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Ryan Ashbrook
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Enterprise Spam Mitigation

Back in June, we announced several updates to our proprietary Spam Service, which includes influences from existing spam mitigation services (Project Honeypot and Stop Forum Spam). Today, we are announcing the release of more options to help you fine-tune the spam service for your site. These features are being released as a part of our new Enterprise Spam Service package, which is available now.


Weighting

The first feature added, as a part of this new package, is “Weighting.” With this feature, you will be able to adjust how influential the Spam Service is against registrations to your site.



As you can see, the slider here presents several options to help fine-tune the service for your site. The options presented are fairly straightforward. If you find your site to be a heavy target of spam, you can adjust the slider to Strict or Very Strict as a means of telling the spam service that registrations to your site should be evaluated more vigorously than normal, and treat all registrations with higher caution than normal.

Conversely, if you find the spam service to be too rough on registrations to your site, you can adjust the slider to Loose or Very Loose. Doing so will tell the spam service to take a step back on registrations, and treat them with less verbosity than normal.

And finally, the middle option (Normal) will simply tell the spam service to act as it does now, with no preferential influence one way or another.


Whitelisting / Blacklisting

Another feature added as the ability to define your own custom White and Black Lists for your site, providing even more granular control in addition to weighting.

First, you can define your own custom Whitelist entries.



Using this interface, you will be able to add any Email Address or IP Address to your own custom whitelist. If a member registers, and is using any IP Address or Email Address defined here, then they will automatically be flagged as Not a Spammer, and no action taken against the account by the spam service. This is useful for Administrators, Moderators, and Developers who frequently test registrations on their own sites, allowing them to do so without turning the service off.

Further, you can also define a custom Blacklist.



If you find that the spam service may not be catching a newly released spammer fast enough, and need to prevent them from accessing the site immediately, then you may add their email address or IP Address to the Blacklist. Once added, any registrations from either of those will be flagged as a spammer and will be denied registration (depending on your community settings for Code Level 4).


Calls from multiple origins

As mentioned in the previous entry, this service also allows administrators to use the spam service in Load Balanced and Cloud environments with ease, using the same license key.

The Enterprise Spam Mitigation is now available for $100/6 months as an additional add-on to your license. Please feel free to contact Sales for any additional information regarding this new service.
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Thanks for the clarification Mark.  :)

I was wondering if the Clustering support functionality wasn't a big part of it.  It seemed almost like an after-thought in the blog post, but it seemed to me like that was probably one of the bigger challenges the "Enterprise Spam Service" overcomes.

 

What it really comes down to for me is this:

If you need it, it will almost certainly pay for itself and then some if it makes things workable on a clustering load/balanced setup, and it's already built/supported.  If you DON'T need it, then there's no need to worry about it.

 

The licensing fee DOES seem out of scale, but it's not intended for smaller sites, they have no need of it.  And the sites that DO have a need will likely view it as money well spent.

 

Still unsure about whether sites at that level wouldn't just roll their own for $200/year, but the ROI is likely not there until you look at multiple sites over multiple years. 

 

::shrug::

I hope it does well!

 

James

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It is a free extra, which was not previously included. When developed it was given free to active licence holders.

 and it stops as soon as I stop paying for the support contract... and starts up again if I pay to reactivate my license. Thus, it is not a free service (and the feature is essentially useless without the service). 

 

Say it is included for the duration of a paid support subscription, but don't call it free. 

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 and it stops as soon as I stop paying for the support contract... and starts up again if I pay to reactivate my license. Thus, it is not a free service (and the feature is essentially useless without the service). 

 

Say it is included for the duration of a paid support subscription, but don't call it free. 

 

You're arguing semantics. It was added as an extra perk for active licence users, so it can be argued that it is free. The prerequisite is that you have an active licence.

 

IMO the spam service offers the perfect protection and I have no suffered a single spammer for months on my active licenses. FWIW, I suffered a massive influx on one I allowed to lapse.

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I honestly don't see a reason anyone will want to purchase this service. Offering enterprise services is something i always suggested but offering spam service as an enterprise solution is not the wisest move imo...

We are possibly one of the biggest board using IPB and even we don't need a service like this. 

