Friday, 26 August 2016

Effectively managing spam in your open photography community on g+

Google have released a new feature set that enable effective management of spam by detecting spam posts directly and quarantining them but also by giving a new class of member "limited".

The main spam problems come up when your community is open, traditionally this has meant keeping your community closed and having your moderators vet all the new people who want to come in. This means a lot of work for a busy community and plenty of people who might have positively contributed get overlooked and rejected because their public profile does not meet your community aspirations.

As an example I run a couple of communities Photograph Melbourne and Melbourne Local Guides which have been closed requiring an invitation or a request to get in. The new spam controls have enabled the moderator team to open up the communities.

The new controls work in two classes

  • Spam detection and automatic quarantine
  • New members can be automatically accepted but set to a Limited state.

Community Settings

First up you need to edit your settings to be like this

  • Ask to join - Off - this makes your community open to everyone
  • Hold posts for review - On - this means that any new person who joins is automatically "Limited" and all their posts will be held for moderation
  • Content Controls - On - this sets up the strongest spam protection
You will now have the new Moderate button which has a glowing green dot whenever moderator attention is needed. Pressing the button takes you the Moderator Tools.

The new controls give you three tabs, the fist Member Requests was there before the change and isn't needed now that you're open.

The next Likely to be Spam contains posts that Google think are likely to be unacceptable. 

The final tab is the Held for Review where all posts from Limited members appear awaiting a moderator to approve them or not.

Spam detection

The highly improved spam detection algorithm captures all the spam like posts and in my experience offers very few false positives. The algorithm even seems to learn as you go so if you mark posts that got through as spam or mark posts as ok from the spam queue then it improves the outcomes.

Each of the posts held here have been flagged by Google. You can override that and let them go through to your community if they are a false positive or you can take the action of rejecting or banning. Banning will also give you the option of reporting the post and the profile in the next step.

Ban the member, reject the post

Accept the post

Reject the post

When banning and rejecting you can optionally report the member through the pop up that appears. Normally you probably would take this course of action, if they did it to you then they will do it to others. Might as well contribute towards getting their account suspended or deleted.

The Limited Member

In the past there were three kinds of members

  • Owner
  • Moderator
  • Member
A new kind of member has been introduced which is a proving gate, if they never contribute anything you can leave them limited and they can't later torture your members with junk when you're not watching. If they turn out to be legit then you can promote them to Member. Likewise if you don't like a members actions you can sanction them and demote them to Limited.

Limited members show up with a tag "Limited" in your members list and anything they post will automatically go into the review queue for a moderator to Ban, Accept or Reject same as Spam posts.

You promote or demote a member in the same way you used to promote to moderator or demote to member using the ellipsis controls (three vertical dots) and selecting appropriately from the pop-up menu. Once someone proves themselves as a good positive contributor you can promote them to member so you no longer have to review their posts. Similarly if a member goes rogue you can drop them back to Limited until they calm down which is less drastic than banning them altogether.


I hope you find these features as useful as I have and they help you to maintain a safe, positive welcoming community free of spam and other junk such as linked malware or porn. As always your comments are welcome.