Scenario: You log into your author website and see fifteen pending comments on your latest blog post. You’re excited—this is the feedback you’ve been waiting for! Your visitors are paying attention! They’re taking time out of their busy schedules to actually respond to what you’ve written!
But…wait a minute…why are they telling you how to save $500 on a Caribbean vacation? How is that relevant to the latest short story you posted? Alas: The spam bots strike again!
Spam can be a nasty, annoying time-waster, and we all like to avoid it. Here are five easy ways to guard against spam so you can focus all your energy on the comments that matter. Note: Nothing is 100% effective, but these tips will certainly help.
5 Ways To Stop Spam Comments On Your WordPress Website
Discussion Settings: Blacklist Certain Terms And Phrases. WordPress has a Comment Blacklist field in the Discussion settings in the dashboard that can help detect spam before it lands in your pending comments. To use it, plug in words that you’re regularly seeing in spam comments.
Grant Hutchinson has compiled a list of common phrases and keywords used by spammers and posted the list here, via GitHub. Use this list with caution, as Grant has compiled it based on the spam that comes into his site, and yours may be different. One caveat: Choose your words carefully. It’s easy to accidentally blacklist words that actual visitors to your site might be using.
Moderate Your Blog Comments. Who would have thought that you could be your own spam deflector? If you set your comment settings so that comments need approval before they appear on your site, you can mark all spam comments as spam before they’re ever seen. Simply go to Settings->Discussion and check off the box next to “An administrator must always approve the comment.”
Hold Comments With Multiple Links. Many spam comments have multiple links associated with them. As an extra protectant to go along with setting your preapproved comments, you can also set comments with multiple links to be held for moderation. Go to Settings->Discussion and set the link limit to “2” to hold a comment in the queue if it contains two or more links.
Additionally, you can also choose a setting that requires any NEW people commenting on the blog to be manually approved—but only for their first comment. Once WordPress sees that you approve of the person leaving the comment (which is tracked by the visitor’s email address), your fan’s comments will be automatically approved.
Use A CAPTCHA. You know those annoying things you have to fill out that look like gobbledygook and can be really difficult to read? Well, they’re checking to make sure you’re human, and they can be your best friends in the fight against spam. CAPTCHAs are easy to install on your WordPress site as plugins and can curb the amount of spam you receive significantly.
Use Plugins Like Akismet Or GASP (GrowMap Anti-Spambot Plugin). Your other best friends in the fight against spam, these plugins work wonders in detecting what’s spam and what’s legitimate before the comment even makes its way to your comment moderation zone. They work like your email inbox to sort spam into your junk folder so you don’t have to see them. It’s worth noting that these plugins learn over time based on the information you give them.
Of course, they’re not foolproof. Some spam comments can sneak their way through, and sometimes real comments can be tagged as spam. But the majority of comments will be sorted correctly. And if you’re vigilant about skimming through your lists to make corrections, Akismet will remember.
The Future of Fighting Spam on Your Website
Spam, unfortunately, is ever-evolving, so it’ll be nearly impossible to stop it altogether without deleting your author website. Spammers are getting smarter, and developers are constantly adjusting and tweaking their strategies for defense.
The tools outlined above can aid you tremendously by not only curbing the amount of spam on your site, but also in making sure the spam does not get through to your website visitors. Helpful plugins, CAPTCHAs, and blog comment moderation can all be your proverbial army in the war against spam—and may the righteous (and human) side win!
Photo by Sean MacEntee.
Question: What steps have you taken to curb spam on your author site? Do you get a lot of spam?
Thanks for the information. I think I’ll add a CAPTCHA. While getting rid of the pending spam posts this morning, I managed to delete all my blog comments. I got them back and blocked the spammers via .htaccess, but that takes more time than I have.
Agreed. Trackbacks were a huge bother until I deactivated them. If you’re able to modify your WordPress.org .htaccess file, you can directly block repeat offenders’ IP addresses with a line similar to the following:
Deny from 123.456.789.000
The Internet is full of information regarding modifications to .htaccess.
Great tips, Kathy. Thanks!
I use Akismet, but I also installed CleanTalk Antispam and Security. For just a combined $17/year, NOTHING gets through. No spam, no hackers, no viruses. I would recommend that for EVERYBODY.