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MorningFlight
04-03-2008, 05:06 PM
Hi Friedrich,

This weekend, I had to temporarily shut down my own Forum to prevent a meltdown. At one point, I counted 44 spammers trying to sign on at the same time. The software I'm using is phpBB.

I see you're using vBulletin, yet your forum is daily invaded by spammers. At least with phpBB, I have a mod that requires me to activate each user. Nobody gets to post or even show up on the memberlist until activated. What's more, I can delete inactive accounts in bulk. Unfortunately, that means some valid applicants get occasionally deleted as well.

On their website, vBulletin claims to have effective spam prevention, up to and including AKISMET. Before I change from the free phpBB software to the $160 vBulletin app, is there any reason why you're not using anti-spam measures? It must get tiring to see the V-I-A-G-R-A and pedophile crowd hawk their wares on the Lindersoft forum, not to mention the daily work involved in getting rid of them.

Hal Heindel
http://talkprinting.com/phpBB/index.php

linder
04-04-2008, 04:20 AM
Hal,

Unfortunately, most popular forums are massively affected by this stupid spamming. But you only see a very small number of spam here on our forums. Behind the scenes, we have several people monitoring the community 18 hours a day, seven days a week. Most spam (85%) is removed immediately (a few seconds after it has been posted). A time-consuming and money-consuming process. But works far better than the automated systems.

BTW, vBulletin is (IMO) the best available forum software and worth every cent.

Friedrich

linder
04-04-2008, 05:13 AM
By the way, the upcoming vBulletin 3.7 will provide new Inline Spam Management and Prevention Tools.

Friedrich

MorningFlight
04-04-2008, 07:11 AM
Thank you, Friedrich.

You're right, the hugely popular vBulletin is likely the best and most feature-rich forum package out there. I'm contend with phpBB but would switch today if it weren't for the fact that, because of the way I've modified phpBB, I can prevent spammers from ever showing up on my forum, rather than having to clear them out after they've posted.

Maybe it's the time zone difference that exposes American members to the trash deposited on the Lindersoft Forum. If the new vBulletin 3.7 offers the same degree of spam prevention I now get with phpBB, I'll be happy to shell out the $160.

Hal Heindel
http://talkprinting.com/phpBB/index.php

linder
04-04-2008, 08:27 AM
Hal,

If you are interested, I will keep you posted. They have released a new vBulletin 3.7 release candidate yesterday and it looks really cool. We'll switch to 3.7 when it goes gold.

Friedrich

MorningFlight
04-04-2008, 11:03 AM
Friedrich,

Very much so, thank you. I visit your forum a couple of times a week. The absence of spammers will tell me when it's time to switch.

Hal Heindel
http://www.printshopmakeover.com

linder
04-04-2008, 11:06 AM
Hal,

<G> I hope it's soon :)

Friedrich

MorningFlight
04-08-2008, 04:36 PM
Friedrich,

Just a quick update. Wish I could tell you that your spammers are gone, but ...

I did buy and download vBulletin, put up a new web site, installed vB, and had it running in less than an afternoon. Their documention is superb, which I suppose is mainly where the money goes.

In the meantime, I managed to get the speed issue resolved with my existing phpBB 2.0.6 forum. For the time being, at least. That's a good thing, because as easy as it is to start a new forum, getting your existing mySql database transferred and converted is more cumbersome than I have time for. Trying to do it with a restore (an sql text dump) is a no-go. You need to download the entire mySql database. Good luck getting the ISP's approval and help with that. Even if you do everything right (and there's a lot to do right), the forum software providers warn you there's no assurance of success. Terrific!

So here is where I stand: I now have a vBulletin 3.6.9 forum that I won't be using for a while. In fact, I'll probably uninstall it when 3.7.0 goes Gold and then install that. While I was at it, I also installed a free phpBB 3 forum with BlueHost, the same ISP who is hosting my vB forum, just to get a side-by-side comparison. No regrets buying vB, mind you. In light of the time and effort required to convert and transfer forums, $160 is chump change. This time, I'll be extremely selective who I go to bed with.