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You're arguing semantics. It was added as an extra perk for active licence users, so it can be argued that it is free. The prerequisite is that you have an active licence.

 

IMO the spam service offers the perfect protection and I have no suffered a single spammer for months on my active licenses. FWIW, I suffered a massive influx on one I allowed to lapse.

 

Yes, I am exactly arguing semantics. It's not free if it stops when I stop paying. It is included as part of a paid support package, thus it isn't free.  

 

It's just like when IPS makes the claim that "Nexus ad tags can be placed anywhere!"... and when I ask if they can be placed in a Content article? No. Can they be placed in a post?  No.  Can they be placed in a blog post? No  Can they be placed in a calendar entry? No. Can they be placed in a signature? No.    Well... then Nexus ad tags can't be everywhere can they? So why does IPS make claims that are either misleading or untrue and damage customer goodwill when a simple semantics change would prevent that?  Is it really difficult to say "included with paid license" instead of "free"?

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CheersnGears...Mark's reply was a response in a comment to a blog entry.  You've pointed out (and this wasn't hidden, it was included at the end of the same line you quoted) that an active license is needed.  No one is trying to mislead clients - YES an active license is required to get our value-added services, which include the spam monitoring service, a 5-user chat room, the visual skin editor, and potentially others we may add over time.  These are not what the license fee is intended specifically to cover (which is support and continued access to updates), but rather these extra things are "free" so long as your license is active.  Let's not get nitpicky over semantics here please.  The spam service is available to clients with an active license.  We are not arguing that.

 

As for the blog entry itself to everyone else, please understand that for the majority of our clients, the service mentioned is not something you need.  We realize this, and it is why we don't push it in marketing materials, place it prominently on our site, include it in the store during checkout, and so on.  It is simply a solution for enterprise-level clients who need it, typically when they are running in a load-balanced or clustered environment.  If you need it, it is available.  If you don't, great!  We simply hope you can use our software to get your site large enough so that some day you DO need it.  That's a win-win situation there. :)

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I think to be honest that people are going to try and find some fault in some of the things you do simply because its hard to believe a company is doing something so well. Personally I feel the products of IPB are a little more expensive when you add up the costs of having a fair few of the products, but I also feel you get what you pay for. Good support, a few extra niceties you dont get with others (as mentioned above) and good solid products that dont feel like they have been rushed out of the door. The only competitor at the moment IMO being xenforo who have yet a long long way to catch up in terms of functionality. I think its good to offer things to enterprise customers who want to pay a little more for something which will serve their purposes.

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Anyone complaining about this is not who this is targeted at. Pretty simple. Unless you are the site rep for say the NHL, who has 30 teams each with a huge active IP.Board, or another large enterprise customer, this blog post was not targetted at you. It's nice that Invision is even public with this stuff. Most companies will keep enterprise features mostly hidden and accessible only to their enterprise users to avoid these issues (entitled feeling userbase wanting every feature for free.)

 

Also, for what its worth, if your board is large enough to require this service, $200 a year is a drop in the bucket for the additional customization you get. Again, I'm sure the NHL or another large entity like that who uses Invision services isn't going to cry about how much these extra niche services cost (which require additional time and money to develop for a small segement of the userbase).

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You know...this enterprise spam service thing has been around since August. IPS puts a hard limit on how many IPs can call the spam service for a specific license key and since my site has an active recent history of switching around hosts/servers I passed that limit which caused me to get banned from the spam service. It was then that they offered me the $100/ 6 month enterprise spam service which allowed for cloud/dynamic environments and weighting and more calls from more IPs. All back in August. :P

 

Instead they very kindly just cleared my IP log instead. :)

 

So it's been around for a while I guess.

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Just going to state the obvious. I am relatively new to IP.Board ecosystem. I switched from vBulletin to IPB last last year after the disaster that vB5 was. 

