How to Reduce Registration Spam in phpBB Forum?

phpBB is the popular forum software that allows you to create solid community based websites. Running a forum website is one of the easy ways to make money from advertisement and user generated content. However, the biggest headache with forums is the spam. There are so many bad guys in this world with the only objective of spreading poisonous content on the internet. Forum posting is the super easy way for them to post pornography and other irrelevant links on any type of forums. If you are struggling with spamming on your new phpBB forum then here are the settings you can make.

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phpBB Forum Spamming

There are multiple ways a user can spam your forum:

  • Spam registrations
  • Posting spam links
  • Adding irrelevant links in signature

Registration is the first point of spam and preventing spam registration from new users will save your forum further link and signature spamming. Let us explain how to reduce spam in all these situations.

1. Stopping Spam Registrations

You will be surprised to get lots of new user registration after launching your phpBB forum. Most of them will be form the automated bots that simply submit the registration form on your site. Think whether you need to open up the forum to the world at the launch. In most cases, you may need to go with invitation based registration to start the forum.

phpBB offers the following four options for new user registration:

  • Disable registration
  • No activation (immediate access)
  • By user (email verification)
  • By admin

You can go to Administrator Control Panel (ACP) and navigate to “User registration settings” under “Board configuration” section to view this.

User Registration Settings in phpBB Forum
User Registration Settings in phpBB Forum

You can either choose disable registration or email verification option based on your need. We Strongly recommend to choose the email verification method if you want to have registration on your forum. This is considerably reduce the registration spam compared to providing immediate access.

1.1. Sending New User Posts to Moderation Queue

In addition to email verification, you can also send the new user’s posts to moderation queue instead of immediately posting on the online forum. This will help you to first review and approve or disapprove the posts from admin moderation panel.

When you are on the “User registration settings” page, you can find an option for setting “New member post limit”. Here, enter the number of posts from new users that you want to automatically send to moderation queue. For example, entering 100 will send first 100 posts from any new user to moderation queue. After 100 posts, the user can start posting on your forum without approval.

Approving or Disapproving Posts in phpBB Forum
Approving or Disapproving Posts in phpBB Forum

Related: How to install Google Analytics in phpBB forum?

1.2. Enable Math Q&A Captcha

Other option to prevent registration spam is enabling captcha verification during the registration process. This will show the text on an image or a math question that user to answer for successful registration.

  • Go to “ACP > General > Board Configuration > Spambot countermeasures” section.
  • Enable the option “Enable spambot countermeasures for registrations”.
  • You can also restrict maximum number of registration and login attempts tp prevent bots continuously trying to register to your forum.
Enabling Captcha in phpBB Forum
Enabling Captcha in phpBB Forum

Under the “Available plugins” section, you can choose the type of captcha you want to show on registration form. phpBB allows the following options:

  • GD image
  • GD 3D Image
  • Simple Image
  • Q&A
  • reCaptcha

We recommend you to select Q&A option and click on the “Configure” button. You can add questions and answers for showing on the form. Ensure, you can at least 25 different types of Q&A, so that no one can guess the answers beforehand.

Select Q&A Plugin Captcha
Select Q&A Plugin Captcha

2. Link Spamming

Generally, you will get spams from newly registered users. Not many people posts spam content after holding for some time and move to registered users group. If you want to protect your forum from spam linking on the posts then the best option is to disable hyperlink posting.

  • Go to ACP and navigate to “Posting” section.
  • Under “Posting settings”, select “No” for the “Allow links in posts/private messages” option.
  • This will also disable the URL BBCode in the forum that no user can post any hyperlinks.
  • Click on the “Submit” buttons to save your changes.
Disable Links in phpBB Forum
Disable Links in phpBB Forum

Though this is not recommended as internet is nothing but links, you may need to setup this for protecting your forum from spammers.

Related: How to install styles in phpBB forum?

3. Signature Spam

For a new forum, we strongly recommend to disable the signature in the posting. This will simply reduce half of the spam links from the registered users group on your site. Follow the below instructions to do the same:

  • Go to “General” section in ACP.
  • Click on the Signature settings”, under “Board Configuration” settings.
  • Select “No” for the option against “Allow signatures”.
  • Scroll down and click on the “Submit” button to save your changes. This will disable the signature through out your forum.
Disable Signature in phpBB Forum
Disable Signature in phpBB Forum

Final Words

We hope by disabling registration or enabling Q&A captcha can help you to completely prevent the spam registrations. In addition, you can disable link posting and signatures to protect your forum from spammers. You can also look in to the extensions database for enhancing the spam protection of your forum.

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