Access To Exetel Forums

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ForumAdmin
Exetel Staff
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Access To Exetel Forums

Post by ForumAdmin » Sat Jan 26, 2008 5:48 pm

For some time now we've been considering modifying access to these forums to Exetel only customers.

There are several reasons for this which can be summarised as:

1) It reduces the work involved in removing the spambots that register.

2) It removes access for 'trouble makers'

3) The forum's purpose is to provide help with Exetel services to Exetel customers and other visitor posts are a distraction.

Any comments anyone might like to offer will, as always, be welcome.

nihonjin
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Post by nihonjin » Sat Jan 26, 2008 6:22 pm

I can see the benefit in doing this however i can say that before i joined exetel i joined these forums and read many of the helpful posts.

You may find that these forums are a form of advertising that if you remove access to potential customers you could loose them.

Gidget
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Post by Gidget » Sat Jan 26, 2008 7:23 pm

Hi Forum Admin

I naturally agree that removing the spam bots (by an admin manually vetting every single account registration) is a time-consuming and tedious, albeit necessary, task. However, Sys Admin is currently evaluating phpBB 3 with a view to upgrading the Forum software once he is satisfied with the stability of the new version. My preference is to delay considering any drastic changes to the Forum operation until we have phpBB 3 in operation and can see how it handles the attempted registration of spam bots.

Like nihonjin I also joined the Exetel Forum before I became a customer, and it was the existence of the Forum and its helpful posters and posts (even in those very early days) that convinced me to become a customer.

If you intend making the Forum accessible only through the User Facilities, I think that would also put a lot of people off and Forum traffic and posts will decrease. As an example, I know I rarely check the MRTG graphs out of interest these days simply because of the hassle of first having to log into my User Facilities. Of course, if I have a compelling reason to check the graphs I will still do so.

My 2 cents :D

Cheers

Gidget
Log a fault ticket here
or call Exetel VOIP numbers (02) 8030 1000 or 1300 788 141 (log faults 24x7)
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CoreyPlover
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Post by CoreyPlover » Sat Jan 26, 2008 9:20 pm

I don't have any preference whether these forums are open to the public or Exetel users only. I would think that the non-Exetel users who use it would only make up a very small percentage. The primary use of these forums is, after all, to report on Exetel specific issues.

Having said that, I don't know of any good public ADSL forum that non-Exetel users can visit. I do not think Whirlpool is worthwhile because it is absolutely littered with biased and inaccurate opinions about all the ISPs. You necessarily get a whole heap of non-Exetel users saying how bad Exetel is, so I can imagine that if you close these Exetel forums to the public the trash-talking that exists on Whirlpool may well run rampant.

CLoSeR
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Post by CLoSeR » Sat Jan 26, 2008 11:13 pm

Perhaps an alternative to preventing non Exetel customers from accessing the site, would be to leave the site public, however only allow new forum registrations for exemail.com.au email addresses.

That way potential customers can still read the posts, however only Exetel customers may post. This being validated by their exemail address.
Need to log a fault ticket? Go here: https://helpdesk.exetel.com.au/

Gidget
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Post by Gidget » Sat Jan 26, 2008 11:35 pm

Hi CLoSeR

I had also thought of that possibility. Its success would depend on the ability of phpBB (whatever version) to reject any registrations that did not use an exemail email address - otherwise we will still spend our days, nights and weekends deleting the spam bot accounts :D

Cheers

Gidget
Log a fault ticket here
or call Exetel VOIP numbers (02) 8030 1000 or 1300 788 141 (log faults 24x7)
Exetel Support Portal

saint
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Post by saint » Sun Jan 27, 2008 12:27 am

Would the proposed blocking be done by IP range block or other method?

I'm rather against using an IP range block due to being away from home 8 months of the year for Uni, yet still make sure to check back every week or two on the forums to see what's been happening and to make the occasional post. Similarly, I had to borrow a friends free webspace temporarily and it was useful to come here for the minor issues I had with it which I wouldn't have been able to do otherwise.

Hopefully phpBB 3 should help alleviate some of the issues when the boards are upgraded :)

stevebow
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Re: Acces To Exetel Forums

Post by stevebow » Sun Jan 27, 2008 12:33 am

ForumAdmin wrote:For some time now we've been considering modifying access to these forums to Exetel only customers.
Do you mean read access? I think the forums should be readable by everyone as it shows prospective customers the kind of support available.

Before I made my choice back in 2004 I read through Exetel's (and other ISPs') forums before settling on Exetel. Despite the very good value for money Exetel did (and still does) offer, if I felt no support were available eg. by means of a Forum, I would have moved on.

However, registering could be screened so only Exetel customers have write access.
1) It reduces the work involved in removing the spambots that register.
Couldn't that be achieved by including a scrambled letter pic that the user has to type in for security that is so common?
2) It removes access for 'trouble makers'
Have there really been that many?
3) The forum's purpose is to provide help with Exetel services to Exetel customers and other visitor posts are a distraction.
Personally this has never bothered me, but, like you say, the Forum is there principally for Exetel customers.

