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When petitions are created on the platform, they're automatically scanned by a third party-service, Akismet, to check for spam. Akismet uses petition text, user details, and other information to calculate a statistical probability that the petition is spam. If the petition has a high probability of spam, it is automatically designated as spam and skips the moderation queue. If the petition has a low probability of spam, then it is added to the moderation queue for admin review. The way Akismet determines spam means that a spam designation is not based on the violation of a single, or set, of rules; instead it's merely a probability.
For admins, there are a few main questions when it comes to the spam filter:
- What happens when a petition is marked as spam?
- When should I mark a petition as spam?
- I'm being overwhelmed with spam, what should I do?
- How can I see which petitions have been marked as spam?
- What should I do if a petition is marked as spam, but isn't spam?
What happens when a petition is marked as spam?
When a petition is marked as spam, whether by our automatic spam filter or by admins, a few things will happen:
- The petition will immediately become invisible to everyone except the petition creator and organization administrators. Even with a direct link to the petition, regular site visitors will not be able to see the campaign.
- The petition will be removed from the moderation queue and will be added to your organization's spam petitions view.
- The petition creator will be notified that the petition has been marked as spam and will be able to edit their petition to bring it into community guidelines. They'll also be able to send a message to admins if they think that they should not have been marked as spam.
- If the petition was marked as spam by admins, information about the petition will be sent back to Akismet. This information will be used to refine the spam filter. Because the filter changes based on admin actions it is very important that admins only use the spam designation for actual spam petitions. Spam petitions will commonly include links to buy prescription drugs or download movies illegally. If the petition is just a bad petition, please use a different moderation status, like inappropriate. If the spam moderation status is used for non-spam petitions, it becomes more likely that petitions will be falsely marked as spam.
- If the user has already had two petitions marked as spam, their account will be locked when the third petition is marked as spam. These users will not be able to log into their account or create additional petitions. Admins can view a list of locked users.
When should I mark a petition as spam?
While our spam filter weeds out a lot of spam, some spammy petitions may show up in your moderation queue. To mark a petition as spam from the moderation queue, just click the spam moderation status.
However, we ask that admins only use the spam moderation status if the petition is actually spam. Because our spam filter uses admins' spam moderation actions to learn what should be marked as spam in the future, marking petitions that are just inappropriate or not very good (but not actually spam) as spam will lead to false positives.
How can you tell if you should use spam vs. another moderation status?
- Spam petitions often include links to buy prescription drugs, download movies illegally, or live-stream sporting events.
- Spam petitions often appear in clusters, meaning that a lot of spam petitions may be created over a short period of time.
- Spam petitions are often created by bots, not by real people.
- "Devil's advocate" petitions, "troll" petitions or petitions that have been created in specific opposition to your organization's stated goals are often not spam petitions and should be marked as inappropriate instead. These user accounts can also be locked by admins.
- Petitions created by admins or other users to test platform functionality should not be marked as spam (especially if they use real text about a real issue). Instead, you can hide these petitions or mark them as inappropriate.
For some real-life examples, here are titles of some spam petitions that have been created on ControlShift sites:
- "Paranormal Activity Iso Megaupload"
- "купить сиалис в петербурге - Заказать таблетки для потенции онлайн. Zvg5duy"
- "Software Engineering 7Th Edition Presssman Pdf"
- "Watch UFC 204 Live Stream Bisping vs Henderson 2 Online"
- "Buying generic cialis"
"Devil's Advocate" or "Troll" petitions, which should often be marked as inappropriate instead, might include:
- "Start listening to alicia"
- "CLIMATE CHANGE IS A SCAM DESIGNED TO MAKE YOU PAY MORE TAX. ITS MORE ABOUT GLOBALISM"
- "[Organization Name]: stop emailing us"
- "Ban The Burka"
I'm being overwhelmed with spam, what should I do?
First, sorry that you're getting so much spam! If the amount of spam you're seeing is becoming unmanageable from the normal moderation queue, you should go to the Spam view.
On this page, there are four tabbed views: Recent, Spam, Not Spam, and Locked Users.
Start on the Recent tab. This view will show you a list of the petitions that were most recently created. You can quickly mark petitions as spam by clicking the smoke icon at the end of the row. Marking these campaigns as spam will send that information back to our spam filter and should lead to similar campaigns being marked as spam in the future.
You can also mark petitions as spam from the Not Spam tab. This tab also shows recently created campaigns, but will only include those campaigns that have not already been marked as spam. From this view, you can use the smoke icon to mark campaigns as spam or you can click to mark the entire page as spam at once.
Until the spam influx stops, you may also want to turn off notifications about newly created petitions in need of moderation. To stop these notifications, go to Settings > Contact > Notification Settings. From here you can delete your email entirely or update your preferences to not receive new petition moderation emails. Remember to turn these notifications back on once the spam stops.
How can I see which petitions are marked as spam?
Admins can see a list of spam petitions by going to the admin homepage, clicking Spam, and going to the Spam tab. This page will include a list of all petitions that have been marked as spam by admins or by our spam filter. From here, you can delete spam petitions or mark them as ham (not spam).
To delete the petitions in this view, either click X (to delete a single petition) or Remove All Spam Petitions (to delete all petitions on the page). These deletions cannot be undone, so make sure that you're not deleting ham petitions.
If a petition is included in this spam view, but is not spam, click the checkmark to mark the petition as ham. This will send the petition to the moderation queue and will refine our automatic spam filter.
What should I do if a petition is marked as spam, but isn't spam?
If a petition has been marked as spam incorrectly, you should mark it as ham instead. To mark a petition as ham, go to the admin homepage, click Spam, and go to the Spam tab. From here you'll see a list of the petitions that have been marked as spam by admins or by our spam filter. Click the checkmark next to the petition to mark it as ham. This will send the petition to the moderation queue and will refine our automatic spam filter.
What are locked users?
When a user has three campaigns marked as spam, their account will automatically be locked. Locked users are not able to log into their accounts or create campaigns until their account is unlocked by admins. Org admins can view a list of locked accounts by going the admin homepage, clicking Spam, and going to the Locked Users tab.
If you need to unlock a user's account, click their email. This will take you to the person's user account page. Go to the Settings tab and click Unlock Account to restore account access.
Alternatively, org admins can manually lock a user's account by searching for the user's email under Manage > People, going to the Settings tab of their member page and clicking to Lock Account.
[For those following the new CSL organization admin tutorial, we'll wrap up moderation by looking at email moderation.]