Most User Group moderators will agree with me that keeping the spammers out of your mailing list is a big pain. Different groups have different definition for spammers. For me, recruiters, marketing folks and people interested in self-promotion are also part of the general spammers.
Some of the main groups I moderate are:
- Agile India on Yahoo Groups
- Agile Philly on Yahoo Groups
- Agile Alliance on LinkedIn
- Agile Coaches on Yahoo Groups
For different groups I’ve used different tactics to keep the spammers out.
For example, for Agile India and Agile Philly, first post by any new member is moderated. Once approved the person can make further posts without any moderation. If you have a lot of new members (mostly valid members), its gets quite time consuming to moderate the list. It also discourages new members from posting on the list.
For the Agile Coaches, we use the list only for announcements by the moderators. Members are not allowed to post to the group. Instead they post it to the moderators and the moderators in-turn post it to the group. Alternatively the members can use the wiki to start discussion there. Which is what we want to encourage.
The Agile Alliance list on LinkedIn is very interested for me. LinkedIn does not provide any pre-post moderation and it also allows all users to post to the list. So what I end up doing is, I scan the discussion board every 2-3 days and see if there are any posts which are spams. I go ahead and delete them. Earlier I used to send an email to the person who posted it, saying I’m deleting this message because our group treats this as spam. But it turned out to be too much work. So now I just go ahead and delete the message.
This leads to a very interesting phenomenon. If I’m a human spammer and see a discussion forum where there are no spams, I’m afraid to post any spam messages. It discourages the spammer. Its like the broken window syndrome. If you see a house with broken windows, you don’t mind throwing another stone at it. But if you see a clean house with everything intact, you are generally scared to damage the building.
Every now and then I do get a spam, but its quite manageable.