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Bots

Original Post
F Wheeler · · Portland, OR · Joined Oct 2022 · Points: 0

Seems like we’re seeing more and more bots on MP.  Anything in the works to address this?

Yukon Cornelius · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Mar 2019 · Points: 0

As an AI language model, I don't have access to real-time information or specific details about ongoing projects or developments unless they have been publicly announced before my last update in September 2021. Therefore, I cannot provide you with the most up-to-date information regarding the actions taken by the Mountain Project team to address the issue of bots on their forums.

However, combating bots and spam is a common challenge for online platforms, and many website administrators and developers employ various strategies to tackle this issue. Some potential measures to address bots on forums like Mountain Project may include implementing more robust user authentication methods, using CAPTCHA tests to verify human users, employing machine learning algorithms to detect and block suspicious activities, and actively monitoring and moderating forum content.

If you're concerned about bots on the Mountain Project forums, I recommend reaching out to the Mountain Project support team directly or checking their website or official announcements for any information regarding steps they are taking or have already taken to combat bots and maintain a positive user experience on their platform.

Terry E · · San Francisco, CA · Joined Aug 2011 · Points: 43
F Wheeler wrote:

Seems like we’re seeing more and more bots on MP.  Anything in the works to address this?

Good question, imo. The pattern I’ve noticed is new users with unlikely names all in lowercase, asking a climbing related question that generally has also been posted on Reddit, sometimes several years ago. Other than this, and that the question is usually beginner climbing related, the post seems credible. Later, generally several days later a link is added to the original post.

I signed up for mountainproject many years ago and am not familiar with the current sign up procedure.

Zander, can a Captcha be added to the sign up steps for new members, as suggested above, or or can currently AI bots easily work around that? Bots are annoying and are starting to add a level of suspicion towards legitimate new MP members.

edit - I emailed Zander about this, who is out of the office until Monday the 17th.

phylp phylp · · Upland · Joined May 2015 · Points: 1,097

I just asked this in the Mtn project news update thread for this month:

Can you all there in computer expert world suggest the best way to deal with the spam/bot accounts?

I have been using various approaches:

1. flag the post and report it as spam/bot.

2. comment in the thread that so-and-so is a bot.

3. Quote the bot post, and comment that it is a bot.

4. Quote the bot post but delete all the nonsense content, and mention it is a bot.

Are any of these approaches preferable in terms of thwarting the bots goal, which is not comprehensible to me?

Charlie S · · NV · Joined Aug 2007 · Points: 2,396
Jaren Watson wrote: What’s the difference between bots and most humans? Bots generally understand what they read.

Oh burn! Too bad, you’re probably right.

Climbing Weasel · · Massachusetts · Joined May 2022 · Points: 0

I think an interesting example of bots actually making a decent conversation is of the rattlesnake thread. I’m pretty sure that was originally started by a bot, and it now has -I think- four or five pages last time I checked. However, the fact that an interesting conversation has resulted from a bot does not mean I think they’re good; honestly, I think they’re terrible. It’s annoying and kind of disheartening, trying to sort through who is human and who is not on this site. Somebody brought up an interesting point though- the gist of it was that underpaid actual humans were writing these posts, kind of like a troll farm. I’m no computer science person, but I find the idea that a program could jump through all the hoops of signing up for mountain projects on its own, without any human input or guidance, to be difficult.

Yukon Cornelius · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Mar 2019 · Points: 0
Jaren Watson wrote:

The site maintenance team can do nothing to help here. But frankly, we are beyond the point where any of us can thwart generative ai. They already have the training data (the entirety of the internet). This generation will train the next one, and so on.

At present, most content on the internet was created by a human, so we take notice when we see a bot post. But also note how often human users are completely oblivious that they’re responding to bots.* Rather soon, human-generated content will be a vanishing minority.

We may as well get used to it, here and elsewhere. If we really don’t like participating in our own overthrow, I think the only thing we can do is opt out. Quit the Proj.

*This sad and amusing confusion stems from the fact that so many mpers have neither the ability nor inclination to understand what they’re reading. We read just long enough to make a guess then immediately begin crafting a response because speaking (in this case, writing) feeds the ego, but listening (in this case, reading) doesn’t and is mere toil.

What’s the difference between bots and most humans? Bots generally understand what they read.

I get your sentiment, but obviously we ARE noticing, or this thread wouldn't exist.

Shane F · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Aug 2014 · Points: 0

Something I have seen on other forums is new users are not allowed to start threads until they have made 10 comments on existing threads. This would at least slow down the bots. They could also get a bit icon until the 10 posts have been made.

