This is a topic that comes up repeatedly here on rosnf.net, either through numerous private messages to me, in discussion threads on the forums, or as updates (statuses), or on our Facebook group, my Facebook private message, through my email, on LinkedIn… I try to answer as many as I can, but since it comes up so much, I thought I’d address it as a post here, since the announcements I have sent and other posts I have made don’t seem to be adequately communicating with you what the situation is.
We do get the occasional spammer slipping through, and we ban them as soon as we detect them, which is usually within minutes of them joining. We (the admins) are aware of the emails sent by “Jessy”, “Jenifer” and “Mrs Ellen David”, as we received them too, so you don’t need to email us about it. We know about them. 🙂
It is much harder than you may think to be able to vet members here. Some legitimate Rotarians have what I consider to be dodgy email addresses and have no idea what their district number is, and a rather large number of you have only provided a single name, not your surname as well. Some spammers do a very good job of looking legitimate, with a full name, legitimate email address and credible Rotary details. Rotarian spouses are especially difficult to vet. It’s possible that I have denied membership to some that are in fact Rotarians, and some that are not Rotarians make it through the email activation process, and end up being spammers. It is a very tough job to do!
We deal with spammers as quickly as we can – we have 6 admins in different time zones who look out for that behaviour. We are doing the best job we can, especially with a membership on this site surpassing 700 with numerous new people joining every day. Most spammers get stopped at the email activation stage, which is the first spam control measure. Those that do provide a real email address and make it past that step usually get picked up as soon as we receive notification of a new member joining as we go and check their profiles to ensure they are legitimate. Unfortunately some join at a time when no admins are online, and they may manage to get some spam sent before we find them and remove them.
If you receive a private message that appears to be spam, just delete it. We will deal with the spammer as soon as one of us is able to. Chances are that by the time you complain about the message, they have been long gone from the site, marked as a spammer and deleted.
Please be mindful that with the RI Convention on right now, we are having masses of people signing up to join the Fellowship, and the admins really have their work cut out for them with so many people joining at once. Three of our 6 admins are currently at NOLA so there are just 3 of us able to check for spammers at the moment, so it may take a little longer than usual for us to be able to deal with them, because 2 of us still at home are in the same time zone (GMT+8).
So please… rest assured that we are doing the best job that we can, and deal with spammers as quickly as possible. We have a large number of members joining every day, and while it may feel like many spammers are making it in, they are a drop in the ocean compared to the legitimate members joining every day. Our site has not been compromised in any way – the small number of spammers who do get in are humans (not bots) who have taken the time to enter enough real data that they make it through all the security measures that are in place to limit spammers.
UPDATE – 28 May 2011
We are trying out a new plug in that we hope will solve the problem of spammers making it through the activation process and sending emails.