Spam Analysis

This article attempts to analyze different types of spammers in hopes of making their activities more clear and thus easier to hunt them down.

Spam Wiki Creators

There seems to have been a massive wave of spam-only wikis which were created in late 2008/early 2009. Their modus operandi is so similar that it is almost certain that they were created by the same person or group using identical spam scripts. Look on the Main Page for some examples (as long as they are still listed there. Common elements include:

  • User names and Wiki URLs which begin as normal words and names, but then have one or two random letters added to them.
  • Start pages which have the same default text every wiki gets. This gives the impression that the wiki is empty. However, when you click on the "List all pages" or "Recent changes" functions, it quickly becomes evident that there are plenty of other pages not linked from anywhere else in the wiki - and all of them are full of spam links.

Tips for hunting Spam wikis

  • If you have seen the text of a typical ad on such a site, use it to search for other sites with the same text on Google. For example, if there is an ad for "pool supplies" on a spam wiki, type the following into Google: "pool supplies"

Most hits listed will be part of spam wikis.

  • If one of the spam wikis is deleted by, check the user names of the spammers who created them and click on "Recent Contributions" - most seem to have created multiple spam wikis, and thus you will find the spam wiki they had created prior to the recently deleted one.

The Link Spammer

This form of attack seems to have intensified in early 2010. It consists of a spammer who appears under a different user name (or anonymous IP address, if anonymous edits are allowed) every few days. The number of changes is fairly low in volume, but very annoying nonetheless. Common elements include:

  • Spam links added to the Start, About, and Navigation Side Bar of a wiki (though other pages have been vandalized as well).
  • If the edit is reverted by the regulars, the spammer will revert to the earlier version with the spam link under a new user name (this is a strong hint that it is indeed the same person).
  • The Link Spammer will usually persistently attack the same sites as long as he can access them with new user names.

Tips for dealing with the Link Spammers

  • Block the affected pages from further edits so that only admins and moderators can alter them.
  • Restrict editing the wiki to members only.

Tips for hunting the Link Spammer

  • Once you have identified a user name used by the Link Spammer, go on his User Page and click on his Recent Contributions. This will show you which other wikis he has vandalized as well. Notify the admins of those wikis if these vandalisms haven't already been reverted, and refer them to this page so that they know what they are dealing with.
  • If the vandalism has been reverted by the locals, check the history of the page to see if other users have vandalized the same page in the same or a similar manner (look especially for reversions to a version with the spam link). Once you have identified such alternate user names of the Link Spammer, click on "Recent Contributions" on their user pages as well. This way you can move from alias to alias.
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