Spam comments almost invariably go hand in hand with a blog. I could talk for ages about how sad it is that individuals and groups of individuals are using their time in such a way.
But we’re here to get a job done, and so this blog post is about solving the problem:
- Preventing spam comments even reaching you
- For any spam comments that do get through – how to detect what is spam (I hate it when I see that one of my clients has mistakenly published a spam comment on their blog).
Preventing spam comments even reaching you
The most well-known anti-spam service is Akismet. Perhaps the majority of you will have heard of it, but it’s worth highlighting for those that don’t.
Owned by Automatic (the company behind WordPress), it means you don’t even see the spam comments – they get filtered out before they get to your inbox/Wordpress dashboard.
Akismet is also pretty good at working out what’s spam and what’s not – so the genuine comments still come through for your approval (rather than getting deleted when you do a desperate ‘mass-delete’ of comments!!).
The downside is that for commercial websites/blogs, it’s a paid service – $5/month.
This is a WordPress plugin (like Akismet), but it’s free (there is also a ‘pro’ version). It has some good reviews which is always a good sign. The way it works is to present some hidden fields, which trick an automated spammer. This one has got me curious, so I’m currently testing it on my own website in place of Akismet. I’ll keep you posted as to the results.
Update: it’s looking good so far!
Another WordPress plugin, this time rather more aggressive – it uses a variety of methods to prevent spam comments/spammer logins/registrations. I’ve used this in the past on a client website and we did find we were getting a few too many false positives (i.e. it was blocking genuine users) – although these were mainly international users. On a small, local website, it may work just fine – the only way to tell is to test it and see. Again, it has excellent reviews.
If you’d like more advice or help with installing any of these plugins, let me know.
How to spot a spam comment
Even with Akismet, the cream of anti-spam plugins, the occasional spam comment does slip through. Here are a few warning signs:
- Check the URL (website address). Spam comments can often be identified by the fact that the URL is something which is obviously an unrelated promotional link – e.g. www.amazinglycheaphandbags.com.
- Watch out if the comments is pretty generic, such as ‘Great post – I totally agree, will be coming back to read more’ – often these will be spam comments (and as much as it’s nice for people to appreciate your post, you don’t want to give the spammer what they’re after by publishing the comment!)
- Sometimes automated spammers will take the blog post title and use it in the comment – to make it seem like they’ve read it through. Again, have a read of the comment (is it just garbage?) and check for a suspicious URL.
Hopefully that will help someone a little… leave a comment if you’re NOT a spammer and need more help on this!!