Meanwhile, I'll keep running my phpBB 2.0.6 forum. That ISP has acknowledged they've had problems and promises to increase mySql capacity. We'll see.

My biggest beef is that none of the forum software providers, at least to my knowledge, offer any means of converting the highly valuable and irreplaceable contents of a commercial forum into some sort of hard copy, be it a .CHM Help file or an Acrobat .pdf. I've had to spend nearly two days manually copying and pasting my forum into a Help & Manual project. It will probably take me another week or more to format that project, but at least the contents of the Morning Flight Forum will finally no longer be at the mercy of an ISP.

There are days when we don't know whether we're coming or going. Other days, it just doesn't matter. To quote from W.C. Field's tombstone: "On the whole, I'd rather be in Philadelphia!" This has been one of those weeks.

Hal Heindel
http://www.printshopmakeover.com

linder
04-09-2008, 05:32 AM
Hi Hal,

To be honest, I really like your idea of converting forum messages to PDF or CHM. Hmm, I like it very much!!! And from the technical point of few, it should not be too hard to implement this.

By the way, you'll get a free update from vBulletin 3.6.9 to 3.7 so the money is not "lost" :)

We have re-enabled some spam blocking and spam messages decreased by 70%.

Friedrich

MorningFlight
04-09-2008, 06:06 AM
Hi Friedrich,

You're right, archiving forum contents into book form wouldn't be difficult. After all, it only amounts to converting threads into chapters and then extracting the individual posts from a MySql database. Hardly rocket science. Maybe Alex at H&M in Austria . . . ?

I don't consider the money spent on vBulletin wasted by any means. Getting the free upgrade to 3.7 just sweetens the pie. Haven't needed their support yet, but from what I can gather at the vB Forum, it's excellent (not as outstanding as yours ;), of course, but well worth the $160).

Speaking of support, do you ever sleep?

Hal Heindel
http://www.printshopmakeover.com

linder
04-09-2008, 06:20 AM
Hi Hal,


You're right, archiving forum contents into book form wouldn't be difficult. After all, it only amounts to converting threads into chapters and then extracting the individual posts from a MySql database. Hardly rocket science. Maybe Alex at H&M in Austria . . . ?

That would not be too bad :)


I don't consider the money spent on vBulletin wasted by any means. Getting the free upgrade to 3.7 just sweetens the pie. Haven't needed their support yet, but from what I can gather at the vB Forum, it's excellent (not as outstanding as yours ;), of course, but well worth the $160).

;)


Speaking of support, do you ever sleep?

Sleep is for wimps! <g> Just kidding! I am working hard on SetupBuilder 7. And I have an expensive little daughter, so I have to work around the clock ;)

Friedrich

MorningFlight
05-01-2008, 02:15 PM
Hi Friedrich,

I just received notice from vBbulletin that version 3.7.0 is now available for downloading. I was hoping for more robust spam prevention, but from what I can tell, their idea of prevention is still remedial after the fact. That's not going far enough.

Until vBulletin can come up with a system that prevents trash from getting posted in the first place, I'll keep using my free phpBB. I mean, how difficult can it be? They now have a slick set of tools for cleaning out the trash, but what I don't find is a simple mechanism that let's me approve new members before they can dump their garbage. The way I can with my phpBB Mod.

BTW, I'm nearly done converting our forum into a PDF manual, one topic at a time. The spam attack last month was actually a blessing in disguise. Rereading all the posts made me aware how much valuable information and irreplaceable testimonials had been at the mercy of a bunch of moronic low lives.

What I ended up doing is copy each topic into Notepad to strip out most of the formatting and all the graphic bits picked up from the forum. From there, I pasted the text into Help & Manual templates. Not a trivial job, but worth it. I'll let you know when the finished book is on-line.

