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  1. #1
    MichaelCorfman's Avatar
    MichaelCorfman is offline GPWA Executive Director
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    Lightbulb GPWA Takes Steps to Reduce Forum Spam

    Over the past several weeks there has been an increased level of spam in the GPWA forums. The typical source of this spam is from bots that register and then place spam in the forum. This has not just been happening to the GPWA. It seems to be a very widespread phenomenon.

    As one example, the affiliate forum alliance, which I moderate and which is not very active, has gone from having a spam message perhaps every other day on average in December to having something like a dozen new spammers each and every day.

    The system that is used to prevent bots from spamming forums like the GPWA is called reCAPTCHA. It presents distorted words to a user signing up that must be recognized as part of an attempt to verify a human is signing up to the forum rather than a bot programmed to spam the forum.

    It has been recently claimed that the reCAPTCHA system has been effectively cracked and that it is therefore no longer an effective deterrent for spambots. Here is an article about the current situation:

    The customer service manager for vBulletin (the forum software we use) made a post on January 11th stating:

    It has become apparent from our customers and customers of other BB Systems that there is a targeted effort being made to spam forums world-wide. Unfortunately as part of that effort it appears that ReCaptcha may have been cracked
    You can read the complete post here: Increased Spamming Attempts and Ways to Combat It. That thread links to another thread with more detailed recommendations: How to Reduce Spam and Registration Bots.

    In accordance with the recommendations made by vBulletin we have, earlier today, added an additional step that must be taken by those who wish to register to use the GPWA forums. The GPWA forum sign-up process now requires members to respond to a custom question we ask as an additional step in the registration process. Since there is not an automated way for spambots to be being able to know how to answer such questions they can effectively be kept out.

    That should make the life of our moderators a little easier, and mean that less spam should be present in the forums that they have not yet had a chance to delete.

    I am posting our experience and the action we are taking both because I think members will find it interesting and because many webmasters also run forums, and so hopefully knowing the steps the GPWA is taking to combat forum spam will be helpful to our members as well.

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    Chips (21 January 2011)

  3. #2
    Renee's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MichaelCorfman View Post
    It has been recently claimed that the reCAPTCHA system has been effectively cracked and that it is therefore no longer an effective deterrent for spambots. Here is an article about the current situation:
    It's difficult just for a human to read those things. Maybe we should invest in this crack for ourselves!
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  4. #3
    Anthony's Avatar
    Anthony is online now GPWA/APCW Program Director
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    That should make the life of our moderators a little easier, and mean that less spam should be present in the forums that they have not yet had a chance to delete.
    We sure hope it does make things easier...
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  5. #4
    universal4's Avatar
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    Yes spam has certainly been is something myself, Anthony and Paolino spend time on, on a daily basis.

    I am all for reductions in spam.

    The larger spam operations hire groups to type the captcha's in manually.... You can usually find typists for $1 - $2 per hour per typist

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  6. #5
    davenewgates's Avatar
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    Spam has been widely spread not just in this particular forum but with others too because of those automatic span bots. I hope the additional security questions can lessen the spam.

  7. #6
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    Install the isbot mod which is available from It allows you to set a time for how long the registration should take. If for example is completed under 10 seconds, all registrations performed under this time will fail.

    It stops 95% of signups and is far far more reliable that a captcha or the custom question used during signup, which has also been cracked by the bots.
    Exit stage left

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  9. #7
    Chips's Avatar
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    There is also a mod for vB that will check the registration against the "Stop Forum Spam" website. If the bot/user is listed by email, ip or username at they are refused registration and given a message that "we do not accept registrations from spammers".

    I installed the mod a few weeks back and it stopped the flood of spambots registering, I had been getting 30-40 bot sign ups a day. Now I might get one or two per week.
    "People who are unable to motivate themselves must be content with mediocrity." ~Andrew Carnegie~

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    MichaelCorfman (21 January 2011)

  11. #8
    ALEX777 is offline Private Member
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    Question / answer (eg: 12+7 =) also helping a lot to fight the spam.

    If you have this + reCaptcha activated, you have 70% less spam.

  12. #9
    Smoking's Avatar
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    there are many sites that sell automated services for breaking captcha charging between 1.65 per 2k of captcha to $8.00 for it .
    You just buy x amount and add it to your log in to the special application you are using !

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  13. #10
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    I've a couple of forums, non-vbulletin, that have been plagued by spam attacks over the past few weeks. It's definately on the increase just now.

    Good luck with your attempts to rid them.

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