Yes, the big brother is watching (website and forum data collection).

After reading some delusional dribble of some people on a different website; and seeing how completely uninformed and ignorant they are about how websites and the Internet in general works, I decided to share some facts and provide some transparency into what and how much data is being captured by any given website on the Internet.

Note: I am speaking in general, what I say here applies to 99% of all websites and forums on the Internet. Not just this one.

Some people seem to think that there is some level of anonymity and privacy online. There is, sort of, but not how they imagine it.

Regardless of the forum or website that you are on, unless you are taking some very specific steps to hide yourself there are certain bits of data that are always being recorded.

PSA for the paranoid brigade: get off your paranoid donkey, this data is not recorded to track you or snoop on you. For the paranoid lurkers – you are insignificant and nobody cares about you, but in a good way.

However! This data is needed for a number of reasons. Some of those reasons are:

  • Troubleshooting website and network faults. Who can and can’t connect and from where. How fast, how slow, etc. That’s right, this shit is not magic and takes effort.
  • Cost reduction. Running websites costs money. Not in a sense of time is money. No, I mean real money… Understanding user activity on a website helps with resource planning and allows us to be most cost efficient.
  • Keep you secure and troll free. We track (automatically, we personally don’t actually look at anything) user behaviour and can tell a single person using multiple accounts.
  • Keep your data secure and mess free. Websites/forums require you to login in order to post messages. That way a user can be silenced (think of it as a temporary ban) or completely banned based on some user identifiers. It happens if they post abusive, offensive, threatening or spam content.
  • Keep you interested and engaged. We see what articles you looked at (again, automated, we don’t actually see individuals, just numbers) and can plan good and interesting content. However, capability to look at an individual is certainly there, it just takes more effort and without a very good reason, nobody bothers.

There are lots and lots of reasons why this data is needed. None of them involve any specific individual and is generally viewed as a statistic, rather than on individual level.

This is no different to walking around a building with CCTV cameras. You specifically are not being watched, but the capacity to track your individual movements is certainly there.

There are also controls to make sure all moderators/admins can see what other moderators/admins are doing. If someone investigates user profile, other moderators can see that activity and inquire why this is happening. Snooping is not nice and we play by those rules. Most older forums don’t have this feature, however ours does. And this is why we have a few moderators and admins, to discourage this type of behaviour.

Most older forums don’t allow auditing. For example, if an admin snoops on users’ private messages, how would that be tracked? Who questions the admins? Ours does. If someone snoops, other admins will see that.

Now, what is this data that you speak of? This is not forum specific. This data is recorded by most websites and certainly all forums.

  • Your internet address. A lot like your home address, but on the Internet. This is done by default by all web servers for all websites. This is done for all users, regardless if you are a registered forum member or not.
  • Your web browser and operating system type, make, version. This is done by default by all web servers for all websites. This is done for all users, regardless if you are a registered forum member or not.
  • Pages and posts that you have clicked on. This is done by all web servers and websites. This is done for all users, regardless if you are a registered forum member or not.
  • Private messages – if you are a registered user and you send private messages via a website to other users, then admins (any admin on any website) can covertly see your private messages. However, on our forum this action is recorded and can be called out.
  • Your email address. Again, if you are a registered user, then admins can see your (otherwise protected and hidden) email address. This is done and it’s done for content protection. Usually someone will make a quick verification inspection (i.e. look at email and see if it’s dodgy) of an email address, to make sure that an email address does not belong to common ‘throw away email’ spam providers.

Long story short, if you visit a website, regardless of what it is – this data is automatically recorded. If you register on a website or a forum, then your email address and private messaging data is also available to administrators. Don’t think for a moment that this is somehow private and hidden from any website owner. Most certainly from other users, but not from moderators and administrators.

Hope this clears things up and adds some transparency.


Asio and the ASD are probably watching the movie with me right now

rolls eyes I’ll give you $5 next time I see you, @AusTac. Buy more foil.

Naah im foil free, only joking :joy:

No point in half measures!


Or for extra protection, wrap your whole house!


