Tools for wiki spam warriors

We’ve been holding back the tide of spam, and I want to thank all fellow spam-warriors. Just in recent weeks, J.M.Pearce, RichardF and Danny B. have been deleting spam pages, and Lonny is working with other tech helpers on upgrading our server-level defences. Now, our spam-fighting has been getting better organized and I want to share some tools:

For admins (i.e. for those with the ability to delete pages) : A great and easy way to help is to keep an eye on the NewestPages. The spam articles are easy to spot by their titles. Spammy user pages show up here, but they’re harder – they need to be eyeballed.

For everyone: Keep an eye on changes by new and anonymous users. This is also good for spotting comments by visitors, difficulties faced by newbies, and good edits by newbies that we can say thanks for.

For IRC-using super-geeks: Danny B. set up a real time recent changes channel on IRC (that link might work if you have an IRC client installed – see A:IRC for help), and he’s been deleting spam that he spots this way.

For me: There’s a spam filter which I maintain, checking and tweaking to ensure we keep blocking most of the spam before it hits the wiki, but avoid blocking good edits. If you notice any new patterns in the spam that’s getting through, please let me know the details. I’m also happy to collaborate if someone else knows regex and wants to help with  writing the filters.

I mention all this because I’m cutting back my spam patrol to focus on meta-Appropedia work, like the internship program and fundraiser that I’ve been wanting to work on. I’ll keep maintaining the spam filter, but I’m closing my browser tabs with NewestPages and the changes-by-newbies feed  that I used to keep open permanently. and I’ll resist the compulsion to check on those. Thanks for understanding, and thanks to all those who are able to step up!


Herb Elliot was a great athlete, who won the gold medal in the 1500m in the 1960 Olympic Games, and dominated middle distance running in his time. Interviewed recently, he had this to say on the Western lifestyle:

Now we have the society where the kids don’t run anymore. I used to run to school. I used to run to catch the bus, I used to run everywhere.  The Herb Elliott of today is driven everywhere. And by the time the kids are 15 or 16 or 17 years of age the African kid’s got 10,000 miles in their legs that our kids haven’t got.  So I think we can address that but it reflects our style of life at the moment.

In terms of health, fitness, enjoyment, socialization, independence, economics, there’s so much to be gained – not to mention the carbon footprint. This is just one of the ways that a low carbon lifestyle can be richer.

Parents will worry, and do need to weigh risks – but think about real risks, rather than headlines about rare events. And what better way to channel our natural concern and desire for children’s safety than to work on making our cities and neighborhoods into great places to run and cycle?

Online chat today – Sunday 12 Aug 2012

Quick update: there’s a lot going on behind the scenes – don’t let the quiet blog fool you – and big plans are brewing. For a start:

We have a monthly online chat, starting in a few hours day from the time of posting. Depending on your timezone, it’s:

Date: Sunday, 12 August 2012. (Monday morning in Asia & Oceania.)
Time: 10pm GMT (UTC if you prefer)
USA: 3pm PDT (Pacific) & 6pm EDT (East coast)
London: 11pm
Australia, East coast: 8am Monday 13th AEST
New Zealand: 10am Monday 13th NZST
Your time zone: ask the Time Zone Converter – convert from “22 /10 pm” at  “UTC/GMT” (top of the list of zones).
Topic for this month: Introductions, open Q & A. There’s lots to talk about, but mainly we want to connect and say hi.
How to log in: The details are on our IRC page – see the section Using IRC. Hint: the web method is easy.

Next month we’ll announce it more widely, and we’ll get more specific. Put it in your diary for next month (2nd Sunday), and we’ll confirm closer to the date.