UNIX Socket FAQ

A forum for questions and answers about network programming on Linux and all other Unix-like systems

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#1 2013-06-12 09:27 AM

i3839
Oddministrator
From: Amsterdam
Registered: 2003-06-07
Posts: 2,230

RFC: Disabling registration or automatic account deletion?

Hi everyone,

Sadly our forum has been pushed off the first page of Google's results,
so we get a lot less people on this forum than we used to. Or maybe
no one knows what UNIX means anymore, nor what those "socket"
thingies are... If I google myself for obscure programming questions
I usually end up on stackoverflow nowadays it seems. If our itch to
help people is too big then going there and answering random
questions is always an option.

Anyway, although we stopped most of the spammers and their crap is
reduced to a dribble, there are in my view too many dormant bot
accounts and not enough new real members. I propose to disable new
registrations and tell people to post as a guest (on the registration page).
If they post enough or if they ask, we make them a member manually.
Downside is that there isn't a button to turn a guest into a real user,
but I could add that.

Or is it better to keep it like it is now, but to delete all dormant accounts
with zero posts and no thread subscriptions automatically after a certain
period? Then I can stop worrying about it too.

Greetings,

Indan

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#2 2013-06-12 12:17 PM

RobSeace
Administrator
From: Boston, MA
Registered: 2002-06-12
Posts: 3,826
Website

Re: RFC: Disabling registration or automatic account deletion?

*shrug*  I'm not sure which is better...  But, it doesn't seem like we get a lot of new regulars anymore, so disabling new registered users probably wouldn't be a big deal...  The few posts we get from new people seem to be one-off deals, and then they're gone...  Hell, we don't get much of OLD regulars anymore, either!  Just you and me, for the most part...  I did see Nope in a thread recently...  Not sure who else still even visits, though...  (If you're out there, say hi!)

If I Google my name as one word, like my login, this place is still the #2 result, after my homepage...  (Mixed in with a bunch of weird results for something called "Robscene", whatever the flying fuck that is!)  With a space between first and last name, indeed it doesn't find me here until about page 3 of results, finding all manner of other obscure references to me first... ;-/

I don't know jack shit about SEO, but maybe we need to add some meta tags giving a few more terms of relevence for Google to associate with us?  Like "Linux", "Networking", "Programming", etc...  These days, you're probably right: no one is searching for "Unix" anymore...  They might very well be searching for "Linux", though!

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#3 2013-06-19 09:53 AM

Nope
Administrator
From: Germany
Registered: 2004-01-24
Posts: 385
Website

Re: RFC: Disabling registration or automatic account deletion?

"Hi" ;)

Well, I've been working in the enterprise search services area those past 4 years (I've just switched jobs recently). I've also done quite a bit SEO for the one or other odd custumer in those past years. I think I did actually post something along the lines of making the page more easy to find by adding a few more better fitting search terms. But SEO is actually a lot more than that and beyond what one can do with a mere forum.

But honestly, it is my believe, that there is a lot less need for a forum like this one. Almost nobody but students with a mad professor bother to look at the basics anymore. Most current programming languages come with extensive libraries encapsulating the low level sockets. And with the ultra fast/cheap servers these days, dealing with slow 1GBit lines, it isn't even nescessary these days to be efficient. So the need to optimize the networking code for the actual needs is nothing a developer gets paid for anymore.

I second i3839 concerning the clean-up of the members database. We should just kill off every one with 0 posts that's older than a month and everyone that wasn't active longer than a year.

But if we put a higher hurdle in the way of new members, we can just shut the forum down entirely. So I'm definitely against a "write a mail to become registered" policy. We could use a registration that has to be confimed by an administrator before getting active, but that might also get rid of the students that need an answer fast. The idea to allow guests to post anywhere they like, would allow spambots to run wild.

