I'm interested in adopting a tool/scripting language to automate some daily tasks connected with fighting forum spammers. A brief overview of these tasks: analyze new registrations and posts on a phpBB forum, and delete or deactivate spammers using a website/community that collects such spam reports.

Typically such automation is integrated into the phpBB installation itself, which certainly has its advantages. My approach has the advantage of independent operation, etc.

One way to think about this is in terms of browser automation. I've used iOpus iMacros for Firefox (the free version) in the past to respond to individual spammers, but current attacks are highly distributed. My "logic" for pigeonholing spammers vs. nonspammers seems beyond the easy reach of the free version of iMacros.

From a more technical perspective one can think about dispensing with the browser altogether and programming GET/POST requests directed to my forum and other Web-based resources.

I'm familiar with some scripting languages like Ruby and Lua, but I could be persuaded that a compiled application is better suited for these tasks. However in my experience the dynamic flexibility of interpreted environments is very useful in prototyping and debugging the application logic. So I'm leaning in the direction of scripting languages.

Among browsers I favor Firefox and Chrome. I use both Windows and Linux platforms, and if the tool can adapt to an Android platform, it would make a neat demonstration of skills, yes?

Thanks in advance for your suggestions!

  • Are you looking for any current browser automation tool? Any specific constraints?
    – Oded
    Commented Nov 29, 2011 at 17:26
  • @Oded: Open source would be better than otherwise, but no specific constraints. I do find iMacros lacks the power I need to interact with more than one URL in concert, but this may be my ignorance of its true capabilities.
    – hardmath
    Commented Nov 29, 2011 at 17:30
  • I assume you don't have access to the phpbb server to do this directly to the backend or simply install a plugin with an appropriate situation... Cause otherwise it's extremely inefficient in all meanings of the word to do this via browser automation.
    – user606723
    Commented Nov 29, 2011 at 19:32
  • @Matthieu: I'm puzzled as to why a question exists about relating "to software development" in closing this question. Tools like selenium and Watir mentioned in the answers are certainly software development tools. It's frankly bizarre that you'd close this more than a month after an answer was accepted.
    – hardmath
    Commented Jan 28, 2012 at 22:52
  • @MarkTrapp: Please note my comment above. I'd appreciate some insight on your vote to close.
    – hardmath
    Commented Jan 28, 2012 at 23:08

2 Answers 2


Not entirely sure I understood what you are looking for, but selenium is widely used for web automation.

There are some tools that help with using selenium - capybara is a ruby based tool that simplifies such work.

  • +1 Selenium absolutely rocks. Plus you can use the recorder to record the majority of what you want to do and export the code to C#, Java, and a ton of other languages.
    – Ryan Hayes
    Commented Dec 2, 2011 at 2:54

I have used Watir for all the automated testing at a big electronics company and found it really great to work with, especially because the excellent Ruby language is used.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.