Over the past few weeks I have been spending considerable time on a strategy to upgrade the forums. This was prompted by the increase in bogus forum registrations which were followed by several spam posts under those bogus accounts. This problem was also observed on other sites that use the same software as this site and even the forum developer’s site itself.
No approach on my part has been able to stop the registrations including adding another security question only answerable by a human (what make is the Mustang?) and even removing the submit button from the registration page. It appears that bots are able to submit to the server regardless of any registration form trickery.
Contacting the forum developer resulted in no response and, therefore, no resulting assurance that the problem would be solved via a software patch. In the mean time, I have applied my own patch which monitors for bogus registrations based upon their pattern and deletes them on an hourly basis. Its more reactive than I would like and this will only work until they wise up and change their signature.
While none of is a huge problem and is simply more of a nuisance than anything, it raised some concern on my part that a more critical hole in the forum software might not be fixed by these same developers. This started me on a path to find replacement software. I realize that any other forum system, especially one that is more widely used, will also be subject to attack – maybe even more so. But, the bigger the community behind the forum, the more likely that a patch could be found should a future security hole be exposed.
So, my search led me to the free, open source phpbb. The challenge has been to migrate existing forum data including members and posts to the new forum. Tools exist for forum migration but the mvnforum in use here is pretty obscure and converters have been few and far between. The only one I found will migrate mvnforum to vBulletin which itself is not free and unfortunately, beyond my budget.
So, I have been writing my own converter in Python. It is nearing completion and only some minor details remain to be worked out. Once the converter is stabilized and I am happy with it, I may publish it here.
I figure I am about a month away from the big conversion unless I hit an obstacle that I can’t get by.