Message boards: prevent users from deleting posts and renaming accounts.

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Both, post deletion and account renaming, favor trolls. Look at these two accounts for example
http://www.imdb.com/user/ur46884246/
http://www.imdb.com/user/ur46857293/

These have recently been used to impersonate and stalk other users across boards. Then been wiped and renamed. And are now sitting idle, presumably for a month or two, before being again put to malicious use.

Details about the impersonation issue can be found here btw:
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1288558/b...

So what's happening here is that trolls reuse accounts over and over again to harm regular users. I believe that's what account verification was meant to prevent yet it doesn't.

This kind of malicious account reuse could be prevented if deletion of posts was disabled. And renaming prohibited.

Would this harm the regular user? I believe not. I've never had any reason to delete any of my posts myself. And have never renamed the account I'm posting with. And I'm seeing no reason why I ever should.

Please give this some consideration. It would give the troll a substantially harder time on IMDB.
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bhertz

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Posted 6 years ago

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Emperor, Champion

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As per our discussion here:

https://getsatisfaction.com/imdb/topi...

I'd support having a group you could move suspect accounts (or reported accounts) into, that would stop them renaming accounts or deleting posts.
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bhertz

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More precisely, if I accidentally wrote crap I'd edit the post to say: "Edit: Sorry, accidentally wrote crap, forget about this post". Case closed and no damage done.

On the other hand, a troll trying to "untroll" his posting history merely by editing would have a very hard time. If for example his last 10 posts suddenly said " Sorry, accidentally wrote crap" you'd immediately know that something isn't kosher.

Just think it through. It really makes a difference.
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Now imagine a troll trying to wipe an account only by editing posts. Won't work.


Why not? You'd just remove the content - same result.
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bhertz

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Nope.

Let's just briefly recap what this is about: a regular user being able to identify - and then legitimately report - a troll.

Now, when a troll deletes a post all is gone, in particular the account name of the user who originally made the post. Also, the post is completely wiped from the posting history of that user.

When you just remove the content by editing though, both are still there. I'm still seeing the post in the thread. Seeing the user name. And I see that this user had to remove the content for whatever reason. And if he didn't specify a reason in his edit I'd already be suspicious about that user.

And when I then click on the user's profile and look at the posting history and see that all his posts are empty (or just containing gibberish) I know it's a troll.

In contrast to that, look at the accounts above. They are completely (!) wiped. You'll never know what they did in the past, and if they posted at all. There's no way to tell if that account ever was used in a harmful way.

And that's essential for trolls reusing their still precious - because verified - accounts. They can reuse them only thanks to that complete removal of posts. Prevent that, and these accounts could always and easily be identified by other users as troll accounts.

A side benefit would be that we wouldn't have these threads riddled with removals of troll posts. Just look at this (a bit further down)
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1288558/b...

This thread is completely destroyed by post removals. And you'll never ever know who did all that damage. If I at least could see the user names and then look at their posting history trolls would be way way way more easily identified.

In fact, to round this trolling countermeasure of, a posted deleted by an admin should ideally also only remove the content and leave the username intact. That way everybody would know who the offender was. And the "offense" would still be part of his posting history.

I mean, seriously - isn't all this terribly obvious? Allow somebody to completely wipe his history and you'll never know what he did in the past. And that's what the trolls exploit in abundance.
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Good points. Although I also think it is important to have a group you put suspect accounts into, one that doesn't allow editing of a post. It is a typical troll trick, that I've seen used many times before elsewhere, to post something offensive and then rapidly change it again once the offense has been caused but before a moderator/admin can see it.

I also like this idea too:

In fact, to round this trolling countermeasure of, a posted deleted by an admin should ideally also only remove the content and leave the username intact.


After all, even deleted posts are really still there, we just can't see them (as far as I'm aware), which might be another reason you'd edit out the content before deleting as I don't believe the system preserves the unedited content (as it would on Wikipedia).
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bhertz

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My friend

you expressed concern the other day about the possibility of real harm being done to regular users by trolls. And believe me, I totally share that concern.

On that very board already mentioned for example and where I've been hanging out for some weeks, Evil Dead, the troll group chose to pick a chinese poster and hammer him. About his bad English. His liking the film. His nationality. Everything. Day in day out.

