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Matt speaks on the slowness of the site. UPDATED!

Take it away, Matt:
"BookCrossing has been attacked by bots in what seems to be causing somewhat of a DoS (Denial of Service attack). These bots are automated robots (in other words, computer programs, not people) that sign up for accounts and then spam membership on sites. Normally we get about 200-300 new members a day, some are spam, most are not. In the last 6 weeks it has grown to 600, then 1000, and lately 5000-6000 a day. I ran that report last night and then installed in a new Google captcha on the join page to stop the flow of new bogus members. That has worked, we have 178 members so far today. But the bots are still coming and hitting the signup page, so far about 40,000 times today. I've installed monitoring software to try to catch them by IP so we can block them. That's a long answer for: we are working on it, and trying to get the site back under control."

Source: http://www.bookcrossing.com/---/8624756

Complete Thread

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Take it away, Matt:
"BookCrossing has been attacked by bots in what seems to be causing somewhat of a DoS (Denial of Service attack). These bots are automated robots (in other words, computer programs, not people) that sign up for accounts and then spam membership on sites. Normally we get about 200-300 new members a day, some are spam, most are not. In the last 6 weeks it has grown to 600, then 1000, and lately 5000-6000 a day. I ran that report last night and then installed in a new Google captcha on the join page to stop the flow of new bogus members. That has worked, we have 178 members so far today. But the bots are still coming and hitting the signup page, so far about 40,000 times today. I've installed monitoring software to try to catch them by IP so we can block them. That's a long answer for: we are working on it, and trying to get the site back under control."

Source: http://www.bookcrossing.com/---/8624756
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and the explanation. Best of luck with this.
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Take it away, Matt:
"BookCrossing has been attacked by bots in what seems to be causing somewhat of a DoS (Denial of Service attack). "

I rather hope it is this, because then at least it is something outside of the sites architecture.
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For this explanation, but above all for all the work you guys do to keep the site a good place .
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Ardik and I just finished working on the site tonight. We made some code changes to the pages that were being hit, and blocked the major offenders as best we could. The site came back to life once Frank entered in a list of the worst of them. That said, we are brainstorming on some long term fixes to be able to identify and block these users automatically instead of having to pour through log files and other methods. More later, have a good night/day.
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We made some code changes to the pages that were being hit, and blocked the major offenders as best we could. The site came back to life once Frank entered in a list of the worst of them.

Yay! That's great news! Keep up the good work, we love this site far too much to want to lose it to a bunch of stupid spammer bots!
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Yes, thank you Matt and Ardik for keeping them from our door ;-)
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and thank you to you and Ardik for all the work you do!

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I never understood the point of what those bots and spammers do, the *why* of why they bother at all. But thankfully, we have you! They can't win here!
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I'm glad it wasn't a full on DDos attack then. Good luck scooping out the culprits, kudos for figuring out what the problem is and tackling it!
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Or should that be 30,000 cheers?! The mind boggles at the number of people and robots/programs that seem to exist solely as parasites or the internet equivalent of mosquitoes! Thank you for all that you do!
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This is not only for working on the solution to the slow load time, but even more for taking the time to explain to us what is going on. It's a lot easier to work through the problem from our side since we now know the reason for our difficulties.

My issue is that I don't want *anything* to stop newbies from joining with us. If the site doesn't work, and I don't know why or when the issues will be resolved, that is a HUGE turnoff to people who are just stopping by BookCrossing "for a look".

Thank you for your hard work to keep this website up and running the way it's supposed to be!

P.S. I hope you had a wonderful holiday weekend. :)
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Update on this. Ardik kept diligent watch through night on my side of the globe and performance is still good! Some of the next steps we will be taking:
- First one will seem odd, but over the years there has been a buildup of members created by bots. We have identified many of them through email verification. Sometime this week we will be purging the database of these fake members who do nothing but take resources from actual BookCrossing members.
- We will be adding the reCaptcha "I am not a robot" check box to private messages for non-wings members. This one is easy, pretty non-intrusive, and prevents members from getting spam from automated bots that create accounts, and then login and send messages (these exist). I don't think many spammers are members paying for wings.
- We will be moving some files to a cloud server so that during peak times the web server doesn't have to send out images and other files. It makes a big difference.
- Frank and I are coming up with a program solution to block IP addresses that abuse the site. This one will take longer because it needs to be tested to make sure it doesn't block actual active users, but it is the long term goal.
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We appreciate you guys more than you could know.
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- Frank and I

Don't think I'd heard of Frank before today! Welcome :-)
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Welcome :-)

Oh, he's been around for a while. You may know him as Ardik.
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Welcome :-)

Oh, he's been around for a while. You may know him as Ardik.

