ATS Down-Sunday, August 10th, 2008

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Re: ATS Down-Sunday, August 10th, 2008

Postby ryguy » Tue Aug 19, 2008 8:00 am

You Can Call Me Ray wrote:
Today's ubiquitous and often one-sided, promotional coverage of the paranormal, both on the Internet and TV, perpetuate myths and folklore as well or better than any ancient storyteller. Fiction and belief masquerade as fact and news, feeding the 24/7 appetite of the easily swayed.



What a brilliantly-written paragraph... I love it!

Truer words were never spoken. I'm not writing much more, because according to Steve and Tom I have to keep my word count down.

Cheers :)

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Re: ATS Down-Sunday, August 10th, 2008

Postby You Can Call Me Ray » Tue Aug 19, 2008 1:20 pm

ryguy wrote:I'm not writing much more, because according to Steve and Tom I have to keep my word count down.


Ooooh! SMACK! Then I must REALLY be on their sh*t list! #-o

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Re: ATS Down-Sunday, August 10th, 2008

Postby Zep Tepi » Tue Aug 19, 2008 1:25 pm

Haha!
Nah, I take great pleasure in editing Ryan's hundreds of words into dozens, it's a hobby of mine ;)

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Re: ATS Down-Sunday, August 10th, 2008

Postby Access Denied » Wed Aug 20, 2008 3:21 am

ryguy wrote:I'm not writing much more, because according to Steve and Tom I have to keep my word count down.

Nah, keep doing what you do. I’m just jealous… it probably took you less than five minutes to write that whereas it probably would have taken me fifty. :)
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Re: ATS Down-Sunday, August 10th, 2008

Postby Count » Wed Aug 20, 2008 8:12 pm

Access Denied wrote:What’s the difference? Is it just me or does anybody else think it’s strange that a supposedly “free” site make you “pay” for stuff (“privileges”) with posts other sites give you as soon as you sign up? (especially the ability to send private messages)

Seems to me it’s a thinly veiled (well maybe not no so thinly for some) scheme to increase the post count and line the owner’s pockets…


Bah and humbug. Your paranoia and prejudice is showing, please try to keep it in check.

From the quote above it's pretty clear that you haven't had the joy and experience of your forum being attacked by spambots who register, slurp the list of registered users and then PM-spam everyone with some canned spam message pushing penile enlargement products.
CAPTCHA helps, but it doesn't cut all of it so mandatory posting limit is a good and relatively painless way to get rid of said bots.
ATS also used to have the requirement to write a little bit of something about yourself when registering which required some thought and preparation so one wouldn't appear to be a complete fsckup , and that is IMO by far more daunting task than having to write some posts without any real quality requirements other than not being an one-liner...

And speaking of private messages, reading them directly from the database is quite easy if you a) have access to the database (read only will do just fine) and b) can read and understand the process involved how the posts are inserted and read from the database. The latter can be readily found from the source code of the forum software, or if that's not available, by studying the database.

I'm not familiar with phpBB 3.0, but in 2.x versions it went like this: First you looked up the user id of the person whose messages you wanted to read, then you looked up the same for recipient (from phpbb_users table, searching by username). Then you did a search on the phpbb_privmsgs table with those userids and if you found a match you got a message number which you could search from phpbb_privmsgs_text table and there you had it.
I've heard that there are mods/plugins for phpbb which enable that from the admin interface, but I never saw the reason for having that as I never read the messages unless there was a complaint/argument about who said what to whom and when. SMF has it all in smf_personal_messages table so it's even less work to read.

In abuse cases it's important that admins have all the information available to them, otherwise it's just hearsay and one persons word against anothers...

Assume good faith is a good policy to have, as sometimes a cigar is just a cigar and nothing else.

PS. No matter how much money SO & others have got from ads, investors etc. I'd be surprised if all told ATS would be in the black already. Running a site even half as big as ATS is not cheap, and the numbers do tend to add up over the years. (Pretty much the only reason I called it quits with my 'too successful' forum...)
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Re: ATS Down-Sunday, August 10th, 2008

Postby Zep Tepi » Wed Aug 20, 2008 8:53 pm

It would be pretty easy to read the pm's for anyone with access to the database. I have direct access to it, but anyone with admin priviliges would be able to get access to the db data by doing a backup from the admin panel.
We don't read users pm's here, but the ability to do so is there should it ever be required. It hasn't so far and I don't expect that to change anytime soon.

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Re: ATS Down-Sunday, August 10th, 2008

Postby Count » Wed Aug 20, 2008 9:03 pm

Zep Tepi wrote:anyone with admin priviliges would be able to get access to the db data by doing a backup from the admin panel.


