In the course of using phpBB, you will inevitably ban someone from using your site. The Ban panel, illustrated in Figure 10-11, helps you manage your lists of the banished. You have several methods at your disposal for banning users:
Banning by username: This is straightforward. You simply ban the user's account by selecting his name. This is effective at shutting down an account, but the user can easily come back by registering under a different name.
Banning by e-mail address/domain: You can ban specific e-mail addresses (such as [email protected] .com) or use wildcards to block whole domains (such as *@domain .com). This can help screen out people who use free e-mail services to open accounts, particularly if you have validation enabled.
Banning by IP address/range: This is the most effective method of banning a user, but also the most dangerous, especially if you ban by range. To ban an IP address from your forum, simply enter the IP address (which you can glean from a user's post, explained in "Using the IP Manager" section later in this chapter) and click Submit at the bottom.
Use extreme caution when banning IP addresses (and especially ranges of IP addresses). Users on dial-up connections typically have their IP address change every session, so banning an IP address may be useful briefly but then ban an innocent person later. Banning ranges of IP addresses could potentially block an entire Internet service provider, so do that only if you really must. You can use sites such as samspade.org or network-tools.com (which phpBB's Administration panel references) to run WHOIS queries on IP addresses, so you can find out the range that they cover. Then you'll be able to avoid inadvertently banning whole cities or providers. It's a good idea to keep the list of banned IP addresses relatively short and trim. In most cases, once a troublemaker has been banned for a while, she will move on to another forum to cause problems. You don't want to inadvertently lose visitors due to overzealous banning.
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