Stop forum spammers

Spam can be a big problem if you have a user forum on your website. It can waste a huge amount of time when we have to continually delete it while moderating a forum. Here are some tips on how to reduce spam on your site.


Spam can be a big problem if you have a user forum on your website. It can waste a huge amount of time when we have to continually delete it while moderating a forum. Here are some tips on how to reduce spam on your site.

Spam can be a big problem if you have a user forum on your website. It can waste a huge amount of time when we have to continually delete it while moderating a forum.

It can aslo compromise your website by filling it with links to sites that you would not want to be associated with – such as those with adult content.

The simplest way that spammers manage to access forums is to repeatedly leave comments and try to link to another website. This is often done automatically by software that crawls the web in seach of a place to insert a link.

What you can do
Your top priority is to ensure that your web page containing the forum is secure. If you include a ‘mailto’ link, expect to get spam mail. Remove the ‘mailto’ and force people to manually enter the email address.

Forums also generate spam if users can add comments simply by clicking the submit button. So another way to reduce unwanted content is to have an approval process in place, before forum comments can go live.

You can also have a registration process on the forum, which means a user must give some of thier personal details and respond to an email sent directly to them in order to leave a post.

Issues with registration
While having a registration process on your site is a good way to collect contact details of the people who visit your site and reduce spam, there are a couple of areas that you should consider before you go ahead.

1. A determined spammer will still be able to access your forum. All they need is a false email addres and details, and the time to register. However, you will still reduce the amount of spam on your site. Having a registration process will limit the amount of automatic spamming software filling your pages with unwanted content as such programmes will not be able to respond to a registration email.

2. Be careful that users aren’t put off using your site because they have to register. This could be for a number of reasons, including security; people are very sceptical about giving away their details and what companies will do with them. They are also less likely to use your site if they can get the same information, goods or services elsewhere without having to register.

3. If you decide to progress with a registration-type site, you’ll need to be aware of all data related legislation, such as the 1998 Data Protection Act, which requires you to protect the information and explain how it will be used, giving customers the option to opt out of their details being passed on to third parties.

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