back to article Open Data site fills up with spam

Spammers have forced the Cabinet Office to close portions of the UK's open data website. Comments have been disabled after the CAPTCHA gateway was smartly circumvented. "After a long analysis of the spam in our site, we have a strong feeling that human intervention is also at play," writes Antonio Acuna, head of the …


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  1. Anomynous Coward


    I'm sad the idea that paying more always means you will get better results.

    Open data is something some people care about, plenty of whom have the skills to get things going without such expensive quangos.

    We're better at geekery than management in this country.

  2. yakitoo


    I suppose that any mail criticising the gumment will be considered as spam.

  3. LinkOfHyrule

    We've had open government data for years - usually the data is found in the bins round the back of offices or on a train seat sometime just after rush hour!

  4. Anonymous Coward

    giving it all away for nowt

    You mean,making it available to the taxpapers who have already paid for it?

    That is not giving it away at all, let alone for nowt.

    1. Helena Handcart

      Re: giving it all away for nowt

      I wish we could vote more than once for posts. Top stuff Thad.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Top stuff Thad.

        Wow, thanks!

        It's one of those comments that is just obvious to many of us --- just as the "other" view is "just obvious" to Thatcher's Children. That is, of course, the one's whose brains she possessed, not the ones whose milk she abolished.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Top stuff Thad.

          Well, I'm slightly humbled by the fact that this is my most up-voted post ever --- and slightly surprised that the right-wing management-consultancy IT-director types didn't flock to down-vote it.

          Obviously not so many of them around. Good news!

          1. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

            Missing the point Thad

            Yes, we've paid to produce it. So if a private global corporation profits from it, then so should we.

            Imagine the public (aka you) paying for North Sea oil exploration, financing the rigs and paying the staff. Then BP and Shell take all the profits. You're looking at "Open Data".

            The "right-wing management-consultancy IT-director types" are pushing it the hardest. They can't believe their' luck.

      2. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

        Re: giving it all away for nowt

        But you have a horse in this race. You want other people's stuff for free.

        Which is fair enough.

        I want a free car and swimming pool. It doesn't follow from "I want, gimmee", that I should have it, or the taxpayer should pay for my freebies.

  5. jon 72

    Serves them right

    Examples of captcha implementation by Northen Ireland gov sites for example use plain text in cookies to control the captcha expiry peiod and will wager the same mistake was made on the site.

    If you make it a point of telling visitors that you have placed a cookie on their PC then some of the more savvy may actually go take a look and see what it contains. For the last month many UK websites have been actively encouraged to tell people how to examine and manage cookies, pointing them in the direction of tools & plugins so it can hardly come as a surprise to discover that some folk have found the options settings to re-write the cookies contents.

  6. Anonymous Coward

    But Francis Maude said -

    "For the first time in Government we are using agile, iterative processes, open source technology platforms and world-class in-house development teams alongside the best digital innovation the market can offer”

    And now you're trying to tell me that they put a pile of crap into production with elementary errors and quickly got hacked?

    Well. it just can't be. You guys need to radically adjust your paradigms and reenvision what success looks like.

    Boldthink, not oldthink!

  7. Anonymous Coward

    The great irony of CAPTCHA... that comment spam bots find CAPTCHA easier to use than humans.

  8. Mystic Megabyte

    Fire Alarms, Thad is correct.

    Our local pub, which barely makes a profit, needs a fire alarm system. Can you find out what regs. need to be followed? No. Can the Fire Service tell you? No?

    If anyone knows where to find them please let me know. The pub has only three guest rooms. If the pub goes bust then we will all go mad. (Population here: 400)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Fire Alarms, Thad is correct.

      Here's a starting point -

      More results - google (or your preferred search engine) for fire alarm regulations BS 5839

      with & without the BS 5839


      1. Mystic Megabyte

        Re: Fire Alarms, Thad is correct.

        "Here's a starting point - More results - google (or your preferred search engine) for fire alarm regulations BS 5839 with & without the BS 5839"

        Cheers! I owe you a pint :)

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Fire Alarms, Thad is correct.

          Pleased to be of service :)

          Anytime you're in South Yorks.

  9. Terry 6 Silver badge

    The thing is the spamming must make money,or they wouldn't do it.

    So what sort of idiot goes to the govt. website for information, sees an advert for.... whatever and chooses to click on that instead?

    1. jon 72
      Paris Hilton

      There's a sucker born every minute

      WC Fields said it better

      Paris because she did it better

    2. Dire Criti¢


      ....who voted Conservative?

    3. Franklin

      Usually, this sort of spam is used to make money indirectly, not directly. The spammers don't expect anyone to click on the links; what they're after is flooding sites with the links to improve their Page Rank score, so that punters who do a Google search for dodgy pills or whatever find them more easily. I reckon a link from a UK government site must be reasonably good for one's page rank...

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