Of course!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Thanks, Moem!
But twice today Matt's called him Frank - and he doesn't usually .... no-one does ..... :-)
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twice today Matt's called him Frank - and he doesn't usually .... no-one does ..... :-)

Maybe there was a lack of sleep involved... ;-)
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Maybe there was a lack of sleep involved... ;-)

Oh yes, plenty of that, I'm sure! They've been doing a grand job!
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- First one will seem odd, but over the years there has been a buildup of members created by bots. We have identified many of them through email verification. Sometime this week we will be purging the database of these fake members who do nothing but take resources from actual BookCrossing members.


I'll be happy to go through the list of members in France (when the search tool is live again) and point out to you all the fake members I have bumped into while watching for newbies. There was an outrageous number of fake plumbers and electricians in the last few months and their profile summaries are just ridiculous, very poorly written blurbs about how their jobs and books are related!...
Just tell me if that would be of use (I have grumpily voiced here in the past to get rid of those accounts with no second thoughts).
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'll be happy to go through the list of members in France

We will definitely let you know if we need help finding them. Tired of the spam member taking up space!
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I'll be happy to go through the list of members in France

We will definitely let you know if we need help finding them. Tired of the spam member taking up space!


Good! :o) Via email is best (I'm one of the RMs).
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Thank you so much for all your hard work. You have so many fans here, and we would be so lost without this amazing site.
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- First one will seem odd, but over the years there has been a buildup of members created by bots. We have identified many of them through email verification. Sometime this week we will be purging the database of these fake members who do nothing but take resources from actual BookCrossing members.


About bloody time, if you don't mind me saying so. It's long been an irritant to me that TPTB leave obvious spam accounts in place instead of simply deleting them PDQ. I've long regarded it as a misguided attempt to massage the user figures upwards, though fooling nobody in reality.
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It's nothing of the kind. It's just that we don't have anyone available to spend all day, every day, deleting spamaccounts. It would be a full-time job to even make a dent in it.
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It's long been an irritant to me that TPTB leave obvious spam accounts in place instead of simply deleting them PDQ.


It's not that simple. The problem is that the spam accounts are usually created automatically by some botnet as fast, if not faster, than mere human admins can remove them, and reacting to the spam accounts can also trigger increased botnet activity.

At least that's my experience of being an admin of a comments forum which eventually had to close because of the spammers.
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It's not that simple.

Thank you for that explanation!
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Good to know it is not the site itself.

Is it possible to do an ip check for all new accounts? Max 10 accounts/IP address/year?

Is there anything we users can do? Report the fake accounts? And what is the ideal format for this?
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A huge thank you to Matt and Ardik for all the hard work, you guys are awesome!
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Computer super-heroes & I am not exaggerating. Huge thanks all round.
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I haven't noticed any unusual slowness. BC has *always* been the slowest site to load of any that I use regularly, noticeably so. I've just had to get used to that.
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Hi, mjm - no, it was unusually bad - last Thurs. took me 6 min. to log-in & half-hour to make release notes on one book. I know it was Thanksgiving, but it was more than just normal site slowness.
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Thank you very much for all your hard work, very much appreciated! And thanks for the explanation too.
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Thanks so much, for clearing things up, taking the time to explain, and keeping on trucking on!
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for keeping us updated on your plans for the website. That really helps!
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Plain and simple...THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU!...BC Support Team. : )
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Thank you so much, Matt! You guys are great!!!
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..and for all your hard work.
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Thank you!

Thanks for letting us all know. Thought something odd was happening. Beat the bots!
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Ah thanks for the info. I had been meaning to look to see if there were any comments about the slowness once I realised I wasn't really having trouble on other sites. It seems to be better today!
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…and explanation. I've been a Bookcrosser for over 10 years, and only this year did I get a SPAM PM. Kinda shakes you up. And, here you are battling thousands of bad hits. Forge on!
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Having said that, I must also say, that the site is daily not reachable for me.
Meaning, that out of the blue on any day bookcrossing.com just won't load, gives a 503 or 503.3 code.

Is there any news? Or maybe an update?
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Meaning, that out of the blue on any day bookcrossing.com just won't load, gives a 503 or 503.3 code.

Have a look at this thread:
http://www.bookcrossing.com/---/526201

Updates will be posted there.
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Good news, such great work !
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I know some big forums use cloudflare to balance the load when it is very busy and to protect against DDOS, perhaps it is something useful for BC?
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Is this also the reason that changes to my profile won't save? This has been a few months now.
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I have no problem with profile edits.
Maybe your profile contains too much texts/characters?
Have you tried reducing some of it to see whether the problems stems from there?
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I haven't but will give that a try -- thanks!
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Is this also the reason that changes to my profile won't save? This has been a few months now.

I have also found that it happens from time to time. Therefore I always do a Ctrl+A (select all) and Ctrl+C (copy) to store my extended profile contents in the clipboard before saving. At least, if the system then does have a hiccup, I don't have to retype what I've done before. I can merely go back to where I was, do a Ctrl+A to select what's there, then Ctrl+V (paste) to replace it with the clipboard contents, and try saving again. It usually works the second time. I do the same before I save long forum posts or journal entries.

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