Page 1 of 1

PROBLEMS SIGNING UP? here's what to do

PostPosted: 01 May 2009, 12:42
by modman
Due to the massive invasion of spambots, severe measure have been taken that might however, hinder to process of signing up for genuine, sincere users.

The sign-up script now checks with the most important spam databases to ban spammer from signing up.

If you experience problems, do let me know at admin at freestompboxes dot org

Re: PROBLEMS SIGNING UP? let me know

PostPosted: 03 May 2009, 10:53
by modman
Again, if anybody experiences problems signing up to the forum, please let me know admin(at)freestompboxes(dot)org. The new antispam setup seems to work, but I do hope it's not creating 'false positives' and preventing people from joining.

To avoid problems, please take into account the following while signing up:
    -> Use a member name that a computer cannot create or randomize.
    This is good: guitarjohnny, fxjunkie, superchreddar, belgoboy, Guitarcheese, Ibanose, ...
    This is not good: fqziom, RdfrtThyu, HewReliJalley, etc.

    -> Avoid using .cn, .ru or .biz emailadresses. 90% of the accounts registered from these domains, are spambots.
    -> Post a 'Hello' message to indicate that you are real person in this thread

"field marked for spam" - what to do?

PostPosted: 26 Dec 2009, 01:22
by modman
A few months ago we had a forum software update and some modifications to fight the relentless amount of spambot accounts. This resulted in more complex captcha's (the images you need to type down when registering) and a link to the database.

A lot of people have mailed me about the catcha's with honest complaints. They are difficult to read and that's how it's supposed to be, I am really sorry for the colour blind, but you do have a friend, wife or somebody else around to help you out?
On the registration process: if you received the "field marked for spam" message this means that either your username, email or ip adress have been reported to the database as spam. You should be able to find yourself back by using the search function on to find your username/email/ip.
If you do, you should have yourself removed from the blacklist. If you are on a public computer (internet café, library, etc...) it's probably the reason you won't get in. If you are on your own machine, it might save you trouble at other phpbb forums to get scrapped.

I hope people understand that it's not use setting up these systems, which overall function flawlessly, in order to turn them off for individual users. As long as there are more than a dozen new users per day, subscription is clearly not impossible. It's absolutely free, but you have to find your way through the registration process yourself.

I had so many mails about this lately, I thought I should say something. I will not circumvent the registration process for anybody, I'm sorry. If there are issue with the subscriptions beyond this, do let me know.


Re: "field marked for spam" - what to do?

PostPosted: 26 Dec 2009, 02:43
by IvIark
Most captchas can be decyphered and the bots get better and better. The single best way to avoid the crap that I've used is a basic and simple extra question. One of the forums I made had a question on registration asking what the captial of England was and since then there hasn't been a single spam bot attack. They look at phpBB or vBulletin etc and program the sniffers to act in exactly the way the standard script would expect. Make the registration process something they don't expect and the problem programs don't know how to deal with it.

Re: "field marked for spam" - what to do?

PostPosted: 26 Dec 2009, 04:07
by Greg
Since the spam measures were introduced the spam attacks have dropped from frequent... to nothing on most days.
We've had a couple of periods were there was a rash of attacks, and I suspect these were cheap labour rate, human registrations.
Overall though, it's been highly successful.

Re: "field marked for spam" - what to do?

PostPosted: 26 Dec 2009, 06:52
by .Mike
It's been quite a while since I registered here, so I don't remember what type of validation is used. I assume there is email validation, where the user signs up, the script sends an email, and the user must click a link to validate and activate the account. Is there any kind of human validation done by the admins, or is it a fully automated process?

I've run a pretty successful forum for seven or eight years. I've seen a number of schemes used by spammers, and have come up with some pretty successful countermeasures.

We use a standard captcha, but those are only so effective. There are companies in India that exist exclusively to process captchas. If you are an attractive target (high pagerank, high SERP, high traffic, or valuable keywords), your captcha is only a penny away from being broken.