 

From what I see... Connecting the 'free' spam service to an active license and charging extra for this enhanced anti-spam feature... A cynical mind would think that there is no incentive for your developers to offer internal anti-spam tools that do not rely on third party services. From what I understand, StopForumSpam offer its platform completely free of charge and used to work excellently for me on vBulletin. I have played with a few plugins on IP.Board but none of them appears to work fine for me. Forcing me to keep my license active because the day it expires, my forum just go crazy with spam registrations and spam. This usually was not a big problem for me on vBulletin and this annoys me. Would have to reconsider the option to switch to XenForo because of these new changes. IPB already has a bunch of crazy things that do not make me happy (merging topics create large number of 404s, meta tags are quite stupid to be honest, no option to change permalink structure and so on). 

 

The good thing is that because of the renewal structure of IPB, I can easily switch to XenForo with minimal expense. Thanks. 

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From what I understand, StopForumSpam offer its platform completely free of charge and used to work excellently for me on vBulletin. I have played with a few plugins on IP.Board but none of them appears to work fine for me. Forcing me to keep my license active because the day it expires, my forum just go crazy with spam registrations and spam.

 

The free stopforumspam hook works perfectly for me with the latest version of IPB. This combined with the free Keycaptcha keeps me spam free. Yes I have the Spam monitoring service but I could easily live without it.

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If it included an option to block user from registering to communities from certain countries or have them go through another validation process (based on IP), then maybe I think it would be worth it. 

 

Currently I don't see the big need for it. 

 

We run our IPB installations on several "app servers" already, and I can't remember that being a problem when using the current spam system. We do however experience that this system catches a lot of false positives. (Persons that are not spammers being blocked)

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Just going to state the obvious. I am relatively new to IP.Board ecosystem. I switched from vBulletin to IPB last last year after the disaster that vB5 was. 

 

From what I see... Connecting the 'free' spam service to an active license and charging extra for this enhanced anti-spam feature... A cynical mind would think that there is no incentive for your developers to offer internal anti-spam tools that do not rely on third party services. From what I understand, StopForumSpam offer its platform completely free of charge and used to work excellently for me on vBulletin. I have played with a few plugins on IP.Board but none of them appears to work fine for me. Forcing me to keep my license active because the day it expires, my forum just go crazy with spam registrations and spam. This usually was not a big problem for me on vBulletin and this annoys me. Would have to reconsider the option to switch to XenForo because of these new changes. IPB already has a bunch of crazy things that do not make me happy (merging topics create large number of 404s, meta tags are quite stupid to be honest, no option to change permalink structure and so on). 

 

The good thing is that because of the renewal structure of IPB, I can easily switch to XenForo with minimal expense. Thanks. 

 

There are a few free StopForumSpam hooks in the Markplace, if you feel that's all you need. :)

 

Our in-house anti-spam service also pulls in data from StopForumSpam and Project Honeypot, but in addition to this uses an internal database we have built from the ground up consolidating reports from all IP.Board installations (that choose to participate).  The service is frankly one of the best out there that we are aware of, but it is entirely optional to use and third party hooks are available should you choose not to use it.

 

I am unclear what you mean by "meta tags are stupid".  Could you clarify?

 

You can change the friendly URL structure using the GreenSEO application, written by one of the authors of vbSEO.  My understanding with VB is that you cannot change the FURL structure without using the vbSEO application, so this isn't any different really.

 

 

To reiterate, the changes talked about in this blog entry do not affect average clients, and I apologize if the blog entry is not clear enough in that regard.  The changes are very specific, targetted changes that are intended for Enterprise-level clients (think NHL and NBC) who have specific needs.

 

 

If it included an option to block user from registering to communities from certain countries or have them go through another validation process (based on IP), then maybe I think it would be worth it. 

 

Currently I don't see the big need for it. 

 

We run our IPB installations on several "app servers" already, and I can't remember that being a problem when using the current spam system. We do however experience that this system catches a lot of false positives. (Persons that are not spammers being blocked)

 

I am surprised to hear that you are finding a lot of false positives, as this is something we generally do not see very often.  If you want to submit a ticket with some examples we would be happy to investigate.  It is worth noting that using the weighting adjustment tool mentioned in this blog entry, you would be able to lower/raise the threshold of the point system at which a user is deemed a spammer.  Nevertheless, you shouldn't be seeing a lot of false positives so if you are I would encourage you to send us some information to look into.  Perhaps these users are valid on your site but were genuinely spammers in the past, or are using shared IPs that spammers have used, etc.

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