If you have a website that allows comments, sooner or later you will deal with spam comments. You may have anything from one or two a day to dozens at a time.
Spammers write scripts and programs that crawl the web looking for WordPress sites in particular and then spam them with comments. Spammers do this in hopes that their comments will get posted and they’ll get backlinks in an attempt to cheat their way to decent search engine rankings. Fortunately, you have many ways to get rid of comment spam. Here are 10 of them.
1. Require Registration in Order to Comment
This is a simple way to combat spam, but by requiring comment makers to register, you put a certain amount of friction between them and their desired action of leaving a comment. However, most users know enough about comment spam to understand why this step is sometimes necessary.
2. Close Comments After a Certain Period of Time
Sometimes your older posts can be comment spam magnets. If you use WordPress, you can go to the “Settings” menu, select “Discussion” and choose the option that allows you to close comments on articles after a certain number of days has passed.
3. Customize Comment Settings to Curb Spam
Most blog platforms will have a “Comments” menu that allows you to configure your comment settings to require, for example, that comments be approved before posting or that comments with two or more links be embargoed.
4. Require that the First Comment from a User Be Moderated
Requiring that a participant’s first comment be moderated can put the brakes on a lively discussion, but it is a simple and effective way to reduce spam comments. Just make sure you check for first time comments frequently enough to approve or disapprove them in a timely manner.
5. Add CAPTCHA Text Verification
Install a ReCAPTCHA plugin on your blog. This is the type of challenge-response where the commenter types in a visual code called a CAPTCHA code that is immune to being completed by bots.
6. Install the “Not a Spammer” Plugin
The “Not a Spammer” WordPress plugin is similar to a CAPTCHA challenge, but simpler. Rather than typing in a code, the commenter clicks a check-box to validate a comment before it is posted.
7. Install Other Spam Comment Blocking Plugins like Akismet
Akismet is a widely used anti-spam comment plugin for WordPress sites that does a decent job of trapping spam. Akismet is standard on WordPress blogs, so you only have to activate it. Other highly rated WordPress plugins include bcSpamBlock, Defensio Anti-Spam, Comment Spam Stopper, and Comment Spam Trap.
8. Get Rid of WordPress “Footprints” that Spammers Look For
Comment spammers search for WordPress sites and find them easily due to certain “footprints” left by most WordPress sites. For example, many WordPress themes have a “Powered by WordPress” footer that spammers search for on Google to know where to direct their spam. You can get rid of it by simply opening up your theme’s footer.php file and removing the line. Tips on getting rid of other WordPress footprints can be found here.
9. Use a Third Party Comment System Like Disqus
Third party comment systems like Disqus help ensure you get comments from actual people rather than spam bots.
10. The Nuclear Option: Don’t Allow Comments
Only rarely are spam comments enough of a problem that sites have to shut down commenting altogether, but it is an option you should be aware of should things get really out of hand. If you combat spam with some of the other techniques mentioned here, however, you probably won’t have to consider the “nuclear option.”
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