How to Stop Spam on a phpBB 2.x.x Board

Is your phpBB board being overridden by spam? Most people may recommend that you go to their support forums and install a couple modifications, but what if they don’t work? The answer to that question is simple. All common solutions will not work. If someone puts out a common solution, the spam bots will adapt to it. Spam bots have adapted to captacha images, email verification, and other common defenses. Fortunately, the answer is simple, all you have to do is be unique. I will give you one tip on how you can do that and keep the spam bots at bay.

It is my best guess that the image verifications are the hardest to crack, so in theory, if you tweak that, the bots will not be able to adapt to it.

  1. Make sure you have the latest version of phpBB installed (given)
  2. Enable image verification, and user activation
  3. Open up phpbb/includes/usercp_confirm.php
  4. Find tweakable values. Some examples are $total_width, $total_height, $img_width, $img_height, $width, (you get the idea)
  5. Preview as you tweak to make sure the images are still readable, yet make sure you are making noticeable changes.

I tweaked the $width variable on line 87 to the point where some of the letters were getting squished together and getting cut off by a few pixels, and that was enough for me.

I tried this method on a board that was getting 10-15 spam registrations a day. It’s been spam free for almost a month now.

If you find a method that woks, post it, but generalize it. If you get too many people start copying you exactly, it will make it work the spammer’s time to adapt to it. Remember, the key is to make your board different from all the others.

This entry was posted on Tuesday, April 10th, 2007 at 5:39 pm and is filed under Internet, PHP. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

One Response to “How to Stop Spam on a phpBB 2.x.x Board”

Key September 10th, 2008 at 3:55 am

Thank you for the informative post!