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 Blocking spam with images - no longer enough?
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Team Member

Joined: 06 Jan 2002
Posts: 2564

PostPosted: Sun Dec 11, 2005 12:02 pm (16 years, 1 month ago) Reply with QuoteBack to Top

For the past few years, spammers have been resorting to more innovative ways of getting their messages to you. They used to stick to emails, but they now spam your guestbooks, forums and contact forms with spam messages too.

For a while now I've been using the pretty standard method of preventing this kind of spam: requiring visitors to type in a code which is present in an image, and which spammer scripts can theoretically not see.

However this is proving to not be sufficient (the spam messages in these forums should be an indication of that). My question is, are all of the spammers who get through using more advanced scripts, or are some of them actually typing in the code manually (unlikely, but I guess it's possible)?

Making the code more difficult to read is a possible solution to this problem, but it alienates visitors with eyesight problems, and annoys other visitors. I must say that I sometimes get annoyed when I'm asked to type in the code, and then can't read it properly... Evil or Very Mad

What solutions have you come up with to fight this problem?

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Forum Moderator & Developer

Joined: 26 Jul 2002
Posts: 704
Location: UK

PostPosted: Tue Dec 13, 2005 1:42 pm (16 years, 1 month ago) Reply with QuoteBack to Top

The only completely effective method of preventing spam messages from being posted (to a forum, guestbook, etc.) is to manually moderate each message before it is made available to the public. Obviously, for a large forum this would be a very time-consuming task and would probably end up being a full-time job.

The spammers will continue to do what they do as long as it is profitable for them, i.e. until one of three things happens: the users receiving the messages stop reading and believing them; the people paying the spammers to send their messages decide they don't want to do it any more; or, it becomes so difficult to send the messages that it is no longer worth it. Obviously, there is little we can do about the second one, and the third one is being worked on all the time (spam filters, image verification, etc.), resulting in a kind of arms race. It seems unlikely that the people receiving the messages can all be educated to ignore these messages or recognise them for what they are - after all, there are still people who fall for scams which are much older than the ones being sent via email at the moment.

So what can we do? No amount of technology can overcome human nature and it is human nature which gives the spammers the determination to continue doing what they do. If the spammers are determined enough, they will always find a way around whatever automated systems we can come up with.

It's turtles all the way down...
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Junior WebHelper
Junior WebHelper

Joined: 24 Jul 2006
Posts: 6

PostPosted: Tue Aug 29, 2006 2:16 pm (15 years, 4 months ago) Reply with QuoteBack to Top

Spam is the black stain on the Internet. However, the open nature of Internet access will always be it's achilles heel. Because of the open nature of the internet, there will always be the ability to take advantage of it, and do bad things... unfortunately.

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