First it was e-mail spam, then it was comment spam and now it’s user account spam? At least, that’s what it seems like to me from what I’ve been observing over at the forums. Recently, I noticed several people signing up with user names that looked slightly strange. At first, I gave it no thought but I’ve noticed more and more people signing up over the last few days but none of them seemed to be posting. Now, as you might know, you don’t need to sign up to read the forums, just to post. So there seemed to be no reason for these people to just sign up if they only wanted to browse the forums to find an answer to a question. So, I went and took a look at the profiles of the latest members of the forums and guess what I found? All of them had one thing in common, URLs that seemed to point to less than reputable sites :p
My first reaction was something like "Oh damn it! Now I have to find a way to stop these spammers as well?" Then I realized that in this case at least, I didn’t have to take so drastic a measure – at least not yet :p All I had to do was simply turn on the "approve" feature which lets the administrator approve a new user who has signed up. At least, I think that should do the trick unless of course, phpBB simply prohibits users waiting approval from posting and still displays them on the user list. I believe that the whole aim here for these spammers (if spammers they be) is to get their URL displayed on the member list. If phpBB simply allows anybody who signs up to be displayed on the member list whether they have been approved or not, then I’ll have to look at a different approach.
For the moment, I’ve gone through the member list on the forums via SQL and deleted all users who had never visited the site since they had signed up and who had no posts at all on the forums. However, this might not be enough if this is going to be the next spam frontier. I guess I’d better start thinking about new spam combatting methods just in case this is the start of a new spamming trend 🙁