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Thread: Paul Monaghan

  1. #21
    BetterTogether is offline Banned (Sock Puppet of previously banned user)
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    Funnily enough I had a whole post vanish the other day one minute it was there then " poof " gone other times it's like wading through syrup also similar occurrences to yours but I doubt anyone would be stupid enough to use malicious software in today's modern age. If it was to be found that some one was using that type of software , well the penalties are quite severe.

    I was only discussing such things with a friend of mine the other day who still works at the data commissioners although he speaks in very round terms and never mentions names or places they are increasingly focusing on site owners misusing personal data. It seems not everyone in the cyber world is aware of how far reaching data protection laws.

  2. #22
    Join Date
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    Had a number of folks contact me (via other means) asking what an MU hack was.. this below was from a Mod in December 2006 - bit concerned with what Better Together is saying above, as the last thing we need is too much 'control' my son is a Senior Software Engineer and says this does go on - he's come across it many times, hopefully Caithness.org will be the open forum it's always been - I'm 'trickling' back in as is John Little, hopefully others who went off in Wheelie Bins and other dark places will return for, shall we say 'Robust' discussions? Funny but I am able to write this without it 'jumping' to another line??..

    No, this post isn't an attempt by me to "save the day". Rather, it’s intended to give some background and a reasonably-detached account of some events that led up to the discussion of the miserable users' hack. I'm sorry it took so long to post but I've had visitors to keep me busy all weekend.

    Moderation

    Moderating a website such as this is a difficult job. I knew it wouldn't be easy but it's more difficult than I expected. The vast majority of users are great and they enjoy the forum as it was intended. However, there are a small number who come on merely to "have a laugh" by stirring the pot in one way or another. Some transgress the forum rules either deliberately or accidentally. Others cause problems inadvertently but stay within the rules. We have to deal with all these events. Some members get annoyed when they receive a warning and/or infraction, and they justify their actions in a variety of ways. Many of these are absolutely fine. However, some are clearly disingenuous, and there are many ways to establish this. Note, however, that the vast majority of posters will never receive a warning, never mind any infraction points.

    Moderators are here to try to ensure the smooth running of the forum. We attempt to moderate using a combination of our own judgment and the reactions of our users. We don't always get it right (understatement of the year?) but we at least try. On occasion we receive a number of complaints because we haven't removed contentious threads or posts. Sometimes we act on these and remove the posts. Then we get more complaints - sometimes from the very same people!

    It is clear that many people perceive the current system to be heavy-handed and unjust. Perhaps that is the case, so please let's hear suggestions on how to improve things.

    The Miserable Users Hack

    There was an occasion recently when a number of people (both regular users and moderators) were of the opinion that a flood of posts from one source was not a good development. Some members were put off by this practice, others welcomed it. But the feeling that the situation was worsening led us to suggest to the member on several occasions that they might reconsider both the style and frequency of the posts. The member declined to do so, and gave some reasons for this. Since these activities were not against the rules, no further action was taken - at that time.

    At around the same time, claims were made that the same member was behaving in a way that was not really acceptable on this forum. I am not going to go into details. It's probably not appropriate anyway, and that's one reason why most people didn’t hear about it until recently. I very much regret that this has come into the open, and I would like to say to both parties how sorry I am that things have come to this.

    To continue, it was then discovered that there exists a piece of software, a message-board "plugin", called the Miserable Users (MU) hack (a very unfortunate name by any standards) that can be used to discourage serial posters from flooding the forum. This was tested on the moderators’ test account and discussed in a thread in the moderators' forum. I am informed that it was only ever tested on one member's account and has never been used since. The member was in the MU group for only 4 hours - for 2 of those hours this member was offline, and they posted 2 or 3 times whilst online, so it appears that the effect wasn’t too severe – as was intended.

    I agree that the thread in question contains many posts that may be labelled as ill-considered. But it is not my intention to comment further on that aspect here. I am trying to concentrate on what happened and to keep my personal opinions out of this post. They can be presented elsewhere.

    The MU hack does several things - some details have been posted on the forum and they may be found here (http://www.vbulletin.org/forum/showt...threadid=93258). It introduces delays in loading pages from the forum, and it occasionally produces blank pages, together with other effects that are intended to discourage the user from serial posting. It kicks in when the user tries to access pages from the forum, but that's all. It doesn't do any of these things on any other website the user may access. In particular, it doesn't have any effect on any other part of the website www.caithness.org (http://www.caithness.org)

    Furthermore, it doesn't slow down access to any other website, it doesn't slow down the user's internet connection, and it doesn't slow down the user's computer in any way. The user would simply think that there is a problem with the forum - and nothing else. This problem would not lead to any user complaining to their ISP because every other website they access will work as normal.

    As has been stated many times, the forum has been slow at times for many months. I firmly believe that this is due to the Org's server being overloaded, and has absolutely nothing to do with the MU hack.

    Many readers may think I am excusing the use of the MU hack on this forum. This is not the case. I simply wanted to describe the technicalities of the MU in everyday terms (as best I understand them), and to give an account of some of the events that led to its deployment. I have tried to be objective here - issues of principle and trust can be (and should be) dealt with elsewhere.

    However, I very much regret this development, and I offer my personal apologies to the member concerned.

    Further apologies may be appropriate if I have made any mistakes in what appears above.
    "Genius may have its limitations, but stupidity is not thus handicapped."

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