As a moderator here, who is also an application developer, I sit on the Design and Usability for Members Board for Geekzone. It's within this role that I announce an emergency change that will affect all members.
It was announced in this week's news that Huawei was banned from Australia under concerns that they were spying for the Chinese government. It wasn't until we reflected on our own technology here that we found some alarming trends.
It seems Microsoft is also doing the same for the American government. After reviewing the IIS logs we were seeing all sorts of requests going to the States, and we've decided to be extra cautious.
Shortly, Geekzone will change to a version which is far more secure than currently offered. The current Microsoft set of technologies will be replaced with a more robust and secure ColdFusion platform, with the database, which is currently SQL Server, being replaced for flat files. XML was going to be used, but this is also insecure. CSV is better but is not as secure as plain text.
At lunch time today, the chairperson of the Sensible Technology Used by People for IDentification here at Geekzone will outline other security changes here which include:
- Replacing all instances of the letter 'e' with the far more secure and much less appreciated letter 'q'.
- Allowing people to post a letter to Geekzone's PO Box which will be scanned and included in threads as replies. This will help anyone concerned about electronic interception.
- Allow users to share logins to save on expensive usernames. We'll begin grouping members into 50 or so collective logins from Monday.
- Dial up only access - broadband is fast but also vulnerable to attacks - the final big change is only allowing access to Geekzone from dialup as this is far more secure, because as soon as you are finished browsing the forums you can physically unplug your modem and store is safely away in your underwear draw.
If you wish to learn more about the Microsoft vulnerabilities, search their Knowledge Base, issue ID: Apr1-LF00-15
UPDATE: Happy April Fools everyone!
The biggest difference for a moderator is how we see posts made on the site, as shown below on one of my own posts:
Across the top we get an extra button (edit) which allows us to move posts and edit the content if we need to (we then append [Mod (N8): Message] to inform the user). On the bottom left, we have a handful of functions such as Trust (gives a user their Trusted icon), Stick (sets that post as always appearing at the top of the forums) and Hide (useful when spammers post and we need to remove a post). My favourite link is Ban, which does the obvious.
You will also notice on the moderator's view the IP address that appears under the avatar - for every post the IP address of that poster is saved.
We also have a private Moderators Forum to discuss posts on the site, user bans etc - unfortunately I can't screenshot it here, however, it looks the same as all the other forums here, just with more smack talk between the different moderators.
To finish, my top 5 pet peeves from Geekzone users:
- SPAMMERS! - what's the point in going through the signup process, for us to hide your post and banninate you forever? We're not interested in what you are selling (we hide/ban on average one user a day), and your post is normally gone within the hour.
- Spelin and gramer errors - some days I wonder whether the New Zealand schooling needs an overhaul, with some users lacking the basic ability to put a coherent sentence together. Issues with its and it's plus their, there and they're are common.
- Formatting - it doesn't take long to add links and images (resize, resize, resize!) to illustrate your post - take the extra 2 minutes, and it helps all of us understand.
- Complaints about ISP speeds - unless it's a question about your setup or sync speeds, don't post about your ISP being slow. If you want better speed, swap to a different ISP - it's not that hard.
- Astro-turfing - if you have a website you want reviewed, or a product to promote, use the correct Offers and Wanted forum - don't pretend to be an independent third party that's discovered this "amazing product" then link to it - it's blatantly obvious: your IP and email address, plus a WHOIS of the domain exposes you for the d-bag you truly are. Don't do it.
In my time here, I've seen that there are some very clever people contributing to Geekzone, and I look forward to possibly meeting more of you in the future.