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Community Building and User Generated Content Forum

How do the spammers find me?

 10:43 am on Jan 31, 2007 (gmt 0)

I've set up a little community, really for no other reason than to give it a try. No promotion, has one link from an obscure site that's been set up for it's own open-source product (not a forum product), no site submissions, etc. Still, the spammers found me and every day I'm deleting their junk from my forum.

Mostly the problem IS my fault, because I set the forum permissions to be fairly loose. My thinking was that if someone did find me, I wanted to make it easy to say hello. Forget that! Now registration is required. I know that won't stop the spam... it never stops it here at WW. I understand the need for moderation.

But how did they find me? That's a rhetorical question, unless you actually know the answer.

I'm sure as time goes on I'll get more use from this Community Building forum at WW. For now, I guess my first post here as a forum administrator will go down as a whine ;->



 11:05 am on Jan 31, 2007 (gmt 0)

Scraper bots. Scraper bots. And more scraper bots. Between them they must have an infrastructure comparable to some of the larger search engines; it certainly doesn't take too long for suspiscious user agents to come sniffing around my new sites, even if they're not heavily linked.

Presumably they look for anything which looks like a form, and POST their junk regardless of what happens. I have some custom software running a variety of (obscure) blogs and sites, and "they" have managed to find the comments / forum sections on that. Fortunately it was fairly easy to apply some analysis both at client and incoming content level which conveys the spam into either data nirvana or an auto-moderation queue with (as of now) about a 98% success rate, meaning the genuine users don't have to mess about with registration, captchas and the like. Alas, the solution probably won't scale to higher traffic and / or higher visibility sites.


 11:12 am on Jan 31, 2007 (gmt 0)

Don't know what software you're using or how they found you but I once read a suggestion that replacing the "Powered by phpBB" at the foot of a forum page with a GIF that reads the same may help to avoid detection.



 12:05 pm on Jan 31, 2007 (gmt 0)

For the moment the VIP-code MOD is the way to go with phpbb. Not one bot in the last two months has found me. If they eventually find me then I'll make it even harder by changing the code and its location. It's proved very popular and versatile. I wonder why so many people are having problems with bots on phpbb when the answer is so simple, for the time being anyway ;-)


 12:55 pm on Jan 31, 2007 (gmt 0)

Thanks for that tip camweh. My problem wasn't bot registration, since anyone could post without registering. However, bot registration is at least one less thing to be concerned about going forward.


 12:57 pm on Jan 31, 2007 (gmt 0)

But how did they find me?

Footprints! If you are using an off the shelf forum package, they come under heavy attack from miscreants. This can be easily seen by looking at your log files and all those 404 requests for non-existent directories that are usually present when forum software is installed.


 3:28 pm on Jan 31, 2007 (gmt 0)

Yep, they blindly poke at your site all the time, even if you aren't running those packages. If you have an IP address, you will be found.
tail or grep the logs for any given site and you will see common access attempts for many widely-known issues, both in popular open source packages as well as Windows-specific and otherwise. They don't know and don't care what your site is running, they just look for holes.

 10:21 pm on Feb 1, 2007 (gmt 0)

just ban some of the keywords they are using.

Usually takes them 1-2 weeks to actually find something new to post there.


 8:10 pm on Feb 7, 2007 (gmt 0)

what forum software are you using?


 8:25 pm on Feb 7, 2007 (gmt 0)

Powered by phpBB. I guess the next question is, now that they've found me, how do I convert them to active participating members? Anybody ever tame one of those bots to make it write good articles? :)


 8:39 pm on Feb 7, 2007 (gmt 0)

go here: [phpbb.com...]

do a search for spam, and believe me, you will find a lot of information (probably too much). or become a member, and just ask.

spam is a hot, hot topic for any forum nowadays. I've noticed a big increase on my little forums the latter part of 2006.. and continuing, unfortunately. I've been able to catch most of it with what my forum can do.

I am not versed with phpbb software, but these people might be able to give you more specific pointers for phpbb forums.


 9:50 pm on Feb 7, 2007 (gmt 0)

>> make it write good articles?

all depends on the subject matter ;)


 6:46 am on Feb 11, 2007 (gmt 0)

If you are using phpbb forum you can modify the captcha code. It works for one of my forums but I am too lazy to implement it at all of my forums. So, I am facing same problem as yours.

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