Technology blog

6 best extensions for Mediawiki spam control

Ask a wiki administrator what is the most annoying thing they faced during Mediawki administration and they  will immediately say "spam". Clearing up spam contents consumes a considerable amount of time from wiki administrators and moderators. To add spices to the already worst situation, spam contents can affect search engine rankings and can also take legitimate users away.

This article focuses on 6 popular spam control extensions you should be aware of. In order to obtain a maximum spam prevention, multiple spam control mechanisms and security measures are essential. However,  extreme care should be taken while implementing them as these should never ever scare legitimate users from contributing content.

This extensions comes with many captcha systems. You can make use of them to prevents bots from contributing content to the wiki. However, many of these captcha systems gets broken as bots becomes more smart. Captcha systems also gets improved, as the developers makes changes in their codes. So, it's a cat and mouse game.

ConfirmEdit comes with following captchas:

  • SimpleCaptcha - A simple math problem has to be solved by the user to make a successful edit to the article. It's less annoying and mostly effective.
  • FancyCaptcha - Here letters are displayed in special styles and user has to identify them.
  • MathCaptcha - Same as SimpleCaptcha, but this time users have to solve a math problem that's displayed as an image.
  • QuestyCaptcha  - This is an effective spam control mechanism. Administrator prepares a set of questions and answers in advance and these questions are asked while users performs an edit. Administrattors can make questions according to the wiki's topic and can change them frequently to defeat the spammers.
  • Asirra - Pictures of cats and dogsare used in this captcha system.
  • ReCaptcha - It makes use of reCAPTCHA service from Google.

This particular extension uses Blacklist-White-list approach to control spam and has been used by many.

This extension checks the editor's IP, email and username against various online spam bot blacklists.

It is a set of PHP scripts and does more than simple spam control, like page scraping.

Akismet is a known spam control mechanism among Wordpress developers and this is its Mediawiki implementation. Many of the developers complains that it is too aggressive and may block even some legitimate users. The spam control mechanism is good and effective, but at sometimes may disallow users from making legitimate edits.

A highly recommended extension. ConfirmAccount prevents direct user account creations and requires some sort of authorization from higher level users to get the account activated.

It should be noted that none of these mechanisms are perfect. Some of them are broken, some of them are better than others, and some of them can even affect the normal flow of legitimate edits. These mechanism should not be implemented straight away blindly as they can make serious  issues. Web administrator should test them manually and decide on which is the best for them. "Install it and forget it" does not work with spam control mechanism as they needs to be upgraded, tested  and customized regularly for effective spam control.