We have a field on our registration form that asks a simple question: "Are you human?" The prospective member is expected to choose "Yes" from a dropdown box. If they fail to choose yes, their registration is put into a holding area. If they don't contact us, they drop out of the system after 30 days. This cuts down on 99% of the spam.

We use the email confirmation like most forums. After that, an account requires validation by an admin. Many spammers are easy to pick out just based on username or email address. I'm not about to approve V1agra or Onl1neP0ker777.

From there, we take a few steps that would probably be overkill for a forum like this, like running their IP, email address, and username through Google to see if they pop up. We're a political forum with specific rules and requirements for participation, and we're not for everyone, A prospective member who has been banned at other political forums isn't going to be able to cut it on our site, so we save us both the trouble and deny the membership.

We also have some restrictions placed on new member accounts, like limiting the starting of new topics or previewing a member's first post. I'd be happy to expand upon them if there is interest.

In any event, the amount of spam I've seen here at this forum has been severely cut down since when I first signed up, and that's a good thing. I don't know, however, if using a blacklisting setup is a good way to address the problem. Blacklists have very little recourse for those who have been blacklisted. You're at the mercy of some third party administrator whose goal is to stop spammers, and they tend to be overzealous in their attempts to stop spam. If you've ever been incorrectly labeled as a spammer, you will know what I mean. I have spent dozens, if not hundreds, of hours having my site removed from blacklists. It is not fun.

In this case, it appears as though the service being used is run by a single person. I can't imagine that getting an improper blacklisting removed is a fast, easy, or pleasant experience. I also can't imagine that it would be very effective, either. The removal form says that you have to be a network administrator to request removal, a typical tactic of overzealous blacklisting services. Individuals are usually ignored, and told to have their network administrator request the removal. If I'm on Comcast and I was just given a dynamic IP that happens to be on some blacklist, what are the chances I'm going to be able to convince Comcast to request removal of my IP just so I can join some random forum? Pretty slim. Blacklists are great in theory, but terrible in practice.

Anyway, sorry for the long response. What I lack in electronics know-how, I make up in my knowledge of forum administration. :)


Re: "field marked for spam" - what to do?

PostPosted: 26 Dec 2009, 19:17
by modman
Thanks for responding Mike!

In fact the link with is the most important tool, it blocks human spammers as well as spambots.The system doesn't work so much on the basis of admins, but is like fsb a community effort. Whenever a spammer does get through, he is immediately reported and blocked, in one click. I also think that removal is just filling the info and done. A lot of spammers of bots will just choose to use a new email or ip rather than unblock it.

Maybe the heightened captcha's function is somewhat defeated by this setup... but still there are about 12-18 new members a day who succeed in signing up. There is so much I could do if I had more time to study the technical background of the forum software, Anybody with the background and time to contribute to the technical aspects of running a forum, do let me know. We are running, but could always be better, faster cleaner...

Re: "field marked for spam" - what to do?

PostPosted: 26 Feb 2010, 15:37
by IvIark
Wow, that's ironic!

Re: "field marked for spam" - what to do?

PostPosted: 26 Feb 2010, 17:26
by mcaviel

Re: PROBLEMS SIGNING UP? let me know

PostPosted: 13 Jun 2010, 12:34
by modman
If you have problems signing up because "fields are marked for spam", this means you have been blacklisted on the external spamdatabase of which a lot of phpbb (forum software) forums use in order to avoid spambot invasions.

If you are blacklisted, this will be either:
  • username: easily solved by using another username, you might not be the reason, but somebody else using the same username
  • e-mail: if this is the case you should get cleared from the list by asking a removal
  • ip adress: only a problem if you are not on a public internet connection, but at home

You can always check the database for your username, email or ip and you should find yourself listed.

I'm sorry for the inconvenience to some.

Problem with activation

PostPosted: 01 Aug 2010, 06:51
by janepetersh
Hi there, I dont know if I am writing in a proper board but I have got a problem with activation, link i receive in email is not working...,