Online Forums: 20 Forum Spam Mods & Tools
Online forums, unprotected and unmonitored, are a ripe environment for spambots and manual spammers. Luckily, tools and mods have been developed to make it harder to penetrate online discussions.Here ...
Here is a list of anti-spam options for Online Forums:
1. Email Verification - requires the registrant to click on a validation link automatically sent to their email address. Many Online Forums have success with this feature since spammers rarely click on the link.
2. Open Proxy Registrant Blocking - a mod which blocks anyone requesting registration via an open proxy server. Requests from these servers are typically malicious.
3. Member Profile Required Field Configuration - enables admins to specify required fields for member profiles. It's advisable not to require too much personally identifiably information. An idea would be to try requiring reasons for joining the forum as one of the mandatory fields.
4. Cryptographic Signing - disables spambots by ensuring that a. posts have come from the appropriate comment form, b. that the form was generated for that user and c. a required period of time (say 5 seconds) has elapsed between the time the form was generated and submission. Unless all of these conditions are satisfied, then the poster is fronted with a preview of the post, enabling humans to submit at that stage.
5. Textual Confirmation (TC) - like captcha, it requires human input of an answer. TC asks the registrant a question like "what is 2 + 3" or "what letter comes after E in the alphabet". The questions are simple enough for any human to answer, but undetectable by robots. If the answer is incorrect, the registration is rejected.
6. Disabling website signatures - many online forums hide the signature fields at the registration stage. This mod denies registrations where information has been entered into the hidden signature fields. Most spambot registrations are eliminated this way because they are made to fill in the URL and signature fields. If you have an IP ban activated, their IP will also be automatically blocked. This mod is recommended by many online forum site owners.
7. Swear filter - enables admin to specify common spammy words such as pharmacy. The filter can usually perform a number of functions such as replacing those words with alternative words or characters, deleting the word or deleting the whole post. Some swear filters can ignore whitespace and even all non-alphanumeric characters (so a post containing the word p.h.a!r.ma.c.y would be deleted because only the plain text would be readable).
8. Image verification or Captcha - requires registrants to retype the words or characters they are shown in a distorted image. Other computers can't read these images, thereby preventing automated registrations to online forums.
9. Spambot Profile Information - this mod will reject registrations which have filled in the profile details where the message specifically stated "leave the Profile Information blank".
10. IP Blocking - another filter for online forums where administrators can ban certain users by their IP.
11. Flood Control - admin can limit the number of posts or thread creations per user within a period of time defined by the administrator. This prevents a user generating multiple successive posts and therefore stops spambots from flooding the forum with irrelevant short messages. It can generally be disabled for certain user groups.
12. Mass pruning - enables mass deletion of inactive accounts based on conditions chosen by admin. For example, deleting basic members who have not logged into the online forum within the past year and who have no posts. You should send a warning email to all members notifying them of mass pruning and advising them to log in if they wish to keep their account.
13. Member Reporting - every post and thread should have a "report" link, enabling members to alert moderators/administrators to spammy posts.
14. Profile Link removed from registration process - if a request is submitted with that field enabled (which would normally come from an automated request) the registration is rejected.
15. URL filter - blocks users based on nominated URLs.
16. Domain Name Filter - enables administrators to input a domain name list or extract required domain names from large lists to filter.
17. Link Rejecters - prevents messages being posted to online forums by guests or visitors if they contain a link. The mod sends a message to the guest asking them to remove the link prior to posting. If the message was generated by a bot, the message will never get posted since bots won't redo the post.
18. Blacklist Mods - these services track thousands of names, IPs and email addresses used by spambots and automatically reject registrants containing those details.
19. External Filtering Services - used to verify whether questionable data is spam or not.
20. Spam Subforum - hidden from genuine members, spammers are directed here away from the main site.
Whilst it's difficult to stop 100% of online forum spam, the above tools will help to dramatically reduce instances of attack.
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