plannersphere wiki update

26May10

Over the last few months spammers have started to plague the plannersphere wiki set up by Russell Davies. The wiki is a resource about planning and planners, with contributions and links from planners and recruitment agents.

I’ve stepped in to help administer the plannersphere wiki from today, as Russell was finding the level of spam a bother to manage. Initially my intention was to end the open-source, user-generated and managed content approach to publishing on the wiki; by asking contributors to email me their posts for uploading to it. While this filter would clearly remove the spammers, it sort of runs against the original spirit in which the plannersphere wiki was set up by Russell, back on April 1 2007 (an auspicious day? Or it may possibly be one of Russell’s long haul jokes?).

So I thought I’d take one shot at an alternative approach before closing the site to direct public content contribution. But first of all, I set about a little spring cleaning.

Spring cleaning the content
Of the 88 pages on the wiki, over a third were empty or simply set up incorrectly; for example several planners had created pages to promote their blog, rather than add their blog to the listing page created for this purpose. So I’ve transferred the relevant links, job opportunities and blog listings today, and cut out the empty pages. The site is now easier to navigate through, but I’m sure it could use still more TLC.

Cutting the spam
I added a polite notice to the home page around a month ago (I know, I do that sort of thing), asking spammers to no longer place irrelevant links and content on the site. As guessed, some spammers simply ignored this.

So today I’ve referred back through all the amendment notifications sent from the wiki over the last month and found the recent worst offenders for spam. I’ve changed their profile privilege level from the default Writer down to Reader; hopefully stopping them from adding spam while using these account names.

They may of course create a new account with a different name and spam again, but I’ll then simply do the same again. Hopefully this will have the desired effect. As some visit the site weekly, they should rapidly become aware that this is wasting their time and providing limited return on their investment; the smart ones will desist.

Hold the front page
I’ve also changed the editing rights just on the home page, so that no-one may change this landing page without admin intervention. As the majority of spammers naturally target the home page most of all, this should also help reduce the appeal of the wiki for spammers. My logic here is also that this shouldn’t affect genuine users of the wiki adversely, as the number of occasions requiring a new link from the home page has been rare over the last couple of years; as content aand link additions to existing pages are most common. And I’ll happily add a new link from the home page for relevant new content, should any planner/member contact me about this. I’ve added an explanatory note and my email address to the home page to facilitate this.

Cosmetic changes and the start of content addition
With this done, I then gave the format a slight make-over, added a few links to content and some relevant industry bodies, such as the Account Planning Group. I’m hoping members will notice and be spurred into contributing more themselves.

Monitoring wiki site traffic
I’ve then added a SiteMeter to the HTML code to track the traffic visiting the wiki. I’ll post reports occasionally so the wiki users know how active the site is. I’m not a programmer, but hopefully I’ve added this correctly and some interesting stats will be produced over time.

Read all about it
The final step today was to post an update about the refresh of the wiki to the various account planning groups on LinkedIn. As Russell has removed himself from LinkedIn and Facebook, I guess he won’t be one of the first to hear about all the changes today. But he’s probably absorbing this all somehow through the digital ether anyhow. I’ll drop him an email just to make sure.

Thanks for the opportunity to get involved Russell. It’s a fun project to help on.

Tomorrow, back to pitch world. As I’ve heard my recent advertising and digital pitch project has been shortlisted for the final stage showdown. Should be fun.

Plannersphere Wiki: HERE

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