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Update re: That "You're Banned" Error

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Morning y'all!


It seems the forums are telling people they're banned much more often than they ever used to.  This has been a randomly occurring issue for a couple of years now, in which people visiting the forums see a message telling them they've been banned instead of the usual forum content.  This happens to both members and unregistered visitors.  The important part of the problem is that it's displaying this message to people who are not, in fact, banned.


You can read about the corrective steps we know of in the red announcement posted at the top of each forum page.  These are solutions that have done the trick for people who've contacted us about this issue up to now, but we have now had at least one person for whom they didn't work.


So everyone is aware, I just opened a support ticket with Invision, the people who develop the forum software we use.  I also gave them an admin account so they can log in and poke around our settings.  Hopefully the information I've managed to gather from people this has happened to up to now will be enough for them to point at something and say "that's breaking it."


In the meantime, if you run into this issue, please check that red announcement - if there are any new things you can do to get past the problem, I'll update that to let you know what they are as I hear about them.


Please accept my apology for the confusion around all this.  I know it's not pleasant to see "BANNED" in big letters, especially when you know you haven't posted anything even remotely controversial, never mind rude.  We are on it, though, and I'll keep everyone posted as things develop.

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Josie Beth

I’m not a huge IT expert but have a little bit of experience under my belt and one of the possible culprits could also be how the server resolves addresses in the flurry of packets sent back and forth when a user attempts to connect. Sometimes the software misdiagnoses a normal connection as a spoof or illegal connection, which can happen very often these days for many reasons. Most often with cel phones and how the carrier routes the packets. For instance my google keeps placing me in other cities even though I keep correcting the zip code. It’s been as bad as me being placed in China which can cause issues with over paranoid network settings. All of this is most likely going to be in a constant state of flux because it seems protocols and updates to them are happening on a daily basis. As of right now my phone is nagging me about getting the OS updates so that might clear up some of the issues. It’s difficult to tell what exactly causes all of this but there’s many moving parts and not all network rules can keep up with the changing environment.

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Its only ever happened to me twice when I've been logged on at home, close the tablet without closing down the browser  and then refresh the site from a different wifi connection - my assumption was that it just spots that the cookie is invalid from that IP and instantly blocks as it always works fine when I come back home.  If I've shut down properly I do not get the same errors.

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I would think similar too as, although I am lucky in not having issues here yet, I have noticed that on some sites content is restricted after a while. Shutting the browser down and restarting does not usually sort this (I delete cookies on exit so this isn't the problem). Shutting the computer down will sort though, so I think more in terms of dynamic IP address. What happens if you get allocated an IP address previously used by a banned member?



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Josie Beth

I don’t think it works like that. I think actual banned addresses are based on trace route to the ISP, country and sometimes even MAC address. A dynamic IP address can change. It’s not a very good way to block unwanted traffic.

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The way that I finally got back onto the forum was to switch my internet hub off for a couple of hours, so that when it was switched back on, I was given a new IP address.  I have no idea why it made a difference, but it worked, so I was happy.



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Josie Beth

It sounds like they need to reset all the IP’s that are banned and set new rules based on better criteria. If it’s based on blocking specific IP’s that can dynamically change by switching off a router, or using terminal/command prompt, then that makes it easy for unwanted traffic to bypass an actual ban for spam or because an admin actually blocked the dynamic IP. I’m guessing most of this stems from the rules that automatically block spam. 

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