Guest posting: Do I or don’t I?

Posted by battye in Uncategorized with the tags , , , , on October 9th, 2008

Whether you have just opened your forum or whether you have an established community, the thought has probably crossed your mind at one point or another of opening the board to guest posters.

Obviously there can be no definitive right or wrong answer for everyone, but for most people the simple answer is “don’t do it”.

Guest posting is “very 2002″… I pick that year because that was the last time I saw a large, successful community allow guests to post. Since then, most have come to the realisation that guest posters can be a nuisance. The biggest problem since 2002, as many administrators will attest to, has been the spambots. Bots exploited phpBB2’s guest posting permissions in particular because of the lack of visual confirmation (captcha’s), and I’m sure that when the bots began to attack forums en masse was when many administrators decided to disable the guest posting permissions. phpBB3 thankfully has not had a problem with spambots yet, but after several years of making do without guest posters, not many forums would have been quick to re-enable the function. This has led to a chain reaction, as new administrators would have been visiting these existing “guest-less” forums for several years and in a subconcious attempt to mimic other boards success have refrained from allowing guest posters themselves.

The other problem with guest posters, not quite as large scale as the spambots but just as annoying, are the tendency they have to “troll” forums. In forum terms, a troll is someone who posts material to intentionally insult others, stir people up, and overall make the forum experience for others less enjoyable. Because guest posters don’t need to supply an email address, location, interests and other fields that would normally be filled upon registration, they can troll very easily and quickly and then disappear with the same speed.

Generally, a forum that requires registration will weed out troublesome users more than a board that is open to everyone. The registration process can be a psychological barrier, many trolls will decide it simply isn’t worth the time it takes to register and move along while those that are genuinely interested in the subject matter will be happy to spend a few minutes signing up.

Having said all that, guest posting can in some cases be a useful addition to a board. Not all guests will be looking to plug their latest pharmaceuticals or start a flame war with the forum regs. Perhaps your website is seasonal (only open for an annual event for instance) or will be open for only a limited time (for a one-off gig, event, etc)… in cases like these, where there is little incentive to register for an account that you may never use again, guest posting may be pivotal to the short term success of your community.

36 Responses to “Guest posting: Do I or don’t I?”

Posted by Jeffrey Rosen on October 9th, 2008 at 6:35 pm:

I think that if someone can’t be bothered to join you community, they probably don’t have anything useful to add any way.

Posted by Masterhand on October 9th, 2008 at 7:09 pm:

I agree. With how my community works, guests basically get to skim over the new stuff, and not post.

If you really want to post at a community, there is no hassle in a 1-2 minute registration in my opinion. If you don’t want to, then stay a guest.

Posted by mrGTB on October 10th, 2008 at 2:20 am:

If your running a new forum though, it can help to allow guest postings I feel. In this day and age, getting a new forum of the ground is very hard to do.

So every little bit helps, even if it means allowing guests to post.

Posted by karlsemple on October 10th, 2008 at 7:51 am:

I have just recently allowed guest posting on my board using phpBB3 taking advantage of its guest confirmation image and the ability for post moderation. Thus guests can post on my board but only with my approval.

With an active moderation team and correctly set permissions I see no reason on phpBB3 why guest posting can not be allowed without issue, as long as the moderators are prepared to approve or deny posts in the moderation queue (some may find this to much hassle)

Posted by ChrisRLG on October 10th, 2008 at 7:57 am:

Well I can see an advantage for one of my forums. That forum is for one off posting by people who wish to complain about malware. Those users, we would hope, would not be back for a repeat post, so the use of guest posting is really something that we would hope to use.
So I really do think, as suggested in your article, that guest posting, in some circumstances, may well become the norm again, so long as we can stop the spambots from breaking the CAPTCHA (or use other methods to stop them).

Posted by Martin Truckenbrodt on October 10th, 2008 at 1:03 pm:

if you enbale guest just don’t use the forum with the forum_id = 1 at least if you have CAPTCHA for guest posting disabled.
Else you will have nice pictures of young girls there. 😉

Bye Martin

Posted by BigK on October 12th, 2008 at 9:14 am:

With captchas I think guest posting should be available, sometimes I find myself to ask a simple question, I know I won’t be active on daily basis, makes registration a hassle.

Posted by MartectX on October 12th, 2008 at 9:41 am:

So if I followed your instructions, I’d get free porn?

Posted by Dog Cow on October 12th, 2008 at 9:33 pm:

My forum has always allowed guest posting since 2004. I have no plans to turn it off.