Yeah, just read some comments by some tin foil fan that got me thinking… Thought I’d put some things into perspective, I know they lurk here :wink: May as well take some knowledge out of it.

JS you might be the right person for me to ask this question seeing you know what you are talking about now If I got a message on my phone saying I had won some money which I took as a hoax but it also had quoted my forum name (not this forum) could you fill me in on how they would have possibly accessed that name

Chances are this is 110% a scam.

About your username and how did they associate it to your phone number? A few ways… Most likely your details were in some hacked data dump that you weren’t told about.

That forum may have your real name in the profile somewhere or your email address, visible publicly somewhere. It could have been associated that way to already hacked data from another source. It could be a fluke, I don’t know the username, so I am not sure the chances of that. It could be that the other forum was quietly hacked (or sold data, unlikely, but never say never) and data got extracted without admins noticing or noticing but not alerting users. It could have your email, which has your name and then your name got researched for phone number. Could be someone you know trying to be funny. Hard to say without knowing a few personal things about you, usernames you use, forums, few other extra things, what phone number the message was sent from, that shouldn’t be shared publicly on a forum.

By the way, in case of phone number of the message, you could always google it, to see if it’s a known scam number. Usually a lot of them are listed publicly.

Basically, if you get an email, SMS, message over social media from someone you don’t know with a request to do something (called: call to action) like click on a link - chances are it’s a scam.

Also worth noting that if you get a message like that form someone you know and it seems out of character for that person to send a message like that - it could mean that their account got hacked and used for scamming their contact list, with additional benefit of inherent trust you have in that person. Always worth it to pick up the phone and actually ask them (i.e. talk to them, make sure you recognise their voice). Has happened to me on a couple of occasions and replied to that person using different means to confirm whether it was them (and yes, their account was hacked).

If you are REALLY interested, PM me and we can go through details, but I would probably just write it off on one of the reasons above.

Thanks JS mate I had already wrote it off but it was burning my brain not knowing how they could possibly have done it i’m no wiz kid on these machines a bale of wire and fencing pliers is my limit then I was told by forum that it was impossible just didn’t sound right as I saw for my self it did happen and that’s when the burn started so thanks for some insight

Naah you won cash for sure mate, claim it

Yep austrac is right, I once got a SMS saying mr Mike (I am not Mike) you have won $560k in the BBS lottery. And guess what I actually got the money…

they offered to invest it for me in Cayman islands due to the tax implications with ATO, so I gladly took up their offer. And when I go overseas I will pay a visit to the Cayman Bank with my account number and details (which I provided the lottery company, like my date of birth, and drivers license number etc). And you know how I know it wasn’t a scam… they didn’t ask for my credit card details.


You know, it’s funny how you both are making fun of someone who is not that into computers, but I would bet that if I really applied myself I could make chums out of both of you in ways you wouldn’t even imagine. Just depends who is after you and your computer literacy. @anon19591382 recognised the threat and dug into it, rationally, because few things were more concerning, like real data in fake message. But I suggest to you, that compared to most people I work with, you are the easiest pray on the planet. It’s not about outrunning @anon19591382 - because if a serious scammer was after you, they’d even give you a head start for entertainment lol Don’t be nasty gents :wink:


I know it’s a serious matter and unfortunately my mother in-law got caught by a scammer and luckily it only cost her a couple of hundred dollars.
Now when she gets these sort of things she always calls before she does anything.

But in answer to AusTac’s comment, it reminds me of this one,

@juststarting lets be honest you could make a chum out of me without even trying. Hosanna in the highest.

1 Like

Not making fun of anyone… except some people should learn to laugh.

Anyway back to my story, I just wanted to report that after i posted here i got a call from the ATO, they apparently read this forum and others and have sent me a bill for tax on 560k dollars, plus penalty interest on this over due amount…but they were nice, told me if I could pay them $3000 they will consider the matter closed.

DO YOU KNOW how many Coles supermarkets I had to go to get $3k worth of apple gift cards

On a serious note I only got a call once in my life, and it was from some Indian cants about my windows computer… I kept them busy for 50minutes and finished with as many choice obscenities about them and their family members I could think off.