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posted by janrinok on Sunday July 03 2022, @03:30PM   Printer-friendly
from the lets-see-what-happens-here dept.

I realise that this has been an unpleasant time for many of our anonymous community members, but I can assure you that it has been necessary. I am not yet prepared to go into details but I can at least update you with our findings so far. But first we have to look at some historical data.

Anonymous Cowards (ACs) have always been - and will hopefully continue to be - welcome members of our community. There are many perfectly understandable reasons for wishing to post as AC and how you chose to live your own personal life is of no concern of this site. Equally, you are welcome to use VPNs and other security measures to protect your privacy. We take similar measures to protect all of your data so that you will not be compromised by us. These measures are effective and to the SN administration ACs appear as a single user with the user identity of #1.

We cannot treat some ACs differently from others. While we can manage to sort out your comments etc with the aid of the hashes that we produce, they change so frequently as to be useless for any purpose outside of this site. But the Administration is only concerned with what happens within this site and so this point is moot. We have no interest in the rest of the internet so IP addresses are also of no interest to us. How your comments get from wherever you are to us is irrelevant. The bottom line is that ACs can only be treated as a single account. That account is granted certain permissions or not granted those permissions and they apply to every AC interaction.

Most of our community, both logged in and AC, participate in the discussions in an reasonable manner and discuss the topic that has been outlined and any threads that resulting from it. It is true that, particularly at weekends, there is a slight increase in the number of ACs appearing but on their own they are little more than a minor irritant. There is, however, a 3rd group, consisting of ACs who sole purpose seems to be to derail any sensible discussion. Over recent years they have become more aggressive and often use personal attacks rather than challenging what is being said. Some are more obvious than others and I am sure that you can all think of examples of such people for yourself. A very small number have stated that it is their aim to prevent SoylentNews from continuing.

On 22 Jun of this year we received an implied threat (https://soylentnews.org/comments.pl?noupdate=1&sid=49894&page=1&cid=1254201) suggesting the the person making it had a target date of 6 July for some event or other. It is possible that this is related to another 'prophecy' in which this individual foretold that the site would soon be dead. We believe that we can identify the person making that threat with a reasonable degree of certainty. However, since that time the number of ad-hominem attacks has increased and we have also been subjected to increasing amounts of spam. In small amounts either or both of these things can be shrugged of, but when they come increasingly aggressive and frequent, they can make the entire experience of being in this community very unpleasant. I know that we have lost both staff and numerous community members because of this toxic atmosphere - and not, as some would have you believe, because we administer the site!

Almost all of this behaviour is conducted by a very small number of ACs and occasionally via sock-puppet accounts. As the levels of harassment increased over the last few weeks it was obvious to us that we could remove it by simply preventing AC access. This was not an easy decision to make but we knew that we could protect the majority of the site by this simple action. The result is, as you know, that we reluctantly removed anonymous access by ACs to the front page.

We are now actively looking for more permanent solutions and hopefully to exactly what we had before. I have experimented with providing stories on the front page which are AC friendly, and also in my journal. We are still looking for a better solution but unless we can separate individual ACs then I cannot see what else can be done. I would welcome your feedback and suggestions. The outcome of our decision is also our loss as you can see if you look at the numbers of comments that we are now getting compared to before the ban.

I have spent a lot of time analysing the posts, both current and historical, to try to identify the person or persons responsible for this unwanted content. I am not going to name specific individuals because I believe that you can each reach your own conclusions. By looking at both the spam and comment content, and their meta data, I have established the following.

The person spamming our site is one of our own Anonymous Cowards who is currently blocked because we have removed access for the AC account - and that block affects all ACs. He is also one of the people regularly carrying out ad hominem attacks against other community members. He will be reading everything that we post about this issue.

Unless the abuses cease everywhere on the site including in journals, ACs will remain outside of the main site except for specially released stories until we can devise a better system. For us to currently do anything different would be foolish and irresponsible in the extreme. As soon as the abuse ceases we can readmit all ACs to the main site again.

I know that this will be as much of a disappointment to you as it is to me, and you may also be thinking of leaving. I ask you not to go. Rather I would encourage you all to let the abusers know that they are not fighting for your freedom of speech ("freeze peach") but they are by their actions actively preventing your participation in our site. There is one particular post (https://soylentnews.org/comments.pl?noupdate=1&sid=50204&page=1&cid=1257692) which suggests that this is being done on behalf of all ACs and that you all stand as one behind this action. I don't believe that anybody has the right to claim that if you haven't actually agreed to it.

 
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  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 04 2022, @10:35PM (16 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 04 2022, @10:35PM (#1258111)

    No problems with logging in or 'Blocked IP' messages. If you use a username/password those security checks are bypassed by the server - we accept all valid accounts without any further processing.

    I am gobsmacked by how little janrinok seems to be aware of the average Soylentil's everyday Soylent experience. Blocked IP? If you are caught "bad posting" (whatever that is), you can log it, but not be allowed to post anonymously. If you are even badder, you can be banned from posting at all. Not the mention the punitive moderation bans. Better to remain an AC, so they can't just ban you by your identity.

    They can still post anonymously and thus protect their reputation.

    Yes, of course, until janrinok or some other smartass admin decides to out your anonymous post, which he has repeatedly done. At least he was embarrassed the first time he abused his admin powers and professional ethics.

    If they post anonymously their comments will be judged on content, not on username.

    See above.

    The cognitive dissonance here is severe. Until management understands what is going on, we can expect more misguided attempts to whip SoylentNews into shape. Beatings will continue, etc. etc.

  • (Score: 2) by janrinok on Tuesday July 05 2022, @04:46AM (1 child)

    by janrinok (52) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday July 05 2022, @04:46AM (#1258160) Journal

    What was 'outed' was the fact that you were having imaginary discussions with yourself. You were posting and moderating both as AC and with your username to suggest that you had support for what you were saying. That was moderation abuse and discussion manipulation. This was explained to you at the time. And yet still you cling on to alleged abuses against you as justification for the numerous abuses you have since inflicted upon the community.

    We are in this current situation because of your abuses and those of others like you. We do not want nor need your spam, your ad hominem attacks, or your attempts to disrupt other peoples' conversations to declare your perceived persecution.

    --
    I am not interested in knowing who people are or where they live. My interest starts and stops at our servers.
    • (Score: -1, Troll) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 05 2022, @06:41AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 05 2022, @06:41AM (#1258173)

      What was 'outed' was the fact that you were having imaginary discussions with yourself. You were posting and moderating both as AC and with your username to suggest that you had support for what you were saying.

      Oh, yes, of course, that was me. Who am I, again? Which logged in accounts posting anonymous were revealed by janrinok, and for what reason? Point is, if janrinok takes a dislike to you, he will expose your anonymous comments while logged in, which does oblivate the purpose of posting as AC, when you are not. And you wonder why some Soylentils would think it worthwhile to have the option to comment as a real AC, so that janrinok could not out them, and at the very worst could fume and fluster, and accuse innocents of being aristarchus. It is always aristarchus, isn't it, jan, hiding behind a AC post, or a VPN, or intentionally Torring.

      You have lost the trust of the community, janrinok. We give you the Black Spot. You might have look it up. Arrrrgh!

  • (Score: 2) by janrinok on Tuesday July 05 2022, @04:56AM (13 children)

    by janrinok (52) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday July 05 2022, @04:56AM (#1258162) Journal

    I am gobsmacked by how little janrinok seems to be aware of the average Soylentil's everyday Soylent experience.

    The problems with Blocked IPs only exist for Anonymous Cowards - the majority use a username/password combination to log in and do not experience these problems usually. The security checks are ONLY enforced on accounts that we cannot readily identify when they post in. I have no objection to ACs joining this community, indeed I welcome them. But they do not get all of the functionality that the site offers. That is their choice. They have to pass additional security checks, they cannot have a journal, and they cannot moderate etc.

