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 Why are there so many fake members? 
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Joined: Wed Jan 24, 2007 11:53 pm
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Location: Silicon Valley, California
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Post Why are there so many fake members?
Seriously, hit the members link at the top of the site, and start from the last page. There's at least 500 pages of members with gibberish for usernames. :?
Yeah, this is a pretty small forum in terms of activity, but why inflate the member count? Who would really care if we didn't have "36,000" members?


Fri Apr 26, 2013 3:16 am
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DRL Developer
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Joined: Wed Dec 13, 2006 5:27 am
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Location: A little south and a lot west of Moscow
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Post Re: Why are there so many fake members?
Haha, trust me — I don't want the extra users there any more than you do. They're spam bots.

We seem to get more than 100 signing up daily, but strangely, most of them don't post. Those that do post get caught in an anti-spam trap forum we've built, and their accounts are deleted. That way, you guys don't ever have to see their posts. Unfortunately, yes, it does mean we have a lot of fake members clogging up the list.


Fri Apr 26, 2013 3:25 am
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happy carebear mom
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Joined: Tue Mar 04, 2008 1:40 am
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Post Re: Why are there so many fake members?
Every once in a while we purge accounts who have never logged in, which clears some of the list.


Fri Apr 26, 2013 3:27 am
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Post Re: Why are there so many fake members?
Thanks for the replies, guys. Do you have a system that auto-detects when they post spam, or do you have to do it manually every time? I'd imagine that could cause quite the headache.


Fri Apr 26, 2013 3:41 am
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Post Re: Why are there so many fake members?
It is indeed a headache, but less so than before!

When a user posts for the first time, we have to manually approve their posts. This got unmanageable when every subforum began flooding with dozens of spam posts and topics on a daily basis.

So, instead, all new users are corralled into a single, hidden subforum and given instructions to post the message "I am a human being!" in big, bold letters. That way, we only have to sift through one topic, and the human posters are usually pretty clearly distinguishable from the spam bots, who are inevitably telling me that I should try increasing my penis size.

It's not a perfect system, but it's made our lives a little easier while still keeping the site clean to the public eye.


Fri Apr 26, 2013 3:54 am
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Post Re: Why are there so many fake members?
We also have a program that lets us mass-delete bots based on their posts in that subforum, so as soon as we approve all the real people we go through and clean out the bots.


Fri Apr 26, 2013 4:12 am
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Post Re: Why are there so many fake members?
Huh, seems like an elegant solution to me. Keep up the good work mods. :)


Fri Apr 26, 2013 5:14 am
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Data Realms Elite
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Post Re: Why are there so many fake members?
i want to make a new account just to see this cool subforum of humans


Sun Apr 28, 2013 6:27 am
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Data Realms Elite
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Post Re: Why are there so many fake members?
also uh why cant we prevent them signing up in the first place
the users online list is totally useless now because most of the time its filled with usernames that might not be fake and distinguishing the real people is too hard to do with a glance that i just dont
this probably doesnt matter


Mon Jul 29, 2013 6:36 am
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Post Re: Why are there so many fake members?
That's next to impossible as far as I can tell. They've found their way around every anti-spambot countermeasure I can find.


Tue Jul 30, 2013 9:11 am
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Joined: Tue Nov 07, 2006 1:26 am
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Post Re: Why are there so many fake members?
Whew. Good thing that wasn't around when I first signed up. Never woulda gotten past that.


Tue Jul 30, 2013 8:09 pm
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Joined: Fri Dec 22, 2006 4:20 am
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Post Re: Why are there so many fake members?
This is getting out of hand.


Friend of mine told me about something they used on their forum, stopforumspam, not sure if you've tried it.


Should also make a question field about who made Cortex Command or something, since they're already advertising in their profile with their website link. They're clogging up the online user list too.


Sat Aug 10, 2013 9:31 pm
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Post Re: Why are there so many fake members?
We had a question field, and they circumvented it. The tool you linked looks interesting, but it just doesn't cut it for the sheer number of bots we're dealing with. The tools it provides are:
  • Akismet: costs $5 per month for commercial sites
  • One-click ban: stops a user from posting further but doesn't clean previous posts (we get hundreds)
  • Stop Forum Spam: as far as I can tell is just a search function for checking if a user is a bot, but identifying them isn't our issue
  • Spam word catcher: turns on approval for most spam bots, but then we still need to sift through the posts, which is the main problem
  • Disabling profile fields under certain post count: would probably be useful
  • User Flag: again, too many bots to do this manually
  • Spam Log: if this does what it sounds like, then we don't need it
  • IP Search: bot count is also too high for this level of specificity
The mod is also for an older PHPBB version, which means it'll probably take some work to set up.

Ultimately, our issue is that we're just getting too high a number of bots to deal with them using conventional means. I know that sounds like hyperbole, but there are literally dozens of them signing up daily. Most tools assume you're getting maybe 2-3 a week.


Sun Aug 11, 2013 8:17 am
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Post Re: Why are there so many fake members?
As far as I know, the Stop Forum Spam bit auto-bans IPs from a list of known spambots. (meaning they can't sign up? or just can't post or something.)

This is the website for the actual Stop Forum Spam bit, I just linked the phpBB plugin.


Sun Aug 11, 2013 9:19 am
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Post Re: Why are there so many fake members?
It's just a big list of known spammer IP addresses. This mod seems to implement the actual banning functionality, though. I might give it a try later.


Sun Aug 11, 2013 9:43 am
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