Stopping Forum Spam Before It Ends Your Forum Career

  1. Shawn Gossman
    Stopping forum spam is a big deal to you as a forum administrator, right? We all hate spam and the way things are going, we aren’t going to be getting rid of it anytime soon. So what can we do in terms of stopping forum spam before it makes you lose your mind and never want to manage another forum again? In this article, I will go over some various tactics that I have found to be promising as well as tactics that others have found to be effective, too.


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    Stopping Forum Spam with Security Questions

    Most forum software allows you to setup security questions and if it’s not a default feature, chances are, you can find a free modification or add-on to make it work on your community. But stopping forum spam with security questions isn’t going to be that effective if you are using math or simple questions that are easy to figure out. Now you might be worried that harder questions are going to stop potential non-spam users from joining as well. I have a solution for that – keep your questions relevant to your niche.



    Relevant security questions are going to favor your forum spam stopping strategies because they will be harder to answer by the average Joe spammer but easier to answer by those interested in your forum niche. Besides, you want active and intelligent members on your forum right? If so, potential members that can’t look up the answer on Google might have not been the best members for your forum to begin with so why even worry about them?



    Make your questions harder than easier! Stopping forum spam will only happen when you truly dedicate yourself to stopping forum spam. You need to make harder security questions directly related to your forum’s subject. For example, if you run a horror movie forum, try a question like “What was the English translated name of the first horror movie ever made?” and the answer would be “The House of the Devil”. The original name “Le Manoir du Diable” would not be the correct answer because you have asked for the English translation. A spammer isn’t going to waste time answering that question unless they are just dedicated to spamming your forum. Most spammers are bot scripts and bot scripts are not going to Google for the answer, they simply move on to the next target.



    Stopping Forum Spam with Other Anti-Spam Tactics

    Other anti-spam tactics for stopping for spam may seem choice to use but you need to consider how some groups of people will react to them, first. A CAPTCHA that relies on colors will pose an issue to those who are colorblind or have a hard time seeing colors. A CAPTCHA that plays an advertisement or video before than answer is revealed might be completely blocked by ad a blocking service. Simple reCAPTCHA and enter the code tactics are easily beaten by aggressive spammers. Email activation isn’t always that useful either because a lot of emails get lost or a lot of spam folders snag those emails. Admin activation might work but it relies on when you are actively checking accounts and your new members might lose interest before you approve their account. Stop Forum Spam was created with good intentions but it has been abuse – real people who are not spammers have been blocked. Consider the disadvantages of an anti-spam tactics before using them on your forum.



    Stopping Forum Spam by being a Hard Target to Spot

    Spammers are like the bad crowd of the internet. When stopping forum spam, it is better to not be around the bad crowd to begin with. Consider where you are linking your message forum before you are linking it. Forums that offer complete free submission without any sort of moderation are going to be loaded with spam bot scripts just waiting for new victims who are not using their heads. Directories are also bad – even DMOZ isn’t as useful as it once was. No one is looking at directories anymore except for maybe spammers. When I want to find a forum, I Google it or ask about it on The Admin Zone, I don’t go surfing through directories and I’ve not met anyone else that does as well. Be careful where you are promoting your forum because when you might think you’re promoting it to an audience, the audience you are promoting it to might not be the type you had in mind.



    Define What Spam Is!

    When stopping forum spam on your forum, especially in the case of human generated spam, you need to thoroughly define what spam means on your community. You need to make a rule on your rules post or page and explain what spam means on your forum. When members violate the rule, you need to remind them of what spam is on your forum, in the public. The only way people are going to understand what spam is on your forum is when they see examples of it on your forum right before their eyes. You can be respectful about it so that you are not embarrassing a member who has maybe accidentally spammed the forum or did it without reading the rules, first.



    Try these tactics above and I can almost promise you that spam will no longer be one of your major forum administration concerns. I know personally, I deal with one handful of spammers each year since I have been using the tactics above and let me tell you something, it is pretty nice. I come from the age of PhpBB version #1 and back then, spam was just a common thing. It was nothing to login to your forum back in the day to see 200 new spammers actively damaging your community. Now days, it’s simple to make spam go away as long as you follow the positive experience of others.



    Now it is your turn to comment!

    Are you practicing any of these anti-spam tactics on your forum? Are you having success with another tactic?



    Creative Commons Image Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/ajc1/519906069/

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