Everyone has seen them. They invade your e-mails with useless information ranging from bogus vacations to prescriptions for pills that either don’t work or you don’t need. And in an online community, they’re worse, pitching their wares in public.

You know them as spammers, the scourge of the Internet. And historically, spammers and their non-human counterparts, spambots, have made life for community managers miserable.

The problem has always been what is the best was to counteract these constant nuisances so they don’t flood your community with ads for porn, Viagra or fake watches.

Adding captcha to allow for user registration or posting is one possible answer. Realistically, asking a user to type a random set of letters, number or words can weed out the spambots. However, the human spammers will be privy to this little trick, and many have found ways to sidestep this.

For forum programs such as PHPBB, an internal solution in the form of modifications, or add-ins to their software, can be the answer. Their site contains a wide array of anti-spam mods for community managers to use.

Registration tools can also be used. The most restrictive is admin user activation. While this can guarantee that no spammers can get through, the process can be time-consuming on the adminstrator’s end and could be potentially off-putting to users. E-mail activation can also be useful, given that many spammers don’t register using valid e-mail addresses. Again, there is a risk of spammers side-stepping this hurdle.

Like the vanquishing of trolls, a topic we’ve recently tackled, ridding your community of spammers will take constant vigilance and monitoring of your community. While there is not surefire way to complete eradicate spammers,the above steps can get your community as clean as possible.

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