Anthony Michaud
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Post by Anthony Michaud » Sun Jan 27, 2008 12:35 am

A few options I can think of:

1: Make the bulk of the forums read-only. New posters can only post to certain areas. Threads can then progress, and be migrated/archived as normal. (least overhead)

2: Add some moderators to the volunteer pool. They verify the first xx messages from new non-exetel users. Option for making them a 'full' account after xx posts. (maximum overhead)

3: As per #1 above, but have just the one room for "friends of Exetel" where you have a generic forum. This gives potential customers a voice, without disrupting the forums overall.
Linux/*SD: How do you want to work quickly, reliably, cheaply and .... oooh look - something shiney over there. We'll be back to finish this later ...

Spanner_Man

Post by Spanner_Man » Sun Jan 27, 2008 12:44 am

Originally back in 2004 i was not an exetel customer.
By blocking the forum to the exetel ip address range will limit the ability for if/when a user has trouble getting online with their service via dial-up/other connection method to see if it is in fact a known outage or an issue with their service (be it user/confg issue or DSLAM port/line issue) before calling and lodging a line fault.
I know you'll prob say "They should be subscribed to email alerts" - Fair enough. Sometimes its simpler and easier to call up the forum and check for new posts and see if anything is related to the user/s current ongoing issue.

If i'm out on a exetel client location and they have issues i log onto the forum via the mobile just to check to see if there are any ongoing issues. By blocking all but exetel ip addresses you will exclude people like me that use the forum as a guide/tool for if/when there are issues.

I offer something else other then waiting for phpBB3, and that is to obtain vBulletin licence.
EGN runs a vBulletin forum, and as i have admin access i can say that vB is alot easier to administrate then what phpBB2 is. I won't go into the different features that each have as this is not the place for it, i'm just giving a suggestion to combat your spam bot issues.

Gidget
Volunteer Site Admin
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Re: Acces To Exetel Forums

Post by Gidget » Sun Jan 27, 2008 12:47 am

stevebow wrote:
ForumAdmin wrote:1) It reduces the work involved in removing the spambots that register.
Couldn't that be achieved by including a scrambled letter pic that the user has to type in for security that is so common?
The Captcha letters are already used - it doesn't stop 'em (less than 10% of Forum registrations are legitimate). I have heard that phpBB 3's Captcha feature works better though.

Gidget
Log a fault ticket here
or call Exetel VOIP numbers (02) 8030 1000 or 1300 788 141 (log faults 24x7)
Exetel Support Portal

Les
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Post by Les » Sun Jan 27, 2008 10:17 am

As someone who accesses the forum from multiple locations and promote eXeTeL to others I would like to see it remain accessible from anywhere.

This is especially important when there's an outage and your trying to determine the origin before creating a fault ticket as the last thing eXeTeL need is fault tickets being lodged by hundreds/thousands of users when there is a fault affecting multiple users which they could have known about by reading the forum.

Like other users I also joined the forum before becoming a customer so I could research the ISP I was considering joining (In my case it was the week the forum was launced and well before eXeTeL started offering serices). I would have been a launch customer was it not for the fact I had to wait 6 weeks for a contract with another ISP to end.

Given the problems with Forum registrations I would support restricting forum registrations to IP Addresses within the eXeTeL address space, even though this may discourage some potential customers.

tocpcs
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Post by tocpcs » Sun Jan 27, 2008 10:19 am

Gidget wrote:Hi CLoSeR

I had also thought of that possibility. Its success would depend on the ability of phpBB (whatever version) to reject any registrations that did not use an exemail email address - otherwise we will still spend our days, nights and weekends deleting the spam bot accounts :D

Cheers

Gidget
Well.. It wouldn't be hard to code that in anyway, pretty easy actually.
It's like.. maybe 3 lines of PHP.

bodogbodog
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Post by bodogbodog » Sun Jan 27, 2008 10:53 am

It will be a sad day if you do need to close off access as it will mean the "nutters" have won another war

I think that keeping them open to the public (read prospective customers) is the right thing to do

Maybe just give them read access - although that will limit their ability to ask queations about plans and service (I appreciate they can email Exetel directly with those questions - but sometime people like to hear the answer from customers as opposed to staff)

Many of us fight the battle on WP and it's nice to be able to point prospective customers across to these forums to show them the great level of support (and sometime debate) available

Munka
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Post by Munka » Sun Jan 27, 2008 11:16 am

bodogbodog wrote:It will be a sad day if you do need to close off access as it will mean the "nutters" have won another war

I think that keeping them open to the public (read prospective customers) is the right thing to do

I agree with this view, and would add past/transient customers.

I have this habit of moving to truly beautiful locations that don't always offer
a phone line let alone ADSL. currently my last mile is microwave to copper.
I have just signed up for 2way satellite, and if Exetel was a provider I would be subscribing with them.

Meanwhile on topic I have recommended Exetel many times and administer an exetel connection, so maybe an associate/guest membership with vetting would be appropriate.
Munka

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