Why do I find NEW ACCOUNTS from DISTANT COUNTRIES in my Timebank?

Why do I find NEW ACCOUNTS from DISTANT COUNTRIES in my Timebank?

What is happening?

  • Individuals from other countries, especially China, Korea, Russia, etc. trying to join your TimeBank.
  • The individuals start the process of creating a new account on your TimeBank and you receive an email notification about this.

Why do they do this?

  • They enter their web addresses (URL) in their profile and hope that someone finds it and clicks on it. The web site in those links is typically an offer of something for sale or will try to download malware on your computer.
  • Do not click on their links.  

Normal procedures for a Community Timebank:

  1. Each TimeBank has a  "Create new account" link on its home page. This allows anyone on the Internet to start the process of creating a new account. The Primary Coordinator receives an email notification that the new account creation process has begun.  The person creating the new account also receives a validation email.
  2. It is up to the TimeBank's coordinators to either accept the new account and make it a member account or to reject the application and delete the account.  This is a normal process for a CW TimeBank.

How to deal with these inappropriate new accounts?

  • The easiest way to deal with this is for the coordinator to use the link in the notification email to delete the account. (The coordinator has to be logged in to use the delete link.)  See: Delete unwanted accounts
  • Technically is is possible to change the software so that no one (except the coordinator) could start the process of creating a new account. That would mean that the coordinator would have to enter all the profile information required to create an account. This would increase the workload for coordinators.
  • There are also Drupal modules (Botcha and Spambot) that have proven to be successful in stopping these phony accounts if they are set up by spam robots. The issue is that they need to be installed on every Community Weaver site, which requires system administrator access.
  • If the fields for entering web links were not available to people creating a new account, then they would have minimal interest to create the phony accounts. The suggestion is to move those fields to a section of Community Weaver that can only be edited after a person is approved for membership.

Some additional thoughts on this issue

Part of the issue is how  we want to present TimeBanks to the public. Perhaps it is somewhat like running a retail store.  Some people come into the store and want to interact as you expect (they want to buy your goods), others just wander in look and maybe become interested and buy something. Others wander in with no particular goal and leave without buying. Still others come in with other motives (want to get out of the heat or cold, have time to "kill", want something that you are not  offering, are "just looking", or want to sell you something, etc.) Those that come in with other motives are "wasting our time" but that might be part of the "cost" of running a web site that is (and needs to be) accessible to the public. Or do we want to put up the equivalent of bouncers or border patrols?