Remember when you first started your blog and couldn’t wait to hear what people had to say about, ah, what YOU had to say? You write up your first blog post and check your analytics and of course – your comments.
You log into WordPress and BAM – 36 comments! SWEET!
Your thoughts? People have found your website! They’ve read what you’ve typed up and they love it! They even decided to let you know. But then you have a closer look…
The Post caught the reader’s attention… I’m apparently ‘over-skilled’ and this guy even sat up reading my posts before sharing it on his social networks…he owns social networks!! (I’m picking on the terrible English).
But then, wait… um. Seems very generic…
You read more comments and you realize – you’ve been had! Shit! Lucky you only replied to 7 of them. (Please tell me you didn’t!).
That’s when the moment hits – “I need to combat SPAM so that I don’t have to moderate 10’s or 100’s of comments every single day! So how exactly do I do that?”
First of all, what is Spam?
I’m sure you’ve got a good idea, it’s useless and generic text thrown in imitating social interaction. The reason? Usually to get a spammy backlink for a very lousy SEO campaign.
This is why companies have bots circulating blog posts and leaving generic comments – because most newbies approve them, believing that someone has actually commented on their post. Hell, some people even surf the internet for hours leaving comments on blogs to get links – but least these people sometimes leave relevant feedback – all just for a lousy link.
How do you avoid Spam?
Ok, there are a few quick fixes I’ll breeze over here.
You can sign up for Akismet, this service eliminates Spam and makes your job easy. If you’re starting a small personal site this is perfect. If you’re trying to make money online or run a business you’ll have to pay anywhere from $5 to $50 a month.
Alternatively, you could install the Disqus comment system – it’s getting a lot of love these days. This is free but I found that it slowed down the loading time of my website, so I canned it. It may work for you, it may not…. it’s an option anyways.
You could add a captcha (easily with a plugin). This throws up some random letters for your commenters to type in in order to prove that they are indeed human. I use one on my contact form. It’s not bad and people are used to captchas, but they are inconvenient for the person on your website.
Instead, I’ve tweaked some of the default WordPress settings and found a happy medium. I get the occasional Spam Comment but nothing like the 50 – 100 a day I was getting…
How I minimize spam using none of the above…
It’s time to click away at our left hand dashboard menu until we get to ‘Discussion‘, under ‘Settings‘. Once there, you can alter the some of the following settings to not only minimize spam but save some time:
Disable Trackbacks. Yeah, the spammy bots are well and truly into faking a link to your blog for a reciprocal trackback. Just uncheck the ‘Allow link notifications’ box (as seen above – no tick).
Close Comments on Old Articles. In general, bots tend to focus on older articles and posts. If you’re sharing your posts early on and getting some interaction then putting a time limit on things may be the way to go. I personally use 45 days (see above) and it works well for me. You can experiment with this number (remember to tick the box on this one!).
Don’t Hold Comments for Moderation. You can manually approve each comment but there is another alternative to save you some time – check the box ‘Comment author must have a previously approved comment’. This means you will only have to moderate the first comment each user makes. After that approval they comment as much as they want without moderation – saving you a little time.
Make Use of the Comment Black List. How often do you discuss viagra or cialis on your website? Exactly, only a few times (just kidding).
So any words you think may be related to spam, simply put them into the comment black list. Any comments containing these words will be discarded and you’ll never have to see them.
You can also put IP addresses in the list if you see some recurring users leaving inappropriate remarks.
Then you should notice a difference!
Applying those few options above can have a huge impact on your comments, but there’s always the exceptional blog that needs a bit more! This is when I’d suggest going the path of the captcha or paying for Akismet. For most people though, this will do it.
Try these settings out for yourself and let me know how you go with them. Try leaving a comment below (I won’t blacklist you, promise!) and don’t forget to share this article below if you found it useful!
Thanks for reading! :)