Monthly Archives: November 2011

Spam Moderation System Now in Place

We’ve had a spam filter in place for some months now but it was rather crude and would only be applied manually after the submission had already taken place so members did not know if their jobs had been marked as spam until they next logged in and saw their job flagged and the warning that goes with it.

What we have now done is to move the spam filter check up a level to the point of submission. Now when you submit a job if the spam filter suspects that the job could be spam it will place that job into a moderation queue where it will stay until it is moderated by a human.

When moderated the job will either be deemed to be not spam in which case it will be accepted and submitted at that point just as if the member had submitted or it will be rejected and a warning will be placed on the member account as before but the job will never enter the system.

Note that we now have a link to our submission guidelines on the actual submission form so if you are in any doubt as to the content of your link, please check those guidelines.

Bookmark Sites List Will Temporarily Drop This Week

We added a bunch of sites a little while ago that appear to be from the same network and all seem to have stopped working at some point over the last weekend. We’ll give them a few more days to see if they recover and if not they will be removed before the end of the week.

Usually we’d replace them right away but we are actually putting a hold on adding new sites until we have implemented two new features. We have noticed that in recent months IMAutomator seems to have grown to a point where keeping a low profile is more difficult.

This is the reason why we are having a crackdown on the content that gets submitted. When IMAutomator began, we made just a handful of submissions daily but now that number is into 6 figures on a daily basis and that gets noticed! If our accounts get banned that is bad news for the system as a whole so we need to be ultra-strict about what gets submitted!

So, we have now enforced English language submissions, have introduced a spam blacklist and our next task is to take the spam filter one step further and introduce a moderation system. Any job that could potentially be spam will actually be put on hold until it can be human-moderated.

The second feature is an internal improvement to our account pool to lessen the impact of accounts being suspended if it does happen.

We don’t like it when our accounts get banned – it would be much better if we are able to play extremely nice with the sites we submit to so that it is a win-win-win all round. Our members get backlinks, we get paid and the sites get good content submitted.

So… once we have these two new features in place we shall continue adding new sites but until then we expect the list to drop to just over 20 by the end of the week. This will have no impact for free members and for the Pro members, remember to use the Secondary Submissions tool on a regular basis so that you can pick up all those extra backlinks when the new sites do get added.

Language Filter Now in Place

The language filter mentioned in previous blog posts is now live. When making a submission, the langauge of the text will be detected and if it does not appear to be in English it will ask you will get an error message and be asked to use English.

Submission Guidelines Updated

As mentioned last week, we are going to be introducing a language filter to ensure that submissions are made in English. We have now updated our Submission Guidelines to reflect this change and we have also put a link to these guidelines on the actual bookmark submission form – previously it was somewhat buried in our articles section which doesn’t get much attention.

Blacklist Issue Fixed

The problem mentioned earlier with URL’s being falsely reported as blacklisted has now been fixed. It was an issue with the way URL’s containing subdomains (such as Blogspot) were being handled. So if you had a message saying your site was blacklisted, try it again now and it should work – unless it really is on the blacklist of course! Apologies for the inconvenience.

Bug With Domain Blacklister

There appears to be a bug with the functionality that checks if a domain is on the blacklist. It is reporting false positives and thus saying that a domain is on the blacklist when it is not. If you get this message (and your domain is not spam!) then please send in the exact URL you are attempting to submit – that will really help us investigate the source of the bug!

Spam and the use of Language

You may have noticed that recently we have been doing quite a lot of work on combating spam that is being submitted to IMAutomator. Some spam is obvious but there is also other content that is undesired but isn’t spam – non English posts in particular.

In the past we have experimented with having foreign sites in the system but they have not been very effective. I think there is still one in there (it works so no need to remove it) but as a rule now, for the past 6 months at least we’ve had a policy of only including English speaking sites.