All the best,

Hal Heindel
www.printfire.com

linder
05-02-2008, 02:34 PM
Hi Hal,

Hmm, that would be bad news. We have downloaded vBulletin 3.7.0. now and plan to install the new version this night. I'll let you know if the new spam features make a difference.

We are still brainstorming the Forum to PDF idea (more than 10,000 threads to convert). There should be a way to read the information out of the SQL database and then write it to PDF.

And I am experimenting with the wonderful PageSnip software (my friend Charles Edmonds wrote it).

http://www.pagesnip.com/

Friedrich

linder
05-03-2008, 06:04 AM
Hi Hal,

I have to agree. The new "Spam Management" in vBulletin 3.7 is a bad joke. Does not make any sense at all :(

Friedrich

MorningFlight
05-04-2008, 07:40 AM
We are still brainstorming the Forum to PDF idea (more than 10,000 threads to convert). There should be a way to read the information out of the SQL database and then write it to PDF.

Hi Friedrich,

Absolutely. Either out of the database or from the text dump generated by MySQL when you perform a backup.

I bought PageSnip and also use SnagIt from TechSmith. Neither of the two utilities are well suited for what I had to accomplish. Unlikely as it seems, the lowly Notepad served my purpose best, mainly because it strips out everything and saves only the raw text. You can Ctrl-C whatever you see on the monitor, do a Ctrl-V dump into Notepad, and end up with plain text. All the formatting is lost as well, of course, so that's where the work comes in.

If you're interested, take a look at the results at http://www.printfire.com/MFArchiv.pdf

Trying to save 10,000 posts that way? Not in my lifetime! You'd have to be very selective in what you would want to archive.

All the best,

Hal Heindel
http://www.printfire.com

linder
05-04-2008, 07:50 AM
Hi Hal,

It's interesting to note that we did not receive a single spam message during the 36 hours. We switched to vBulletin 3.7 exactly 36 hours ago. Hmm....

Friedrich

MorningFlight
05-04-2008, 07:56 AM
Hi Friedrich,

Yes, v-e-r-r-y interesting! I've watched your forum for the same reason and haven't seen any spam either. Let's keep our fingers crossed. That would certainly be great news.

Hal

linder
05-04-2008, 07:57 AM
If you're interested, take a look at the results at http://www.printfire.com/MFArchiv.pdf

Trying to save 10,000 posts that way? Not in my lifetime! You'd have to be very selective in what you would want to archive.

I agree. I downloaded your .PDF and your "General Chat" section is very well done! I think we'll do something similar...

Friedrich

MorningFlight
05-04-2008, 08:05 AM
Thank you, Friedrich!

Actually, other than the formatting, I had very little to do with it. I simply copied every post that's on our forum.

One of the benefits of having a General Chat section seems to be that you're getting informal testimonials, the "word-of-mouth" kind of stuff you couldn't pay for. In our case, most of the chat turns out to be about the product. What may invite posts is that it doesn't have to be. Kind of what we're doing here.

Enjoy your Sunday (what's left of it).

Hal

linder
05-04-2008, 08:17 AM
Hi Hal,

I played with SpamBooster yesterday (does not work with v3.7) and posted three test spam messages. Spamming per-se still works. But "something" seems to "block" typical spamming systems at the moment.

Friedrich

linder
05-06-2008, 02:10 AM
Hi Hal,

Still no spam. Hmm...........

Friedrich

MorningFlight
05-06-2008, 09:06 PM
Hi Friedrich,

God, I hate to be the one to have to tell you, but . . .

I was really hoping you had found the magic bullet this time. Looks like what's needed is nothing less than a stake through the heart of these jerks!

Hal Heindel
www.printfire.com

linder
05-07-2008, 12:46 AM
Hi Hal,

Yes, that is the first spam I have seen for 4 days now. And I have absolutely no idea what the vBulletin guys have done in v3.7 to "block" automated spamming. But spamming definitely "stopped" one minute after the update to v3.7.

Friedrich