• TWC & IP Blacklisting

    Every few days we get a Contact Us email about someone being blocked from registering on TWC because of being a spammer. For example I got this one today:

    Dear Administrator,
    Could you tell me why my IP adress is banned? I have never been on your site, but a few days before I heard about it, because Im interested in mods and in exploring the TW Universe.
    So what I made wrong to be banned? I want to become a member of your community. Im from Kyiv, Ukraine.
    Yours sincerely,
    Now notice this person gave me no information at all other than they live in the Ukraine. I have not yet figured out how to check someone's IP on a blacklist when they fail to provide that IP address. They typed this in a form on TWC and I suppose I could go through 100,000 lines of access logs for the site and see who accessed the sendmessage.php page and actually clicked the Send button and then check all those IP addresses to find the one that came from the Ukraine though to be quite honest it probably isn't worth my time.

    Like every other large site in the world, TWC uses a blacklist managed by someone else. We do not sit around checking the entire internet for spam looking for IP addresses to ban. That would be an impossible task for us. Our spam blacklist is managed by StopForumSpam through a plugin on the site that checks your IP against a database at the time of registration. Here are some things you need to know:

    If you are blacklisted, TWC cannot remove you from that list
    TWC does not manage this list. This list is created in several ways, only one of which has anything directly to do with TWC. If someone registers on TWC and then posts spam, when we use the Delete as Spam option that person's email address and IP address are added to the database. That is the only way you can get added to that list on TWC unless Squid or I manually add an entry at the StopForumSpam website. Squid and I are the only ones who have the TWC API key to enter people manually and I do not think I have ever created a manual entry. I doubt Squid has either. Again this is something it just isn't worth our time to do when its done automatically through the Delete as Spam button that Moderators use.

    There are numerous ways you can end up on this spam blacklist that have absolutely nothing to do with TWC at all.
    • Someone on another site listed you as a spammer
    • Someone on a site without email confirmation enabled used your email address to register and then posted spam
    • Someone on your local subnet actually is a spammer and has used your IP address in the recent past
    • You have malware on your machine
    • You really are a spammer

    If you are blacklisted from joining TWC, there is a legitimate reason for it. Most likely either you have some malware on your machine that gets caught by tools that check http headers or someone else that uses your Internet Service Provider has been naughty. Most ISPs use dynamically assigned IP addresses, which means that you do not always have the same IP address. When you hit the network for any reason, you are assigned an available IP address which you will generally keep for 7 days. When your lease on that address expires you may or may not get the same IP address the next time you login. It depends on a lot of things such as how busy your network is and what policies your ISP has in place. You need to contact your ISP to figure out exactly how their network works.

    Most of the registrations denied on TWC because of spam blacklists come out of Russia, Ukraine, China, and Singapore. We get denials from all over the world but those are the big ones. The reason for that is simple: These are the places most of the spam and malware in the world is coming out of. If the internet providers in these countries would actually take more action to prevent abuse of their networks then things would be a lot better. But they choose not to because its expensive. Its easier for them to allow anyone to do anything they please on their network and let other companies absorb the costs of dealing with abuse.

    If you are an innocent customer of one of these companies caught up in this mess, I sympathize with you but there isn't anything I can do about it. The best thing you can do is complain to your provider. If they get enough complaints and people threatening to switch companies then they will do something about it. Until it starts to hit them in the wallet they are not going to change.