January 16, 2003
More Technical Assistance Needed

Thanks to all the people who responded to my previous appeal: I've acquired a cheap microphone-headset combination ($20 at Staples), but haven't had time to try it out. In the mean time, here's another question:

How can I tell whether a comment-poster's IP is dynamic or not? That may not be the right word, but what I mean is this. As I understand it, AOL users (for instance) are assigned different IPs every time they log on, since these are supplied on a first-come first-serve basis. That means that when some stupid troll posts obnoxious comments here and I want to ban him or her from further posting, I have sometimes inadvertently banned innocent bystanders, because the IP banned was not specific to the poster but a generic AOL or other IP assigned to different people on different days. I know of at least two cases where friends of this site have found themselves banned, and there may be more. Of course, the trolls never admit to using AOL. They prefer fake addresses filled with insults -- one more reason to ban them --, so I only have an IP to go by. So:

  1. Is there some easy rule of thumb to distinguish the two types of IPs, something like 'never ban any IP whose first / last digit is between [x] and [y]'? Obviously these trolls would then have to be dealt with piecemeal, but I have no problem with that.
  2. If you have tried to post a comment here and been told that you were banned, feel free to e-mail and ask why. If the ban was intentional, I will be glad to explain the reasons in detail. If not, I will attempt to unban you, and post your comment for you if that fails.
Posted by Dr. Weevil at January 16, 2003 09:18 PM
Comments

One can search WHOIS for IP addresses, which should be able to tell you if the troll is coming in through AOL, for example.
http://www.arin.net/whois/ is one such facility.

Note that there are ways of spoofing IP addresses, but I doubt most trolls are that serious about covering their tracks.

I have a bit of a backlog of future feature requests to post on the Movable Type forum; something that allows one to filter more effectively should be added. Perhaps a moderated mode, where no posts appear until they are manually approved (with preapproved IP addresses excepted). Or something that throws into a 'pending' file all posts that contain certain trigger words.

Posted by: David on January 16, 2003 09:31 PM

IP addresses are assigned in blocks, so a given ISP might get so many numbers, a bigger ISP like AOL might get more numbers, etc, and the ISP can assign them however they like, statically or dynamically or a mix of both. So you can't know from any formula whether the number is static or dynamic (although if the same person uses the same IP on different days, you can be pretty sure they're static), but you can use a whois tool, like the one at samspade.org, to figure out whether they're aol or not. What actually happens with AOL, though, is that typically you don't actually see the IP of the person, but the IP of the proxy server they're going through. The proxy server is a mini-webserver for a bunch of people, so if you ban it you're banning a chunk of your audience. At other ISPs that don't use proxies, you can ban one IP that will be reassigned, as you suspect.

On the server-side, the tools "host" and "whois" can help you too. Actually, if you're running Apache, you can set it to give you a name like "cache-rr07.proxy.aol.com" instead of the IP address "152.163.189.204" - but I don't know if this will help you with your comments or not.

Posted by: beth on January 16, 2003 10:53 PM

Do bear in mind that it is impossible to ban anyone who is determined to post comments, assuming said individual knows how (to find out how) to circumvent it.

Posted by: MA on January 16, 2003 11:28 PM

Ah, but as site host, it's quite easy to edit a post of a troll should they decide to play the role of jackass.

They're much less likely to continue if they see their attack words suddenly turned into polite agreement and support for the site host along with some compliments towards their biggest enemies (at least it's worked every time I've done it). :)

Posted by: Ricky on January 17, 2003 02:38 PM

I'm a network engineer, and I can pretty much tell you: there's just no way to easily get around this problem. Banning by IP address is and always will be a half-assed way of fixing the problem, since most internet users by far use what's called a dynamic IP address, and these change. And yes, you will always, always run the risk of banning the wrong person.

I've talked about this before, but I truly believe that, eventually, bloggers who allow comments are going to have to bite the bullet and start requiring people who want to comment to apply for membership accounts. Which will entail its own administrative hassles. Either that, or just live with the trolls. There's just no other good way, given the IP is currently structured, to deal with the problem.

Posted by: Dean Esmay on January 18, 2003 04:52 AM

How can I undo auto spell that I created.? It's refusing to send my foreign language E-mails.

Posted by: Susan on November 11, 2003 04:45 PM

I am under 18 and have been on this website for almost a year! i had said something but stopped myself and the moderator said that i should go ahead and say it then i said no way you will ban me!he promised he would not! i told him then he banned me then got me IP banned! i want to go back on and i swear i wont do anything again the person i love is on there and i cant talk to them anymore they are going to a college and cant download instant messanger on their school computer. also if i get a new computer a whole new modem tower thing and i have netzero the dial up would that help me not be banned. and would i be able to get on the web with my new setup?if i cant please help me im begging please.

love,
ashley

Posted by: ashley on May 18, 2004 07:40 PM

oh im sorry i forgot to tell you the website its :www.everwars.com

thanks
p.s.
help me please

Posted by: ashley on May 18, 2004 07:42 PM

im still not unbanned or have gotten any help

Posted by: ashley on May 20, 2004 05:43 PM