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Sunday, January 20, 2008

More fun with forum spam

Well, on the most popular forum I run I've finally bitten the bullet and done to manual moderation of all new members. The damn spammers go through the captcha like it's nothing these days, and despite an ever-increasing banlist of IP ranges and email addresses, they keep coming.

I'm using phpBB (not the new one) so my moderation tools are pretty limited. I'm sure that's there's modules and whatnot out there, but I figure since I'm likely going to be upgrading to the new version at some point, there's not much point in messing with that. Plus I have a fair amount of customization on the forum, and I'd rather not mess that up until needed.

I think there's a few different things leading to this new storm of spammers. First, I think it's obvious that they've figured some way around captcha style "prove your human" tests. Or they're just hiring "sweat shop spammers" to do it manually, and training them to decode the captchas. Since so many of these spammers don't come from english-speaking (China and Russia anyone?) that seems likely. Perhaps they even have automated tools to help them, and only need a human for the actual captcha bit.

I also wonder if the demise paid links in Google has made getting these other links even more important.

Or maybe it's the first step in Skynet's plant to wipe out human civilization and impose robot rule on us all!


MCG said...

I know three phpBB-based forums which managed to stop spam registrations with KittenAuth. They were probably human spammers not bots since they were getting round phpBB's default CAPTCHA. Lord knows why KittenAuth should have stymied them, but it did.

The Author said...

Hmm, it could just be that CAPTCHA is so heavily used that it was worth their way to find a way around it, whereas KittenAuth is presumably smaller... I'll have to look into trying that, although keeping up with moderating new accounts hasn't been too bad.