This was a visibly coordinated effort to wear that user down, in the most disgusting manner. And I can tell you that I was seriously concerned. So concerned that I stepped in, intentionally provoked the trolls and drew their attention on me, just to provide the other guy with some relief. While risking myself getting nuked at the same time of course.

This resulted in me being impersonated. Ridiculed. Stalked on other boards and ridiculed there. And so on.

Well, I obviously don't care so much or else I wouldn't have done this. On the contrary, I took some time taking notes of the offending accounts. How they're used. And how these organized trolls' MO works.

And what I'm now doing here is making suggestions which I consider very effective given this experience while not really affecting the regular poster. The account verification is a good thing. It attaches value to an account. But all this is useless if accounts can be completely wiped.

Fact is, there's still over a dozen other accounts that have been used for trolling that board. Some already wiped some not yet. But rest assured, they'll all be wiped completely and renamed at some point, then lay idle for some time, then be used again to troll another board.

This definitely should be prevented. Accounts need to retain their history of offense. So that everybody can see what they did in the past and take according action. And I'm suggesting this totally in the spirit of what you said the other day. You may trust me on that one.
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bhertz

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Another example of a clear cut troll account that's obviously been recycled a couple of times, thanks to IMDb allowing wiping and renaming
http://www.imdb.com/user/ur27613112/

The account, currently named "Burhou-434", is 2 years old and having just one post in its history. Odd enough. But on top of that, it's being used right now to impersonate (and ridicule) this user
http://www.imdb.com/user/ur8035870/

One of the many kinds of abuse that would be much more costly for the trolls to perform if account wiping and renaming was prohibited.
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DavidAH_Ca, Champion

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I think that IMDb should consider the policy on this site: a poster may change or delete their posts until someone replies. After the reply is made, the original post is frozen.

Since any change to the User Name on IMDb ripples through all posts made by that user, this change would also defeat the change name, post, delete, change back trolling.
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bhertz

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poster may change or delete their posts until someone replies

I believe that wouldn't play well with IMDb's recommendation that a troll should be ignored. Because if let's say 90% of his posts receive no response he may delete those after some time, edit the rest to look harmless, rename the account and again make it look as good as wiped.

One brief addendum on "ignoring" the troll. It's of course easy to ignore the content of his posts. But I've seen two trolling methods that don't depend on particular content and are hard to ignore:

(1) daily mass-bumping of hate threads
(2) impersonation of other users

I believe these can be effectively countered only by the measures I suggested.

Of course, one might ease them a little. Like allowing 2 renames and make the renaming history visible on the profile page for everybody to see. But there already an impersonation context would be lost. On another board for example, nobody would be able to know that "Burhou-434" was an impersonation.

But again, I don't see any reason why a regular user would want to rename his account. Allowing this really just encourages impersonation and other forms of trolling.
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DavidAH_Ca, Champion

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I don't see any reason why a regular user would want to rename his account. Allowing this really just encourages impersonation and other forms of trolling.
If you mean 'rename multiple times', I might agree with you, but I myself have renamed my IMDb account.

I wanted to create a single ID across several sites (including IMDb and Getsatisfaction) and in order to do this I had to change my name on both sites.

Your idea of restricting the number of changes is quite reasonable (although allowing another change after a significant period - e.g. 1 or 2 years - might be a possibility, as people do change over time and might want to change their name to match). I also feel the history might be a good idea; in fact, I added a 'formerly ...' line in my profile when I changed my name.
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bhertz

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I wanted to create a single ID across several sites

Understandable, but I consider that a "nice to have" and not essential to a meaningful usage of the boards.

Look, the situation with IMDb message boards is like this
* zero moderation
* reporting system largely ineffective.

Saying that IMDb's shifting the problem of board abuse largely over to their users. Where their - pretty much helpless - standard advice merely amounts to: ignore the troll.

I'm sorry, but that's too little. In the absence of moderation and proper reporting you just can't have all the glitzy board features everybody would like to have but which make life very easy for trolls at the same time.

Put differently, if I'm being left alone to deal with all the abuse I at least expect IMDb to support me, by not providing board features that favor trolls.

And mind you, when saying "troll" I don't mean the occasional idiot who happens to throw some slurs at me. I mean people who systematically destroy any meaningful discussion with dozens of socket accounts and all kinds of despicable tactics. Impersonation and stalking just being one of those.

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