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Protecting Your Wiki From Spam

The Wiki, used by Wikipedia and implemented using MediaWiki, is an excellent way to share your knowledge and allow other users to do the same as well. But like any open forum, it's an invitation to spammers. Spammers with their automated searching software will find your wiki in a matter of weeks. Their automated posting software, will vandalize your wiki many times a day. Unchecked, your wiki will simply be a spam site.

So, how do you keep spammers away from your wiki? You can't. But you can protect your wiki from spams. And here are some methods.

Insert an IP Ban List

One of the most effective way to prevent wiki spam is to ban spammer IP's within your wiki. A very effective list is provide in the "Fight Comment Spam, Ban IP's". I've used this IP list in the Camera Hacker Wiki with good results.

Delete and Restore

Sometimes, spam will get pass your defense system and mar your pages. Most wiki moderators simply restore an older revision of the wiki page. That is not sufficient, because the wiki page history still contains the marred revision, meaning wiki users and search engines will see the spammer's links. Even after restoring the revision, the spammer has achieved it's goal, which is to post as many spam links as possible. Simply restoring an older revision give the spammer the temptation to continue to spam your wiki.

The only way to get around this problem is to delete a spammed wiki page. Then restore the last known good revision. Using this manner, even though the spammed page is in the deletion log, only administrators and moderators can see those pages, which means your users and search engines will not see them.

This tactic will frustrate spammers to no ends, because they will have to spent so much time to get past your defenses. And with one click you've deleted their spam, preventing them from gaining grounds on Google PageRank and page views.

Protect a Wiki Page

The above two method of weeding out spams in wiki has worked well for me. The Camera Hacker Wiki, the spammers only gets pass the IP defense once every two weeks or so, even though they try constantly.

But ever two weeks, the same wiki page gets defaced. It's obviously that the spammer is using a simple automated script. They have to manually pick a page to deface. And when they successfully deface that page, they will continue to deface the same page.

At this point, it's time to protect the page from editing. It's easy for you to do, but will frustrate the spammer even more. Because they now have to do more work to figure out that they script is no longer working on that page. And then they'll have to change the page to deface, knowing that the time they spent is expensive, because you will delete (see above section) the spammed wiki pages.

Results

After implement these spam protection tactics, you'll immediately see your efforts bear fruit.

So far these spam protection tactics has worked for me. I believe without these tactics, I would have many more spammers attacking my Camera Hacker Wiki. After implementing these tactics, I believe (based on logs and trends) there are currently only one spammer that is still attempting to get pass these defenses.

Good luck. And if you know any other wiki spam protection methods, feel free to let us know.

Chieh Cheng
Sat, 28 Apr 2007 10:13:07 -0700

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