However, looking at the content that gets submitted to IMAutomator – a large amount of it is non English. Although that Spanish, Dutch, German etc content may be entirely acceptable, if the users of a bookmarking site only speak English then your content is not of value to them. We are starting to see an increase in the number of sites that now specify that submissions must be in English.

Language Filter to be Implemented Next Week

Therefore we need to follow suit. Next week we will turn on a language filter which will reject your submission if it is not in English. Now that does not mean that all members submitting sites with foreign language content can no longer use IMAutomator – but it means that the submission itself must be made in the English language.

If English if not your first language then what I recommend is to use Google Translate to translate the title & description of your submission into English.

What About Using IMAutomator For Client Work?

I know that we have some members who use IMAutomator to do client work an these members submit a wide variety of links and some of them are not in English. In these situations I suggest working with those clients and explaining the sitution to them. They can still submit their content – but the actual submission text must be in English.

The Future of Language Support

For now, we shall continue to work with just the English language. However there are a lot of sites out there that are in different languages. It would be possible to support these and then submissions would filter through to just the sites of the appropriate language but that would involve a lot of work for a potentially small portion of the member base so whilst it is a possibility, we have no plans to implement such support any time soon.

CAPTCHA’s and the State of Social Bookmarking

This is partially an IMAutomator update post and partly an editorial. A large part of the work involved in keeping IMAutomator growing is site support – that is, the inclusion of new sites into the IMAutomator system to be submitted to.

Those members who have been with us for a while may have noticed that the number of social bookmarking sites in particular seems to have hovered around the 30 mark for quite some time. We haven’t been sitting on our butts doing nothing 🙂 Just today, I went through almost 100 potential sites and not a single one of them could be used because they all had a CAPTCHA on the submission page.

The trouble is that webmasters don’t like tools like IMAutomator! They don’t want our automated engine to submit to their site, they want you personally to go visit the site and click on their ads while you’re there. So they put in measures such as the CAPTCHA to prevent automation – and it works!

Well, it kind of works… These captchas can in fact be broken in an automated way but not for free. ‘Broken’ is perhaps the wrong word – there are services now that offer to solve captchas quickly for a small fee and they offer ways in which to integrate into software such as ours. We have tested this and it works but the trouble is the small fee!

It costs around $2 for 1000 submissions which seems like a tiny amount, but with the sheer cvolume of submissions that are made by IMAutomator (over 23 million at the time of writing!) we cannot absorb the cost.

However, it is possible for us to implement a feature that will allow members to plug in their details for the service (we use the most popular one called Decaptcher) into IMAutomator. We ran a poll on the site a few months ago asking if members wanted it and it seems as though it would be popular but the number of votes on the poll was still a tiny fraction of the overall member base so I fear it would only be used for the minority.

I have been putting off implementing the Decaptcher support. My thinking is that if I can provide an entirely automated and free service then I will but I think these days are growing scarce. I have even hired additional staff to help with site support to try and get more sites in the system but we keep hitting that same brick wall.

On the other hand I have a huge list of sites that could be added if we used Decaptcher support. The costs for the member should be minimal. We would ensure it would be highly configurable – members could specify the minimum PR of sites on which it was used, could select a maximum number of CAPTCHA based sites to use for a submission and turn it off completely for selected submissions.

Assuming it was used with 10 sites, that would cost $0.02 – just 2 cents. If you submitted 100 links a month (not many members use their full allowance) and each of those went to 10 sites that would be a cost of $2 a month.

We will of course continue to try to find free sites to submit to but I may need to bring in Decaptcher support fairly soon!

Spam Jobs Now Clearly Marked in Jobs List

In your main list of jobs, if a job you have submitted previously has been marked as spam, the job still remains in the system but now instead of having a ‘Details’ link where you could go in and see the submission schedule and progress, you’ll see a large red block clearly indicating that the job was flagged for spam.

Note that this change will only affect jobs marked as spam since the update made on 25th October. Jobs flagged as spam prior to this date will look as normal, but the details of the job will show all submissions with the error message ‘Deleted due to SPAM’.

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