    They are NOT the average Soylentil.

    --
    I am not interested in knowing who people are or where they live. My interest starts and stops at our servers.
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 05 2022, @06:33AM (3 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 05 2022, @06:33AM (#1258172)

      The problems with Blocked IPs only exist for Anonymous Cowards - the majority use a username/password combination to log in and do not experience these problems usually.

      Wrong. Incorrect. A lie. You are in error, janrinok. You really have no idea how Rehash works, do you? My confidence in you slips daily. All you have to do is "post badly", and your ip (or hash thereof) will be blocked. How could you not know this? You have done it to so many innocent ACs that you disagreed with, not to mention the ones you have banned, defenestrated, and decimated. We who are about to be IP blocked, salute you!

      • (Score: 3, Insightful) by janrinok on Tuesday July 05 2022, @08:17AM (2 children)

        by janrinok (52) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday July 05 2022, @08:17AM (#1258187) Journal

        do not experience these problems usually

        Your problem is entirely different. You insist on using VPNs that are already blocked by external agencies and published on their lists of IP addresses that are known to be used by spammers, malware and other unwanted activities. The vast majority of our users do not experience them regularly if at all. And because you an an AC you have to go through the full security procedures whenever you access the site - that means for every individual post. You have successfully posted a comment, you do not seem to have a problem?

        So please do not spread your mistaken beliefs when you clearly do not know what you are talking about. Nobody as far as I am aware is manually setting IP blocks nowadays. It simply isn't worth it. The online server - to which I do not have access - also has software built in to do these things automatically if and when posts arriving on a specific IP are being consistently and repeatedly moderated down below a given threshold. And as an AC, every post you make is checked against all the security requirements - as it has been for the last 8 years.

        You are learning the hard way that rather than 'Aristarchus Rules', aristarchus must now behave himself. Look at the damage you have caused to this community. Look at the current situation you have created because of the abuse. You are not a freedom fighter supporting free speech; you and your like are simply trolls and spammers who abuse the system.

        Until the abuse stops then this situation will continue. I genuinely regret what the innocent ACs are having to put with, but you are not one of them. You have put them there.

        There are plenty of stories to which you can contribute today - except that is not what you are here for, is it?

        --
        I am not interested in knowing who people are or where they live. My interest starts and stops at our servers.
        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 05 2022, @08:34AM (1 child)

          by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 05 2022, @08:34AM (#1258190)

          You insist on using VPNs that are already blocked by external agencies and published on their lists of IP addresses that are known to be used by spammers, malware and other unwanted activities.

          No, I do not. The bans are specific to my hash, not the IP address (unless, surprisingly, it is IRC.)

          Two, I am not this "aristarchus".

          Third. Glad to see you are looking for new volunteers. Would be an improvement, no matter who they were.

          • (Score: 2) by janrinok on Tuesday July 05 2022, @10:11AM

            by janrinok (52) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday July 05 2022, @10:11AM (#1258204) Journal
            The hashes ARE your IP address and subnet. If you change your IP hash or subnet the hashes will change also. Are you forgetting to change your subnet still? - oh silly boy. A common problem for those that are covered by the Title. If they subnet is on a banned list, then all of the IPs belonging to that VPN subnet are also banned.That is why we do NOT block hashes any more. What is the point?
            --
            I am not interested in knowing who people are or where they live. My interest starts and stops at our servers.
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 06 2022, @04:15AM (8 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 06 2022, @04:15AM (#1258452)

      The problems with Blocked IPs only exist for Anonymous Cowards - the majority use a username/password combination to log in and do not experience these problems usually.

      There's that weasel word at the end there: "usually" -- that completely undoes the normal meaning of "do not experience these problems".

      IP blocks that prevent logged in users from choosing to post as AC very much do exist in the Soylent codebase. I've had one slapped on me, while using my normal IP address, and I have no idea how or why or where it came from, because there is never any communication as to "why". And before you go off arguing about dynamic IP's, my IP is a static IP, and no one else shares it, so it was not "someone else's post" that triggered the "IP block" gods into silent action.