Posted by Black Antitoon on October 12th, 2008 at 10:09 pm:

Our board does not have guest posting. I have suggested enabling it just for the “introduction” forum, where people can say “Hello, I’m new here, where do I start from?”. Since we are a school forums there may be many students not used to forums who are scared by the need of registering, but would like to post 3 or 4 messages without doing so. Then they would probably register to gain the permission to post in all other forums.

But the other admin turned it down.

Posted by Eric Martindale on October 16th, 2008 at 4:15 pm:

I have guest posting disabled for most of my forums, but I would have no objection to enabling it (with appropriate spam controls, such as Akismet) if requested.

It really depends on how your forum is being used – if most of your users are short-term, then you may be able to increase activity by allowing guest posts. However, most of the forums I run are aimed at encouraging users to participate for the long-term, so we have simplified the registration process to counterbalance our registration requirements.

Posted by koalaii on October 20th, 2008 at 2:29 pm:

We allow guest posting since always (7 years). It all depends of what your forum is all about and the kind of audience looking at your forum. Part of our audience are senior people who are not always familiar with webforums. This is why I hide many features in phpBB and don’t even use captcha.
To deal with spambots I do not allow the referencing of our page. Instead I use a SEO copy of the forum redirecting to the original pages. In addition, all the posting file names and codes have been renamed which proved to be very effective. Overall, we are very happy with our guest posting feature. I hate to have to register to a forum if I only have a couple of questions. Like for this blog, I would not have posted if I had to register.

Posted by Einbürgerungstest on October 20th, 2008 at 11:08 pm:

Guests should be able to post (with short captcha and without auto-linking urls). Yes to guests , no to spam!

Posted by Kevin on October 26th, 2008 at 7:15 pm:

I just took down a version 2.x BB from a site which was not actively moderated, mainly because the spammers flooded the board. I am in the middle of creating a new web presence and my new BB will not have guest posting.

Posted by randomfreak on October 27th, 2008 at 1:38 am:

Enabling or disabling guest posting is something that needs to be considered separatelly for each site.
For starting sites, *moderated* guest posting can be a really good option: you won’t get too much traffict at the beginning, so you can deal with the moderation queue easily (make sure to review it often, however). Even further, you may take the risk, during the first weeks, to use non-moderated guest posting, making sure to use CAPTCHAs, and use the “view new posts” feature to perform some efficient post-moderation: everything spammy or out-of-place gets killed ASAP, but legitimate posts are published instantly.

Once your community gets stablished, you should think deeper about guest posting: often it’s a good idea to have it for some specific parts of the board. I’d suggest using CAPTCHAs or moderation, but not both: having to verify the post with the CAPTCHA **and** to wait for it to be approved is quite annoying and may discourage some visitors from making valuable contributions.

Just my thoughts.

Posted by Jeremiah on October 31st, 2008 at 7:19 pm:

One problem I’ve seen with guest posting under PHPbb 2.x is that regular community members who are active will often post as a “Guest” not realizing they are not logged in. That’s usually followed by a post saying, “Oh yeah that was me” posted with their account.

Ironically the board owner was as guilty of this as anybody.

Posted by Mark on November 7th, 2008 at 3:31 pm:

One nice thing about guest posting is that, when someone has problems registering, he or she can make a post explaining the problem or asking to activate the account. Besides that I don’t see the big advantage of it either, mostly disadvantages…

Posted by JGPP on November 7th, 2008 at 9:49 pm:

Just one question
Is it possible to set a procedure to allow guest posting, but with a previous autorization by the forum owner before the post is published? a kind of OK from the owner before being published?

Posted by barjac on November 8th, 2008 at 10:48 am:

[quote]Is it possible to set a procedure to allow guest posting, but with a previous autorization by the forum owner before the post is published?[/quote]
Sounds like moderation to me!

Posted by JGPP on November 8th, 2008 at 9:11 pm:

Yes, you are right. It is moderation, but there is no need to register and moderator makes de decision about publishing a post or not. I mean, open but moderated….

Posted by damsprivate on November 9th, 2008 at 11:02 am:

no i dont .

Posted by Daniel Danopia on November 10th, 2008 at 2:43 pm:

I plan to allow it eventually, but my new board is for my school and until I talk to the administration I have to have hte board locked down (approved by admin (me and others) before you can read anything). Hopefully they let me open it up, and I’ll then have moderation guest posting.

Right now, even people who were approved are moderated posters because of possible legal reasons. Then again, there is only 1 regged user on my site right now 😛

Posted by Abhijit Kulkarni on November 14th, 2008 at 8:26 am:

I will not allow guest posting on my forums and would recommend that every post needs to moderated according to forum rules.

However, I would not moderate strictly to the users who have make a good reputation in the my forum community.

