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Innovative Ways to Control Spam in SocialEngine

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Welcome to our SocialEngine blog! Each month, we provide learning tools for our clients to help empower them to have the most success with their SocialEngine communities. In this month’s post, we’d like to focus on innovative methods you can use to help control spam in your community.

First, let’s talk about what spam is

The type of spam we are focusing on today is website spam. Spam, in regards to websites, could either be a programmed “bot” that joins your site or a human. These spammers post links to their site or products lowering your SEO and making your site look unappealing to members. Spam is not software specific and could strike any site using any software with a login or comment area.

The great news is that SocialEngine has built-in anti-spam features. Over the course of this article we will discuss these features as well as  include links to third party spam control products.

SocialEngine Built-In Spam Control

  • Google’s “noCAPTCHA reCAPTCHA” is a great anti-spam tool and is easily set in your Admin Panel. This is Google’s more up-to-date method to fight spam. With this method, bots are not able to get into your site and it tends to discourage human spammers as well.
  • IP and Email Ban options are also available. You’ll want to add spammer IP addresses as well as email addresses for any spammers that manage to find their way in. This will restrict their access and bar them from joining again. Wildcard bans (example: 23.45.67.*) can also help restrict an entire IP range from access. This is very handy when you see a lot of activity from a particular IP range.

If you need help with the built-in anti-spam features send us a ticket and we’ll be happy to assist.

Free Spam Control Tools

  • Cloudflare is one of the best free tools for controlling spam. This service stops known spammers and bots from even hitting your server. This can help reduce your server load and can even help prevent DDOS attacks. You can even set regions to block from access to your website.
  • Project Honeypot is another great anti-spam tool. The folks that made Cloudflare first started Project Honeypot. This tool helps catch harvesters, website scrapers, spammers and spambots so that other tools you use (such as Cloudflare, reCAPTCHA, etc) have the spammer IP and email addresses in order to be more effective.

Innovative Ways to Stop Spammers

In addition to the aforementioned methods, there are a few other ways you can help control or catch spammers before they wreak havoc on your site. Let’s discuss those now:

  • Set up subscriptions . You can keep them free if you don’t want to charge people for access. The reason this can be effective is that generally, spambots ignore subscriptions. You would want to have member levels set up so that members that join pick the real member levels and leave the “default” for the spammers. Set the “default” to no permissions for anything. Set the other member levels to have permissions as you want them. (Example: A car niche site could set member levels for mechanic, car owner, dealership owner).
  • Set different member levels with varying degrees of access such as beginner, novice, advanced, pro. The beginner member level would have no permissions to post blogs (the most popular place for spammers to post) but could have permissions elsewhere. Each other member level would have varying degrees of access until full access for the pro member level.

When someone joins the site, they start at beginner. If they post spammy content anywhere in the site, you know to ban them and not move them up. The ones that interact with other members and post good content could then be moved up to other member levels. To make things easier, consider taking on moderators or other staff that can help with member monitoring.

  • Set your site to “invite only” registration and only allow membership to those that are invited.
  • Set the registration settings (link above) to require approval for members. This can make a big difference if you are having issues with spam but it also slows membership access. You’ll want to have staff to help with approvals if you have a lot of membership applications.

Third Party Products to Stop Spam for SocialEngine PHP

The experts in our marketplace also have some great methods to control spam. Here are a few of them:

  • Honeypot Anti-spam – This integrates the Honeypot tool (mentioned above) and makes it easy for you to see stats.
  • Mobile Verification Plugin – Verify your users with mobile verification. Spammers tend to avoid this sort of verification.
  • Mega Spam Control – With this tool, you can monitor activity on your site to help control spam.
  • Advanced Members – This plugin allows you to let your users endorse their connections. This can help fight spam as members would endorse other members and spammers wouldn’t get endorsements.

We hope you’ve found this article helpful in your efforts to control spam for your community. Drop us a line at our community if you have any questions.