Using a browser to piss off IRC users, or, spamming #redditdowntime

One of my most favorite sites on the internet, reddit, took some downtime this evening while doing some infrastructure (both hardware and software) upgrades. On their down-page, the reddit team invited everybody to join the #redditdowntime channel on the Freenode network, ostensibly to help users pass the time waiting for their pics and IAMAs to come back online.

Shortly after reddit started their scheduled outage, I joined the channel to pass the time while I debated what I should do with my evening. Within minutes the channel was flooded with a number of users, varying between spouting reddit memes in caps. link-spamming or engaging in casual chit-chat. I complained to one of the ops and fairly well-known-to-redditors employee: jedberg about the lack of moderation and he nearly instantly gave me +o (ops) in the channel. Not one to take my ops duty lightly, I started kicking spammers, warning habitual caps-lock users and tried to keep things generally civil through the deluge of messages consuming the channel.

Towards the end of the scheduled outage, some automated link-spamming started to appear and once it started it triggered more and more link-spamming. Clearly whatever was behind the link was responsible for the self-propagating nature of the spamming. While the other moderators and myself tried to keep up with banning people I used wget to fetch the destination of the clearly malicious URL to determine what we were dealing with. What I found is one of the more clever bits of JavaScript I think I’ve seen in recent months.

After bringing the site back up for a few minutes, reddit had to take it back down after noticing some problems with the upgrade, so another flood of users filled into the #redditdowntime channel and the link-spamming got worse. The most interesting aspect of the JavaScript in the code snippet below is how simple it is, I’ve commented it up a bit to help explain what’s actually going on: