How to keep your blog spam free

5

I started my life as a “webmaster” more than 9 years ago (March 2002 to be more exact), when I had a small site, dojo.ro. My beginnings were as a forum admin and not a blogger. Well, back then I don’t really think there were too many bloggers. At least not to my knowledge. Those were the days … quality posts, good members, almost no spam. I even recall some of us, forum admins, were pondering if it’s a good idea to actually install an anti-spam plugin.

Over the years the internet got more “mature” and people started leaving their garbage as spam. Right now I spend 99% of my admin work to clean their mess, instead of building my communities or come up with new topics. Annoying, let me tell you that ..

When I started blogging, spam followed. Even now I have to spend a great deal of effort and time to wade through useless crap and find something worthy of being published in the comments section. Since, for the past 3 years, since I’ve been a “serious” blogger, a combination of plugins and settings really made my life easier. I’d like to present you my way of keeping spam away from the blog and, of course, invite you to share your thoughts too.

 1. Akismet

OK, this is a LIFESAVER! So it’s the first thing I activate in my blogs. Even if it does have its ‘faults’, Akismet is an amazing little tool to keep those pesky spammers at bay.

2. Email address and name required to comment

It’s not a special setting, usually it’s like this by default, but it’s worth taking a look anyway. This way you help Akismet “smell” any spammer email and also you’ll be able to know your commentator’s details. Should you wish to check it out, please go in your admin panel: SETTINGS > DISCUSSION.

3. A previously approved comment.

ANY new commentator on my blogs enters moderation. Automatically, so that you don’t think I’m mean. Sometimes Akismet makes mistakes, so this way I am certain NOTHING appears without me seeing it first. When it comes to inappropriate content the secret is not to clean it, it’s to never have it published. So, from the same DISCUSSION page, please check – Comment author must have a previously approved comment.

Some bloggers have expressed their concern about annoying new readers by keeping their comments in moderation. Because of the HUGE spam we have to face today, I do believe it’s the best thing we can do. As an active blog commentator myself I WAS NEVER OFFENDED by not having a comment published immediately. Since I always comment with care and respect, there’s no worry in my mind that my comment won’t get published. Not to mention that most bloggers are online at least daily, so the comments held in moderation shouldn’t be a problem for anyone.

From the moment this initial comment has been approved, everything the reader writes afterward will be showing instantly.

4. Any comment with a link enters moderation

Hold a comment in the queue if it contains x or more links“, this is another setting I just love in WordPress. In my case I choose 1 LINK, even if some would think spammers put more links. I’ve seen way too much spam lately with only 1 link, so I am careful. If my article “requires” links, I am even more careful, so that I can approve the comments held in moderation as soon as possible.

There’s another SPAM we face now: comments with no links but useless replies ‘good article’ or even more elaborate ‘sayings’. Don’t get fooled, 90% is still spam, they try to leave their commenter link that way. This is why I like to use the setting from point 3.

5. For everything else, there’s mastercard another useful setting

The last but not least of my settings: “When a comment contains any of these words in its content, name, URL, e-mail, or IP, it will be held in the moderation queue.” Is there someone who’s proved to be impolite? An IP you just cannot get rid of? An email address sending too much spam? This setting helps me keep the “bad” guys away, whether we talk spammers or just abusive readers.

And now my “routine”:

  • enter SPAM list – I’ve had issues in the past with Akismet. My Romanian blog was on a .info domain and Akismet marked it a ‘spam’ some years ago. Other bloggers let me know back then I appear as a spammer and should contact Akismet to solve this. The nice people from there were .. nice and removed me from the “bad guys” list. Still, since I was unfairly marked as a spammer myself, I ALWAYS take care of my commentators and read the spam list so that I can “fish” out people who were incorrectly marked.
  • pending – my setting combination will send first-time commentators or people who posted a link or get automatically sent into moderation. It takes me seconds to “scan” the comments and validate the ones that are OK.

You might be shocked to see I DON’T USE CAPTCHA at all. Personally, it’s a drag to fill in ANOTHER field, no matter how simple it is. Since I really dislike this, you can guess my readers won’t have to go through something I dislike. So far, it’s working nicely.

So, how do you manage spam? What’s your “secret” combination of plugins and settings?

5 COMMENTS

  1. Thanks for this, dojo! My blog’s been getting hit with spam lately, but thankfully I follow pretty much everything you’ve mentioned above so it’s been manageable. Question for you though: to your knowledge, have you ever removed or not approved a comment that wasn’t spam and if so, how did you find out it wasn’t spam and how did you handle that situation? I’m always concerned I’m going to accidentally not let a comment go through that’s actually legit.

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