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!

Improved navigation


We’re working on ways to improve navigation in the wiki.

One of our challenges is that on any given topic we have many pages – howtos, project pages, designs, organization and collaboration, as well as subtopics, and more. Wikis have category pages, but they’re normally only used by hardcore wiki geeks. How do we make them friendlier? And how do we point people to browse the categories?

Here’s an early attempt. On the topic page for Permaculture is a notice that says:

Browse this topic’s subtopics, howtos, project pages, designs, organization pages and more at the Permaculture category.

and on the category page is a longer notice:

Permaculture is a form of whole systems design based on the sustainability of natural systems, seeking to reproduce that sustainability in our living environment.Read more about this topic at Permaculture.

Browse this category’s subtopics, howtos, project pages, designs, organization pages and more below.

There’s more to be done, and much work to do – especially portal pages, like our Appropriate technology portal.

What do you think?