      • (Score: 2) by janrinok on Wednesday July 06 2022, @04:49AM (5 children)

        by janrinok (52) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday July 06 2022, @04:49AM (#1258456) Journal

        Even if you are logged in, if the posts received on a given IP address have a significant number of down mods then a block is imposed BY THE SERVER. If you are certain that you are not sharing the IP, and that you are not using a VPN or TOR, then it looks like your posts are being consistently down-moderated. You yourself have had accounts that have been temporarily blocked this way. Why are you now surprised that something that has existed in slashcode/rehash since it was written is still there. Even logged in users have the ability to trash their account, although it is usually temporarily.

        --
        I am not interested in knowing who people are or where they live. My interest starts and stops at our servers.
        • (Score: 2) by janrinok on Wednesday July 06 2022, @05:08AM (2 children)

          by janrinok (52) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday July 06 2022, @05:08AM (#1258460) Journal

          I cannot find the data about your temporary block but it seems that if it was applied then it was of very short duration. Of course if the moderations were received while you are posting as AC they are difficult for me to extract anyway. Searching for posts that were made by ACs and which received a negative moderation value will probably account for a large percentage of the 1.25 million comments that we have in the database! They will still be applied to the correct IP address via the hashes but I cannot search for them based upon your username.

          Without more details on what exactly the block message said and when it was issued I cannot identify what the cause of the problem was. I agree it seems unlikely that a block would be applied to your particular account.

          --
          I am not interested in knowing who people are or where they live. My interest starts and stops at our servers.
          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 06 2022, @01:34PM

            by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 06 2022, @01:34PM (#1258507)

            Without more details on what exactly the block message said and when

            I do not remember the "when" (but sometime within the last few months -- and it went away shortly thereafter).

            As for "said" -- it was the standard "due to numerous bad postings from your IP, anon posting has been temporarily blocked". I could post as myself, but could not use the "Post Anon" checkbox and post a comment.

            But my comment still stands, the weasel word "usually" undoes the "do not experience" explicit statement. Logged in users can experience the same issues.

          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 06 2022, @01:38PM

            by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 06 2022, @01:38PM (#1258508)

            Searching for posts that were made by ACs and which received a negative moderation value ... They [the AC posts] will still be applied to the correct IP address via the hashes.

            Ok, that likely explains how the block came about, as I didn't get any "someone has down-modded your post as X" emails, it must have been one of the AC posts that was targeted.

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 06 2022, @01:42PM (1 child)

          by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 06 2022, @01:42PM (#1258509)

          You yourself have had accounts that have been temporarily blocked this way.

          Ah, for me (the logged in user posting as AC that brought this up) that is not correct. This account is my first, and only, Soylent account. Before registering it I was one of the many posting as AC without any account at all.

          So I've not had other accounts blocked this way with which to deduce a likely mods-oparandi from the actions taken by the perl code.

          • (Score: 2) by janrinok on Wednesday July 06 2022, @02:22PM

            by janrinok (52) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday July 06 2022, @02:22PM (#1258513) Journal

            OK, I can believe that. There is a short unexplained gap in your account records but it is very short. Perhaps it is just an artefact how how we process or record the data.

            --
            I am not interested in knowing who people are or where they live. My interest starts and stops at our servers.
      • (Score: 2) by janrinok on Wednesday July 06 2022, @05:29AM (1 child)

        by janrinok (52) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday July 06 2022, @05:29AM (#1258465) Journal

        We have at 2 different IP hashes for your account on record. It changed sometime between the 19 and 22 December 2021, so your current IP is a little over 6 months old. I don't know if that helps you?

        --
        I am not interested in knowing who people are or where they live. My interest starts and stops at our servers.
        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 06 2022, @02:02PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 06 2022, @02:02PM (#1258510)

          Not really, other than the particular date I already knew I'd show different IP's, as I have used a VPN before to connect to Soylent. I am surprised it is only two IP's however.