5 Tips to Tackle and moderate Comment Spam on WordPress

If you have a blog/website with a comment section, the one thing you can be sure of receiving is overwhelming amounts of comment spam. That applies to WordPress too.

There are a few ways people deal with the massive spam influx on WordPress, commonly by disabling the comment section entirely. But if you ask me, that’s a coward’s way out. You don’t kill user-interaction for the sake of your own comfort or database space.

In this post, we’ll go through 5 tips to stop comment spam in your WordPress websites. So head to your WordPress admin -> Settings -> Discussions and start with:

   1. Moderating

In the discussion settings, you’ll see two options, one of which decides what WordPress will do “Before a comment appears”. This section gives you control over which comments eventually make it through and get published on your website.

If you enable “Comment must be manually approved” configuration, you will have to go through every last one of the comments in order to publish them on the website. The process lies on the scale of tedious to soul-crushingly boring. This is also, however, one of the most foolproof ways to completely stop comment spam from getting published on your site.

  •  If you maintain/ update/ moderate your website (or blog) frequently, and if you can take the tediousness with stoic heroism, then this is the perfect option for you.
  •  If you barely ever check your WordPress backend and the growing moderation queue: don’t bother collecting spam at all (it’s only taking up space in your database).
  • If you happen to be host to actual comment discussions with your readers, this step could hold you back by adding a time lapse.

The second option is to enable “Comment author must have a previously approved comment”, which means that your moderation queue is significantly smaller. Only new commenter’s first comments are added, after which you don’t moderate any of their future comments. This step obviously requires you to have faith in your active readers, which is likely to pay off. If you have a genuine first comment, the commenter is less likely to be a spambot.

   2. Comments containing links

Typical spam comments have links to nefarious websites in them. Even if it’s nothing nefarious, the commenter is probably just trying to get some traffic to URL they linked to.

You can configure your settings to give all spammed comments with links a no-stops ticket straight to moderation queue. WordPress by default will send comments with 2 or more links straight to the line-up, but you can change those settings in Comment Moderation screen to change the numbers. For maximum effect, bring it down to 1.

   3. Blacklisting

WordPress packs this powerful feature out of the box, and it is underappreciated.

Without any plugins or code customization, you can block/ blacklist the IP addresses of commenters that have a record of spamming your website. You can do this via URL, username, email, or content within the comment.

While not very effective against spambots, the blacklisting feature can be very useful in defending your site against spam and security breaches perpetrated by person(s) unknown.

   4. Closed Discussions

Some of your older articles (which have already achieved a healthy search result page ranking and receive good organic traffic) are more likely to attract spam than the new content you post. This is simply because spammers want their comments visible to as many people as possible, regardless of whether they’re your dedicated audience or not.

To prevent this from happening, you can disable comments and discussions automatically after a page/post gets old enough. There’s no specific amount of time since it depends on how frequently you post content and your own reader base. The important thing is to encourage discussion on new posts and stop spammers from ruining the past.

   5. Anti-Spam Plugins

The first four steps are about mitigation and dealing with accumulated spam. This step is about taking active measures in preventing spam from touching your website at all.

There are some great plugins that’ll help you in your never ending war against spam. Akismet (by Automattic) comes packaged with your WordPress install. It’s well-known and very powerful; capable of filtering spam and behaves almost like an AI in tracking your comment moderation protocol to eventually enable you to do it faster.

Other plugins like WP SpamShield Antispam and more go a few steps further and try to prevent spam with measures like captcha boxes and human-tests. While these methods are great against spam, your users may find it annoying to solve 1 st grade math problems or tick random boxes or try to understand incomprehensible scrawling in order to voice their opinion.

   Endnote

Comment spam is inevitable. If you have a website, you will receive it. There’s no two-ways about it. The best you can do is keep WordPress secure and update yourself and your website with latest in anti spam measures.