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Automated challenge/response for instant messaging chat requests

Reduce annoying instant-message spam.
  (+2, -1)
(+2, -1)
  [vote for,

Lately, the despicable spammers of the universe (for whom there's hopefully a special, extra-toasty spot in hell reserved) have discovered a new way to foist unwanted messages upon the world's computer users: instant messaging services like MSN Messenger, AOL Instant Messenger, etc.

What I propose is enabling users to create a list of questions (say, 3-5), and a list of acceptable answers. Such as,

1. What is my cat's name?

2. What college did I attend?

3. What is the square root of 9?


to which the case-insensitive answers might be:

1. panther

2. [university of miami|um|u*miami]

3. 3

They wouldn't even need to be particularly hard or personal... the mere fact they required human action to get past would eliminate just about all spam. Eventually, spammers might develop expert systems to parse common/easy challenge questions not involving personal information, but chances are, they'd just move on and find some new way to annoy people instead of making the effort.

Whenever somebody who wasn't on the user's list of friends attempted to send a message, he'd be presented with the list of questions (with text space below for response entry) and instructed to answer as many as he can. The incoming chat request, along with the requesting-user's answers, would then be sent to the contacted user's IM client. Users could then specify three thresholds: the minimum for bothering the user about a chat request, the minimum for opening a chat window without prompting, and a minimum for opening a chat window without prompting and automatically adding the user to your buddy list. Of course, if the user didn't want to allow the last or last two options at all, both could be set to "disabled".

miamicanes, May 24 2003

Windows Messenger Service spam http://www.updatexp...r_service_spam.html
An explanation of the service and what you can do about it. Especially useful if you don't have a network admin that might be legitimately using the service. [bristolz, Oct 17 2004]

Trillian http://www.trillian.cc/
[everest]'s link as a link [dpsyplc, Oct 17 2004]


       I get the purpose, but I don't like these "pass a test to talk to me' devices at all. Similar to the phone one someone posted here recently. No thanks, very presumptuous on the part of the operator.
waugsqueke, May 24 2003

       What would you prefer: answering a trivial question and getting your message to the person immediately, or getting a "the user does not accept incoming messages from users not on his buddy list" response and having to somehow establish communication with the user through other means instead?   

       Frankly, I had to disable incoming messages from users not on my buddy list because I was getting an average of 8-14 popup invitations a day to watch naked sorority girls shower together and learn about investment opportunities in Nigeria. Grrrrrr.
miamicanes, May 24 2003

       I can't imagine why anyone would ever accept messages from people not on the buddy list.
waugsqueke, May 24 2003

       I've never had ICQ spam, and I've been using it since 95 (7 digit UIN, oh jeahhh). Started using MSN last fall, never gotten anything with that either.   

       Is it just that marketers see the 22/M/lives-with-parents demographic to be undesirable, or do I have something set right in my configs?
rapid transit, May 24 2003

       Another thought: Pop-up away messages drive me insane. These would probably entice me to pull an Elvis and shoot my machine.
rapid transit, May 24 2003

       Or you could just use one of those images with numbers and letters in different fonts and make the sender input those letters, the theory being that it's easy for a human to decipher but hard/slow for a computer. Many services already use these to prevent automated registrations.   

       A user could have as an option (in addition to "allow all" and "allow only on my list") to allow only humans, which would require everybody who contacted the user to pass the human test the first time.   

       [rapid]: you must have your configs right, I remember getting tons of spam when I used to use it in 97, especially since spammers can just go through everybody by id#.
calculust, May 24 2003

       Related, sort of: A lot of the newer spam uses the messaging service (net send) under Windows which is NOT a part of--or even related to--AIM or Win/MSN Messenger clients and you can turn it off. If you're behind a NAT you shouldn't get it at all.
bristolz, May 25 2003

       This exact feature is available as a free plug-in to the commercial multi-IM client (Aim, ICQ, MSN, IRC and Yahoo Messengers) <a href="http://www.trillian.cc">Trillian</a> (its almost trivially priced at $25, and is well worth the price). The plug-in is called Trillian Spam Challenge, and it works very well, I never get AIM spam any more.   

       Lots of other plugins and features are included: remote control, weather, SecureIM (encryption), scripting, IBM Sametime support, skins, todo lists, and lots more.   

       I know, I sound like a commercial, but for 25 bucks it really kicks butt.
everest, May 26 2004

       I used to get these all the time. An instant message would pop up and I would block that screenname but they just kept coming and coming from millions of other screennames. Then it seems like one day they just stopped. Anyone know why that happened? Btw, I really like this idea, I just don't need it anymore. Croissant.
tchaikovsky, May 27 2004

       1. panther 2. u*miami 3. 3   

       Can we do cybersex now?
Mister Sketchly, Sep 07 2007


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