Under attack

Dear Reader,

MB comments are under attack from some unpleasant person or persons replicating user names and posting insulting comments willy nilly. No premium content details have been hacked.

Of course we take this as a signal that we are doing an excellent job and upsetting some interest or another.

For the time being, I’ve turned comment moderation on so genuine comments will be a little slower to appear. It’s pretty easy to pick the imposters, owing to the frequent mentions of Australian Property Forum and the general idiocy of the comments. But, if you see a comment that steals your identity please notify me at [email protected]

We are working on a more permanent solution.


Houses and Holes
Latest posts by Houses and Holes (see all)


  1. “Of course we take this as a signal that we are doing an excellent job and upsetting some interest or another.”

    Absolutely! You haven’t come of age as a credible information resource until someone tries to take you down. So, congratulations are in order.

    12th October 2011. Happy Coming-Of-Age Day, MacroBusiness.

    • Is there any reason why you can’t just require that users be registered and logged-in to comment? I know that would (maybe slightly) discourage occasional commentators but I think that’s a price worth paying to stop the impersonation that has been going on.

  2. My moniker may be a turn off for most, but I insult nobody.

    I a way, such ill-feeling comments coming this way means you guys must be doing something right.

  3. It reminds me of a TV report I saw some years ago about a guy who was working to expose property shonks. He was looking at the shonks who would travel from Queensland to Victoria to sell overpriced properties to investors who didn’t have any local knowledge. Anyway, this poor guy ended up installing grilles on the windows of his family’s home while living in fear of retaliation. The property industry is not a place for those wishing to express dissent. Equities is so much classier.

  4. the property spruikers have been insulting peoples intelegence for years. the game is up. they cant support their position with facts and know thyey are all on the verge of getting sued so they turn nasty. hardly suprising.

    i say let them post. if they want to embaress themselves they can. should be like water off a ducks back and some entertaining sport here in the comments section.

      • Yeah,Thanks H&H,I wondered what was going on..
        Everybody seem to had gotten out of bed on the wrong side ..made me Nostalgic
        All cleared up..Nice to be sought after
        MB..Cheers JR

        • No GB they should not be allowed to post under my name. My name links to my site and I dont want some Aussie House Price Forum troll/bull pretending to be me and ruining my name.

          I left that site because Alex BArton allows that kind of rubbish over there. But here you het great analsyis and excellent comments that make me come back everyday.

          I am all for free speech, but they should use their own avatar and not impersonate someone else.

          Thanks HnH

          • yeah sorry, silly comment from me. spead read the article didnt see the posting under others names bit. big no no

  5. First they ignore you. Then they laugh at you. Then they fight you. Then you win.

    I know this phrase has been thrown around a bit lately, but seems like it’s perfectly applicable here. Is this the beginning of the fight stage?

  6. if they replicate a user name wouldn’t they also have to replicate the email address for the comment to appear as coming from that user??

    • Possibly not. The logic is likely to run there can be two “John Smith”‘s, albeit with different email account. After all. The email account is not visible to other posters.

      Although it is a good way of telling who is talking gibberish and who isn’t.

      Even with nicknames, you can usually spot the style and tone of the comments with the regulars.

      • that makes sense. I change my name every couple of weeks and each time it needs approval. i.e. it is the name that gets moderated not the email address.

    • They’re definitely on the ropes; today’s Canberra Times has two property spruik pieces! Things must be getting bad.

  7. Wise move to turn on the comment moderation H&H.

    I’ve been around these forums and blogs since the GHPC days and I can tell you you’re probably dealing with the same group of trolls who took down GHPC and Credit Crunch.

    These guys are nutbags but they’re also relentless and ruthless. They attacked GHPC for over a year until the owner was forced to shut down the site. They attacked Credit Crunch for almost a year too until the moderator as good as closed his Australia subforum.

    If its the same people I’m thinking off they’ve even used real world stalking and harassment to attain their goals. Once they get your personal details they don’t think twice about hassling you at home or at work. Once you make an enemy of them they stop at nothing.

