[uf-discuss] MediaWiki plugin

Ben Ward lists at ben-ward.co.uk
Mon Jan 5 16:03:22 PST 2009

Hi Martin, thanks for your comments.

On 5 Jan 2009, at 12:05, Martin McEvoy wrote:

> It looks to me like the wiki is being spammed  by a bot or bots, I  
> have suffered problems like this.

The wiki has been spammed for a long long time. The the past, the  
admins watch changes come through the #microformats IRC channel and  
kill spam as it happens. That, surprisingly, has scaled OK until we  
upgraded MediaWiki, which didn't work with our current IRC bot…  
meaning we nolonger get a live stream of updates, and instead have to  
check the Recent Changes page manually.

Restoring the IRC bot (or an XMPP+IRC version, ideally) is another  
desired plugin.

> I stopped it by changing the form names to to something gibberish,  
> nothing standard  "wpTextbox1" would be come "ZifG5ut"  nonsense  
> basically, a good Idea is to change the form names regularly,  then  
> you can encode the submit, preview and show pages buttons in Java  
> script and insert them using a function. Its effective because most  
> people who run bots to spam wikis and blogs dont want to be bothered  
> creating a special script just for your site, they go for the low  
> hanging fruit, the easy money and in the end its nothing personal  
> they just move on ;-)

The problem with this solution for us is that we are keen not to  
change code in the MediaWiki core, as it makes future upgrades for  
security patches more difficult. The reason it took quite so much work  
for me to do the last upgrade was from changes being made to core code  
rather than added as extensions, so I'm loathe to do anything too  
drastic. Unfortunately, MediaWiki is built in such a way that the form  
mark-up is all generated out of the core, rather than templates, so we  
can't adjust field names, and doing so (and adjusting the form  
handling) would definitely fall into ‘drastic’ core hacking.

I've got a bit of time this week before I go back to work, so I'm  
trying to take on a number of outstanding µf issues. I'll try and look  
into anti-spam extensions some more.



> Ben Ward wrote:
>> Hi Toby,
>> On 5 Jan 2009, at 01:05, Toby A Inkster wrote:
>>> I don't know much about MediaWiki, but surely it's possible to  
>>> create a plugin which looks at edits from users with no edit  
>>> history, and blocks the edit if and only if it seems to create a  
>>> one-word paragraph at the top of the page?
>> Maybe. And, yes, probably. Alas, the plugins I've written for MW  
>> are just simple parsing extensions, more complex stuff I've no idea  
>> about the capabilities.
>> I've created a new issue under wiki-2-issues (http://microformats.org/wiki/wiki-2-issues#Spam 
>> ) for this one.
>> If we could try to collect notes of things we think should be  
>> enhanced with MW extensions over the next week (on wiki-2-issues),  
>> then we'll push the most urgent onto the microformats blog and  
>> around our various networks and see if someone more experienced  
>> with MW can help us out. Of course, if that person is already on µf- 
>> discuss, help us Obi-Wan Kenobi, you're our only hope!
>> B
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> -- 
> Martin McEvoy
> http://weborganics.co.uk/
> "You may find it hard to swallow the notion that anything as large  
> and apparently inanimate as the Earth is alive."
> Dr. James Lovelock, The Ages of Gaia
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