New issue of comments on iNat journal posts by what look like bots?

I’ve noticed in the past week or two that I’m getting notifications of comments on project journal posts from users with 0 observations / 0 identifications. The comments are not relevant to the post. In both cases I’ve noticed the posts have legitimate comments by users I know above the other comments. Are these bots? Anyone else noticing comments like these? Ultimately I can ignore them and it’s not a big deal, just trying to figure out what’s going on.
Two posts with these comments:
https://inaturalist.ca/posts/69804-observation-of-the-week-august-28-to-september-3-2022#activity_comment_ac88bb0c-bc7a-41bf-a0dc-28af73a2791a
https://inaturalist.ca/posts/69008-observation-of-the-week-july-31-to-august-6-2022#activity_comment_26119de6-47e3-4eaa-86df-9a1108313273

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Yea, I think someone has built something to create these new bots that comment on journal posts. I don’t understand the goal.

I’ve flagged them in the past and then curators can go through and look for their comments to see if they are all spam or not.

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both of the examples come from the same project. are there examples from any other projects?

could it just be that there are just new people who are interested in the project specifically but not in posting observations or identifying?

Sorry but when I get those bland, one size fits all, comments on my blog post I delete as spam.

The techie explanation I have read for Why Do They Do It?
Testing the waters.
Do you moderate comments? No? Great!
Then you will be hammered with spam - porn, website selling something.

No, thank you. Flag as spam. Delete delete delete. Spammers are paid to hit as many sites as possible. Any site, who cares, so long as they welcome spam.

I was naive and fell for the first one … just what I needed for my homework assignment :grin:
Really? :face_exhaling:

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Here is one from my project: https://www.inaturalist.org/posts/36847-ohiodragonfly-book-updates-and-other-news#activity_comment_634ab38d-e9a1-41b2-8acc-52735588829b

One comment wasn’t flagged as spam, so it is still standing for now. But I had two different fake people comment on it. See flags: https://www.inaturalist.org/flags/577021 and https://www.inaturalist.org/flags/580255

These bots at least used more text so it was more obvious they were fake.

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I would recommend flagging anything even mildly suspicious as spam. The worst case is that you’re wrong and the flag is resolved. It never hurts to be cautious!

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Thanks for the responses. I actually didn’t know you could flag comments (although I should have!), so have just done that. I suppose they could be comments from new genuine users - I really have no way to tell definitively. But the project is done for the year, the commeters are not members of the project, and they have no profile info for me to assess.

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Spammers are counting on you to think that

Took a look at the accounts that made the comments linked to in this thread and they’re all very suspicious.

The usernames of the accounts all use “western” (for lack of a better term) names common in the US, but the IP addresses are from other countries where English is not the main language, and at least one uses an IP address run by a server company. I’d be pretty shocked if those were the real names of the users. Also, the accounts are making comments weeks or months after having been created and have done nothing else in the meantime.

At first glance, the other IP addresses seem to come from real residential/mobile ISPs that legitimate iNat users have also used, so it might not be possible to block them. I’ll make a report for our devs to look at. Sorry about this, and thanks for being vigilant and reporting.

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You have to be ruthless. Zero tolerance.

Seriously, I once saw what had been an enjoyable website made completely unusable by spam. As in the forums were so swamped with spam, you couldn’t even find your thread to see if there had been any replies without paging through several pages of nothing but spam threads.

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I just resolved two flags because they are not spam according the definition of spam in iNats guidelines. I would suggest to flag such suspicious comments/accounts as “other” with some explanation (might be a bot, suspicious account) or mail directly at [help@inaturalist.org] (mailto:help@inaturalist.org) Curators simply can’t look into technical details.