    IMO they must be in hocked to the gills or in league with some dodgy RE players because their sole motive seems to be to shut down contrarian discussion on sites like this.

    I don’t want to sound like I’m giving unasked for advice, but if it were up to me I’d beef up the security here. Only allow registered members to post and ensure they have password protected accounts. Even that might not be enough as these people have got past much stronger security measures on sites like GHPC and Credit Crunch. On Credit Crunch the administrator finally enabled a paypal signup process which did eventually thwart the trolls as they would have had to give their real details to sign up and post.

    Unfortunately by the time this was implemented on Credit Crunch, the trolls had already driven out all the regular members and the forum was left a vacant shell.

    If you want to get on top of this, go hard, implement strict site security and a verified (paypal for example) sign up process, before the trolls drive decent members away.

    Just my 2 cents.


    • It’s always a tough call how high to raise the barricades, but I agree you could go pretty far in this direction without risking much if any of the regular MB readership. Quality comments and mostly-polite debate is worth preserving, especially if these trolls are so determined.

      • Yes at the end of the day the only thing that stopped these idiots on Credit Crunch was paypal verification of accounts. Before that they simply established hundreds of sleeper accounts, posted a few times to get them under the radar, and then kept them for a rainy day. Even after the admin turned off new memberships there were still hundreds of these sleeper accounts waiting in the system to be activated at will. They even hacked existing members accounts, stole passwords, email addresses, got members home addresses and phone numbers. All sorts of unsavoury stuff. IMO the police should have been brought in when that happened. These guys are disturbed psychotic freaks. The GHPC owner, Consa I think his name was, actually ended up in hospital with stress related problems. Then he shut down the site.

  8. I remember as a young Technical Instructor being a bit put out when I found an insult written on the toilet wall about me by one of the apprentices. My boss just grinned & said ‘now you’re getting through to them, congrats you’ve finally made it’.

    Congrats on your graduation MB.

  9. Let it get ugly. These imbeciles are quickly running out of time ;MB is a very good ,honest source of information with great postings. Keep it up

  10. I read MB because while I don’t necessarily agree with the editorial direction, the conclusions or the policies advocated in the articles written, I find that the arguments produced are based on facts and evidence. I enjoy having my preconceived views and beliefs challenged by well structured debate. Keep up the good work.

  11. This troll from APF is well known on other bear forums, eg bubblepedia. He is seriously disturbed. I started my own bear forum and he attacked it to the point that I had to close it down. Good luck. I agree that more security and proper membership with passwords is required.

  12. Just shows what the property bubble has done to this country. People tell the truth they get attacked and the majority silently endorse it.

    Go Aussies.

  13. This is GREAT news, MB!!!

    Meet fire with fire, I say…

    Maintain yer rage, and all of that.

    You’ve made my day;-)

  14. hey guys,
    just block the originating IP addresses.

    they’ll run out of places to troll from..


  15. It’s been interesting to watch the antics of this group over the past few years as they’ve wreaked havoc on various sites. Many view them as ‘disturbed’ but I suspect they’re professional. They seem to be very good at what they do.

    It looks like their objective is to set up a ‘honeypot’ for real estate related discussion which they can control. Control which they use to either discredit positions negative to property or to just destroy the discussion. Hence their hatred of moderation.

    The interesting question is, who pays for them? They seem far too well organised and prolific to be amateurs.

    • Ohhh… they’re professional, alright, make no mistake about that! And if we could just reveal their patrons that would make for a interesting blog, indeed.

      • +1. Surely there’s someone out there with enough computer savvy to expose the property trolls. The whole subject would make a great documentary actually..

        • jousting_sticks

          That was my thought on it as well. I don’t know about having someone with the requisite computer savvy exposing it, I think I’d prefer to hear from a whistleblower.

          I think it would be fascinating to know the answers to a few basic questions, like who were the clients? how much did they pay? what was the brief? what toolsets did they use (it’s obviously more than a browser and a DSL connection)? etc

    • They are professional alright.
      There was a video floating around of Bernard Salt of KPMG telling real estate industry vested interests on how to manage and influence popular opinion in the blogosphere/online forums etc.

