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Some help/opinions from forum admins/users (Techrep or others)

Hia folks

I work at a professional association, with severall thousand members of the same profession. We have an official forum, where our members can exchange professional (or semi-professional) messages. Pretty much a normal, everyday forum.

Only now, the boss (who fancies himself as a "forward thinking man" and "tech savy") got a suggestion from a forum user (kill it with fire!!!), saying something like "Dude! Why won't you allow us to upload files to the forum?!"

To me, as sysadmin/tech support, this sounds like a Very Bad Idea. Over the years, I visited many forums (informal like RPGnet and professional/official) and never saw one that allowed this. But now I'm left with putting down on paper why it's I don't like this. Possible problems that pop to mind:
-extra file space needed in server; even if we limit the size and type of files, the space needed would grow fast.
-multiple versions of the same file uploaded, cause user A wants to help B but can't find C's original post with the file.
-possibility of virus in attached files; we would need some form of extra anti-virus for this.
-how far does our responsability for these files extends, as forum admins/owners.

I know that there are sites/online services that allow for file storage, which can then be linked to others. Can someone point to 1-2? Capable of handling docs and pdfs.

I'd apreciate if anyone came up with some other thoughts. I haven't slept much in the last 3 days (overwork is a b$tch...), so my brain is going into a freeze...

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OK, most forums do NOT allow this sort of activity for legal

by Deadly Ernest In reply to Some help/opinions from f ...

reason. What ever is placed on your forum and server, you become legally liable for. So, if they put something up that violates the laws of where you are, where they are, or International law, you become the bunny for it.

Next is bandwidth, say they put up a popular song and you get hit by fifty thousand people wanting to download it, bing, there go the dollars.

All the other reasons you state are relevant.

On the other side.

I'm a member of many forums, and a couple do allow files to be placed on the forum for downloading by members - not, available for download, not upload. In each case, the process is the same. The member sends the file to the forum moderation or admin staff - depends on forum policy, and they check it out for any malicious code, and what the content is. If they approve the file to be placed on the forum, it's placed on a specific part of the forum that only the admin staff can access. A message is sent to the person who sent it in, and a general message placed on the forum board that the file is now available. people can then download the file as they wish. In either case, people can NOT upload files to the forum directly, and they're always checked out before being put up.

I strongly suggest you mention this type of process to your boss and also list how much time and effort this will cost to manage properly. A good estimate would be about an hour per file, since it has to be very thoroughly checked out etc.

One place I participate in isn't a forum as such, but a repository for files, story files, and they get hundreds each day. Yet every file is checked before being made available. The site is

Note: This site is marked as having sexual content, so it's very likely to set off any flares in your corporate monitoring software. It carries stories with sexual content as well as stories without sexual content.

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I'm with Ernest

by CharlieSpencer In reply to OK, most forums do NOT al ...

Unless your boss is willing to have someone spend the time screening all the uploads, be prepared to hear from law enforcement agencies the first time someone uploads some kiddie porn. You're going to need someone to screen all application code to be sure your members don't download something malicious. You're going to have to screen for license violations of applications, music, movies, etc. Depending on how active your members are, all this may involve adding another person.

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by JLVFR In reply to I'm with Ernest

A couple of good ideas here, folks. Totally forgot about copyright/weirdo stuff being posted. I was thinking of limiting the files to DOC and/or PDF only but, even then, one can do a lot of nastyness...

Any other free-to-store-files sites around?

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there are dozens of sites where they allow you to open

by Deadly Ernest In reply to Niiiice...

accounts and store files there, then let people download them, like Photobucket is for pictures - a google search will find you plenty. The members can pay to join one and put the stuff there, then post the link on the forum, that saves you trouble.

As to how to handle files within a forum, have a look at Writer's Block:

membership is free, but this is a basically a text only site.

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This should square him up

by Tony Hopkinson In reply to Niiiice...

Tell him to set up a P2P Client at home, Emule or some such. Then search for content, porn pdfs are available, very popular with BDSM crowd, and those sailor moon weirdos, that skirt child porn laws with cartoons.

If you are in the US, you'll be able to ditribute all nice US army books on how to make bombs and stuff as well.

By the way Doc and PDF files are a great malware vectors, because you can embed URls in them. Tracking , flybys, spam, all good stuff.

You might suggest he sets up a contingency fund for paying lawyers to get your firm off as well.

You can all so pass on my opinion that he's a complete knob as well!

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Great stuff

by JLVFR In reply to Some help/opinions from f ...

Thanks folks. This (plus other stuff I got in other forums) should be enough for a 2-page "stamp down hard on dumb idea" document

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