University Web Developers

University Web Developers

As our site has grown, we are seeing an increasing in inappropriate activity including new members joining with the sole purpose of soliciting their services and worse. Many Ning sites have enabled the mechanism to approve new members. I'm thinking this might be a good idea for this site that would hopefully limit this type of malicious activity.

I would like to get your thoughts before implementing this approach. I look forward to your feedback.

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I'm with others on this, Mark - do what is easiest for you to administer. I am more for keeping things open until or if such things become more problematic.

On another issue, though, I thought an .edu email address was already a requirement for joining. If it is not, maybe that is something to consider.
Having an .edu e-mail address is not required to join. We made a decision early on to allow vendors to participate as long as they don't solicit members. This is not intended to be a forum for vendors to in anyway sell their services. With a few exceptions, vendors have adhered to this and have provided value to the community.

The main problem I'm seeing now is new members who have absolutely no relation to higher education or web development. And as I said earlier, this morning's incident appeared to be from a bot and frankly, that scares me.
As someone who works for a higher-ed marketing agency, I'd really appreciate not requiring an .edu email address. I've never used this site to sell services - unfortunately that happens with complicated 30 page RFPs, as we all know.

Instead, I often send prospective clients here so they can read for themselves the reviews and critiques of various content management systems, because I'm in the business of helping them choose the right one.

I really appreciate the thoughtfulness with which this site is maintained. Cheers.
While I'm not happy about a bot incident, I think that falls more to an issue with ning and not this group.

I prefer that it stays open, because you may run into the issue of not allowing somebody from CMS Y onto the group, when company who sells CMS XBJ is already a member.

Plus member moderation usually moves to comment moderation and criticism of product D isn't allowed cuz the moderator has a relationship with that company.

But in the end, you manage it, so I think the decision is ultimately yours. Perhaps adding a few additional administrators will help out?

I'm with those giving you the choice based on the cost to moderate. Having this happen once a year would be very different than happening once a month. The ability to have a working group is more important than allowing anyone to sign up.
As a moderator of a few email lists, I tend to agree with Mark, that moderation should be seriously considered. These things generally don't get better. We could wait for one or two more occurrences to make sure it isn't just an isolated incident, but in general, the first hit is just a warning of many more to come.

Unfortunately, I don't know how you'd properly do the moderation. Would you require a personal confirmation from a new member to verify they're a human? And then, of course, you get the delay in account approval, so they can't use the site right now, when they're thinking about it and trying to sign up.

I guess it'd be nice if ning could add things like captchas, for registration and maybe even for, say, posting on people's walls that you're not confirmed friends with... But, then, I also think captchas are just a stopgap measure, and that the bot scripts will get better and better and eventually crack any captcha that an actual human can still interpret -- probably within a couple more years.
Like many others are saying, what ever is easier for you Mark. My 2 cents worth is I'm glad you are not restricting this to .edu addresses as Higher Education institutions in Canada do not use .edu.
I agree with Mark; in some capacity, something should probably be done, however, with that said, what other requirements will be made? I just had a discussion similar to this this morning about how far do you go with what be perceived as "rules and regulations." Mark, can you let us know what you'll send up for requirements?
If I was to enable the ability to approve membership before someone new joins this site, I would look to see from their responses to the profile questions that they are somehow involved with higher ed websites. My hope is that this would deter spammers, trolls, etc. from joining; and more importantly prevent a bot from accessing the site. My experience with administering this site and dozens of other Ning sites is that it is easy to identify the people who don't belong.

For the past few months I have been developing a very basic "terms of service" document for this site that would be based on the Ning "terms of service". For any of you who are members of, I think Robert's approach there is great. Basic bad behavior like slander, obscenity, stalking, pyramid schemes, the use of robot's, etc., are what I think we want to avoid.

The last think we want is to impose strict rules or inhibit free and open discourse. I never want to ban members or censor content, but sometimes for the good of the community it needs to be done.
Why don't you try if for a certain period of time - i.e. 2 or 3 weeks - and then report back to the community. If we can avoid the kind of sleazy comments left this morning (for those who didn't see them, the new member was pitching services that had nothing to do with CMS -yeah, that kind of "services"), I'm all for it.

Now, if you moderate, it might take you more time to screen registrations than to leave the doors open, so that's something you should consider as well.

Anyway, just my 2 cents
There was a significant amount of malicious activity on the site over the weekend, including what appears to be another attack by a bot. In order to maintain the integrity of our site, new members will now have to be approved.

Please let me know if you have any questions or concerns.
I think you made the right decision Mark. Thank you!



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