For those of you who run web sites that have large discussion forums, this question is for you.

I have a dilemma and I haven't the foggiest how to handle it. I run a web site on a particular health topic. We have a policy that there is absolutely no participation allowed on the Forums by other website owners, vendors, doctors, surgeons, or anyone affiliated with any product or service. Basically, no stealing free advertising, trying to farm new clients from our forum users, and no pretending you're an end user when you're really trying to promote something. Basic stuff.

There's a section on our site dedicated to cosmetic surgery options. Along with this comes legitimate posts by legitimate users who reporting feedback on a procedure they've had by a specific surgeon. Unfortunately numerous surgeons are aware of our site. Its got a very good reputation. And we are starting to see a strange influx of brand new users who have less than 10 posts all creating new threads saying "Procedure by Dr. Xxxxx - My experience" .... over and over ... and over ....

In fact I logged in yesterday and there were 10 new threads on page 1 alone, with this phrasing in the title. Each thread was a brand new user, 3 paragraphs of text, thumbnail pictures showing progress, and always certain to mention the doctors name and location in sentences.

The problem? I dont want Doctors or their representatives or even satisfied customers of theirs who are getting kickbacks, to post this stuff on my site. I only want legitimate end-users. My solution? I start looking at IP addresses. A couple users have matching IP's but different usernames. Both created a new thread promoting the same doctor. So I make an executive decision to ban both users. Next thing i know? The guy is back under 6 different usernames screaming censorship. I had to ban him 6 times. Then he sends me an email saying "You are just BANNING people for sharing their experiences?"

Naturally the problem is - how do you handle something like this? I know most forum owners will kick and ban people without a second thought, but theres a lot of drama and web sites get blacklisted and talked trash about in this small circle I exist in. So site owners can't just go around banning people.

Was just wondering how you all have handled this sort of thing on your web sites. That whole dilemma of trying to determine if the user is legitimate or affiliated with a company.

Thanks