We learned this lesson several months ago in our learning community for the Celebrate Oklahoma Voices project, but I had it reinforced again today on the Storychasers site. When you have an online learning community, a best-practice to avoid spammers is to moderate all new members. This can be a hassle, but given the persistence of spammers in seeking to join learning communities so they can post garbage there, it really is essential.

As spam messages go, this one wasn’t horrific since it dealt with credit cards, but still it is unwanted content that should NOT be in our learning community.

Storychasers Drupal Spam

As a Drupal site administrator, after choosing to EDIT and DELETE that specific post I changed the default new user settings so administrative approval is required for all new member sign-ups on the entire site.

Changing user sign-up restrictions for Storychasers

I next checked the Drupal user list, and saw there were a bunch of accounts which were created by spammers in the past few months. These were clearly spammers because when I clicked to view their account details, they were either gibberish or the fields were empty. People joining a learning community and wanting to actually share/participate on a legitimate basis will typically share SOME type of personal information about their contact info and interests in the site/project. Spammers usually won’t.

Drupal Spam Users

I deleted those accounts next.

Delete users in Drupal

If you’re administering a site on Ning, you can require new member administrative approval by choosing MANAGE, NETWORK PRIVACY and clicking the checkbox at the bottom of the page.

Network Privacy - Make new Ning members require admin approval

Hopefully these privacy settings will stave off further spam comments on the Storychasers Drupal site. Later in the summer I plan to set aside some time to work on both content and design for the site. I am considering using a service like Rent A Coder or Get a Freelancer to find someone to help with the coding/design work. I learned at EduBloggerCon09 that Mark Wagner successfully used “Rent A Coder” to have the application “Google Docs Mass Uploader” created. The coder he hired works in India, and the total cost for the software project was around $300. Outsourcing in action!

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