Since a couple of weeks now, our site is target of spammers mostly linking movie related sites.
Sorry for the mess, I'm committed to regain unhindered community exchange. This site is here to stay and to remain on topic! Massive unrelated spam seriously changes our SEO profile for the worse, preventing real joint crackers from finding this site. We do greatly value on-topic input! The spam must stop.
I will look for a solution with minimized effect on normal usage. Please PM me if you find that any of the current measures limit you in any way. The following list will be updated regarding this ongoing battle against spam.
Current measures against spam [Update: 2012-09-01]
- Automated spam moderation: We now have regular automated mechanisms in place which retroactively look for typical spam behavior patterns. If such a pattern is found, the user is automatically banned without warning. I'm sorry that I have had to take this rather drastic measure. Normal users should not be affected by this. Since I'm pretty sure we are dealing mostly with cheap labor human spammers at the moment, please understand I won't publicly disclose the current automated spam pattern analysis, which I will update regularly anyway.
- More regular manual moderation: I deleted all recent spam topics which caught my eye. Our movie-spammers love "Off-Topic" because they can most easily pretend to be real users there. If anyone feels he / she is up to the task to help me moderate this site, please apply via PM. I'd be happy to hear from you!
- Banning of spammers: Any caught spammer will get his registered email and / or IP banned, his topics deleted and his user deleted after one prior warning via PM. If the user has only contributed mindless, content-free "me too" or "niice forum" and spam posts there will be no warning before banning. I will drop such users retroactively, starting today. If you get dropped, you'll know why.
- Improved login security: I replaced the old captcha with an improved simple layer of registration and login security to hinder spam bot registration and / or logins. My questions should not be too tough for human users. If you can think of any other fun site-related question, please share with me. There are multiple questions which will rotate, you can try as often as you like. If you think I missed a popular answer on any question, please notify me, too. After a few days of observation, the new layer does seem to help after all: Spam bots appear to be stopped (for now), human spammers who followed them started to get tired of posting spam and getting dropped shortly thereafter.
- HTML disabled: I disabled html in posts to discourage prominent linkage to external spam sites.
- Post flooding prevention: I doubled the enforced time to wait between posts. No normal user should need to post more than once within 30 seconds.
- no-follow-policy: I considered implementing no-follow for all external links, however this anti-spam-strategy now is out-of-date and counter-productive
- Locking down of "Off-Topic" sub-forum: To help to stay On-Topic, the sub-forum "Off-Topic" could be locked down
- Admin account activation: Currently, users can activate their new accounts on their own via email verification. Admin account activation could stop spam user registration approval. However this feature currently is bugged, plus to really make this work any new user would need to provide some short text why she wants to become a member to allow verifying their genuine joint cracking interest to tell good behaving users apart from spammers.
- Shutting down all external links: This is a last resort, this would also block legitimate external links.
Banning of spammer mail domains: All spam users dropped so far have been using freemailer-domains, most even disposable-emails such as yopmail. Some other forums I know banned most of these, I could do the same. However, since I can understand why someone would want to use disposable emails for concerns of anonymity I see this as another last resort.
- phpBB spam hammer: A plausible way to handle our current spam problems perfectly, which can for some part even work automatically. Basically new users are slightly restricted so that they are not allowed to post links until they have passed a certain "age" (definable in days or number of posts with no links etc.). To counter human spammers the coming of age probably must be determined by moderator review. This solution should be fully transparent for all normal users, seemingly perfect balance. It won't be easy to implement this advanced stuff in our current forum software. I will try.
- Major site upgrade: A major upgrade to Drupal is in the works. An intermediate upgrade to phpbb3 is meanwhile pretty much out of question after a closer look at the software and modules quality. Migration of our forum content to phpbb3 proved to be very easy though, which should facilitate the migration to a native Drupal forum. With Drupal we will have a much more powerful framework in place which will enable proactive handling of modern spam etc.