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Using the IP Manager
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For security purposes, phpBB records an IP address with each post made, corresponding to the user who made the post. To access the IP address associated with a particular post, click the tiny IP icon in the extreme top-right corner of the post. This brings you to a screen similar to Figure 10-15.
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Stunningly, phpBB lacks the ability to track the IP address of users when they register, which can Tip
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be important if users are registering accounts for malicious purposes, but not necessarily posting. This is a glaring omission, which luckily can be rectified by installing a modification known as Log Registration IP. I consider it vital, and I highly recommend this feature, even if you do not install any additional ones. You can obtain the Log Registration IP modification from http://www.phpbbhacks.com/download/2975.
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Figure 10-15. The IP manager displaying the IP address associated with a particular post, with a cross-reference to other users who have posted from the same IP address
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phpBB s IP manager helps you, with reasonable accuracy, see if a user is masquerading with multiple identities on your site, which is useful in terms of bans. Clicking the Look up IP address link next to the IP address associated with the post permits you to see the host name of the user (in most cases), which typically identifies the Internet service provider he is using to access your site. From there, you can take that information to a site such as samspade.org or network-tools.com, run a WHOIS query, and determine an abuse address, for example. You can search on the posting history of users who have posted from that IP address. Finally, phpBB gives the other IP addresses the user has posted from, for further cross-referencing work.
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CHAPTER 10 SECURING AND MAINTAINING PHPBB
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Caution Treat users IP address information with the utmost care. Releasing that information could put
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users in danger of having their computer attacked if they have not taken the proper precautions. Additionally, IP addresses, if configured by the Internet service provider, can give information that some users may believe violates their privacy, right down to the town where they are located. Respect your users privacy and be responsible with IP address information.
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Maintaining and Performance Tuning phpBB
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Now that you have improved the security of your board, it s time to talk about those mundane maintenance tasks that administrators love to hate, but are vital to the smooth operation of your community. These include pruning dead posts, managing your database, and caching templates.
Pruning Dead Posts
As your community gets larger and more active, it will inevitably slow down. This is a fact of any forum system you will come across. phpBB, like most other forum software, permits you to reduce the size of your community via a process known as pruning, where posts with no activity after a certain cutoff date are removed from the system.
Caution Pruning a fledgling community is generally discouraged. This is because pruning may result in the community looking rather dead, and that is not the image you want to cast as you try to attract people to your site.
Archiving Posts
If you plan to prune your forums on any sort of regular basis, I suggest setting up locked forums for the posts that you wish to keep, and then move those posts into them. This is a process known as archiving. Setting up an archive forum is just like setting up a regular forum, except that you check the box to lock the forum. This prevents users (but not administrators or moderators) from posting or editing anything inside the forum, so that the data inside is preserved. After creating your archive forums, I recommend using the Moderator Control Panel to perform mass movement of topics to these forums to save some time. This way, the posts that you prize can stay well away from your digital pruning shears (ha, ha!) while the deadwood gets cut out.
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