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XF 1.4 Spam Getting Out of Control

Discussion in 'Troubleshooting and Problems' started by System0, Sep 30, 2014.

  1. System0

    System0 Active Member

    One of my forums is receiving an excessive amount of spam from automated spam software.

    I am using XF 1.4.1 and have some of the TAC anti-spam add-ons installed: Tac AuthCaptha, TAC De-Dos - Reduce the effect DOS attacks usually caused by spam bots, and TAC StopCountrySpam - black/white list country IPs from registering.

    I disabled the other TAC add-ons as they were stopping legitimate members from signing up. Even I couldn't sign up when I tested it with the other TAC add-ons installed.

    In the user registration options area, I have Solve Media enabled. I have also tried question and answer and Google ReCaptcha. None of them works.

    Currently, if I don't check the forum for a day, I go back and see dozens of spam threads. It's pushing members away and discouraging others from signing up.

    I have tried a lot of different anti-spam add-ons for my discussion forums. The setup mentioned above seems to work ok with another forum of mine; but the spammers are getting through on the other forum.

    What other solutions are available to me?

  2. Brogan

    Brogan XenForo Moderator Staff Member

    Have you analysed the spam to see if there is anything in common?

    Are you utilising the spam phrases option?

    Have you tried tweaking all of the various settings until you hit on something which works for your site?

    Have you considered moderating the first x posts?
  3. System0

    System0 Active Member

    Moderating the first X posts is not practical for me as it would be too time consuming. I'd rather it was automatic.

    I have tried various settings and tried all the different captcha methods. Nothing seems to work.

    The messages do look quite similar. They all tend to be a paragraph or two long with one or two keywords embedded as links and a full URL posted at the end. However, nothing seems to be consistent as far as name, email, IP address etc., is concerned.

    I haven't set up spam phrases as yet. Is there a common spam phrases list available that I can copy and paste into the field?
  4. Brogan

    Brogan XenForo Moderator Staff Member

    No, you need to set the phrases up unique to your site and the spam you are receiving.
  5. System0

    System0 Active Member

    I can't see any pattern. They aren't posting pharmaceutical or sex related phrases. It's just random gibberish using common English words, with some of those words being linked.
  6. Brogan

    Brogan XenForo Moderator Staff Member

    There is no magic one click solution.

    In a lot of cases these are human spammers and they require some effort to combat and deal with them.
  7. System0

    System0 Active Member

    It's certainly not human spammers. That much I am sure of. They are sometimes registering multiple people at the same time and posting dozens of threads. It is definitely software that is doing this.
  8. Brogan

    Brogan XenForo Moderator Staff Member

    The tools are available to deal with it.

    Very little spam makes it to the forums on this site, but that's not for lack of trying.
  9. System0

    System0 Active Member

    What tools? I upgraded to 1.4.1 because it apparently had better anti-spam controls, but that doesn't seem to be the case.

    As I noted, spam is not getting through on my other forums, just this one.

    If no spam is getting through to XenForo, can you please share the spam settings you guys use so that I can compare them with my settings and see if anything is differently (i.e. privately, I am not suggesting you share this publicly).
  10. Mike

    Mike XenForo Developer Staff Member

    While I can't speak for the spam you're getting, I wouldn't be definitive about that. The only spam we get here appears to be backed by humans in some way. You can actually see how they end up at our site (URL opener sites, referrers from elsewhere, coming back to a previous profile they registered). The majority of the IPs are from India or Pakistan (or from VPN-type services). The format of the spam is similar to what you're reporting.

    The majority of stuff we do to prevent spam is down to picking up the keywords that they use that our regular users don't use (things like "garcinia", "muscle", etc).
    Amaury likes this.
  11. System0

    System0 Active Member

    So do you think humans are copying and pasting huge volumes of spam?

    Here is a few examples of spam messages that I hadn't deleted.

  12. Brogan

    Brogan XenForo Moderator Staff Member

  13. System0

    System0 Active Member

    Wow. I'm really surprised by that. Seriously, they have manually published hundreds, if not thousands of threads to my forum.
  14. Brogan

    Brogan XenForo Moderator Staff Member

    It's big business and there are a lot of poor people in the third/developing world who will do that all day long for a a pittance.
  15. System0

    System0 Active Member

    I'd be happy to employ them to tackle spam! :)
    vbuser likes this.
  16. Mike

    Mike XenForo Developer Staff Member

    Click the "IP" link on those and see where the GeoIP resolves to.

    You may find that most of it comes at a particular time range. By afternoon in the UK, we see comparatively little.
  17. System0

    System0 Active Member

    I have checked a lot of the IP addresses there. Most appear to be from Pakistan and India, though I found one that was from Germany.
  18. dawg

    dawg Well-Known Member

    Also check your user criteria in admin panel.

  19. Chris D

    Chris D XenForo Developer Staff Member

    How are those settings relevant to this conversation?
  20. dawg

    dawg Well-Known Member

    How is not relevant? It was suggested he setup the his spam tools, most people have no clue that those settings exist, i have noticed that. Pardon me for trying to help.
    MQK8 and Bram like this.

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