#$%& Internet trolls & spammers

I recently revived and updated a wiki that I first created in 2007, which is focused on a group of Internet-connected flyfishers. I’d tried to get interest going in the project back in 2007, but the concept didn’t resonate with the group, and the wiki foundered due to lack of content. I’d just left it alone, and some software updates had broken it, and the wiki was non-functional. A couple months ago, I decided to fix it, updating the database and the Mediawiki software to support a more current version of PHP. I rolled it back out to the group to see if the intervening 6 years had created any more familiarity with the wiki concept. I tweaked the registration process to allow the community to read without registration, and by doing so, made it more public. The problem was that it got discovered by spammers. All was well, and then one day I a couple dozen spam pages. I tweaked the registration process to require a confirmed email for registration, and the problem went away for a while. Then, it seems it was discovered by smarter ‘bots that could deal with the registration process, or by human trolls/spammers. I spent an hour or so last night deleting spam pages, blocking users, and putting a “protect” flag on the main page. The issue is that if I raise the barrier to entry, I keep casual adopters in my intended community from dropping by and making the resource interesting. If I keep the barrier to entry low, it means that I have to engage in wiki hygiene to clean out the trash. It’s the nature of a wiki, and a commentary on the Internet world. Grrrr…

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