tackle comment spam wordpress

Spam can be damn annoying when you are having a bad day. But it’s a daily routine that we bloggers need to go through. We need to make sure there are no legit comments that have been wrongly flagged out as spam, check out the moderated comments, clear the trash, and to reply to comments that are valid. Without a proper strategy and process to handle spam and comments, it can be a task takes up unnecessary time and effort to manage. Today I am going to show you the best ways to tackle comment spam on your WordPress blog. Probably you are already using or aware of some, but I hope you can pick up some useful stuff from here.

Plugins that have not been updated by the developer for over a year will not be mentioned in this post, since it may be incompatible and cause conflicts with your WordPress, theme, or existing plugins. Nevertheless, remember to do the necessary backups before you start using any plugins.

1. Akismet
Akismet comes as part of the package when you use WordPress. Whether you are a new or experienced user, this plugin is valuable and very effective in handling spam. Advisable to have it activated unless you are using a plugin that works way better than it. The free plugin works wonder in reducing the amount of comment spam on your blog. Occasionally you may find a couple of false positives. But other than that, it’s one of the best anti-spam plugin that you should use.

2. Disable Comments on the Entire Blog
If you prefer not need any comments on your blog, or want to totally avoid dealing with spam or comments, you can disable the commenting feature using this plugin. Do note that the plugin disable comments on your entire blog. This is not unusual, since Seth Godin (an awesome author & marketer) turns off the commenting function on his blog too. If you want to disable comment on selected pages/posts only, read the next point.

3. Disable Comments by Post
If you have spam frequently hitting on specific posts, you can selectively disable the commenting feature from WordPress dashboard. From your navigation bar, go to All Posts. Look for the post that you want to turn off commenting, and click Quick Edit, then uncheck the box “Allow Comments”. Repeat the process for all required posts.

4. Disable the Function to Comment after XX time
Remove the option for spammers or users to comment after a defined period of time. This can be done within your WordPress dashboard, find out more on this guide : How to automatically close comments on articles that are older than X days.

5. Stop Spam Bots with a Spam-Firewall
Using the plugin CleanTalk, you can have the two layers of protection against spam. The first is the firewall, then followed by the standard anti-spam checks. The firewall works by analyzing the HTTP request data against over 5.8 million identified IP spam bots. A spam bot gets a blank page, while a real user sees the actual Web page. The process is completely transparent to the user, so it’s not intrusive or annoying. CleanTalk doesn’t just combat comment spams, it also deals with spam arising from registration forms, contact us forms, order forms, etc. The plugin offers a free trial before requiring you to upgrade to their plan which costs $8 per year.

6. Stop Spammers Using IPs
For spammers that are persistently spamming from specific IP addresses, block them out by using WordPress Zero Spam. The free plugin also generates spammer logs and provide stats for your reference. If you want to the plugin to run auto-pilot and blacklist spammers automatically, you can turn on the feature Auto IP Block via the plugin’s settings. It’s advisable to be very sure before you blacklist the IP to prevent losing legit comments.

7. Stop Comment Spam with Keywords
If you are being constantly being swamped with comments containing keywords that you identify as spam. Put in a filter and get rid of these unwanted comments. This can be done from your WordPress dashboard. Navigate to Settings > Discussions, and enter your keywords into the text box “Comment Blacklist”.

8. Discourage Spam by Having NoFollow Comment Links
If you have not made links appearing in your comment as NoFollow, Google give you reasons why you may want to do it on this post. To make your comments NoFollow, you can use this plugin to do the  job.

9. Fight Spam using Captchas
Using Captcha is one of the oldest method to fight spam. The plugin, SI CAPTCHA, is a popular choice that bloggers use. Although it can be effective in reducing the amount of spam, it can also work against us since it can discourage visitors from leaving comments.

10. Discourage Spamming by Removing the URL Field
The key reason why we are getting spam left and right is because spammers want to leave their link on our blog, so one of the best way to demotivate them, is to remove the URL field. Crunchify provides 3 different ways for you to remove the URL field in your comment box, find out how here.

11. Reduce Spam by Limiting the Number of Characters per Comment
More often than not, comments by legit users are usually short and doesn’t extend more than a hundred words. Using the plugin WPBruiser you can limit the number of characters for your comment field. The plugin doesn’t slow down your blog, and doesn’t use any captcha too. It’s self-contained and filter out spam using it’s own algorithm. The anti-spam tool has options for you to whitelist or blacklist IP addresses too. Lots of options and packed with features, so you may want to give it a ride and test it out. Another relatively new plugin that deserves a mention is Greg’s Comment Length Limiter.

12. Save Time & Effort by Auto-Deleting Spam after X Time
Stop yourself from doing daily mundane tasks. Pick any one of the plugins that I mentioned on this post to automatically delete spam that are detected.

13. Reduce Spam by Disabling HTML Codes
Another way to discourage spammers from targeting your blog is to disable the use of HTML codes on your commenting system. There are two ways to do it. Either manually with codes, or with the use of a plugin Advanced Settings.

14. Cut Down Spam Drastically Using Regular Expressions
Another method that can be very successful versus spam, is by using regular expressions to weed out those bad comments. The plugin AntiSpam Bee has this feature.

15. Identify Spam Using Time
Theoretically users do not leave comments immediately after a Web page is loaded. This can be used as a factor when determining whether to mark a comment as a spam or not. However be warned that it may increase the number of false positives detected, although the likelihood is not big. There are several plugins that can do the job, but I recommend Anti-Spam Bee since it has many other useful functions as well.

16. Mark Out Spam Comments that Contains More than X Links
To do this, from your WordPress dashboard, navigate to Settings > Discussion, in the Comment Moderation section, have the comment held under moderated if there is more than 1 link detected. This is another layer of protection for comments that past the anti-spam checks by plugins.

What’s your preferred way or plugin to fight spam on your blog?




Lincoln is a fan of Apple products, loves red wine and traveling. He blogs on internet marketing, social media, wordpress tips & guides, and using technology to maximize efficiency. Follow him on Twitter or Facebook for regular updates.

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