Over the last year or so the forum has been seeing quite a few new member accounts that are spammers and phishing accounts. While I am able to catch most of them since I have to manually approve all new member requests, there are quite a few that can get through the cracks due to the innocuous nature of the email address or usernames. Some of them never post or use the PM features to send out spam, but quite a few do. There are others as well that post with thinly veiled ulterior motives that attempt to direct traffic to their sites containing bootlegged copies of software, etc. These are all unacceptable types of memberships that we don't want here at the forum.
I've spoken with several other board admins to find out what methods they are using to combat these issues. Most are doing what I'm doing, but that's time consuming and doesn't always prove to be effective. Others put the work on moderators to deal with the problems, but again it's time consuming and not always effective. Software mods to add captchas and other security measures are easily bypassed over time, and don't prevent human spammers from registering.
One idea that several admins have put into place and are seeing dramatic improvements in reducing spammers and other memberships that don't exist with the purpose of being a positive impact on the forums is to require a membership fee (donation). This is a one-time fee (donation) collected at the time of registration and is non-refundable. Want to join the forum, you need to pay a small fee (donation) to have membership access.
Since we have the "Make a Donation" button available currently I'm going to give this idea a try for the time being. I'm hoping it will create enough of a hindrance to stop nefarious accounts from being generated. This also keeps the forum database from expanding with members that join and never contribute. It might seem like a small impact, but every time a new member is added the database grows that much larger and can eventually start to slow things down. I'm already purging about 150 inactive memberships per month as it is so the required fee (donation) might help with that as well. The required fee (donation) is only $2 so I don't expect many legitimate registration applicants to have much of a complaint given the valuable resources they'll be able to take advantage of with a membership.
When someone attempts to register for a new account at the forum they will read verbiage that explains the donation process. Their account will not be activated until a donation with the same email address has been received. Once activated, their account will be accessible without any future fees (donations) required. Due to the purpose of why the fee (donation) is being implemented there will be no exceptions to have that part of the process waived when registering for a new account. If you're a member to be, please don't ask to have this waived.
As with any violation of forum rules, an account may be deactivated without notice. In the case where an account needs to be deactivated the fee (donation) is non-refundable.
All current member accounts do not have to donate to keep their status. Donations are always welcome, but are not required for current members. This new policy is only for new registration requests.
If anyone has any questions or thoughts please feel free to PM or email me.
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