New forum user cannot say the word "URL", "HTTP", "HTTPS" in forum postings

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New forum user cannot say the word "URL", "HTTP", "HTTPS" in forum postings

Postby nachanon » 30. Oct 2017, 12:18

When I posted my first topic on VirtualBox forum, I encountered a weird problem: I cannot say the acronym "U-R-L" (without dash) in forum post or replies.

While it is perfectly understandable to block posting of web address/link by newly-registered users, I believe blocking the literal word "U-R-L" (without dash) that are not a part of "[u-r-l=][/u-r-l]" (without dash) BBCode markup is an error in detection code.

Exact steps to reproduce:
  • Register as new user on VirtualBox forum.
  • Log in.
  • Go to forum index.
  • Enter any section of forum (that allow normal users to post).
  • Click "New topic".
  • Enter "This is a test" as the post subject.
  • Enter "This is not a U-R-L." (without any dash and quote) as the post content.
  • Click "Preview"
  • The error "You must be a member for 1 days and have 1 posts before you can post u-r-ls." (without dash) would appear instead of post preview.
  • Click "Submit"
  • The error "You must be a member for 1 days and have 1 posts before you can post u-r-ls." (without dash) would appear instead of post being submitted.
  • Go to forum index.
  • Enter any section of forum (that allow normal users to post).
  • Enter any thread that is not locked.
  • Click "Post reply".
  • Enter "This is not a U-R-L." (without any dash and quote) as the reply content.
  • Click "Preview"
  • The error "You must be a member for 1 days and have 1 posts before you can post u-r-ls." (without dash) would appear instead of reply preview.
  • Click "Submit"
  • The error "You must be a member for 1 days and have 1 posts before you can post u-r-ls." (without dash) would appear instead of reply being submitted.
Note that all uppercase, lowercase, mixed-case of the acronym "U-R-L" (without dash), and related terms including "H-T-T-P" (without dash), or "H-T-T-P-S" (without dash) are affected (but not "FTP" and "WWW"); checking "Disable BBCode" and/or "Do not automatically parse U-R-Ls" option didn't help.

Please fix.

P.S. Both of the word "U-R-L" (without dash) and literal web address seems to be well allowed on thread/reply's subject line.
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Re: New forum user cannot say the word "URL", "HTTP", "HTTPS" in forum postings

Postby socratis » 30. Oct 2017, 12:32

The developers are not really sysadmins. Well they are if they have to, but don't you prefer them dealing with things that they excel at? Instead of fixing broken (most probably) phpBB code? Which would make it harder to upgrade later on?

Also, if you notice at the VirtualBox.org start page, there's an opening for a sysadmin hire. I'd like to see that one get removed from the front page and would love to welcome our new overlord friendly sysadmin ;).

I have a couple of things in mind as well that I'd love to have them improved... 8)

UPDATE: Aha!!! As I was adding the link for the sysadmin opening, I checked the link and I noticed something that may bring your suggestion closer to fruition: "This job is no longer available". Hmm, maybe someone was listening in on your thoughts... ;)
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Re: New forum user cannot say the word "URL", "HTTP", "HTTPS" in forum postings

Postby mpack » 30. Oct 2017, 13:10

Didn't Michael take over from Frank as the main sysadmin here? So, like Frank, it's an additional task for him (hopefully one he gets paid for!), so his main priority would still be VirtualBox dev work.

Is there a bbcode which can mark an arbitrary string as a URL? If so then that could explain why the word URL is itself verboten.
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Re: New forum user cannot say the word "URL", "HTTP", "HTTPS" in forum postings

Postby Perryg » 30. Oct 2017, 13:52

Words like http, https, actually can and often do make up an address to a site/page and as such have been deemed as suspect until the conditions have been met for a new user ( 24hours and one post ). This was all done to prevent the spam that was occurring on a daily and sometimes hourly basis. Don remembers the days before the rule was put in place where we had to manually delete hundreds and hundreds of spam messages. I do not want to see those days return. Normal users don't really care because they don't have to deal with it but this was an important rule to put in place if one wants to be able to use this forum and I don't see it changing any time soon.
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Re: New forum user cannot say the word "URL", "HTTP", "HTTPS" in forum postings

Postby mpack » 30. Oct 2017, 17:35

Oh, absolutely true Perry. There's no way we're relaxing the rules for new users. The only question here was whether there was a bug in the rules, and I can't really answer that because I'm not a bbcode expert. I suspect there is some obscure exploitable feature which the phpBB developers know of which is why they have the rule about the word URL in new user posts.

@nachanon: I assume you realize that the VirtualBox developers do not develop phpBB (the forum software), they just installed it on a PC. While they can tweak it here and there they are not the people to talk to about phpBB bugs, unless it's to tell them about a one line php interrim fix for some bug.
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Re: New forum user cannot say the word "URL", "HTTP", "HTTPS" in forum postings

Postby Perryg » 30. Oct 2017, 17:48

I have worked with phpBB and its filtering mechanism. As I pointed out above the http and https are directly related to creating a link in the form and looking at it a bit further the phrase url is in fact used as well to create a link. The filter is really basic and does not have the ability to put a fine if/then restriction. But you are correct as usual and this is a phpBB feature that we use. By the way if you read through the phpBB forum this has been a major issue with massive amount of forums and trying to control the huge amount of spam. The alternative was to have all posts moderated inclusion ( Don remembers that too ) and that was so time consuming that anything was better.
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