I do visit the forum almost once every day currently. But I've been inactive for a couple of years before. I don't have much time, so I won't bother to post if there already is a valid answer to a question.  Additionally I've been out of touch with Unix/Linux and C/C++ for over 5 years now, so my knowledge base isn't as good as it used to be.

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#4 2013-06-19 01:09 PM

RobSeace
Administrator
From: Boston, MA
Registered: 2002-06-12
Posts: 3,826
Website

Re: RFC: Disabling registration or automatic account deletion?

it isn't even nescessary these days to be efficient. So the need to optimize the networking code for the actual needs is nothing a developer gets paid for anymore.

*sigh*  Statements like these make me very sad...  Over the years, back when people needed to care, I've seen plenty of examples of absolutely horrible networking code...  To think that it's just getting worse and worse, and people are caring even less, just makes me shudder...

The idea to allow guests to post anywhere they like, would allow spambots to run wild.

Heh.  Believe it or not, guests have been able to post anywhere here for quite some time!  Surprisingly, the spambots seem to prefer registering...  Probably because they don't expect guests to be allowed to post!

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#5 2013-06-20 10:48 AM

Nope
Administrator
From: Germany
Registered: 2004-01-24
Posts: 385
Website

Re: RFC: Disabling registration or automatic account deletion?

Yes, it makes me sad too. But it hits basically all aspects of programming, not only network code. Just look at the EntityFramework, WCF, WF and along those lines. And actually people do optimize their code, but no longer against the low level aspects but against the compiler quirks. That's so wrong. :(

Wow, secured by the fact that no spambot programmer would expect the guest account to be active. That's funny. I guess I'll smile about that in the years to come... :-D In this case we could actually completely disable the registration of new members.

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#6 2013-06-20 01:00 PM

RobSeace
Administrator
From: Boston, MA
Registered: 2002-06-12
Posts: 3,826
Website

Re: RFC: Disabling registration or automatic account deletion?

Oh, every once in a while, I'll see a stray guest spam, but they tend to be rare compared to the registered user ones...  And, bizarrely, they usually seem concentrated in a single thread...  Like, the other week, some bot was repeatedly spamming the same damn dormant thread from years ago, until I locked it down to prevent further comments, and then it just stopped...  I don't know what exactly attracts their attention to specific threads, but something must...

I have no problem with libraries and languages and tools making programmers' lives easier...  I just think that before any programmer is allowed to use them, they should first be required to understand how they work underneath, and be able to do without them if necessary!  In college, I had to manually key in raw Z80 machine code on a hex keypad in one class...  I certainly wouldn't want to have to write all my code that way these days, but I think it was absolutely a helpful learning experience to have to do so, anyway...  Too many programmers view the CPU as a magic black box, and don't understand how it works anymore...  And, now they're getting so they don't even understand how their compilers and libraries work, let alone the damn hardware!  Ugh...

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#7 2013-06-21 06:21 AM

Nope
Administrator
From: Germany
Registered: 2004-01-24
Posts: 385
Website

Re: RFC: Disabling registration or automatic account deletion?

RobSeace wrote:

In college, I had to manually key in raw Z80 machine code on a hex keypad in one class...  I certainly wouldn't want to have to write all my code that way these days, but I think it was absolutely a helpful learning experience to have to do so, anyway...  Too many programmers view the CPU as a magic black box, and don't understand how it works anymore...

LOL. I did that at 14. I wrote several games this way. As part of my DTA education we actually built a small CPU with discrete blocks. And those we also built with discrete components in another class. Just to learn how these things work. It took us weeks to make magnetic core memory by hand. For us nerds it was kinda fun though. My last bigger private project was to build a i386 mainboard for my first own PC. I shocked the other gamers with its speed since I used high speed ram. :-p

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#8 2013-06-21 12:28 PM

RobSeace
Administrator
From: Boston, MA
Registered: 2002-06-12
Posts: 3,826
Website

Re: RFC: Disabling registration or automatic account deletion?

