Spambots are one of those nightmares all administrators have to deal with, they really can’t be avoided. It doesn’t matter how many layers of protection has been put in place, some are always sure to sneak through. A constantly on-going debate amongst forum administrators is the way of dealing with spambot accounts. Is it better to delete them completely or ban them permanently? There is no right or wrong answer to this question although there are several points to take into account for each option.
Banning a spammer is obviously the quickest alternative. Most forums have a spammer removal tool of some sort installed which means the spammer is banned in a matter of seconds. After this there is no more work for the administrator or moderator to do which is probably why it is favoured by many. Banning spammers however means that all the usernames the spambots have used are now not available to your members. It also means you have loads of unused, banned accounts which are creating false statistics. Some administrators are obsessed by the statistics of their forum and don’t delete spambots as they believe the member count makes their forum look more active. They haven’t taken the post per member count into consideration, which is also an important factor. Not removing the spambots accounts does mean you have them for future reference if you would ever need them though. It also prevents spambots registering again with the same account.
Deleting the accounts will give you more accurate statistics and also allow your users to use the usernames the spambots used. It will also mean that the spambots don’t show up on birthday listings or in your member list. Deleting spambots does usually mean more work for an administrator though as it usually needs to be done through the admin control panel. It is however usually quicker to delete the spambots posts. This can be done by any administrator and means the posts are gone for good and won’t be picked up by search engines by accident or found by members.
Many administrators also choose to move spambot posts to a “trash board” where all the posts just gather dust. The reasoning behind this could be discussed but the most likely one is for statistics. Many administrators fear deleting posts from their forum as they believe it will have a negative effect on the board, even if they are just spam posts. What they don’t realise is having thousands of hidden posts is just as bad. Deleting the posts and not the member will affect your statistics, as will it if you keep the posts and ban the member.
There is no right or wrong when it comes to dealing with spambots. It comes down to administrator preference, how much you trust your moderators and what your view on statistics is. If statistics mean a lot to you then your best option is banning and moving the posts to a trash board. If you focus on quality and honesty towards your members then you are better off deleting both spammer and posts. Deleting the posts and banning the spambot is also an option, but do you really want your member list filled with banned members with zero posts? Personally I believe in quality and for that reason I believe in deleting both spambot and its posts. If you feel you can’t trust your moderators to delete only spambot posts then use a trash board and clear it out every few days yourself. If the trust issue is what stops you deleting spambots then your problems lie in a different area.