Blocking images from RSS feed?

Is it possible to block images from the forum’s RSS feed? Images don’t seem to be used in legitimate posts very much, but the spammers love them. Needless to say, having my RSS reader dump graphic porn spam on my desktop is beyond annoying…



You may want to configure your RSS reader (or all web browsing applications) to use the GoodVibrations stylesheet. Here’s the decription:

 * GoodVibrations.css July 2007

/* This file started as a set of personal modifications of CSS files available at:
 * This file will be updated monthly based upon submissions from users like you.
 * Most of the CSS here will work on any browser.
 * Any browser-specific code will be optimized for the WebKit/KHTML Rendering Engine.
 * Safari, Konqueror, OmniWeb, and Shiira are just some of the browsers that use
 * WebKit/KHTML to render pages.


I don’t have this problem with any other RSS feed, or with any other forum that I visit directly. Why should I reconfigure my browser in order to accommodate your failure to manage your feed?

Not to mention, the Good Vibrations site provides essentially no documentation. It is not obvious how to configure either my browser (Firefox) or my RSS reader (Google Reader) to use a custom stylesheet. I could easily sink an afternoon into this project without actually fixing the problem.

It might take an afternoon or more for DT to fix the forum, too, but then it would be fixed once and for all, for all users.


Same opinion.
I am not experienced enough to deal with CSS and I would be very grateful if the Devon team could block this impropriety in the RSS feed it is in charge of.

I agree with Katherine and Christophe that the images are annoying as well as disgusting. If you were to use Safari’s built-in RSS reader, there’s an easy way to hide the images. A slider appears on the right side of the window. Move it left, and it minimizes the size of the feed entries. Usually you can see 2-3 lines of text, which is enough to convey the gist of the entry. The images will not appear.

I would like to visit plagues on two kinds of people:

The developers who make and sell software designed to make it easy to spam more than 102,000 forum sites, advertising that they will evade all blocks to such postings (starting at $450); and

The lowlifes who pollute the forum.

Several blocks to spam have been implemented. That has helped, but some still gets through. I’ve removed 3 today.

First of all I didn’t realise your post was referring to this forum (it was early). But like Bill said, we are trying to prevent these spammers from getting on our forum but it is difficult to fight culprits who are making money out of circumventing these measures.

However, I do not see these images in my RSS reader (NetNewsWire) and it may be because I use that stylesheet. My web browsing experience is also much nicer because of it. So, how to use it?

In DT/DA: the Web preference pane, and select it for the “Style Sheet”.
In Safari: the Advanced preference pane, use the “Style Sheet” popup.
In NNW (lite): the Browsing preference pane, click “Web Pages” and see the “Style Sheet” entry at the bottom.

I hope you’ll see a pattern here for other applications.

I’ve checked the RSS software as well as the phpBB documentation, but I have not found anything useful so far that allows to block posting images. But, I will keep looking.

Thank you for looking into this. Much appreciated.


Firefox offers no such option. I’m sure that the functionality is supported by an add-on somewhere. However, again, I do not encounter this problem with any other site. Why should I reconfigure my browser because of your inability to manage your feed?

For most companies, having graphic pornography appear under the company’s “letterhead” would be seen as a major disaster. The appropriate response to such a disaster is to fix it at the source, not to lecture users on proper browser configuration.


I do not personally run a forum. However, other forums I visit use a variety of methods to prevent pollution of their sites and RSS feeds. Some of these methods include:

  • block all posting of images
  • block posting of images by untrusted users, which might be defined by time, number of posts, or willingness to pay a subscription fee.
  • moderate all posts
  • moderate posts by untrusted users
  • user-assisted moderation, allowing users to flag problematic posts.

And, for the RSS feed itself, sites can

  • Limit feed items to title and first few lines only.
  • Limit feed items to text only.
  • Delay writing to the feed to give moderators a chance to review forum posts.

Perhaps this list gives you some ideas,


Katherine, if you haven’t seen spam creep onto major company Web sites you haven’t visited some of them very frequently. It does happen.

The problem with spam/porn postings is most likely to occur on forum sites. There are people who are very familiar with all of the forum software and devote their energy to find ways to slip around blocks. They are familiar with blocking techniques, too. I read a report last night that at least one of these rogues has figured out how to post images on forum sites that block the entry and display of images. What a misuse of talent!

Unfortunately, there’s a lucrative market niche for software that can automatically broadcast spam. There’s a technology race by such developers to overcome spam blocking techniques. On top of that, there are individual spammers who will persist in trying to slip posts onto active forums, even when their auto-spamming software fails.

Eric and Christian have established several layers of protection on this forum. The protective measures have been reasonably successful, in that the volume of automatic postings has significantly decreased.

Even so, we’ve attracted several individual spammers who will register, sometimes try to get ‘trusted’ status by making an innocuous post or two, then post spam. Some of these guys take removal of spam as a personal challenge. So I’ve become suspicious of new registrants. Sometimes I do a search on a user name. If that search shows widespread postings on forums, I’ll check to see if the user has posted porn on other forum sites. If so, I’ll delete that user and block the user name. Of course, some of our new registrants are professionals, perhaps scientific researchers, who have posted on other forums and should certainly not be kicked off this one!

The final line of defense against spam is frequent checking of new posts, deletion of spam and deletion of the spammer. I do that a number of times every day - except in those instances I’m on travel without immediate access. Eric and Christian do the same. Last March, we were all in route to a meeting in Malta, and there were some really bad porn posts on the forum. Unlike the big companies, DEVONtechnologies can’t afford 24/7 monitors of the forum.

We would hate to resort to embargoing new posts until they have been cleared by a monitor. Many of the threads in this forum demonstrate the value of immediacy in discussions.

I see plenty of spam in other forums. I realize spam in its many forms is very difficult to stop.

What I don’t see elsewhere, and the specific reason for my complaint, is spam messages containing half a dozen extremely graphic pornographic images. The DT RSS feed frequently (several times this week) contains the sort of material that could get your entire site banned from many corporate environments, and might even get some of your users fired.

Other feeds, from both larger and smaller organizations than yours, seem to be able to avoid dumping this sludge on my desk. DT’s inability to do so indicates to me either lack of concern for the problem, or lack of technical competence.


Oh, you can see these image spams also elsewhere. It’s a new trend and not all phpBBs have been affected yet, that’s why. Also, many other forums are banning GMail addresses, a step which we don’t want to make as also professional users are using GMail more and more. Katherine, whatever you do against spam, next week they’ll come up with something new to torture us.

But, after some research I have found out that there are no standard modifications to phpBB to prevent posting of images. After some manual digging in the code, I have today found a way to block [img] tags altogether from the board and so also from the RSS feed. One can add [img] bbcode tags, but they will show up as “[Inline image filtered]”, not as images.

Thank you for looking into this. Much appreciated.

I actually use a gmail address for most forum subscriptions, as (ironically) the spam filtering on my main address tends to be overly aggressive with things like confirmation emails. So obviously I hope you aren’t forced to ban the domain.


That modification seems to have worked. Today’s burst of RSS sludge was pleasantly image-free.

Thank you for tackling this.