Heh.  We're starting to sound like Monty Python's "Four Yorkshiremen"...  "Luxury!  In my day, we had to hand-build our own computers from scratch out of sand and bits of garbage!" ;-)

I was really never that into hardware...  I tolerate it and try to understand it simply because it's necessary for running my software, but I really tend to hate it for the most part...  I'm much more into the CS side of things than the EE side...

Hell, at 14 I think was probably about the time I was first discovering programming (in the form of BASIC)...  We don't tend to teach kids much advanced/cool stuff over here until they get to college... ;-/  Most of the programming I picked up back then was stuff learned on my own; the stuff taught in class was all simplistic basics, just enough to make me realize I wanted to know a whole lot more...

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#9 2013-06-21 05:00 PM

Nope
Administrator
From: Germany
Registered: 2004-01-24
Posts: 385
Website

Re: RFC: Disabling registration or automatic account deletion?

:-p

Well, my first jobs were all about building controller hardware for the industry and programming them afterwards. I did abandon that as soon as I could get enough jobs writing applications and client/server stuff. But I am still rather proud that my knowledge spans all these areas. Even if I am about to completely abandon all of it and become a full time project manager.
But yes, we are the same as those old men in the movies talking about the hardships of the past. Although I don't see it as hardships, but rather as a more in depth understanding of the foundation of the work. On the other hand, I've lively discussions with a colleague who made his doctorate in computer linguistics. He also has a real in depth understanding of things...

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#10 2013-06-21 07:42 PM

RobSeace
Administrator
From: Boston, MA
Registered: 2002-06-12
Posts: 3,826
Website

Re: RFC: Disabling registration or automatic account deletion?

Even if I am about to completely abandon all of it and become a full time project manager.

Hah!  That's one thing I'm very glad to have managed to avoid thus far...  It seems to be the standard path for old programmers: go into management or get fired and replaced by youngsters...  I'm delighted to still be able to write code (and almost all pure C code in sane Unix-like environments, at that) every day...  It almost seems like being paid for enjoying a hobby that I'd be doing even if I weren't getting paid for it!  (Not to mention that these days I get to work from home full-time, so I don't have to put up with commuting to/from work or dealing with typical office/co-worker hassles and nonsense...)

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#11 2013-06-21 10:25 PM

Nope
Administrator
From: Germany
Registered: 2004-01-24
Posts: 385
Website

Re: RFC: Disabling registration or automatic account deletion?

Actually I am quite happy about it. I am a senior developer these days. I am good at my job. I design the architecture, coach the juniors and have quite complex discussions with the other seniors, even the ones with a university degree, on their level. People from other teams come to me for advice. But, and that's a big but, I have to develop in a windows environment and use C#. In the past years I also had to work with Perl, Python and Java. I did learn a lot about architecture, trying to change career in that direction. But there I would actually earn the same or even less. I am not allowed to write Code I can be really proud of. I have also been forced to endure the lack of a project manager, even in difficult projects. I had also to work under lousy project managers. And really, I am just tired. As a project manager I can ensure that others can do their work. I would also be free again, to write code for the fun of it. I could even write useful things again without the fear that my employer might just steal my product. German law says, that someone working as a developer creating something that's at least roughly related, like writing a book about developing or creating a software product, has to give his employer the full copyright. He even has to actively help transferring the rights. As a PM I can develop and earn money with a software, or just give it away freely. The moment I am officially a PM, I rebuild my development environment at home and start to write meaningful code again. That way I can enjoy it again.

If I have to become a project manager or just a manager to be able to do so, then that's the price I have to pay. And I will do that with a smile on my face. ;-)

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#12 2013-06-22 11:11 AM

i3839
Oddministrator
From: Amsterdam
Registered: 2003-06-07
Posts: 2,230

Re: RFC: Disabling registration or automatic account deletion?

Hi Nope!