That may work here or another small forum, but with ATS postcount (4.7 million) it's not really feasible any longer.

Also, phpbb didn't even remove the "deleted" private messages from the db unless you ran database mainteinance, they were only marked as deleted. So for those who are paranoid; it doesn't suffice that you hit the delete button, your message might still be there :wink:
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Re: ATS Down-Sunday, August 10th, 2008

Postby Zep Tepi » Wed Aug 20, 2008 9:15 pm

Count wrote:
Zep Tepi wrote:anyone with admin priviliges would be able to get access to the db data by doing a backup from the admin panel.


That may work here or another small forum, but with ATS postcount (4.7 million) it's not really feasible any longer.


Size doesn't matter LOL
I don't understand what the fuss is about to be honest, SO has already admitted that they sometimes read the U2U's. As far as I know, it is also in their T&C's?

I believe that was the reason my account was stealth banned a couple of years ago. SO appeared to genuinely not know why my account details and password had changed. He said only three people including himself were able to do that. Actually, I believe he got that bit wrong. I'm convinced there was a fourth person who had that ability. Not by design, but by their "proximity" to someone else... It certainly fits in with the circumstances at that time.

Also, phpbb didn't even remove the "deleted" private messages from the db unless you ran database mainteinance, they were only marked as deleted. So for those who are paranoid; it doesn't suffice that you hit the delete button, your message might still be there :wink:


Somehow I can't escape the feeling that you are trying to generate intrigue and distrust...

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Re: ATS Down-Sunday, August 10th, 2008

Postby mojo » Thu Aug 21, 2008 3:45 am

Count wrote:PS. No matter how much money SO & others have got from ads, investors etc. I'd be surprised if all told ATS would be in the black already.


Then you would have to wonder why anonymous investors would inject a "six figure sum" into a business that wasn't making money.
None of the investors i've dealt with over the years would invest that heavily in a business if the figures didn't suggest they would get a substantial return.
Unless of course the return on their investment isn't monetary.
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Re: ATS Down-Sunday, August 10th, 2008

Postby Jack'sDead » Thu Aug 21, 2008 5:46 am

Just to ring in here with a brief note. I was banned less than two days before this all went down at ATS, and my last activity on ATS was a U2U exchange. Now I am wondering if there ws something important in my U2U's. My being banned seemed a quite a bit "over the top."
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Re: ATS Down-Sunday, August 10th, 2008

Postby Access Denied » Sat Aug 23, 2008 7:46 am

Count wrote:Bah and humbug. Your paranoia and prejudice is showing, please try to keep it in check.

LOL damn straight it is, and no I won’t “try to keep it in check”. I have all the proof I need not to trust ATS and I’m not here to please some (so far) random poster.

Count wrote:From the quote above it's pretty clear that you haven't had the joy and experience of your forum being attacked by spambots who register, slurp the list of registered users and then PM-spam everyone with some canned spam message pushing penile enlargement products.

I find that scenario highly unlikely. Writing a bot just for sending spam PMs on ATS would be more work than it’s worth in my opinion and eliminating that particular attack vector in code would be trivial after the first proof of concept.

[that is assuming of course said programmer knows what they’re doing lol]

Count wrote:CAPTCHA helps, but it doesn't cut all of it so mandatory posting limit is a good and relatively painless way to get rid of said bots.

Wrong, CAPTCHA helps a LOT and no it isn’t. If somebody is willing to go through the trouble of writing a one off bot for ATS then they could write it to satisfy the posting limit as well.

[Hey, now that I think about it, that sure would be a great way to keep the numbers up wouldn’t it? Some of the posters on ATS sure are fond of repeating themselves lol]

Also, there’s no reason ATS couldn’t use a manual (non automated) user registration process as you point out below. Occasionally a determined (e.g. paid) human spammer will slip through no matter what you do but so what? A few clicks and poof… it’s like they were never even there.

Count wrote:ATS also used to have the requirement to write a little bit of something about yourself when registering which required some thought and preparation so one wouldn't appear to be a complete fsckup , and that is IMO by far more daunting task than having to write some posts without any real quality requirements other than not being an one-liner...

Agreed.

Count wrote:And speaking of private messages, reading them directly from the database is quite easy…

Sure, and your point is? Just because it CAN be done doesn’t meant it SHOULD be.

Count wrote:In abuse cases it's important that admins have all the information available to them, otherwise it's just hearsay and one persons word against anothers...

Private messages are supposed to be private… period. Can you give me an example of when it would be considered appropriate (ethical) for an admin to read their member’s private messages?