Julian Lam · · Burlington, ON · Joined Jul 2023 · Points: 4

From a web dev point of view, no it's trivial for these outfits to automate signups.

There are programs you can use to "record" your screen actions, like registering for an account, and then they just play it back a bunch of times to create a new account (just changing the username or email in between).

There are automated systems that confirm any verification emails that come in.

It's been an arms race for decades, and the only losers are the actual forum users.

Julian Lam · · Burlington, ON · Joined Jul 2023 · Points: 4
Shane F wrote:

Something I have seen on other forums is new users are not allowed to start threads until they have made 10 comments on existing threads. This would at least slow down the bots. They could also get a bit icon until the 10 posts have been made.

Anyone can make 10 comments... 10 thumbs up, on the other hand...

You a-holes hoard your +1s like crazy  

Hank Caylor · · Livin' in the Junk! · Joined Dec 2003 · Points: 643
Jaren Watson wrote:

The site maintenance team can do nothing to help here. But frankly, we are beyond the point where any of us can thwart generative ai. 

Every single morning there's 1-3 bot posts and they're flagged as bots by users and then removed almost immediately so no clue what you're talking about. As an Admin I can see everyone's email address and a bot email is fucken easy to spot- 132411b2r@cupcakes.com is not hard to notice.

Several folks have already mentioned how easy it is to spot them on MP. Do me a favor, right now, find me one of these bot posts runwild, take a screen grab of it and post it here. You can't do it, other than the Rattlesnake topic, that was surprisingly popular, yet the only one still standing. 

Yes, you're right, AI is coming to the World and we're all going straight to hell right soon, just not on Mountain Project, they're too easy to spot and users flag it right off and poof, it's gone. 

Hank Caylor · · Livin' in the Junk! · Joined Dec 2003 · Points: 643

You just confirmed my point with your 2-14 day old screengrabs. I meant find a bot post right now, not ones you saved in your phone that were gone very soon after being flagged that aren't there anymore.

You're right, there's bot posts galore, but I'm also right as they're quickly gone as it's crazy easy to spot them so not actually a problem unless you're thick(not you dude). Well played though and point taken, you're a good sport brother and I'm a fan.

Alex Fletcher · · Las Vegas · Joined May 2016 · Points: 252
Julian Lam · · Burlington, ON · Joined Jul 2023 · Points: 4

Easiest thing for them to do is add a queue for users with 0 rep, so their posts get manual review.

Old lady H · · Boise, ID · Joined Aug 2015 · Points: 1,374

Okay, but as with actual live noobs in years gone by, if a question is at all useful or engaging, what does it matter how it got here? Used to beva LOT of open topic, post whatever, then never show up.again stuff. But, MPers ran with it anyway.

The forum posts are a tiny part of what goes on gere, with the readership far higher than the few of us who post.

What's the downside? An actual question. Other than some are irritated, no matter who or what deigns to post on here? I've not seen the outside links in these new ones, that I understand ya don't want. But....??

I will say, the cbd spam type that showed up in the wee hours had amazingly bad almost sorta wannabe english that I can't even imagine anything humanoid being able to produce, even putting real effort into it. Those seem to be gone now, also.

Best, H. Still human. Ish. But sometimes I wonder if I'll live long enough for the human/'droid percentage to shift a bunch, and replacement parts let me climb like you kids got to, before I finally die for keepsies, lol!

Julian Lam · · Burlington, ON · Joined Jul 2023 · Points: 4

That they don't contain links doesn't mean they aren't spam. Oftentimes they will come back a couple days later to edit the post to add the link.

Alex R · · Golden · Joined May 2015 · Points: 227

It will get interesting when the bots start ticking and grading routes to look more human. It's all fun and games till an AI language model downgrades your project.

phylp phylp · · Upland · Joined May 2015 · Points: 1,097

Bots are harvesting your MP comments and incorporating them into AI generated crap content in other parts of the internet.

I’m traveling in Europe with just my cell phone, no computer. Saw the Aaron Livingston memorial thread. Googled “Aaron Livingston death” to learn about accident and in top three hits was an AI generated “news” site which wrote an, on the surface, credible article about his life, but then conflated his death with the accident that killed his partner 2 years ago. So factually incorrect “news”. Then same article quoted verbatim a MP user from Memorial thread ( who didn’t know him) about her feelings on the death.

Charlie S · · NV · Joined Aug 2007 · Points: 2,396

Some of the AI stuff has better grammar and spelling than most of the climbing community.  Can we fool AI by going back to the "terrible English" approach?

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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