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Old September 3, 2013, 08:54 PM   #1
CDW4ME
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Blocked due to "spammers in my area"

If I attempt to view TFL using my phone, not on Wi-Fi, I see a message that my IP address is blocked "due to spammers in my area".
If I use Wi-Fi I do not see this message.
Weird.
How can spammers be in an "area" considering the internet is everywhere?
Inconvenient since I can't view TFL unless my phone is on Wi-Fi.

Posted from my android phone using a Wi-Fi connection.
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Old September 3, 2013, 09:06 PM   #2
johnwilliamson062
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It probably means the block of IP addresses your ISP controls. It used to be they were closely tied to geographic location. Only somewhat true today. According to my ISP I live about an hour away from where I do.
Or someone who's first language is other than English wrote the error code.
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Old September 3, 2013, 09:16 PM   #3
TXAZ
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Hummmmm. The opposite makes sense if your WiFi had been Spoofed.
I'd call your carrier and ask.
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Old September 3, 2013, 09:20 PM   #4
hogdogs
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Rarely, staff has to ban a block of IP numbers due to large quantity of spammers using this numerical range...

There may be other reasons for this to occur but I don't delve real deep in the tech end of staff duties as we have some far more seasoned and experienced...

But I will bring this up in the staff discussion...

Brent
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Old September 3, 2013, 10:03 PM   #5
Mike Irwin
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It's simple, really.

Generally, IP addresses (IPA) are assigned in blocks to regions/nations, and IP providers serving those areas (Asia, Western Europe, North America, etc.).

As mentioned, this has broken down somewhat, but it's still largely valid.

Some IP addresses have been overrun by spammers over the years.

A good example is IPA 121, which serves large areas in the Middle East and India, and East Asia. We've had to block literally thousands of individual IP addresses originating from 121, 122, and 123 simply because the likelihood of someone registering with one of those IPAs is about 95%.

Your phone is assigned a completely different set of addresses from your home computer. That's doubly true if your phone is handled by a different carrier than your home internet.

Back to the border lines breaking down...

It looks as if you're on the west coast of the United States. Not really a hotspot for spamming, right?

Unfortunately, there's a new trend in IPA allocation. Providers are selling/leasing/renting whatever unused IPAs to off-shore concerns, which makes it appear as if a spammer is originating domestically.

The Chinese are really big on this right now. They're buying up IPAs assigned to US and Western European regions and using them to spam.

AOL at one time virtually had a lock on IPA 174.XXX (I think that's the one) because they were the largest internet provider in the world at one time. As their fortunes have declined, they've sold off numbers, many to Chinese companies.

Now days, if we see a new member from 174, chances are probably 50/50 that it's a spammer.

Because of all of this, as I said, we've banned literally thousands of individual address combinations. As necessary, we can unblock a limited tunnel that allows legitimate members through, but which generally still keeps most of the spammers at bay.

That used to be pretty difficult and time consuming, but our software admin Tyme crafted a very neat hack to the software that made it fast and nearly foolproof.

Most people don't realize just how hard sites as active as TFL have to fight to keep spammers at bay.

Some months ago we noticed a HUGE surge in spammers trying to access TFL, and they were using new tricks that makes it harder to catch them.

Fortunately, a number of us on staff have worked diligently to keep them out, and by using old standbys (requiring new members to be approved for membership instead of just letting them join and start posting), new tricks for spotting them (which I'm not going to discuss), sharing information with other boards that are also fighting the same fight, and often just using gut instinct, we've been very successful at keeping spammers and other malicious users out of our forums.

It's time consuming, and occasionally we miss something, but since the beginning of the year I feel that I'm safe in saying that we've flushed close to, if not over, 1,000 spammers before they could ever get to the forums.
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Old September 3, 2013, 10:09 PM   #6
Mike Irwin
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Oddly enough, I just went and looked at new registrations for the evening.

Of the 19 that are waiting, two (one from Russia, one from Denmark, supposedly) were obvious spammers. They're gone.

There are several others that are either highly, or moderately, suspect, and which require further investigation.