  16. I agree with Alright Jack that moderation should be implemented .I used to take the view ( last century) on my website that the internet is free and that the regular contributors would stay ..an heroic democratic sentiment these days. I have since learned otherwise. Knowing that one’s posting will be reviewed encourages some moderation in thought ..which is a good thing . Putting up some technology barriers is the easy bit . keeping your regular contributors happy is far more important .

  17. I check MB daily and enjoy the contents. I also use the name Jason and it seems there is more than one here, so I will start using JasonL. This is only my second post but I have been enjoying the contents and replies for about a month now. Keep it up.

  18. “Moderation On’ sounds like a good response to these attacks. Hopefully it doesn’t load you up with low-return work – I’d rather you keep up the sort of digging that makes the vested interests nervous.

    But it does raise the question of whether or not posts are edited or censored. Dunno how you deal with that.

  19. @Mav and SP, here’s the Bernard Salt video and a writeup about the VIs behind this type of nasty trolling.


    @Crux, people always leave a trail on the internet. These people can be found using IP address if they’re not hiding behind a proxy.

    @H&H, thanks for being on top of this. and not letting those morons ruin a great site.

    • That’s really disturbing, thanks for posting that link. I must say, I’m shocked but not surprised. This is exactly the type of anti-social behaviour these trolls are renowned for. It’s sad to watch this happen over and over again every year with a different forum as the vested interests and paid shills run rampant over any Aussie site that has the guts to post real facts and analysis like Macrobusiness, and Credit Crunch and GHPC before it. As Stavros siad, it almost makes you want to carry a bat.

    • Wow… that was worth a read. Thanks for the link.

      Really makes me wonder about a lot of things.

  20. Why don’t you just force people to sign in to leave comments? That’s what everyone else does. That will stop impersonation.

  21. Well done MB, obviously getting nuder some skin.

    Love the analysis on this site, whether I agree with it or not, and the readership amongst my network of contacts is growing through referral.

    The idea of a doco behind the vested interets attacking these type of sites is an interesting one, and have passed onto a couple of journo contacts.

    Let’s see how deep the rabbithole goes !!

    • Get your colleagues to google ‘GHPC Troll Club’ that’s what the group call themselves. There information out there on them if you look hard enough.

  22. Keep up the good work!

    Also add any links to the Australian Property Portal to your blacklist. Probably run by the same miscreants that operate APF judging by the similar link hijacking tactics used on the Bubblepedia news feed.

  23. +1 to all the good people.
    Thanks H n H and all at MB, keep up the great work.
    I look forward to MB the minute I wake up, you guys been a great help to me with some decisions I have had to make re my investing habits.

  24. I support moderation on the basis that it should improve the quality of discussion and argument. If the trolls wish to participate by offering well-reasoned arguments, supported by valid evidence, then they should be welcomed. But cheap insults, endless repetition and pretending to be other contributors is not acceptable.

    To date I have found the discussion at Macrobusiness almost as interesting as the articles.

  25. Failed Baby Boomer

    MB is a breath of fresh air in a stale and rotting economic and political environment. Being hacked is a badge of honour. Keep on raging against the MSM and establishment!

  26. As long as you don’t block those of us who critique in a reasonable way, and wish to remain anonymous. Also I post from different IP addresses depending on where I am.

  27. Isn’t the simple fix here to allow only one name/email combination ? It’s not identity theft if it was unprotected in the first place.

    captcha will only work against bot attacks.

    These Trolls could be part or an organisation run by a mastermind leader with the attack financed by black business. Or it’s just a couple of guys with a fundamentalist bent who are doing it for the simple power trip of rubbing people up the wrong way.

    Deleting the links and denying them air time is the right approach.

  28. On the plus side for MB, the quality of comment on this site makes the trolls incredibly obvious. In fact i find that the comments here are just as valuable as the articles, as you usually get to explore a number of points of view and form your own opinion on the arguments.