Posted by nn123654 on November 17th, 2008 at 1:51 am:

I would allow guests to post if phpBB had a way of banning certain IPs from posting. As it currently stands, the only way to get rid of an abusive poster, without a mod, is to either ban his IP, which bans him off the entire board and prevents him from even being able to read posts, or to use the .htaccess file to deny that IP from being able to post, which prevents users who are logged in from posting from that IP.

Posted by madd74 on November 17th, 2008 at 9:52 pm:

I allow guest posting in my forum. I use the captcha mod that requires guest to sign it, and I have not had any problem with bots spamming my boards. In fact, the only spam I have gotten has been rare, and that spam was users who signed up, validated, just to post a spam post. Two some posts in one year, not bad 🙂

Posted by Phreakwars on November 19th, 2008 at 3:02 pm:

I have guest posting enabled on my site… In fact, guest posting is an intricate part of the site. I’ve used the exact same captcha for the last few years, and not once have I ever gotten a BOT post, and the members prefer the image captcha to trying to decipher numbers and letters.

Posted by Rupesh Pradhan on December 5th, 2008 at 1:38 pm:

I entered the keyword ‘enable guest posting’ and all i am getting is ‘how to disable guest posting’!!!
Exactly, how does one enable guest posting with CAPTCHA?

Posted by A. on December 12th, 2008 at 7:07 pm:

This is why I think OpenID is a winner – a single registration for access to all forums and web services. It is even more of a deterrent to spammers because the ID is linked to their blogs and other online profiles, unlike traditional user accounts which can easily be discarded and recreated. At the same time it provides a real convenience to genuine users who want to post without having to “spend a few minutes signing up” every time.

Posted by Stanton Royce CEO Extreme Achievers(R) on December 17th, 2008 at 12:25 am:

IF “you” own a product or service, the least expensive and most useful marketing research tool is a discussion board of registered users. While you may moderate to monitor for abusive behavior and to help identify the issues or topic of a thread, do not sell and DO NOT censor comments about your products and services. As an engineer, psychologist and MBA, I’ve helped several major companies set these up and taught them to mine the content. For the small price of operating these discussion groups, businesses ge more valuable information than they got paying literally hundreds of millions and even billions on traditional market research including focus groups. Turn them on, let them go and LISTEN, interact with members letting them know you’re listening. When you improve products, consider giving samples, or make them available first to discussion group members to show your appreciation for their insights. For a sample of how this has rapidly improved a product, look at the discussion board for SugarSync software. I have no financial interest in them, they are not a client. I recommend this site because it is easy to look through some of the posts and interactions with the company, and see the value of discussion groups.

Posted by skyhook on December 31st, 2008 at 7:38 am:

Yeah I used to have that problem with the old v2. Spambots loved it so it just wasn’t worth it to allow guests to posts. Besides, if they’re interested enough in the forum to post as a guest, most of the time they’re interested enough to register.

Posted by Phreakwars on January 2nd, 2009 at 2:59 am:

The best way I have found to handle guest posting in PhPBB3 is using the following MOD by Thoul:

It’s been 100% reliable for me for the last couple of years in both PhPBB2&3.

What I like best about it, is you can customize the images to match your site’s theme. And you can adjust the rows/columns displayed for registering and GUESTS in the ACP.

Posted by power tools reviews on September 9th, 2009 at 10:35 pm:

I think anyone with a blog should allow followers of his/her post a comment as a guest as long as they add value to the discussion. The majority of people commenting on blogs do so in good faith and are not there to try to spam….however just like anything else…spam is inevitable and unavoidable.

Posted by Black Hawk on September 20th, 2009 at 4:07 pm:

Allowing guest to post is important to retain readership and participation. And I hate forums that set extreme rules and restrictions to post.

Posted by Vi Jones on March 14th, 2010 at 11:42 am:

I hope I’m in the right spot. I joined a RDA forum about 3 months ago and then three days later decided not to join. I asked to be removed the administrator/moderator refused. She locked me out and let her forum gang up on me. She just handled things so unprofessional. Now I found she used my real name along with my user name, and told everyone. I just wonder if she gave out my password. This is a very serious breach and even though you think because you post your not responsible you are there is something in the law called vicarious liability. She put my user name in black so it would stick out around the blue ones. She has went beyond banning me she has now combined my privacy rights along with humiliation. This person is dangerous. Please have Kate Ritter remove legalmania along with athenadog from her site. I want all my post removed and my user ID as well as my real name Vi Jones removed. She has no right to do this.

Posted by Joe on March 16th, 2010 at 4:31 pm:


Posted by Rajajee on June 11th, 2010 at 1:41 pm:

Sometimes it is very important to allow guests express their feelings. I love it…..

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