Link Spamming, Bots Registration on SMF Forum: How I Stopped them!

At last, I managed to figure out this new and improved method I used to completely block link spamming and prevented spam-bots registration on my SMF powered forum.

Every webmaster hates Spam, no doubt about that. Spam-bots has long remained the greatest problem of every webmaster, this is the reason why user’s experience is now taken as a second priority in most popular forums. Either there is one difficult to solve CAPTCHA there or one other complex question to answer before you can become a member of the fora.

There wouldn’t have been need for all this CAPTCHA in the first place, if not for the harm caused by the activities of this spam-bots. From posting nudes and unacceptable contents  to advertising several useless services on your forum, these spammers will not stop but strive to drag down your website or leave them in the dustbin of Google’s tenth page.

We, having had a first hand experience of bots-registration and post link-spamming in the past have taken it upon ourselves to provide you with the 3 methods we used to combat spammers and spam-bots registration on our Simple Machines (SMF)  Software powered discussion board.

Ditch Default CAPTCHA or go for reCAPTCHA for SMF MOd

Since the new improved method we are introducing to you is already going to put to a halt, the activities of human spammers and that of spam-bots, I really do not see any need of  the default SMF CAPTCHA, after-all it didn’t stop them in the first place.

If at all, you are still insisting on using a CAPTCHA to border the experiences of your forum users (where PM & searches goes with a compulsory verification), then reCAPTCHA for SMF Mod must be used, this is because many of the free or cheap spam-bots  around can get around the system yet.  Even if they happens to get around the Google’s owned reCAPTCHA engine, there is certainly a future hope of Google fishing them out and implementing an update that takes care of that backdoor.

The 3 methods used by Us

preventing spam-bots opeartion or spam-registration on any smf forum

As stated earlier at the beginning of this article, we have managed to put the sledgehammer to the antics of spam-bots and human spammers with the help of the following Mods and methods.

1. The Use Of Custom Questions

There is a mod for this anyway, but you can go my own preferred way of setting up the custom verification questions by yourself. This can be easily done by;

==> Log in to your admin dashboard

==> (SMF 2.0.x) go to configuration ==> features and options ==> Profile Fields

==> New Field ==> Show on Registration: (select yes and required)

==> Enter your answer in the box labelled Show Enclosed Within Text (Optional):

==> Use Regex(advanced) in your Input Mask: settings and validate appropriately

N/B; Always use questions that your users can easily answer and that is related to your forum niche. [ demo link]

2. The Use of Misc Anti Spam Mod [Stops spam-bots registration]

This method just worked flawlessly as it didn’t even need the others to complement it. The technology implemented in this very light-weighted  SMF  Mod is very modern and so knows how to deal with modern bots. All it does on the real sense it to add:

  • A time gate on registration to prevent overly quick registrations from being accepted.
  • Empty field appearing on all places a CAPTCHA would normally appear (has two variants, a hidden field that should stay empty, and a field that will be visible that a user has to actively empty out, either way the field needs to be empty before the form will be accepted)

With this method requiring users to empty out a field, bots can hardly get through ‘cos they are going to have two fields to battle with. Most of the time, this field is hidden from users, the spam-bots are required to empty out one field and to also ignore the already emptied field. Surely this is really a herculean task for any lily-livered spam-bot to do.

This Mod, as expected, is compatible with all latest SMF software versions. You can easily download it from smf mod site. [demo link]

3. The Use of Anti-Spam Links Mod [Prevents Link Spamming]

stop smf forum link spamming

This was the very last tool in our arsenal, we finally put to an end, the mayhem caused by this robots that managed to scale through our registration stronghold. Even human spammers are brought under control with the help of this mod. All you need do after installing and activating this mod is to simply set up;

  • post count under which users can’t post external links
  • post count under which user’s external links are nonactive
  • post count under which user’s external links are nofollow

Prevent guests from posting external links at all (for fora that have guest post access enabled)

You can download the mod from smf official mod site. [demo link]

Your Turn

You have learned about the methods we implemented to have spammers and link-building robots put in check and how we managed to reduce automatic spam-bots registration on our forum to zero. It is now left for you to share, contribute and drop your comments stating what has worked for you in the past as well as what doesn’t work for you any longer.