Given, however, that I'm now well past my bedtime, they're going to have to wait until either someone else looks at them, or I get to the office tomorrow at 6.
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Old September 3, 2013, 10:16 PM   #7
Mike Irwin
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Meh, to hell with it. I couldn't walk away.

Further investigation showed that one more of the new registrants was a spammer. The others appear to be legitimate members.
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Old September 3, 2013, 11:20 PM   #8
Mal H
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CDW4ME - using the method that failed (your phone), Google "what is my ip address" and let us know what it returns. We can usually free up the blocked IPA.
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Old September 4, 2013, 04:37 PM   #9
CDW4ME
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I'm looking and posting now on 4G, did not get blocked.
Thanks for the replies.
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Old September 5, 2013, 12:45 AM   #10
DaleA
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Once again many thanks to the staff that keep this place a civilized and well ordered place to post. I hope you realize how much we appreciate your efforts.

And speaking for myself I didn't even know you had to contend with this problem. I doubt we know the stuff you have to do.
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Old September 5, 2013, 09:43 AM   #11
Mal H
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"I doubt we know the stuff you have to do."

If you only knew!

The spammers are getting very clever these days. I would guess we are dealing with anywhere from 5 to 20 a day, every single day. The way we have it set up now, 98% of them never make it completely through the registration process.
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Old December 19, 2013, 10:45 AM   #12
jughead2
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Sorry to stir up an "old" thread, but I've sent 2 emails to the gmail account listed on the bounce page for blocked IP's. No response after a week on either message. I've never been "banned" from a forum for any reason since I started poking around the net over 10yrs ago.

As of this post, my current IP is 204.93.124.76 which should be long-term static unless we have a major power outage and the fiber transceiver loses its mind.
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Old December 19, 2013, 11:13 AM   #13
Brian Pfleuger
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jughead2,

You're posting in this forum... you're not blocked.
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Old December 19, 2013, 11:27 AM   #14
Mal H
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jughead - what is the address you are sending your messages to? We check the email account practically hourly and haven't received anything from you. If we don't get 'em, we can't reply to 'em. Also, you or anyone can always email webmaster@thefiringline.com if a problem like you described pops up. In essence, it's the same account as our gmail one.

[Added]
Oops - yes I did find your emails after a search through our spam folder. Apparently Google/gmail thought your emails were spam and we didn't get notice of them. I think the IP address you included in the email is what keyed them to think the entire email was spam. We'll look into it a bit further.
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Old December 19, 2013, 11:28 AM   #15
Mike Irwin
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Jughead, please check your private messages.

Edit In: OK Mal has already covered much of what I did in my PM to you.

Short answer, we're not sure who you're sending your e-mails to, but they don't appear to be to the TFL webmaster.


To reinforce what Mal just said about checking the webmaster, my personal cell phone is linked to the TFL webmaster account so that when an e-mail is received I get notice on my cellphone.

In other words, the e-mail account is monitored 24x7x365.

I really didn't think that one through when I was setting up accounts on my phone...
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Old December 19, 2013, 11:38 AM   #16
Mike Irwin
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Well that was certainly unexpected, and I apologize.

I've gotten out of checking the spam filter.

Just when you get comfortable, it bites you in the ass.
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Old December 19, 2013, 04:21 PM   #17
Mal H
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I can find no reason why your emails to us were considered spam by Google. The exact IP address wasn't in the spam list, though a variation of it was. I guess it will remain a mystery. Anyway, the IP address you emailed us about has been unblocked. It was in a large range that had been blocked.
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Old December 19, 2013, 04:47 PM   #18
Mike Irwin
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Mal, my guess is that Google made a call of guilt by association.
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Old December 19, 2013, 06:56 PM   #19
Mal H
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... but, we wouldn't be getting any emails if that were the case!
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Old December 20, 2013, 12:46 AM   #20
Mike Irwin
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Well, as I said, the whole range defined by the first two trips is simply polluted with spammers.

Maybe Google finally assigned everything from that range as spam.
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