Link Spam using profiles on OJS - How can I delete profile and/or links. I dont have login info for any

Good afternoon, I am a proud graduate from Simon Fraser University and firstly, its nice to see this software is so proliferated around the world.

Our website has been spammed by web links coming from profile links on 23 OJS sites.
Is it possible to delete these profiles / links ?

Here is an example of 2:
http://socialwork.journals.ac.za/pub/user/viewPublicProfile/24491
http://journal.um-surabaya.ac.id/index.php/qanunmedika/user/viewPublicProfile/29668

It’s pointing to my site and it’s clearly spam and it’s hurting our site on google’s ranking algorithm.

We are losing a lot of business. I think there may be a lot of other fake profiles on OSJ.

Can someone please let me know how I can go about getting these deleted?

Thank you very much, Richard.

Hi @richardmorrison,

Thanks, I’m also a proud SFU grad!

Public user profiles are only visible for users that have created at least one comment on a published article. The article commenting system is an attractive vehicle for spam, so I’d suggest disabling it on all journals, unless you specifically need it; other tools like Hypothes.is are better suited for adding commentary to published content anyway.

If you’re sure that you don’t want to preserve any article comments, you can remove them from the comments database table. That will automatically take the public profiles offline for users who no longer have comments attributed to them. Reviewing the entries in comments might also give you a good list of spam users – see tools/mergeUsers.php for a way to remove these accounts in batch.

I’d also suggest planning for an upgrade to OJS 3.x; it’s a lot of work but the software is much more modern.

Regards,
Alec Smecher
Public Knowledge Project Team

@asmecher Thanks for you insights!
I am actually calling the 23 parties affected and that have links pointed at my domain one by one and I will suggest this to them!

Cheers to SFU !

@asmecher some users are telling me that even though they disabled the profiles, my profile is still showing. How do they delete my spammed profile link?

Hi @richardmorrison,

Did they just disable commenting, or clear out the entries from the comments database table? If they only disable commenting, it won’t take existing profiles offline.

Regards,
Alec Smecher
Public Knowledge Project Team

Alec, I will let them know to clear out entries from the ‘comments’
database table. Thank you again
Richard.

@asmecher can you provide me with specific instruction how to “clear out the comments database table”? Some users are not tech savvy and are having a tough time deleting the spam.

Hi @richardmorrison,

Do you host the OJS installation? This is something you’d need to do through CPanel using phpMyAdmin or whatever other tool you have on hand to work with your MySQL database. If it’s a multi-journal installation that hosts all the journals you refer to, then it would only need to be done once.

Regards,
Alec Smecher
Public Knowledge Project Team

@asmecher No I am not the one who hosted these accounts. The Universities do.
I am well versed in MyphpAdmin but many of the people I am asking to remove the spam are not that tech savvy.

Do you have instructions to delete an individual profile using the PKP GUI? This would be very helpful as it will serve the immediate purpose for my situation as I am penalized by google due to the link spam pointing to me site coming from these profile links.

Afterward, they can get a tech person and I will guide them as to what you have mentioned with regards to the comments table using Myphpadmin.

Thanks

Hi @richardmorrison,

There isn’t a tool in OJS 2.x to batch-remove comments, unfortunately – this is something the server admin would need to do, either by…

  • Removing the comments from the comments table in the database, e.g. with phpMyAdmin
  • Editing the source code to disable the public profile feature (pages/user/UserHandler.inc.php in the viewPublicProfile function)
  • Using a .htaccess file or equivalent to deny accesses to that function.

The best solution, though, would be for users to stay current – OJS 2.x is now quite old, and OJS 3.x is much improved in many ways, including the removal of the public profile feature in favour of ORCID.

Sorry I can’t give you an easier solution!

Thanks,
Alec Smecher
Public Knowledge Project Team