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Thread: Stopping Forum Spam

  1. #1
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    Default Stopping Forum Spam

    Lately I've noticed here, and on my own forums, a big increase of people signing up and posting blatent spam. Usually to adult sites, or link farms or what not.

    Anyone else seeing more of this? What's a good way to stop it? I do have a CAPTCHA for signup, as well as the user needs to validate the email address. Not sure what else to do past that point other than to have active moderators that take care of it (deleting the post, deleting or banning the user's IP (usually a proxy IP)).


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  2. #2
    Administrator AndrewT's Avatar
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    I'm about to make people e-mail me to register here. It is getting rather annoying when it happens a couple times per day. I'm open to any suggestions as well...

  3. #3
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    The only way I've been able to keep my boat building forums spam-free is to require that people register with their ISP email address and not a free one from Gmail, Hotmail, etc. before they can post. I will also accept an email address from a site they own or a business related site if they work for the business. That way, I know I can either get the ISP to pull their internet access or I can contact them through their WHOIS information if they do something like post child porn pics, beastiality pics, etc. I actually had someone post porn on one of my forums; it was probably legal porn, but obviously not what I wanted on my site!

    Doing that means I have to check each URL I don't recognize before I approve the registration. I'm not sure there's a way to automate the process, but it has cut out spam and anonymous jerks on the forum.

  4. #4
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    I'd rather not have to check each one, that will get old fast.

    Most of the signups lately have come from @gawab.com which is now blocked. But the IP's were http proxies or russian ips (could be proxies, who knows - no offense to the russians).

    I currently have @aol.com blocked just because I'm tired of dealing with people who don't get their registration emails or password resets, ect.

    I just started a new website, which is basically just a vb forum and hopefully that one doesn't get spammed up too fast.
    Hosting at Dathorn since March 2003!

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  5. #5
    Senior Member Jonathan's Avatar
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    Alot of the postings here lately have been the same as on a astronomy forum I visit...
    Its quiet aggrativating...
    "How can someone be so distracted yet so focused?"
    - C

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by AndrewT
    I'm about to make people e-mail me to register here. It is getting rather annoying when it happens a couple times per day. I'm open to any suggestions as well...
    If you find a way to link accounts on forum with dathorn accounts, that would do the job. At leas you may ask user who registeres in to enter his DAthorn username and password to verofy himself and then give him full access. Others can register, but limit their access until they are checked.

  7. #7
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    If you find a way to link accounts on forum with dathorn accounts, that would do the job.
    That's a simple yet undesired solution. You see, there are people (like me) who first register on the forums, watch the community and testimonials, ask host some pre-sales questions, look at their and their customers reaction and then acutally sign up for a hosting account. I don't like unnecessary obstacles on this way.

    Anyway, forum and general form spam is getting very annoying. I am keeping eye on a forum hosted here and almost every day I get from 5 to 40 spam posts. The bots easely defeat standard IPB/VB posting/registration CAPTCHAs and are able to click on the account activation links (sic!).

    I have written a custom protection system which is based on the fact that the bots attacking me don't have a decent JS interpreter built-in. It's currently ported to phorum / mambo contact, akobook and comments forms, but porting it to other platforms shouldn't be hard. Unfortunately I can't share the source (at least for free), because every time it's a lot of custom work and I take care to change a bit the algorithm on each install, otherwise the bots will easely learn how to defeat it (guess how they learned to recognise commonly used CAPTCHAs and tricks?).

    Anyway the ideas are free so feel free to experiment. The only downside is that it wouldn't work for JS-disabled users. But after all, cummunity forums are hard to use w/o JS so that's not that bad.

    Another neat (and accessible!) idea is to add several checkboxes to the form (with some of them checked) and ask the user to uncheck all or some of the checkboxes. The bots usually try to leave the defaults or check them all. Please take care to add meaningfull sentences at every checkbox and change the sequence from time to time. That works on some of the private sites, won't advertise them here.

    And finally, Flash contact/comment/post forms work nicely to prevent spam, BUT unfortunately not everyone has Flash.

    P.S. There is a Russian guy who made a website about CAPTCHA recognition - http://captcha.ru/ . Those who don't speak Russian might try out Google traslator or smth like that. There is an online CAPTCHA decoder.

    P.P.S. Most of spam comes from Russian IP's because (and it's a shame for us, but...) the creators of one of the most advanced spam-bot are Russian. See botmaster point ru (don't post the direct like to not increase their PR).

  8. #8
    Senior Member KyleC's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AndrewT
    I'm about to make people e-mail me to register here. It is getting rather annoying when it happens a couple times per day. I'm open to any suggestions as well...

    At the least enable CAPTCHA and require email verification before the first post. Both of these should be very easy to do with VB.

    Requiring people to email you to get an account will scare people off.

  9. #9
    Administrator AndrewT's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KyleC
    At the least enable CAPTCHA and require email verification before the first post. Both of these should be very easy to do with VB.
    E-mail verification is already required along with the random image verification. That doesn't stop them.

  10. #10
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    Found the fix @ vbulletin.com Check this post (thread)

    Just implemented it on my main forums, where I've been getting said spam. They do post a link to the software responible for it.

    Hopefully this will clear up the spam issues for my forums and others.
    Hosting at Dathorn since March 2003!

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