Well, to be fair, I did add an input box to the guest post form where people need to fill in an 'X' (I also changed the urls, but no idea if that helped). That stops most of the bots that have support for FluxBB.

I suspect it's easy to convert a guest to a full member, but the forum currently has no support for that, so I'd need to add it myself. Then we can tell people to post as a guest on the registration page, and automatically ban bots trying to register anyway (or is that too harsh?). But perhaps autodeletion after a week without posts is easier. I think we should at least tell people they can post as a guest on the registration page.

But I forgot my ssh password to the server, so I can't do much currently. All I remember is that it was very long and impossible to guess for any attackers. :-/

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#13 2013-06-22 03:37 PM

RobSeace
Administrator
From: Boston, MA
Registered: 2002-06-12
Posts: 3,826
Website

Re: RFC: Disabling registration or automatic account deletion?

That's the problem with passwords: if you use a good one, it tends to be so good that you can't actually remember it!  I try to always use DSA/RSA auth keys on every SSH server I can access...  Of course, then the problem is if you ever need to login from a different machine without access to your private keys, you're screwed...  If I regularly had to use different machines, I'd probably put all mine on a USB flash drive or something and carry it around with me...  But, then, the worry becomes losing it somewhere!  No matter what you do, remote authentication seems like a royal pain in the ass problem that can never truly be solved well...

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#14 2013-06-23 08:05 AM

Nope
Administrator
From: Germany
Registered: 2004-01-24
Posts: 385
Website

Re: RFC: Disabling registration or automatic account deletion?

Rofl. Yes, the passwords these days tend to be overly complex. Any way to get it reseted?

The auto-delete of inactive or zero-post members is a good step in the right direction I think.

Well, any customized posting requirements will throw off the bots. They are (still) not intelligent after all. :-)

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#15 2013-06-23 09:02 AM

i3839
Oddministrator
From: Amsterdam
Registered: 2003-06-07
Posts: 2,230

Re: RFC: Disabling registration or automatic account deletion?

I did have an RSA key, but I forgot if it ever worked or not, maybe I didn't upload the public part. Or Vic changed some stuff on the server side, maybe the IP address changed or something. I guess I should mail him or hope he reads this thread.

I didn't use the automatically generated password, because although it was complex, it was also very short. I wanted to be sure that if the server ever gets hacked it won't be because of my password being guessed.

There is a user management plugin I had installed and forgotten about in the administration section, it can prune users by post count and last login date. I'll give it a go.

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#16 2013-09-24 12:46 PM

vic
Administrator
Registered: 2002-04-16
Posts: 85
Website

Re: RFC: Disabling registration or automatic account deletion?

Hey guys.  I try to stop in once or twice a year to see if this place still exists.  I just got an email from someone at Box asking about some of my old Socket FAQ stuff and it reminded me that I haven't checked in for a long while.

I'm completely out of the hosting business now, so I put developerweb.net onto my Lunar Pages account.  That would have broken your ssh access.  I'm pretty sure I can set up FTP for you, but I don't think I get anything other than a master ssh account for all my domains.

These days I've got a full time job as a PHP developer and don't have to think much about how the HTTP happens.  Still, I agree that having a foundation in the basics makes it much easier to figure out what isn't working when it doesn't.

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#17 2013-09-27 10:25 AM

i3839
Oddministrator
From: Amsterdam
Registered: 2003-06-07
Posts: 2,230

Re: RFC: Disabling registration or automatic account deletion?

Vic, is your zymsys email still working? If so, then I'll use that to contact you when I need to change anything to the website.

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#18 2014-04-15 12:04 PM

RobSeace
Administrator
From: Boston, MA
Registered: 2002-06-12
Posts: 3,826
Website

Re: RFC: Disabling registration or automatic account deletion?

Those pesky spambots seem to be getting smarter...  They've apparently figured out they can start new threads as guests now, and are regularly doing that instead of just adding the occassional message to an old existing thread...  (Oh, they're still doing the latter a bunch, as well...)  It's getting now so I've been seeing more guest spam than registered user spam, which is the exact opposite of how it previously was...  And, the volume is increasing...  I've had to delete around a dozen posts per day for the last several days...

No idea what to do about it, though... ;-/

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#19 2014-04-20 02:32 PM

RobSeace
Administrator
From: Boston, MA
Registered: 2002-06-12
Posts: 3,826
Website

Re: RFC: Disabling registration or automatic account deletion?

Well, I just finally had to disable posting of new topics for guests...  I hate to do it, because we've had a few legit guests post real questions recently, but the flood of spam was just getting WAY out of hand...  Without fail, every day, there would be dozens of new topics, all posted to General (the first forum that allows new posts), and deleting them one by one is a real pain in the ass!  If there were a way to select multiple threads all at once and delete them with one click, then I could live with it...

Guests can still post replies to existing threads, so perhaps they'll just go back to spamming the existing threads again...  But, for whatever reason, we were getting FAR more new thread spam than we ever got of spam to existing threads... *shrug*

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#20 2014-04-20 08:16 PM

i3839
Oddministrator
From: Amsterdam
Registered: 2003-06-07
Posts: 2,230

Re: RFC: Disabling registration or automatic account deletion?

Actually, you can do that, but only multiple whole threads per forum, or multiple posts within a thread. Just click on the "moderate forum" or "moderate thread" link at the bottom. Pity there is no such option for new post search results.

Perhaps it's time to change the secret code from X to Y...

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#21 2014-04-20 08:31 PM

RobSeace
Administrator
From: Boston, MA
Registered: 2002-06-12
Posts: 3,826
Website

Re: RFC: Disabling registration or automatic account deletion?

Ah, I didn't know about "moderate forum"...  That would be perfect for the most recent new thread spamming...  Well, in that case, maybe we can reenable new thread posting again?  Maybe give it a day or two, and hope whatever bot has been targetting this place repeatedly gives up first?

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#22 2014-04-20 09:41 PM

i3839
Oddministrator
From: Amsterdam
Registered: 2003-06-07
Posts: 2,230

Re: RFC: Disabling registration or automatic account deletion?

That gave me the idea that bots might be easy to spot by measuring how long it takes them to post anything since they loaded the site. Humans need tim to think and read around before posting. If not used yet it might work for detecting bots easily. Also easy to work around for bots though, once they know about it.

You are checking the forum more often than I am, so it's up to you Rob.

Souldn't be too hard to modify the forum software to allow posting to the FAQ section, but redirecting such posts to /dev/null.

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#23 2014-04-20 10:19 PM

RobSeace
Administrator
From: Boston, MA
Registered: 2002-06-12
Posts: 3,826
Website

Re: RFC: Disabling registration or automatic account deletion?

I have no idea how to make such mods to the forum software, though...  Did you ever get FTP/SSH access again?

I'll probably reenable guest thread creation again tomorrow if I remember, and see if the flood of spam comes back or not...

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#24 2014-04-21 08:35 AM

i3839
Oddministrator
From: Amsterdam
Registered: 2003-06-07
Posts: 2,230

Re: RFC: Disabling registration or automatic account deletion?

No, I'll have to email Vic.

I have the forum software here, so it's not too hard to change it and upload the modified code, as long as there are no database changes. If we're changing the form a bit, could as well upgrade to the newest version.

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#25 2014-04-23 11:54 AM

RobSeace
Administrator
From: Boston, MA
Registered: 2002-06-12
Posts: 3,826
Website

Re: RFC: Disabling registration or automatic account deletion?

Well, the flood of spam returned only as a trickle when new thread creation was reenabled for guests, but it still was annoying, so I've temporarily disabled it again, in hopes we can get some other changes in place first before reenabling it...  Any legit users will just have to register or only post in existing threads for the moment...  (We don't seem to have a lot of them to worry about these days, anyway...)

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