[WF-General] The Forums: a failed experiment

Mark Havenner waythingsare at gmail.com
Sun Apr 29 09:24:36 PDT 2007

I had the same exact problem with PHPBB in the past two years. Even if you
lock the forums, spammers will still register accounts by the hundreds. I
had a site just for three people to use and it was still a major problem.
I've used PHPBB for about 5 or so years and I've only seen this activity in
the past 6 months. I think something is terribly wrong with the software or
these spammers have learned the code too well.

In any case, can I recommend a social networking community as an alternative
to PHPBB? Three years in eBusiness school and I can tell you without
hesitation that this is the future of web communication in both the business
world and otherwise.

I've used elgg for a community and found it to be rich in features, stable
and free of spam. The "MySpace" approach is already familiar and with a
cause like Worldforge could make sense.


On 4/29/07 5:06 AM, "Alistair Riddoch" <alriddoch at googlemail.com> wrote:

> About 18 months ago I set up phpbb forum software on
> http://forums.worldforge.org/ as an experiment to see if we could
> build a community of people interested in WorldForge but not
> accustomed to using the communications tools used by developers. I
> also hoped that it would ease the burden on developers by allowing
> people who download and use the software help each other, rather than
> relying on direct support form the developers.
> Spam postings started to appear on the forums relatively quickly, and
> I made a few changes to the configuration of the forum software to try
> and mitigate the problem. I have consistently upgraded to the latest
> versions, and made all possible changes to the settings.
> While a thriving community seems to have built up around hacking and
> modding phpbb to prevent spammers having free reign, I can see no
> evidence that the authors of the software have any interest in
> adopting these features and changes into the software, so it remains
> by default so vulnerable to spammers that it is essentially useless.
> As a last ditch attempt at stopping this abuse, I have now made all
> account creation moderated. I don't really expect this to work, as I
> am unlikely to have time to be responsive enough.
> Going forward I see three options:
> 1) Start installing third party hack and mods for phpbb to make it
> less vulnerable.
> I am very reluctant to try this as the phpbb software is provided
> pre-installed by my ISP, and mods will break or be broken by their
> automated upgrade procedures. Unless someone else is prepared to take
> on the leg work of finding, preparing, auditing and testing mods, and
> passing them to me to install, then this option is not for me.
> 2) Install a different forums software package.
> This would require lots of manual work, as phpbb is the only option
> provided by my ISPs automated software install system. I don't know
> anything about other forum software packages, so would be entirely
> reliant on other people to track down the right package to use.
> 3) Abandon the forums to the spammers, and allow them to roam free.
> Not really an option, as the storage and bandwidth cost me money.
> 4) Shut the forums down.
> By far the easiest option. Unless there is a strong case to be made
> that the forums are currently providing a useful service to a
> reasonable number of people, this seems like the one we have to go
> for.
> Al

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