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When phpBB3 was released, the new CAPTCHA was supposed to finally beat the bots. Well… according to my three forums, that lasted until about February 3rd. I’ve been flooded with bot registrations ever since. On my old phpBB2 forum I’d installed a great mod that added a simple question to the registration form. It worked great, but I hadn’t found one for phpBB3 at first. It wasn’t needed then, but it is now.

After some searching, I’ve found the Anti Bot Question mod. As you can see from the 38+ pages of comments, this mod isn’t quite as easy as the author would have you believe. I had my fair share of issues getting this installed, but once it’s up, it’s GREAT.

To save you some grief, I’ll give you a heads up to the areas that troubled me.

  • The mod shows an SQL database addition, and it lists 5 files les to edit. Look a little closer, there is actually a sixth file to edit! There is a separate .xml instruction file in the “templates” folder. You need to modify a file in the template you’re using, and it changes whether it’s based on prosilver or subsilver2. If you don’t do this, the field does not get added to the registration page.
  • Follow the directions exactly. That sounds simple, but there’s one place you might get caught. The very first step has you add a line after ‘tz’ => request_var(‘tz’, (float) $timezone), Make sure that’s where you add it. There’s another line that comes first and is very similar. ‘tz’ => request_var(‘tz’, (float) $config[‘board_timezone’]),
  • Purge the Cache. After you complete all the steps and upload all of your files, you’ll need to clear the cache of your forum. This is on the main ACP index page. You may also need to refresh your template files, but I didn’t have to do that.

That should do it!

In my experience, this is the one mod that effectively keeps bots from registering on a forum. While not easy, it’s definately worth your time.

Mod entry in the forum at phpbb.com

Mod Database


There are a few things to update concerning this mod.

First off, you MAY not need this anymore. With the release of phpbb 3.0.6, there is a Q&A Captcha. There’s a catch, though. Your theme may not have the updated files to support it. Unless you create your theme based on one of the current phpBB default themes, you’ll probably have issues. In my case, I still choose to run this Anti Bot Question Mod.

Second, if you’re installing this Mod to 3.0.6, there are some differences.

For includes/ucp/ucp_register.php, you will no longer find

‘S_CONFIRM_CODE’ => ($config[‘enable_confirm’]) ? true : false,

Instead, you should insert your code after

‘S_LANG_OPTIONS’ => language_select($data[‘lang’]),

Other than that, everything seems to work about the same.

  • fun forum and site March 17, 2009, 5:54 pm

    Sorry, I don’t have twitter ID, but I will get one soon. I need to ask you a question.

    Will I be able to use the modification on a different theme than the (default) ones you have listed above?

    I remember using TPL files in the other Phpbb version 2, but there are none of those to be found in the new version 3.

    I’ve been studying this for years and I still can’t figure it out.
    Thanks for info and any help you can give.


  • Jeremy Lindh March 17, 2009, 9:21 pm

    The mod is based on either of the default themes. It’s ‘possible’ that your theme is based on one of the two.

    I know what you mean with the TPL files, I was on phpBB2 before I moved to 3. The really cool thing about phpBB3 is that you can modify your files from the admin area. You can alter a lot of your files offline or online, whatever is easiest for you.

    My suggestion would be for you to try this mod, based on subsilver2. ( that’s the theme that’s based on the phpbb2 theme, i think. Just make sure you have backups of everything and you should be okay. Install the new modified files, upload them, and see if things work. If they don’t work, just go through and put all of your backed up files back in place. As long as you have a full backup, you should be safe. ( hopefully )

    Also – if you’re having troubles with bot signups, make sure that you have captcha enabled, and that your users have to confirm their registration. That’ll save you from most the bots, right there.

    If you have issues, just post here and I’ll try to help you out!

  • vb April 4, 2009, 12:55 am

    Boy, your automatic translation into Italian really sucks! It’d be better to have none at all. But thanks for the info about the plugin!

  • Jeremy Lindh April 8, 2009, 4:11 pm

    Sorry to hear that VB! The Italian translation is done by Google’s translators. I’d have to figure that’d be the best one to use. The other ones are probably even worse!

  • hoppiemochie May 20, 2009, 12:31 pm

    Hiya all of youz!..
    How are yaz doing?

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