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Identifying your real customers and keeping them well informed fast

"We don't sell that at the moment, but we'll be reviewing it early next year. Please keep coming back to our website, where we'll be announcing it". Now - have I got something wrong there, or should "customer service", who gave me that answer, added me on to the list of probably hundreds of people who have been enquiring - this is a multinational company that's offered the particular product a number of times in the past ... Customer service to me means giving people the opportunity of being contacted again if they specifically ask for updates. If you've gone to the trouble to ask about a product, you shouldn't have to keep making repeat enquiries just to get an update - the supplier should keep you in the picture if he wants your custom.

Crowd boarding Melksham Railway Development  Group Santa Special to SwindonI was reminded of that "grrrr" from a few weeks ago as I wondered how to deal with the continuing rise in spam signup requests to our forum on train travel in the South West / South Wales - the Coffee Shop. It's a very popular forum, with 117,000 separate posts since we started, and virtually all on-topic. Want to find out about what's going on with public transport in the area - trains especially? You're likely to learn a lot here - as did 13,000 different visitors last month alone.

You can sign up for free and ask questions too. But one of our problems is that lots of people want to sign up to market their own products, to send messages to all of our members, and to place their information / data onto our pages. After all, we're highly visited, highly ranked and (I believe) highly regarded. Indeed, each month we get thousands of sign-up requests from people who we describe as "forum spammers".

We know the profile of our members, and of likely new members ... and we've got elements within our signup procedure to help highlight to the administrators which signups are obviously genuine, and which are obviously spammers. These procedures have been tuned over the last year or two to help provide the admins with more data on each application, and to format the way the requests are presented to the admins so that very quick and clear decisions can be made in all but a tiny number of cases. I'm being careful what I write here - I'm not going into what we actually look for in these profiles. But I can tell you that the proportion of requests which are doubtful cases has dropped to a very low level indeed.

But, alas, an admin still has to sign in every few hours so see what's going on, clear out the rogues, and approve any genuine cases ... who have (sod's law) probably been waiting since 5 minutes after the last admin came by. And I'm reminded of the statement I started this post with, about having to keep coming back and check ... that should NOT be necessary for our admins. Over the next few days, we'll be moving onto a system where signups that are clearly genuine, OR which are doubtful, will result in a personal message or email being sent to the admin team. That will save the admin team the trouble of having to go "look / see" every few hours, and it will mean that genuine new members will be welcomed in minutes, rather than hours.

(written 2012-11-02, updated 2012-11-10)

 
Associated topics are indexed as below, or enter http://melksh.am/nnnn for individual articles
G903 - Well House Consultants - Running and moderating forums and social media sites
  [4492] Almost so wrong, but perhaps it's right for some? - (2015-05-11)
  [4403] The unbalanced relationship between customer and provider - (2015-01-21)
  [4315] Welcoming genuine forum posters quickly - but turning away off topic advertisers - (2014-11-16)
  [4307] Identifying and clearing denial of service attacks on your Apache server - (2014-09-27)
  [4283] Can a legitimate forum post become illegal a year later? - (2014-07-11)
  [4239] Facebook marketing - early experiences - (2014-01-19)
  [4234] Change to Libel and Defamation laws from 1st January 2014 - (2013-12-31)
  [4065] Handling requests to a forum - the background process - (2013-04-17)
  [4025] Backups, Codebase, Strategy and more - dealing with forum incidents - (2013-03-03)
  [4017] Acceptable User Policy / vexatious interacter - (2013-02-24)
  [3479] Practical Extraction and Reporting - using Python and Extreme Programming - (2011-10-14)
  [2820] Netiquette for forum newcomers - (2010-06-20)
  [2781] The 500 pound question to get you started - (2010-05-26)
  [2569] How to run a successful online poll / petition / survey / consultation - (2010-01-10)
  [2527] Flying tonight - (2009-12-05)
  [2526] A reluctance to move from old shoes to new - (2009-12-05)
  [2386] Computing under the influence of alcohol - (2009-08-29)
  [2254] Forum membership - a privilege not a right - (2009-06-22)
  [2177] Preventing forum spam - checks at sign up - (2009-05-12)
  [2162] Admins thoughts on banning a member from a forum - (2009-05-09)
  [2156] Stopping forum spam - control of the signup process - (2009-05-04)
  [2116] Why do we delay new forum members through authorisation? - (2009-04-03)
  [2103] Ask the Tutor - Open Source forum - (2009-03-25)
  [1972] Pettifog and forum boards away from public view - (2009-01-03)
  [1923] Making it all worthwhile - (2008-12-04)
  [1759] While the world sleeps ... - (2008-08-19)
  [1678] Software - changes and delays. But courses must run on time! - (2008-06-15)
  [1595] First Great Western Weekend - (2008-03-30)
  [1578] Please don't shout at me! - (2008-03-16)
  [1569] I dont care - goodbye - (2008-03-09)
  [1563] Guidlines for posting on a forum - (2008-03-04)
  [1539] A forum is not always the best vehicle - (2008-02-14)
  [1532] Comment spam blocked. Please comment via Forums - (2008-02-05)
  [1523] Ive just received an email from myself. Should I be worried? - (2008-01-29)
  [1485] Copyright and theft of images, bandwidth and members. - (2007-12-26)
  [1472] The Horse goes on and on - (2007-12-15)
  [1362] No Thank You - (2007-09-23)
  [1190] Save the Forum - A regular clean sweep - (2007-05-17)
  [1088] Why use BBC code not HTML? - (2007-02-21)
  [948] Running an on line campaign - (2006-11-27)
  [923] Why shouldn't I spam? - (2006-11-13)
  [919] Freedom for X is denial of privacy for Y - (2006-11-09)
  [841] Forum help - a push in the right direction - (2006-08-21)
  [828] Freedom of speech and freedom to post - (2006-08-10)
  [806] Check your user is human. Have him retype a word in a graphic - (2006-07-17)
  [651] Please Register with Opentalk - but just once! - (2006-03-19)
  [516] Open source questions? Anyone can ask. - (2005-12-03)
  [424] How not to run a forum - (2005-08-24)
  [248] Use me, but use me effectively - (2005-03-16)
  [231] Feedback as lifeblood - (2005-02-28)
  [204] The confidence to allow public comments - (2005-02-06)
  [130] Spelling and grammar - (2004-11-25)
  [115] Expiration dates or times on web pages - (2004-11-12)
  [29] Silence is Golden - (2004-08-26)
  [22] Falling out over the silliest things - (2004-08-21)

