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Spam Prevention

Thread began 10/28/2009 6:01 pm by Anna Robinson | Last modified 11/11/2009 1:44 pm by Anna Robinson | 1572 views | 8 replies |

Anna Robinson

Spam Prevention

I want to thank Office Guy for the article you provided us in the Wishlist forum on spam prevention for vBulletin forums. I was already promoting users to an elevated group that doesn't require Captcha so it wasn't too hard to make further implementations to hopefully prevent some spam. I don't really feel this needs to go public in the forum but I did want to let this group know our efforts because we realize that spam is a hassle at best for those of you who post frequently...

Now users who are new to the forum are not only required to do Captcha but they also don't have the ability to post live links using BB code. Since many of these spammers are just trying to get external links back to their site, this should deter some of them from posting here. I lowered the barrier to promotion to TEN posts - meaning after 10 posts, you become a member and do not see Captcha and can post BB code - because we tend to catch these people and ban them all.

I am told that bots can still get past the whole system and even post links but I am hopeful that this will decrease spam, even if we can't eliminate it.

Thanks again Office Guy and let's cross our fingers for improvement!

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Office Guy-172461

Found this post (from last year) that might explain how they are getting around anti-spam measures:

"It does appear that a certain spam program has released an update in the last few days that is able to decipher the image captchas of gmail, Invision, PHPBB, and vBulletin. Since gmail is broken, the script can automatically create email addresses for email verification.

The update for this program states that it hasn't broken recaptcha, but it is only a matter of time (short time at best) before it is broken as well.

To continue to devise an image captcha, that is increasingly difficult for humans to decipher, leads to a captcha that only a computer can decipher. This is why I built the image captcha to be configurable by the end user.

If you are using the image captcha, change the fonts and the backgrounds. In your forums/images/regimage directory, you will find a fonts/ and a backgrounds/ directory. Remove all of the default fonts in the fonts directory and add a collection of your own .ttf fonts. You can get freeware fonts all over the web. Pick some that are a bit strange but still readible and stick them in the directory. The backgrounds are 201x61 jpg images. Create your own, I suggest putting some text on them, that will really confuse the script, just do it so that when the captcha text is added to it by vBulletin, it doesn't confuse your registrees. The system will automatically use the fonts and images that you add to the appropriate directories.

When using the QA system, don't create questions like these:

What is 2 + 2?
Please enter the word "brown".

The nefarious script at work here can most likely handle those questions. You must ask a question that doesn't give the answer in the question. I suspect something like "If you have three apples and eat one, how many do you have left?" would work.

Adding required fields will also no longer work. The script can handle the "required field missing" errors and resubmit with those fields filled in."

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anonymous

Now... if we could just get rid of the obnoxious haters that like to post nonsense just to stir things up :).

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Office Guy-172461

Hi Brian,

I watched your last encounter with the PHP only guy and thought it was handled masterfully.

Some people are designed to be the sandpaper that polishes the others and makes them shine.

I get a kick out of the people that are so passionate about a perceived injustice they don't even bother to check to see if it's true or not. :)

Did you notice that a couple of the people we wanted to get rid of, eventually got with the program and started asking meaningful questions?

I think Ray was right that it's best just to let it play out.

I get a lot out of your posts even when you're talking to someone with the IQ of an ice cube.

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Office Guy-172461

HTML Links

I know that you are trying to stop the spam but now all of the advanced editing options are gone and we can't post links anymore. I use links to avoid repetitive typing. This just about kills all of that.

It doesn't do any good to stop spam at the expense of making it difficult for legitimate users to use.

Every time I get a work flow going, everything changes and I have to start over. Very frustrating. Well formatted text makes it easier for the novice user to grasp concepts and we need more than smiley faces to do that.

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Anna Robinson

I only turned off BB code in the Wishlist forum because it was the most highly spammed (and now isn't interestingly) and for users with 10 posts or less. Can you tell me specifically what you are experiencing? I feel strongly that I do NOT want to make it more difficult for users to post so please just fill me in on the details.

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Office Guy-172461

A lot of people ask for documentation or clarification in the Wish List forum. I write articles to address those concerns the best I can, and post them to the knowledgebase here:
index.php

I tried to post this link:
204/
when someone asked for a flow chart to help them understand which extensions were used where. There was no way to make a clickable link. I later tried to quote someone in the same thread and that was broken too.

It is only a matter of time before they will move to a different forum if the Spammers can't use the Wish List forum any more.

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Anna Robinson

I've turned BB code back on in the Wishlist forum.

When we receive a complaint that spam is the biggest problem on our forums, it is worth a little experimentation to us. While spammers will just move to a different forum, figuring out what deters them can prove useful to us in at least decreasing the problem. So I apologize for your frustration in the Wishlist forum over this last week. We appreciate your ideas and feedback on what works well and what doesn't. Please be patient with us as we experiment here and there to find what works best.

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Anna Robinson

I was able to implement Recaptcha in place of Captcha on the forums yesterday and there was zero spam in the forums this morning. We hope this will continue to be effective. Thanks again for feedback and suggestions!

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