Hint: Resolving a pissing contest between members isn’t one of them. Neither is “checking up” on members “suspected” of “violating” the T&C.

I can’t really think of one that wouldn’t involve a court order or law enforcement in some way. There are other ways to deal with alleged “abuse” situations that don’t require violating a member’s right to privacy.

As Steve pointed out, the owner of ATS (who I already KNOW hasn’t been truthful with me) has already admitted he reads private messages and, by the way, this announcement the other day changes nothing…

Your Privacy On ATS Is Now Certified by TRUSTe
http://www.abovetopsecret.com/forum/thread383980/pg1

…this doesn't mean any change in our operation or site code (no changes were required after the audit)…

Now here’s what the “new” U2U policy is…

http://www.abovetopsecret.com/forum/thread16563/pg1


Our Commitment Communication Privacy:

Members are provided with a private messaging system (U2U service) as part of their account privileges. Every reasonable effort is made to ensure the private messaging system is maintained in a secure fashion so as to ensure the privacy of any and all messages sent between members. Staff and/or owners will not observe the content or flow of any private messaging unless explicit reports of Terms & Conditions violations are received. The private messages may be subject to run-time content filtering (such as vulgarities) that is used to filter the content of thread posts.

Basically that says any staff can “observe” anyone if somebody claims somebody is violating the (incredibly broad) T&C.

No warrant required, no prior notification required, no opportunity to defend oneself against false claims, and no way to know if anyone really complained in the first place!

Translation: Zero accountability.

Take a look at this “self assessment” form…

https://getcertified.truste.org/ecommer ... ent_cc.doc

And these “TRUSTe Program Requirements”…

http://www.truste.org/requirements.php

There’s nothing in there about private messages, it only deals with protecting your Personally Identifiable Information (PII) like your email address…

http://www.truste.org/businesses/web_privacy_seal.php

The seal marks companies that adhere to TRUSTe's strict privacy principles, and comply with the TRUSTe Watchdog dispute resolution process. Principles include:

Creating a privacy policy to be reviewed by TRUSTe

Posting notice and disclosure of collection and use practices of personally identifiable information

Giving users choice and consent over how their information is used and shared

Smoke and mirrors, caveat emptor

Don’t like it? Guess what? You’re not allowed to exchange email addresses (it’s personally identifiable information lol) so you can move your private conversation to a more secure venue… and if you do watch out, the U2U scanner might catch you!

The Matrix has you. Big Brother lives.

Count wrote:Assume good faith is a good policy to have, as sometimes a cigar is just a cigar and nothing else.

Huh?

Count wrote:PS. No matter how much money SO & others have got from ads, investors etc. I'd be surprised if all told ATS would be in the black already. Running a site even half as big as ATS is not cheap, and the numbers do tend to add up over the years.

Mark claims he spent nearly $100,000 for advertising on Coast 2 Coast. Are you saying he’s a liar or just plain stupid?

Count wrote:(Pretty much the only reason I called it quits with my 'too successful' forum...)

Sorry to hear that, what forum was that?
Last edited by Access Denied on Sun Aug 24, 2008 3:21 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: ATS Down-Sunday, August 10th, 2008

Postby ryguy » Sat Aug 23, 2008 3:26 pm

It really is a joy watching an illogical argument get completely dismantled through logic, reason and facts.

Thank you AD. I was going to respond regarding the silly comment that the private area (based on posting levels) is set up to block spam bots (um...what about the 90% of *other* threads then? LOL), but you've done an absolutely thorough and impressive job already.

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Re: ATS Down-Sunday, August 10th, 2008

Postby Access Denied » Sat Aug 23, 2008 5:32 pm

Thanks Ryan, so what you’re saying is now I’m the one who’s being verbose and overstating the obvious. :)

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Re: ATS Down-Sunday, August 10th, 2008

Postby Count » Sun Aug 24, 2008 12:31 pm

Zep Tepi wrote:Somehow I can't escape the feeling that you are trying to generate intrigue and distrust...


Not intentionally. But that feeling you got does point out, that the only thing that matters is not what you say, how you say it matters too.

I would go as far as saying that reading this forum has made me see that there are some people who are trying to generate intrigue and distrust, and succeeding quite well at that. Sometimes it's important to do that to wake people up and (try to) make them understand that not everything necessarily is how it looks like. Sometimes it's just pot calling kettle black and sometimes just plain old misunderstanding.
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Re: ATS Down-Sunday, August 10th, 2008

Postby Bibliophile » Sun Aug 24, 2008 12:55 pm

Okay, I will state it succinctly then:

After what has happened over there, I would not trust those people with my pet rock.
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