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How to Stop a Non-Stop Spammer

How to go to the next level when they won't stop



1:18 am on Apr 27, 2008 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member


I've been running communities for almost 7 years and I'm currently running phpBB for all of my forums.

Here's basically my problem. I've got a guy who literally re-registers every day for the past 4 months with the sole mission to PM as many people as possible to go to his site. I've even found a way with the word censor to make his URL corrupt, but he found away around that. He has a dynamic IP address, so I can't block the IP. He registers with a different hotmail/yahoo/gmail account every time.

I'm really to the point where I'm considering my options as this is really a headache that won't end. Does anyone know if there is any grounds for harassment legally? Will calling the ISP do anything?

I'm really willing to do whatever to make this end, and that is including paying the darn legal fees.

I'm open to any suggestions or ideas anyone would have...many thanks in advance.



2:25 am on Apr 27, 2008 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

How about only allowing the PM feature for users who have been members for a certain period of time? That used to work for my forums - although I used SMF. If a user cannot PM until they have been active for a few weeks and also made, say, at least 5 posts, it gives you a chance to monitor new registrations.

I don't know whether phpBB has this as a built in feature, but I'd be suprised if there wasn't an add-on that allowed this.


2:45 am on Apr 27, 2008 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator rogerd is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

If you have a TOS and this spammer is violating it, you can definitely contact the person's ISP and ask that they take steps to stop the abuse. Document the abuse by quoting your TOS, providing a spam example, and also providing the URL accessed with IP address and time.

I've had some good results, and sometimes no result. The contact is usually on the ISP's website, and is often an "abuse@" address. You might also check the ISP's TOS, which almost certainly prohibits spam of any kind. Quoting that might be helpful, too.

Limiting PMs for new members as bouncybunny suggested is also a good idea.


3:48 pm on Apr 28, 2008 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Contact the ISP of this guy


3:55 pm on Apr 28, 2008 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator engine is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

One other tip - block sign-ups of the free e-mail addresses services he's using. eg anything at hotmail

I know other folks will suffer, but, it might be enough to help slow down while you regroup.


2:53 pm on Apr 29, 2008 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

If you're using phpbb3 you can use wildcard matches with the filter, *baddomain.com* should eliminate the url. Not sure if phpbb2 has that feature.

You could block the use of those free accounts like hotmail, if he goes away you can lift the ban after a few weeks.

There's no simple way out of the box to limit a members abilities because permissions are set by groups and there is no way to auto add someone to a group. What you can do is look up the the auto groups mod on phpbb's site. Set new members with limited permissions, you can then set a threshold for X amount of posts to get into another group with full permissions.

You can do that without the mod but you'll have to manually add the members to the full permission group.


5:48 pm on Apr 29, 2008 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Thanks guys for the help.

I have been using the domain word censor and it works, but he's still sending them explaining how to work around it.

I'm going to look into this group idea, thanks.


6:18 pm on Apr 29, 2008 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

I just set up a new community, and I evaluated a couple of systems, including phpBB.

the one I chose was Simple Machines Forum (SMF). It is fast all git-go, and has some powerful administration features, including built-in support for preventing PMs/Posting for some period of time after registering.


6:42 pm on Apr 29, 2008 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

phpbb3 was supposed to have an event handler for things like that but it got nixed so they could get it released from my understanding. Should be included in the next major release.


6:53 pm on Apr 29, 2008 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Thanks for that info.

I've taken a look at SMF and it's a nice forum. You know people and change...after 7 years with phpBB and what it's done for I business, I just can't leave. If it ain't broke... :)


11:00 am on Apr 30, 2008 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Here's how I stopped spammers dead on my forum...

I set up my IPB installation so that all new registrants are 'Trial Members' group and their posts are automatically invisible i.e. a moderator has to manually approve it. If their first few posts are genuine, they are made ordinary members.
This 'trial Member' group are not allowed to use the PM system.
Make user profiles invisible to guests/bots and clock with robots.txt also.
Set up advanced captcha
Make post signatures visible to logged in members only.

With all of the above in place... it is impossible for a spammer to spam.


1:56 am on May 2, 2008 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

You can require posts be approved in phpbb3 as described by Asia_Expat .

There's a few issues I see with that, firstly if you have a high volume forum its going to be alot of work. Might even present a problem where people might simply not return if they have to wait to see their post.


4:54 am on May 2, 2008 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

The way I reconcile that, is that it filters out the morons from the people who really want to participate in the forum... also, they appreciate the email they get when they are upgraded to normal membership, explaining why they were on mod preview and that they can now post normally... and 'thanking them for joining and hope they enjoy participating in our community'
It works a treat on my board and increases the overall quality of the posting and membership no end.

[edited by: Asia_Expat at 4:55 am (utc) on May 2, 2008]


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