Blogging Tip: Simplify Your WordPress Anti-Spam Efforts

on February 11, 2014 in Blog Management
8
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If you're a blogger, you probably get more than your fair share of blog comment spam. This can include anything from robots to bad SEO professionals spamming you for backlinks to trackback spam.

You have a few options to deal with them:

You can let them go live on your site. (Ick!)

You can moderate all comments manually.  (But why?)

You can implement intrusive captcha-style spam prevention. (You know, that's the hard to read scrambled letter mishmosh thing that annoys the hell out of pretty much everyone.)

Or you can use a "cleaner" WordPress anti-spam plugin that gets the heck out of the way and lets your visitors comment easily while eliminating spam invisibly behind the scenes.

"Clean" WordPress Anti-Spam Plugin Options


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If you use WordPress, you're probably familiar with Akismet. I used it for years, thinking it was fantastic. Then I found out some readers' comments weren't getting through. They weren't being filtered into my spam folder either. They weren't getting to me at all. While I can't say if they still have this issue, I decided then and there to leave Akismet behind.

I moved on to another popular WordPress anti-spam plugin. It wasn't completely invisible to readers, but it was still better than using a captcha. The problem? Several months ago I noticed a huge increase in spam. We're talking about hundreds of spam messages getting through to the moderation queue. Every. Single. Day. (I only moderate first comments, which helps prevent things like this.) It was happening to others using this plugin too.

It appeared that some spammer automated attacks against users with this plugin installed. But it also seemed to be filtering attacked sites in some way (out of more than a dozen sites where it was installed, only my sites above a certain PageRank were targeted). Nothing was done about it, so I had to move on again.

That's when I came across this little lovely -- Anti-Spam by Webvitaly. (The name couldn't get any clearer than that, right?) I installed the plugin here, and Hallelujah!, those hundreds of daily spam comments stopped immediately.

Better yet, I don't even have to clean out my spam box every day anymore because these aren't filtered there. They never get through in the first place. I've since installed the plugin on all of my other active blogs and, like magic, I've saved a good 20-30 minutes a day not dealing with the mess the last plugin attracted.

So if you ever find that your WordPress blog is being slammed by automated spam, please check out this anti-spam plugin. We could all use one less headache when it comes to managing our blogs.

Thanks for sharing!
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Jennifer Mattern is a professional blogger, freelance business writer, and indie author. She began writing for clients in 1999 and started her first blog in 2004.

She owns 3 Beat Media - a publishing and client services company which operates All Indie Writers as well as several other websites and blogs including The Busy Author's Guide and BizAmmo. Jenn comes from a background in online PR and social media consulting, having owned a small PR firm for several years before choosing to pursue a full-time writing and publishing career.

Jenn also writes fiction under multiple pen names in the areas of children's fiction, mysteries, and horror fiction. Jenn is an active member of the Horror Writers Association (HWA) and currently serves as the organization's Assistant Coordinator of Promotions and Social Media.

8 Comments

  1. Amandah February 12, 2014 Reply

    Thanks Jenn!

    I’ll try the Anti-Span plugin. I too have to clean my Spam daily or every other day.
    Amandah recently posted…Comment on How to Reach Your Content Writing Goals without Much Effort by AshishMy Profile

    • Author
      Jennifer Mattern February 12, 2014 Reply

      I used to just suck it up and tell myself it was something that had to be done. I was thrilled to be wrong. I’m not sure how long this plugin has been around, but I sure wish I found it sooner. :)

  2. John Soares February 12, 2014 Reply

    I’m very open to this plugin Jenn. You haven’t had any problems with legit comments being excluded?

    I still use Akismet. I also briefly had a problem about 3 years ago with legit comments not even appearing, but it’s worked fairly well since then.

    I briefly scan the Spam comments every couple of days. The only ones I look at are those that have a gravatar, and it’s only once a month or so that I actually approve one of those.

    My only significant problem is with really lame comments. Someone takes the time to manually fill out the comment form, but the comment either doesn’t show they’ve actually read my post, or it vaguely refers to one small part of the post but says nothing helpful. I think they do it because they somehow think it helps their SEO. It doesn’t.
    John Soares recently posted…How Content Shock Hurts Freelance WritersMy Profile

    • Author
      Jennifer Mattern February 12, 2014 Reply

      I haven’t had any reason to suspect that’s happening. If I hear from someone that their comments aren’t getting through, I’ll certainly update this. :) We’ve actually had more comments after the change, and it doesn’t seem to be preventing anyone from posting.

      For the manual spam, these kinds of plugins won’t do much. But simple filters in WordPress can be a big help, especially if you notice a trend where the spam is focused on a certain niche.

  3. Sharon Hurley Hall February 12, 2014 Reply

    I’m trying it on one blog thanks to your recommendation, Jenn, and it’s cut the spam considerably. Thanks for this more detailed review.
    Sharon Hurley Hall recently posted…7 Business Lessons From a Write at Home ParentMy Profile

    • Author
      Jennifer Mattern February 12, 2014 Reply

      No problem Sharon. I’m glad to hear it’s working out well for you. :)

  4. Julie @Niackery June 5, 2014 Reply

    Good tips, thanks! But, Anti-Spam doesn’t work with JetPack, which many WordPress users have installed. I like Conditional Captcha (http://wordpress.org/plugins/wp-conditional-captcha/) because it only serves a captcha when Akismet identifies a comment as spam. Legitimate users therefore never see the captcha. Plus, the Conditional Captcha plugin optionally uses Google’s reCaptcha, which helps to digitise texts. I realise you don’t like Akismet, though, but I’ve never had a problem with it…

    One last tip would be to install the Wordfence Security plugin (http://wordpress.org/plugins/wordfence/) since you can block persistently annoying IP addresses individually or at a network level.

    Cheers!
    Julie @Niackery recently posted…Loons & Other Wildlife Sightings in KillarneyMy Profile

    • Author
      Jennifer Mattern June 5, 2014 Reply

      The problem with Akismet is that bloggers who were having problems with it had no idea they were having problems with it. The vast majority of commenters won’t tell you, especially if they’re new. They stop by, comment, and assume it’s in a moderation queue. But you would never actually see the comment. It wasn’t until a long-time reader and colleague who knew me personally had their comments killed. They commented (or tried to) often enough to realize something strange was going on, and because they knew me and knew I had no reason to censor their comments, they reached out. Most would never do that. And because other comments still came through fine, I had no reason to suspect anything was wrong. So yeah, relying on Akismet for any kind of filtering is out of the question for me.

      I’ve heard great things about Wordfence Security, and I know they have other features that make it worth considering as well. But out of curiosity, can its IP filtering do anything in particular that WP’s built-in filtering can’t? Sadly I come across bloggers all the time who don’t even realize it exists.

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