Massive Forum Cleanup

In recent times the Suffusion forum, which is driven by phpBB, had been plagued with hordes of spammers. I initially thought people came, spammed, then left. But then I was alerted by a user that the spammers had infested the boards by creating lots and lots of dummy logins, and in effect my Captcha was broken. I had earlier switched from GD Image Captcha to a Simple Captcha, because sometimes GD Image Captcha was too tough to figure out for humans as well. The result was that OCR (Optical Character Recognition) was easier to carry out for Simple Captcha, and everyday there were hundreds of spammers thronging the boards.

The net result was that I had to spend almost three hours cleaning up the user database. I brought down the total number of users from 7800+ to just around 2200+. In this process I am sure I have deleted a few legitimate users, because I used the criterion “0 posts” for most of my cleanup. I know that some of you have sent me PMs but haven’t posted on the forum. If that has been the case, then your account too would have been deleted. If so, please go ahead and re-create your account. I have changed the Captcha to be of a “Q&A” form, so this should keep out Spambots. Let’s see how it goes. Spam has been one of the reasons I have thought very seriously of building a Bug Tracker kind of add-on for Suffusion (using Custom Post Types), but that is something that needs lot of time and devotion.

5 Responses to “Massive Forum Cleanup”

  1. I can certainly empathize Sayontan. I was checking Akismet stats for my Site yesterday and the number of spam comments is massive. Your problem of course is not as simple as enabling something like Akismet!

    • The difficulty here is that with Akismet I would still be happy because it would trap spam. But alternatives in phpBB are scarce and take a lot of effort to install and maintain. Not all platforms are as easy to handle as WP.

  2. Maybe you should switch to another forum software like Woltlab Burning Board or vBulletin?

    • Too much pain in that. Plus, from what I know, vBulletin too has a tough time defending against spam. Let’s see – I have had much less spam after changing my settings. I hope it stays that way.

  3. I’ve had my flow of spam as well. I’ve used Bad Behavior in WordPress and Drupal with success. I’m sure it’s easy enough to implement in phpBB.

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