I appreciate your response. Allow me to clarify this situation a little further. This isn't really an issue of just hunting down spam and nuking it.
This has been a major problem for me and I don't know how to handle it. My web site is on a health condition, and I must attend conferences where these surgeons are often present. There are also salon owners who attend these conferences. It didn't take long for these surgeons and salon owners to realize that my forums are a perfect place to get new customers. People come to my site to get help and information and resources. So they are a "sale" waiting to happen.
The problem is, if you have 10 of my users, one may actually go get a procedure done by a surgeon. And he may actually come back and want to tell everyone about his experience. Post photos, etc. Likewise, a lady may go to a specific Salon and want the freedom to talk about it. After all, that's what Forums are for. The problem arises when the Surgeon or the Salon Owner gets wind of my site, and wants people to talk about them more. They may seed the forums with new users who say glowing things about the Salon. They may even ask a customer of theirs to go to my web site and post their "story" on my forums for a discount on the product or service.
So you've got legit users, and you've got meddling Surgeons and Salon Owners. One salon owner actually told me: "We offer a discount to XXXX.com members!" I told her this made me extremely uncomfortable because I don't like that she's so involved with my forums. It makes me feel like there are many people who are posting her Salon praises (even if they're doing so honestly!), just to get discounts. Likewise, these surgeons may offer a cheaper procedure if the user goes to my site and talks about it.
The only way I've managed to snag some of these "biased" posts (what do I call it? Soft spam?) ... is that these people aren't always very smart. I logged in the other day and in one forum there were 5 new threads in the last month. All from users with less than 10 posts, who wanted to share their experience with so and so Surgeon. All the same surgeon. Too many coincidences to be real.
But that's my problem. How do I know if they're real or not? How do I handle this? I mentioned conferences. Sometimes I have to appear at these conferences - just as a visitor of course - and these Surgeons could confront me or accuse me of censoring their patients, etc.
See so the problem here is - not really knowing who is real and who isn't. That's my problem. Not knowing which user is just there to talk about the Salon because the Salon Owner offered her a 10% discount if she "shared her experience". See what i mean? Technically they're not doing anything wrong. My forums are there to share experiences. But not disingenuously like that. It pisses me off. I ended up banning all the users who created those 5 threads about the Surgeon. Just deleted everything and blocked them. Needless to say there has been a hailstorm of "Censorship" screaming by nearly everyone. But I know there's no way 5 users with less than 10 posts just showed up coincidentally and started talking about this one Surgeon.
Is the fact that there are legit users mixed in with the fakes that makes this so difficult.
Thanks for any insight.