We recently applied new anti-spamming software to the membership sign-up page. It has rejected over 2,000 membership requests from spammers in the last two weeks. As expected, spammers have come up with software that will attempt to fill in each required field with generic words that trick moderators into approving the account (they have also found ways to completely by-pass the membership application, but that's something we will use software to deal with).
So, as a result, we have to start enforcing the fields required on the membership sign-up page. I will also clarify what information should go into those fields. The more accurate the entries (specific names, departments, titles, etc.), the easier it will be for Tommy and I to approve members and prevent spam attacks. Your information will only be accessed by the moderators (two people) and will NOT be shared with ANYONE!
Name: Please use real name. It helps us to verify, along with your email, that you are a real person and not an evil computer.
Email: Please use a valid email. Again, it helps us verify that you are a real person and not a super-villain. Sometimes a quick Google search will confirm that you are real and valid by searching your email.
Department Affiliation: Can be your FDNY affiliation, relatives welcome. Can be your own department affiliation where you work. You can enter 'buff' or 'enthusiast,' but please also add a distinguishing word like 'apparatus buff,' 'FDNY enthusiast' or anything that makes the entry less generic. Spammers will and have picked up on single, generic, key words and used them. A popular entry recently was 'news.' On that note- news, media, freelance, photographer entries need to be slightly more specific as well.
Username: Whatever you'd like, as long as it's clean and not insulting to anyone. Remember- we try to keep things professional here.
If anyone has an issue with using real information when signing up, you can contact us and set up your membership.
We appreciate everyone's help in our efforts against the spam. These guidelines are based on experience. We rarely have a spam attack that makes it into the forums and work hard to keeping it that way. Existing members do not need to change anything.