Having a WordPress blog is great, but what is the deal with all that comment spam?
You get a notice about a comment on your blog post, and you can’t help but get excited because it shows that you’re not as invisible as you think you are. But when you check it, it’s a garbled, nonsensical, misspelled mess with links all over the place.
It’s comment spam.
It starts as a trickle that becomes a flood, and you can’t help but feel like you’ve been singled out. Well, rest assured, it’s not you. It’s them. Since the beginning of email, you’ve had these people think nothing of posting junk messages on your virtual property because they want traffic and money. With the prominence of blogs, comment spam has become the new path for spammers. But just as they’ve become slicker, so have the ways of stopping them. Here are just a few ways to minimize their impact:
- Don’t allow comments – This is the most extreme way to prevent comment spam, but if your blog doesn’t need to have comments from readers, it is a viable option.
- Require users to register to comment – As far as reducing the amount of comment spam, this is a double-edged sword. You’re forcing them into a relationship of sorts for legitimate users when all they may want to do is comment and leave. Another issue is that spammers can also register on your site, and depending on your setting, they are in.
- Automatically close comments after a certain period of time – If you have older posts that spammers are hitting, you can opt to close comments automatically after a set time. This reduces the number of avenues comment spam can pop up.
- Add CAPTCHA text verification – You know that little box that asks you to type the words you see to verify you’re human? That’s what CAPTCHA verification does. This extra layer of verification takes a little more time than spammers are willing to spare. While this won’t necessarily stop them from going forward, it will make them rethink their strategy. There is a caveat for this: there are times when CAPTCHA doesn’t work that well and creates problems with all users. If you’re interested in getting this plugin, choose one from this list on WordPress.org.
- Get a comment spam plugin – This is by far my favorite option because it heads comment spam off at the pass. As I mentioned, many of them have taken to registering on blogs that get them into the hen house, so to speak. You can upload and use free spam plugins on your blog. There are also premium comment spam plugins that offer additional features like trackback validation, email/phone support for a cost; I found that the Stop Spammers free plugin works well for me.
- Customize your other comment settings – Depending on which version and type of blog you have (free or paid), you can go to the Comments menu item on the left to configure your comment settings which includes choosing to approve all comments before they’re posted and holding comments with two or more links.
- Activate Akismet – This is automatically included with all WordPress blogs, so all you have to do is activate it. IMMEDIATELY. You may need to sign up on the site to get a key in some cases, but it’s worth the extra two minutes.
Together some of the tips and techniques can really be useful at reducing or even stopping comment spam. They can be so powerful that they can miscategorize some good comments as spam. So to stem this, always check your spam folder to make sure you’re not throwing out the baby with the bathwater, so to speak.
Have you tried any of these tips or have other ways to reduce comment spam on your blog? Please feel free to share in the comments below.