[Rd] problem submitting R bug; bug plotting in tiling window manager

peter dalgaard pdalgd at gmail.com
Sun Feb 7 11:54:11 CET 2016

Unfortunately, the spammers in question appear to be human (of sorts). 

We're not sure what they're up to, but a common pattern is to post random text, or something copied from a generic bug report (like "able to add 6 item"), later followed by a comment containing a link or a file attachment. 

Presumably, it is some sort of click-bait scheme, but it could also be a covert channel for contrabande files. At any rate, it is very hard to distinguish by mechanical means. So it is done by eye, with some risk of Type-I error. Thus, the Bugzilla maintainers are pretty vigilant to stamp out spammers, sometimes edging on being ham-fisted (er, -footed?).


> On 07 Feb 2016, at 00:25 , frederik at ofb.net wrote:
> No problem.
> Another suggestion would be to simply validate user input like most
> websites, and reject invalid submissions immediately, rather than
> blocking the user's account. I don't know what kind of spambots you
> are up against, but unless they are very intelligent I doubt they'll
> be able to understand a message like "You submitted a bug with no body
> text, please enter something and try again." There may also be the
> option of using Captchas.
> Not sure how hard it is to get Bugzilla to do these things.
> Thanks,
> Frederick
> P.S. (I now see that all errors on the bug tracker are displayed with
> a red background)
> On Sat, Feb 06, 2016 at 03:00:21AM -0500, Duncan Murdoch wrote:
>> Thanks for the suggestions.
>> Duncan Murdoch
>> On 05/02/2016 10:07 PM, frederik at ofb.net wrote:
>>> Hi Duncan Murdoch,
>>> Thanks for your time. I apologize for not telling you that my email
>>> address on the bug tracker is slightly different -
>>> "frederik-rproject at ofb.net" vs "frederik at ofb.net". I was going to
>>> follow up with this information, but then I thought, he probably knows
>>> how to find a tagged email address.
>>> I do hope that you are able to fix the bug tracker. In particular,
>>> people should be made aware that their account is blocked before being
>>> invited to submit a bug. The error they get should be less rude - no
>>> need to make it red - and the email address in the error should be
>>> filled in. You complained about wasting time having to look for my
>>> email address - well, I wasted time looking for yours. The error
>>> message could even hint at what triggered the ban. I don't think that
>>> you're going to get very far by trying to scare off actual spammers
>>> with a big red accusation - I imagine they all have pretty thick skin.
>>> Reading the first line of my bug report was generous of you, but if
>>> you read the rest, you'll see that, indeed, after checking with the
>>> knowledgeable i3 guys, it appears to be an R bug. So I would like to
>>> submit it. What appears at the top of my bug report is a copy of the
>>> original bug I posted to i3, at the linked URL (are links OK or will I
>>> get banned again?).
>>> The reason a bug appeared with the subject "til" is because I noticed
>>> that when typing into the subject field, some "related bugs" come up.
>>> However, this "suggestion" process appeared to be stalled when I typed
>>> "til" (for "tiling" or "tilable"). I tried hitting "enter" and it
>>> ended up opening a bug with that subject, which I never submitted,
>>> because I clicked "back" and figured out that *four* characters are
>>> actually necesary to start getting suggestions. The whole point of
>>> doing this was to see if another bug had been submitted with the same
>>> topic, and thereby save you time! I'm not going to try to reproduce
>>> this error, because you said it will get me banned again, but I think
>>> somebody should try to fix the site so that people don't get banned
>>> for any content which is not submitted. Especially people with
>>> months-old accounts, like me.
>>> I definitely sympathize with the spam problem, and thank you for your
>>> hard work. Best wishes,
>>> Frederick
>>> On Fri, Feb 05, 2016 at 08:19:40PM -0500, Duncan Murdoch wrote:
>>>> On 05/02/2016 7:26 PM, frederik at ofb.net wrote:
>>>>> Dear Dirk Eddelbuettel and Duncan Murdoch,
>>>>> Thank you for your work on the wonderful R project!
>>>>> I recently attempted to submit a bug with your Bugzilla interface:
>>>>> https://bugs.r-project.org/bugzilla/enter_bug.cgi
>>>>> I created an account, typed in all my information, first checking
>>>>> details with another project. Then I clicked submit, and was taken to
>>>>> a web page with a big red banner, it said
>>>>>   Spammer
>>>>>   If you believe your account should be restored, please send email to explaining why.
>>>>> What a hostile thing to say to your users! I tried resubmitting my
>>>>> bug, but removing any links, and I still get the message - so it looks
>>>>> like my account has really been blocked. Please do something to warn
>>>>> your users about this so they can avoid the upset.
>>>> Your account isn't blocked now, but it wasn't easy to unblock it: you used a
>>>> different email address in the submission, not the same one you used in this
>>>> email.  At least one of the people who can deal with this kind of thing
>>>> would now demand an apology from you before ever reading your email again.
>>>> I won't do that, but I have to admit, I don't like the fact that you wasted
>>>> 10 minutes of my time. I'm Bcc'ing a couple of people who are working on
>>>> putting together a better interface to the bug reporting system, so they
>>>> know to deal with this kind of issue as well as all the others.
>>>> I'm not hostile, I just sound that way, because I've wasted a lot of time
>>>> this week on issues like this.
>>>> Duncan Murdoch
>>>> (Here's my previous email to you, for the benefit of those who are Bcc'd:
>>>>> You posted a bug report, but it had no content other than "til".  That's
>>>>> what many abusers of the system have done, so you were blocked.
>>>>> I have read the first line of your bug report, and it says " I'm not
>>>>> sure if this is a bug with i3 or R ".  If you're not sure if it's a bug
>>>>> or not, then please post to R-devel.  That's a moderated list so if this
>>>>> is your first post, it may take a while to appear.
>>>>> This probably seems unreasonable to you, but a lot of abuse is sent to
>>>>> the bug list, so we block it quite early.  I'll unblock you now, but
>>>>> please don't post there again unless your discussion on R-devel
>>>>> indicates this is a problem with R rather than i3.
>>>> Duncan Murdoch
>>>>> Well, I don't know what it means to "email to explaining why", so I
>>>>> tried to subscribe to R-devel. However, it's been ten minutes and no
>>>>> confirmation email. So I tracked down your email addresses from the R
>>>>> website. I'm still cc'ing r-devel.
>>>>> I hope it is OK to send the bug by email. I really want to get back to
>>>>> what I was doing, but I don't want to lose the work I put into writing
>>>>> this bug report, so I'm attaching it to this message.
>>>>> Thank you,
>>>>> Frederick Eaton
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Peter Dalgaard, Professor,
Center for Statistics, Copenhagen Business School
Solbjerg Plads 3, 2000 Frederiksberg, Denmark
Phone: (+45)38153501
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Email: pd.mes at cbs.dk  Priv: PDalgd at gmail.com

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