Are you a spam fighter?

by Martin Reed on 9 April 2007 in Snippets

If you run a community website, you will get spammers – it is inevitable. Indeed, I am often amazed how some spammers manage to find new websites before the search engines! Spammers can ruin a community website – it is essential that you keep on top of them and prevent them from having a negative impact on your site.

Why fighting spam is essential

Fight forum spamForums covered in spam affect your website’s credibility. If your forum is overrun with spam, it sends the signal that you are not actively maintaining the website – hardly the right image you want to portray in order to attract new members.

Spammers can not only ruin your site’s reputation, they can also post links to ‘undesirable content’ such as porn and viruses. It is your responsibility to protect your members by removing spam messages as soon as you find them.

How to combat forum spam

There are many hacks and plugins available for all the popular pieces of forum software – just do some research and you will find what you are looking for. It often pays to install a couple of the hacks in order to reduce spam as much as possible.

It also pays to keep an eye on new member signups – you can often tell when new members are spammers from their profiles; tell tale signs include the use of email addresses you will soon learn to associate with spammers, the links placed in their profiles and often their usernames.

The real key to preventing spam affecting your forum is to visit it regularly and take action if you come across spam. You should be visiting your forum at least daily anyway – during this time keep a look out for spam and take immediate action when you find it. Delete the post and delete the user.

It is essential to keep on top of spam – it portrays a negative image of your website and can be a danger for your members. Remember the importance of your site’s brand – keep on top of spam and you will be another step closer to running a successful online community.

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Smiley April 9, 2007 at 5:35 pm

Yes, we get 4-5 spam signups a day. I just delete all the accounts, ban the e-mail addresses, websites & IPs. I did have an anti-spam mod, but it didn’t install correctly!

Martin Reed April 10, 2007 at 11:22 am

Hi Smiley – it is well worth persevering with those anti-spam mods; some of them can be really effective. If your site is new, spam will not be too much of an issue right now but it is better to have the systems in place before your increased popularity means spammers start to take over your site!

Tim April 11, 2007 at 4:23 pm

Smiley, you shouldn’t ban those IP addresses. THe vast majority of spam comes from compromised systems belonging to innocent users who might want to join your site later.

Martin, I agree that it’s important to put the systems in place early. Since I was bombarded with hundreds of spam comments on one of my blogs once, I’ve started putting Spam Karma 2 in by default.

Martin Reed April 11, 2007 at 6:12 pm

Hi Tim – thanks for your post. It certainly is a good idea to get the defences in place early so you are not taken completely by surprise when those spam attacks come!

Online furniture store November 2, 2007 at 3:22 am

Hey i read recently that spammers found a way around CAPCHAS (text embedded in picture) and somehow it involves a stripper named Mellissa or something! Gosh! Spammers can be really creative!

Martin Reed - Blog Author November 5, 2007 at 3:20 pm

Reena – Some spammers have cracked CAPTCHA systems (such as the one employed by phpBB). As for a stripper named Melissa? That is news to me!

Going2Oahu June 18, 2008 at 9:04 pm

I can’t get over the number of spam trackbacks on my blog – lots of pharmaceuticals and porn mostly and it’s very disturbing. I like to keep comments open on my blog and have elected to do that with dofollow comments for now. I did turn off the aupprove for trackbacks though.

Martin Reed - Blog Author June 26, 2008 at 11:38 pm

Going – Yes, every now and again I get some spam trackbacks – they are pretty easy to deal with though, and don’t occur regularly enough for them to be causing me productivity issues as yet.

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