Spammers in Approval Queue, what to do?

23vfasa

New member
We switched over from VB to XenForo. I'm now sure how VB dealed with this, but there barely was a spam problem under VB and no manual action had to be taken against individual spammers. Now with Xenforo, there are a lot of new account registrations that XenForo detects because of matches against StopForumSpam. So XenForo puts them in the Approval Queue. (I don't know what VB did with these, but we didn't have a spam problem. Or maybe the spammers are not interested in VB?)

I suspect that these new account registrations are indeed spammers, because they are often Russian email addresses and have StopForumSpam matches such as: email: 59, ip: 45. (Or does StopForumSpam contain a lot of false positives?)

Apart from the small questions above, my main question is: What should I do with these in the Approval Queue? The user state of these accounts is "Awaiting approval". The best action against them would be to simply ignore them and keep them in a awaiting state, right? If they know that they are banned, than they can learn from it, and adapt to avoid the Approval Queue. Having them in the "Awaiting approval" state gives them less feedback, which makes it harder for them. But the problem with this approach is that the Approval Queue is stacking up. I would like to clean the Queue without giving spammers any feedback. Is this possible?
 

jeb35

Well-known member
You can adjust the stopforumspam options here. It's down toward the bottom.

/admin.php?options/groups/usersAndRegistration/

You can set it to auto reject when a certain amount of flags are detected. You don't want the approval que to keep going up. If they are all spam then check all and spam clean.
 

23vfasa

New member
My point is that if you give a spammer feedback about its account status, then I spammer can adapt to avoid the spam detection. The quicker you give feedback, the easier it is to adapt.

If a spammer is in the Approval Queue and the admin doesn't take action, the spammer sees:
Your account is currently awaiting approval by an administrator. You will receive an email when a decision has been taken.
If you ban the spammer, the spammer sees:
You have been banned.
And with rejection:
Your account has been rejected.

So in my opinion, the spammer should always get to see:
Your account is currently awaiting approval by an administrator. You will receive an email when a decision has been taken.
The only way that I currently see to achieve this, is by leaving it in the Approval Queue, which is also unwanted.
It would be nice to have such a feature in XenForo.
 

Brogan

XenForo moderator
Staff member
You're not giving any feedback.

The spammer has already moved on by the time you see the post in the queue and likely won't be back, or at least not with that username and email address.

Just spam clean.

If it really bothers you that much, change the phrases for banned and rejected to match the approval phrase.
 

Wildcat Media

Well-known member
The spammer has already moved on by the time you see the post in the queue and likely won't be back, or at least not with that username and email address.
Yep. Most spam is posted by bot. Those that aren't bots are human spammers who are paid pennies to sign up and post and likely, they also are not going to stick around.

We also have a couple of other traps in place (using XF's built in spam system) so that spam getting past the signup process is trapped. These days it is very rare for a spam message to show up on the forum. We moderate the first couple of posts a member makes, so that gets rid of many of them. We also watch for the posting of a URL in a message, so those will end up in moderation as well.

I used to have to filter mail using procmail, and I had one user who insisted I should block the addresses of the spam that got through. Same situation there, though--as time went on, those were hit-and-run addresses which were used once and never used again.
 

23vfasa

New member
You're not giving any feedback.

The spammer has already moved on by the time you see the post in the queue and likely won't be back, or at least not with that username and email address.
The spammers are caughty by StopForumSpam (by username, ip or email) when they try to register, so they are unable to post. So they are put in the Approval Queue. Banning would be wrong, because I haven't determined myself that they are spamming. They are suspected of spamming because other websites reported it. So banning would cause false information to be send to StopForumSpam.
So the only option is to either reject the registration request or to ignore it. Ignoring it causes the Approval Queue to stack up, which is unwanted. Rejecting it gives the spammer feedback when they try to login. Then they know that the account isn't approved and that they should improve their tactics.

Those that aren't bots are human spammers who are paid pennies to sign up and post and likely, they also are not going to stick around.
They do stick around. They are simply waiting for their account to be approved or to get feedback about its status.
 
A bit of a thread revival here but I just want to get some clarification please:

When a bot/spammer applies to register there are 4 options;

Do nothing
Approve
Spam Clean
Reject with reason

I have the settings set so every registration gets vetted and all the flags in the ACP are set at reasonable levels as suggested/recommended by others in here.

My question is am I correct in selecting reject with reason (but leaving the reason field blank) for bots/spammers?

In doing so, they never bother me again (apart from the applications from similar email addresses/ip addresses from other bots), they don't appear in the front end in my total member count but they do appear in the ACP in my member lists.

I just want to check what others are doing please and if I'm making the correct selection when dealing with these attempted registrations.

TIA
 

Wildcat Media

Well-known member
We just use Reject with reason, and never bother with a reason since if we find it is a spammer, they won't see the reason anyways. We could also use the spam cleaner, although I don't see any sense in adding more IPs to our banned IP list for accounts we are deleting anyways. I feel it's most efficient just to toss the registration away and forget about it.

We typically only use spam cleaner when they've passed through our forum and posted; we have no idea how many places they may have posted in, and the spam cleaner makes a clean sweep to get rid of all of it for us.

We do use Reject with reason when a banned member tries to return. We simply give the reason "duplicate accounts are not permitted."
 
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