Quotes DB combined) is. The database is so big that if you try to search for anything using the search form (that is supposing that you can manage to come up with terms that aren't deemed "common" by the forum software), you get a long error message saying that the table crashed. Something has to be done.
Time to end this. As of now, I've disabled posting (by setting the flood limit time to a very high number) and disabled new user registration. What else I should do is up to TimTam, since it's technically his site. I also don't really want to delete the entire thing because then the links in this post would be broken. So, at least for a little bit longer, The Nest is in limbo. TimTam, it's your call. What should be done about the failed RP-project that hilariously ended up turning into a vibrant spam farm?

Hatkirby on September 30th, 2011 at 6:24:35pm
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