G909 - Well House Consultants - Spam, Spamming and Spammers
  [4520] No cold sales calls please - but delighted to hear from others! - (2015-09-29)
  [4135] Introducing your product to Well House Consultants - single, personally tuned email please - (2013-07-08)
  [3946] Moving from a warning system to a control system - PHP, forum spammers - (2012-12-07)
  [3912] Sand to Arabia, Coals to Newcastle or Woodburners to Russia - (2012-11-04)
  [3661] Keeping forum and blog comments clean - (2012-03-19)
  [3506] Cold call contacts - preference services and turning off spam sales approaches - (2011-11-03)
  [3352] World Trade Register - Certainly NOT worth 2985 Euros. - (2011-07-09)
  [3316] Twitter Phishing Trips ... and a great new alert service - (2011-06-04)
  [3190] What do the following web sites have in common? - (2011-03-03)
  [3166] Well house is strong - confirmed? - (2011-02-11)
  [3016] The legal considerations of your web presence - revisited - (2010-10-26)
  [2884] Hotlinked images onto adult material sites - (2010-07-23)
  [2697] Email metrics and filtering - (2010-03-28)
  [2398] Websitemediasolution and a goldfish called Carl Johnson - (2009-09-06)
  [2276] Who is Marc Schneider of Multilingual Search Engine Optimization Inc - (2009-07-10)
  [2179] Offers that I can refuse - (2009-05-12)
  [2019] Baby Caleb and Fortune City in your web logs? - (2009-01-31)
  [1978] From spam to mod_alias - finding resources - (2009-01-05)
  [1817] Marc Schneider is still having email trouble - (2008-09-30)
  [1763] Co-operating to save, yet we dont - (2008-08-21)
  [1115] Unexpected visitors to our site - (2007-03-22)
  [1037] Impact Engineering and Backscatter - (2007-01-16)
  [872] Email metrics - (2006-09-20)
  [495] More spam - a success story - (2005-11-13)
  [417] Telephone Preference Service - we're registered - (2005-08-17)
  [347] Frightening and from-friend viruses and spams - (2005-06-14)
  [338] OO techniques are hard to teach - (2005-06-06)
  [276] An apology to Mr Boneparte - (2005-04-11)
  [268] Information request forms, cleaning up spam - (2005-04-05)
  [259] Responding to spam - (2005-03-27)


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How many times ... has this loco headed west through Tenby? - Python exceptions
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Identifying your real customers and keeping them well informed fast
Every Customer Counts
Black dogs at Halloween
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This is a page archived from The Horse's Mouth at http://www.wellho.net/horse/ - the diary and writings of Graham Ellis. Every attempt was made to provide current information at the time the page was written, but things do move forward in our business - new software releases, price changes, new techniques. Please check back via our main site for current courses, prices, versions, etc - any mention of a price in "The Horse's Mouth" cannot be taken as an offer to supply at that price.

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