We've been using phpBB3 as the forums for our business, and we've been plagued with spam bots left and right. In the end, I had to scrap the forums entirely because of all the junk. Our business needs a forum to operate, so I can't take the time to build one from scratch.

Which forums systems have you used in the past, and what's your experience with avoiding spam in general? Is there a commercial solution that's best for this sort of thing?

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  • I'm still trying to figure out which questions belong here, and which belong on stack overflow, so feel free to scold if this is the wrong place. The server does qualify as one that I don't own of course. ^_^ – Nicholas Flynt Jun 9 '09 at 0:11

I would think any public forum that uses reCaptcha would be a good start. I'm not sure about phpBB3 but I saw some plugins for phpBB2 and reports of people rolling their own for 3.

Also see this SO post... https://stackoverflow.com/questions/450835/how-do-you-stop-scripters-from-slamming-your-website-hundreds-of-times-a-second

  • I agree. It's easy enough to include reCaptcha into just about any system. – squillman Jun 9 '09 at 1:07
  • 3
    Forum spammers are pretty good at getting past captchas. – ceejayoz Jun 9 '09 at 1:50
  • Doesn't reCaptcha ban IPs when solving them to fast? – dotjoe Jun 9 '09 at 2:41
  • Any spammer worth his salt will be using many IPs. – ceejayoz Jun 9 '09 at 11:42
  • I've never used Akismet like service. So you send Akismet the text and IP and they tell you if it's spam? Couldn't that be bypassed with less obvious spam? – dotjoe Jun 9 '09 at 16:40

I've had amazing results with Akismet. There are plugins for most major forum software - here's an implementation for phpbb3.

  • Yes, Akismet is great. I've never tried it on a forum but it works great on blogs. (Although I imagine nothing should be different.) – Sasha Chedygov Jun 9 '09 at 3:53

All forums get spam now and then, but I find that forums that use reCaptcha (as stated before) receive less spam than those with other verification services. Depending on your forum software, there will most likely be plugins for spam prevention.

Another combatant against forum spam are moderators. Nothing like human interaction.


To select a forum engine, have a look at forummatrix.org It lists many engines, and lists the features, helping you to select one that suits your needs. Captcha is a must. Manual intervention, Flood Control and Blacklisting are also useful.

Is the forum for business members only, or for customers also? If the former is the case, you can auth the forum against LDAP / AD.

P.S. There is also wikimatrix.org

  • The forum is technically for business members only, but it's not in a very technical field, so I want to keep it as simple as possible. – Nicholas Flynt Aug 15 '09 at 5:16

How complicated a forum do you want?

Fruitshow is a very simple forum that's based on the look and feel of the old Joel On Software forum.


The primary example of Fruitshow is Crazy on Tap, which is a distant descendant of Joel's OffTopic forum.


Fruitshow doesn't currently have Captchas, but they can be added.


I use Invision power Board (i have a lifelong license they don't sell anymore, it might be a little bit pricy now that they dont have that option) and its really good. I find it has a great community and i would not change it. I've never got spam if i have the nice reCaptcha and email validation. I'm sure they sell support and other tools around that. I would email them with your concerns and wait for a reply.

Also check vbulletin, I've heard they are great.


Any prebuilt software that is used on multiple forums will be cracked, once it becomes worthwhile to do.

What I've done in the past is a simple question/answer. Something like 'What is the opposite of North?'. Humans can do it easily, a bot will have to be specially modifed to be able to answer it, and unless your forum is very large, it won't be worth the effort. Most of the spambots are just set running with Google, there usually isn't anyone actually maintaining them most of the time. You can also rototate questions to make it a little harder to do, and frequently change the question.

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