In the dark ages, when pigeons delivered the mail or smoke signals were the most efficient form of communication, spam wasn’t a problem. It all started with junk mail in our letter boxes. Piles of advertising that took up space, time and energy. When electronic mail was invented it seemed like maybe we’d beaten the junk mail issue…until even our email inboxes starting filling up with rubbish. In fact, it turned out that it was even easier to spam someone on the net…you didn’t even have to move from your comfy spam-financed office chair. These days they spam you to within a inch of your patience. You get spam on your mobile phone, on your website, and even your WordPress blog.
Why Is WordPress Spam a Problem?
Spam is ugly, and it wastes your time and for a serious blogger, time is at a premium. When you could be creating knew content, reading other blogs, or researching a new article, you are wasting your time, moderating comments, and deleting rubbish. This article will show you how to sort out spam for WordPress.
Default WordPress Spam Fighting Features
WordPress has some built in features which help you deal with spam. These include:
- Comment Moderation
Links are a common feature of spam messages, as most spammers are looking for backlinks to their page. Most legitimate comments will not contain links, so it is a good tactic to set comment moderation to hold all messages that contain links. Even when a legit comment is held because of a link, it is always good to check the links that people are leaving, as legit commenter’s can place uncalled for links to their own sites, especially in do follow blogs.
Go to the Options > Discussion panel.
Scroll down to Comment Moderation. Change the value to 1.
- Spam Words
You can add words to be added to the blacklist so comments containing them are pushed into moderation.
- Moderate All Comments
If you have a smaller blog with very few comments you could consider moderating all comments. I have a problem with this as I feel it discourages involvement. A reader makes a comment, then nothing shows up. For all that person knows it’s gone to never be seen again, and unless they check back, they won’t know whether the blog owner approved the comment at all. So in almost all cases, this isn’t a good option.
- Disabling comments completely
If you want to use WordPress as a publishing platform and not a blog, you can easily completely disable comments, which will remove the possibility of comment spam.
- Other WordPress Spam Options
“Pre-approve comments from old commenters” means what is says, people who you have already approved comments for are allowed to leave comments even if you have moderation enabled. “Restrict comments to registered users” is also an option. Although it will help you combat spam, and build a community around your blog, it does discourage comments from those who don’t want to sign up.
Akismet is the must have spam protection plug-in for WordPress. If you are not using it, you probably should be. It’s a requirement to register at WordPress.org to get an API key used in the system, but for the few seconds it takes you to fill out a form, it is well worth it.
reCaptcha is a WordPress plug-in to prevent comment spam using a word verification system.
Bad Behavior is a set of PHP scripts which prevents spambots from accessing your site by analyzing their actual HTTP requests and comparing them to profiles from known spambots.
Spam Karma is a system that grades comments based on information that it collects. It considers things such as who left the comment, are they a known commenter, does the comment have links, and other factors. If the comment scores well it is published immediately. If the comment scores poorly, it is held for moderation.
Akismet Auntie Script
Akismet Auntie is a Firefox script that makes it easier to browse and sort your Akismet spam box. If you are getting 100’s of spam comments a day, and are a Firefox user then this script will help you out. Basically it makes it easier for you to quickly browse through your spam comments to find any legit comments.
Other Forms of WordPress Spam
Contact Form Spam
The contact form on your WordPress blog can also be a target for spammers. If you find that you constantly getting spam from your contact form consider using one that has verification or challenge question on it.
Bloggers tend to check their statistics to see which sites are referring traffic to them. Referral spam creates an entry in your statistics that shows the spammer’s site as the refer. The idea is that the blogger will then visit the spammers site to see what has been referring traffic.